The latest movie theater news and updates

  • September 28, 2016

    Sparks, NV – Sparks Century movie theater closing Thursday

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    From KOLOTV.com: After Thursday, local movie goers will have one fewer choice of theatres. The Century 14 Theatre, a fixture in downtown Sparks' Victorian Square for 19 years, will be closing September 29, 2016.

    The abrupt announcement was posted on the theatre doors just days before, as movie fans lined up for their tickets. Some were longtime patrons and to a person they were surprised by the news.

    “Well, I’m disappointed because I love coming to this movie theatre,” said Barbara Livingston.

    “It’s kind of a bummer,” said Kevin Thomas.“I mean, I’ve been coming to this theatre for almost 10 years now.”

    It won’t stop these people from seeing movies. It will change their habits.

    “We go to other theatres too, but we’re going to miss this one,” said Estela Cordova.

    That was the story up and down Victorian Avenue. Justin Mummer, who owns Mummer’s Bar, says he doesn’t expect the closure to have a big impact on his business, but he’s puzzled by the move.

    “With all the apartments opening up this place is about to get a lot more people living here so I think it would be a shame to see it go.”

  • Oswego, NY – Oswego County Historical Society Celebrates 75th Anniversary of Oswego Theatre

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    From Oswego County Today: The Oswego County Historical Society is proudly celebrating the 75th anniversary of the historic landmark Oswego Theatre, which opened it doors in January of 1941.

    A classic movie night showing the popular film “Casablanca” will be featured on October 13 at 7 p.m. in the Oswego Theatre, 138 W. Second St.

    All proceeds from the event will support the Richardson-Bates House Museum in Oswego.

    “This is a special milestone for one of our most iconic historic landmarks in Oswego,” said Justin White, president of the OCHS board of trustees. “The unique Oswego Theatre is a place of which many Oswegonians have nostalgic memories.”

    Many interesting details have been added to make this a special event in Oswego’s historic cinema.

    The evening show will be giving the feel of traveling back in time to the 1940s.

  • Springfield, MO – Springfield culture spotlight: Gillioz Theatre

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    From The Mirror: Geoff Steele has been in the music and theatre business for over 30 years, experiencing all sides of the industry- from a singer himself in Nashville, to a touring technician, to marketing at a record company, to opening multiple theatres in Branson, and marrying a Branson-born entertainer. But there’s something about the Historic Gillioz Theatre that brings Steele, executive director at the Gillioz, particular joy and pride.

    “There’s a tremendous amount of history here,” said Steele. “It’s part of what makes Springfield incredible; There’s not a lot of communities in the country that have this type of a venue, and most didn’t have them in their heyday.”

    The Gillioz was funded and built in 1926 by Maurice Earnest Gillioz, a local bridge builder, right on historic route 66. Gillioz actually made a 90-year buyout deal with the laundromat and pharmacy that stood where the large entrance is now, just to have a spot literally on the route 66 road (now Park Central St.). At the time, it cost $300,000.

    Despite being pre-dated by Springfield’s other historic venues- the Lander’s Theatre and the Shrine Mosque- the Gillioz was the town’s premier entertainment venue for nearly 60 years, serving as a ‘hybrid house,’ hosting vaudeville shows (live production) and popular movie premieres (silent films). It remained like this until vaudeville died out, surviving as a movie house for roughly 50 years.

    “What made us premiere was the diversity in the programming, and I also think some of it was because it was home-built,” explained Steele. “Gillioz was a guy from Monet, and that’s not normal. Most of these places… were all owned by big chains… And that’s what I think still maintains a fondness for some of our rural people.”

    Some guests that appeared throughout the theater’s history include Ronald and Nancy Reagan, when he was still an actor, for a movie of his that premiered at the Gillioz, and Elvis Presely, who snuck in to see a movie in between his performances at the Shrine Mosque one night in 1955.

    The Gillioz was also a source of morale-boosting during the Great Depression and World War II; it used to host community songfests and local singing competitions.

    Around 1970, however, the Battlefield mall opened, which caused all of the downtown businesses to close down. There was a movie theatre in the mall, as well as a few other small theatres popping up, making the Gillioz no exception to the declining downtown area.

    “People didn’t have to go downtown to see movies anymore, and so it slowly went into disrepair. The theater actually lived longer than a lot of other parts of downtown because people still liked the nostalgia factor… But the Springfield downtown was a ghost town for years.”

    After a rough few years, it closed its doors in 1980. However, in the 1990s, the Gillioz began its comeback. Jim Morris, the father of the founder of Bass Pro Shops, along with a few passionate members of the community, started to help raise money to restore the theater, on the condition that it remained in its 1926 condition.

    “[Morris] had the financial means to see something done, and he’s old enough to have a strong emotional attachment to what the space was,” explained Steele. “I think he was convinced that it was plausible- that if someone was willing to spare the wrecking ball on it, there was a chance they could do something really special.”

    Luckily, because Gillioz built the theatre with bridge material (steel and concrete) that was available to him, it was actually found that the building was so well-constructed that it would cost as much to repair the theatre as it would to tear it down. Morris created a non-profit, called the Springfield Landmarks Preservation Trust, and in the end, their side prevailed. The organization then raised over 10.5 million dollars from over 100 generous private and public donors to complete the project.

    And, in 1991, they earned the Gillioz a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. This means that before the building could be bulldozed and destroyed like many similar historic landmarks, Congress would have to be addressed.

    “This says ‘this space is of value to the American culture, and the United States Congress acknowledges that, and so we’re going to preserve it,’” said Steele. He continued: “These theatres are incredibly precious… but if we do this right, then this is our Rome in a few hundred years.”

    Finally, in 2006, the Gillioz, restored true to its original 1926 design, reopened its doors to an excited and supportive community. Its debut also helped revitalize downtow

    “The Gillioz coming back was a significant component to bringing downtown back to vitality,” said Steele.

    However, it still wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. According to Steele, the Gillioz went through an identity crisis around 2011 and 2012 because it was very focused on the college crowd, like most businesses at the time. When Steele arrived in October of 2014, he reverted back to the original mission of the ‘hybrid house.’

    “When I first got here, I walked around this neighborhood and talked to stores and businesses, and I listened [to the community],” said Steele. The overwhelming response was that everyone loved and remembered the Gillioz, but a significant number of the people who were 40+ were feeling left out, wishing to see shows and performances they were interested in.

    “That’s when we really got serious about diversifying,” said Steele. “[Now] we try to offer something for everyone.

    Today the Gillioz, with a total of 1,024 seats, hosts a multitude of events and performances, including “Broadway productions, theatre, movies, religious gatherings, arts education, dining, rehearsals, school programs, banquets, receptions, concerts, film festivals, weddings, seminars/conventions, and television broadcasts,” according to its website.

    Against all odds the Gillioz not only survived, but came back from the dead, and now it is thriving more than ever. Steele considers this survival, and the survival of Springfield’s other jewels, a monumental success. He chalks it up to the culture of theaters themselves.

    “I have a theory that theaters are a place for a community to exercise its conscience… We’re social animals, and we want to have a shared experience,” he explained. “You can watch a movie alone, or you can go share an experience of watching a movie… it’s just something about who we are, and theaters give you that ability to have a shared experience.”

    It’s because of this sharing and diversified nature that Steele truly believes in what he does. “I think these places are important. I think the opportunity to bring people together is a pretty great way to make a living,” he said. “After every show, I make a point to watch people leave, because that’s the pay day: seeing people happy. We just created a memory.”

  • Randall, VT – Vermont attorney general sues operators of drive-in movie theater

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    From Vermont Biz: Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Attorney General’s Office has sued a New Hampshire couple for illegally soliciting contributions for a digital projector to “save” the Randall Drive-In located in Bethel. “Crowdfunding can be a legitimate way to raise money for a cause, but it is also subject to abuse. Those who rip off Vermonters through improper use of crowdfunding can expect to be held accountable for their illegal acts,” said Attorney General Bill Sorrell.

    The Complaint alleges that the Defendants Adam Gerhard and Regina Franz, and a company operated by them, Capture the Dream, LLC, violated Vermont’s Consumer Protection Act when they raised money for the projector primarily through a crowdfunding campaign created on Kickstarter.com. At least 257 people donated more than $22,000, including several who donated upwards of $500 towards the projector. The projector was used at the Randall Drive-In only for the 2014 season, at which point the defendants took it to a New York drive-in operated by them.

    According to the Attorney General’s Complaint, the Defendants made misrepresentations and omissions about the future of the Randall Drive-In, including that “rather than have this renaissance season be a Swan Song for the Randall Drive-In, we are asking for assistance” and that “digital cinema now threatens to close down the drive-in for good.”

    The Complaint alleges that the Defendants made these statements despite knowing that the digital projector would not play a role at the Randall Drive-In beyond the 2014 season. The Defendants also misrepresented that the cost of the digital projector would be $75,000, and require a down payment of $20,000, when in fact, it cost $36,300 with a down payment of $6,000.

    The lawsuit seeks restitution for all persons who were defrauded by the Defendants’ solicitations, civil penalties, an injunction preventing further consumer fraud violations, and costs.

  • September 23, 2016

    Somerset, KY – DSDC announces plan to restore historic theater

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    From the Commonwealth Journal: “Yes! Virginia” is phrase commonly associated with the gift-giving figure Santa Claus.

    It’s also now associated with a wonderful present Somerset residents hope to find under their tree at some future date.

    On Tuesday evening at the Pulaski County Public Library, the Downtown Somerset Development Corporation (DSDC) shared its vision for what a renewed Virginia Cinema theater might look like — and what kind of financial quest it would take to get there.

    “Most everybody here has probably been at the Virginia at some point,” said Adam Richardson, chair of the DSDC Virginia Cinema committee, at Tuesday’s community meeting. “It’s something that we’ve all missed for a long time. Also, there’s a big generation of folks who have never had the opportunity to go to the Virginia.”

    The Virginia Cinema, along with the old Kentucky Theater, was a hub of downtown Somerset activity starting in 1922, built by T.E. Jasper, who named the theater after his daughter. It continued on, even fighting through leaner years after the Somerset Mall opened with its own larger movie theater, until 1994, when the Virginia closed its doors — and, that same year — suffered a devastating roof collapse that left the inside in ruins.

    Work has been done over the years to improve the outer facade of the building, but despite much talk and hope, efforts to fix up the interior and turn the theater into something fresh and viable have failed to produce much fruit.

    However, the DSDC is hopeful the “Yes! Virginia — There Is a Future” campaign can make a successful push for the kind of fundraising needed to make this feel-good story come true, just like something out of the movies.

    The DSDC is dreaming big. Talks with architecture firm Westlake Reed Leskosky have yielded an ambitious plan that would potentially turn the Virginia Cinema and its neighboring storefronts into a unique entertainment complex.

    One key feature is retractable seats. This would allow for plenty of seating when a film is shown or the stage is being utilized, but for a wide open space in case of events that need more room — like a ball (yes, “ballroom” is one of the many possibilities associated on Tuesday with a revitalized Virginia). And they aren’t cheap fold-up chairs either — it’s a state-of-the art system for allowing quality seats to retreat backward into a space underneath the balcony, which would also be restored.

    In fact — despite what Richardson noted were minimalist renderings provided by Kirby Stephens of the KSD design firm in Somerset — the idea is to get as close as possible to the original look and ornamentation of the Virginia, which is listed on the register of historic places and is eligible for accompanying tax credits. Restoring the Virginia with nostalgia in mind will allow those tax credits to be made possible, helping provide some of the crucial funding for the project.

    The theater itself could prove extremely versatile. Long lists were made available of uses the DSDC foresees for a renovated Virginia, including concerts (Master Musicians Festival-associated events were mentioned specifically) and plays, event hall-type functions like weddings and dances, children’s theatre events, and of course films — ideally smaller independent films, the kind that don’t play at the major multiplex, a la Lexington’s Kentucky Theatre.

    Considerations would also be made for concessions and alcohol, and potentially live recordings could be made and sold there. Films would be presented digitally, with up-to-date technology, and there could be officer or presentation space for local arts organizations, with some room available in the adjacent storefronts and on the third floor as well.

    Of course, the basic clean-up and makeover is just part of the plan — or “Phase 1” as Richardson and fellow presenter Dave Weddle called it. “Phase 2” would incorporate the large restaurant space in the next-door building, which has previously held such businesses as Brandywine Studios, The Gondola, and 4 Girls Cafe.

    If an enterprising restaurateur wanted to take over that space and cooperate with DSDC, the vision is to knock out parts of the wall for large garage door-type portals, where traffic from the theater after a show could pour right into the restaurant, or vice versa. Between the two buildings, where there is currently a narrow, empty alleyway, there would be a glass enclosure (perhaps not altogether unlike a smaller version of that in between the two First Baptist Church buildings on North Main Street) that would allow safe movement between the two spaces no matter the weather conditions.

    That would be contingent upon finding the right buyer for the restaurant space, as it was noted that DSDC wasn’t looking to get into the restaurant business. Neither, said Richardson, does anyone there know anything about running movie theaters, meaning that finding the right entity or individual to actually run day-to-day operations at the Virginia would be paramount, likely involving hiring a director.

    Of course, unlike with Santa Claus, this gift to the community won’t come free from the North Pole. There’s a steep price tag attached to this project.

    DSDC provided line item cost estimates just for Phase 1, not including the restaurant attachment plans, for a total of $2,711,500 needed to make the new Virginia Cinema a reality. The steepest cost is for the retractable seating, at $700,000; other six-figure expenses include $200,000 for the clean-out and acquisition of extra space, $200,000 for electrical work, and $250,000 for theatre systems, including audio.

    Richardson also presented a chart breaking down how fundraising would ideally go, with a target amount of $2,800,000.

    DSDC would kick in $350,000 and local governments another $150,000, in this scenario. Federal funding and tax credits would account for another $600,000 (Richardson said DSDC would be able to sell off tax credits to other corporate entities), and naming rights for $500,000 (specifically mentioned were individual parts of the theater, including seats or rooms, up for donations — “We might sell bricks, we might sell shares,” said Richardson).

    Foundations and grants account for $350,000 of the projected fundraising, with the remainder of $850,000 that will need to come from somewhere else — likely, support from a community eager to see the Virginia Cinema come to life again. Thus, the “Yes! Virginia” campaign is being launched to raise awareness and interest in providing the necessary funds to revitalize the theater according to these plans.

    “That’s going to be a pretty significant challenge in and of itself,” said Richardson. “When you break it all down, it doesn’t seem as impossible. … I feel like the amount of money it would take to make the Virginia happen is minor (compared to) the impact it would have for Somerset, not only for downtown but for the community as a whole.”

    That’s because the idea is to make the Virginia something that draws people to downtown as a nightspot and on the weekends. Weddle noted that in the recent past, people have packed up at the end of the work day and left downtown Somerset quiet in the evenings, and with new restaurants, bars and breweries in the area, that’s started to change some, but those entities can feed off each other symbiotically, allowing people to do multiple activities at different locations in the same night out on the town.

    Weddle, who called the facility “a center not just a theater,” said that these plans are a “culmination of 20 years’ worth of work” on behalf of DSDC, which launched the “Save the Virginia” program many years ago just to keep the facility standing so that these plans would even be possible.

    “How do we get the energy back on the street? How do we get people out there after dark?” he asked, “We do not want another false start. … We want to make a concerted effort to bring the Virginia Theater back into the grandeur that it needs to be.”

    Parking issues wouldn’t be a problem in the evenings, with the DSDC parking lot and the judicial center spaces being available, said Richardson.

    He also said that regular operating costs once the hypothetical new Virginia is up and going haven’t been determined at this early stage, but “in order to make this work, it’s got to be self-sufficient.” That could be through its own income or outside grants, or a combination of both.

    “I hope you agree with me that ‘Yes! Virginia, there is a future,’” said Richardson, “but also remember that we need your help to make this happen.”

  • New York, NY – Everything you need to know about NYC’s new luxury movie theater

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    From Time Out NY: When it comes to movie theaters, NYC doesn’t exactly have an embarrassment of riches. We’ve all sat in theaters with broken air conditioners, taped-up screens and incompetent concessions employees. But with chain theater admission dropping, a new generation of dine-in theaters are popping up to reclaim the cinematic experience. Before Alamo Drafthouse and a second Nitehawk Cinema arrive in Brooklyn next year, Manhattan’s South Street Seaport will launch the city’s first iPic theater on October 7.

  • September 21, 2016

    East Nashville, TN – East Nashville’s historic Roxy Theater sold for $1.3 million

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    From The Tennessean: “We anticipate that area becoming a very lively and engaging commercial corridor and we hope to have announcements over the next few months after we identify and come to terms with potential tenants,” Kyle said.

    827 Meridian Partners LLC, the Kyle-led buying entity, bought the properties at 827 and 831 Meridian Street from Robert Solomon. The purchase included just over half an acre on which the 1930-built, 9,352-square-foot former historic theater sits at the northeast corner of Meridian and Wilburn streets plus 0.23 acres on vacant commercial land at 831 Meridian St.

    Robbie Jones is a board member of Historic Nashville Inc., which included the Roxy Theater on its 2013 Nashville Nine list of the city’s most endangered historic places.

    “As one of the only remaining historic movie theater buildings in Nashville, Historic Nashville is very excited about plans to preserve it,” Jones said. “The Roxy is a beloved neighborhood landmark in East Nashville and definitely one of the historic places that makes our city unique.”

  • Negaunee, MI – The historic Vista Theater celebrates 90th anniversary

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    From UPmatters.com: Its been 90 years since the historic Vista Theater opened its doors for the first time.

    It closed in 1972 and became a movie theater under the operation of ‘PAAC’.

    Today, the vista is used for mainly theatrical shows and sometimes a live music venue.

    Andrew ‘Bear’ Tyler, the Executive Director of the Vista Theater said, “Fred Waring, the Dukes of Dixieland, Frank Sinatra Jr, Peter Nero…Lots of legendary acts have come to this place and played here and not many places around here can say that.”

    The future is bright for the vista theater. Tyler says the plan is to restore the theater to the beacon of arts and entertainment it once was.

  • Sandwich, IL – Sandwich theater under new management

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    From The Times: The Wow 7 Cinema in Sandwich is under new ownership and plans to reopen as Cinema 7 on Friday.

    Classic Cinemas, from Downers Grove, purchased the location and is currently renovating the building.

    Mark Mazrimas, marketing manager for Classic Cinemas, expected the renovations to continue at least until the end of the year.

  • Holstein, IA – Curtain rises for saved Holstein theatre

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    From The Sioux City Journal: The “Save the State Theatre” shirts made popular in Holstein during the past year must be changed.

    To past tense.

    The State Theatre in Holstein, you see, has been saved!

    An ambitious $100,000 fundraising goal was reached and surpassed, allowing the Save the State Theatre group, working under the auspices of the Holstein Development Authority, to purchase and install what was necessary to get the 1927 theater on Main Street up and going again. A $50,000 movie projector will be installed this week. Movies might be showing as early as this fall.

    The Holstein Development Authority purchased the theater from Fred Saunders, of Denison, Iowa, for an undisclosed amount. The structure, which became a quonset structure in 1948, an oddity in theater circles, was deemed sound by Midwest Cinema, the consulting group tapped by the local committee in the restoration effort. Thankfully, there was no water damage at the site, which closed for good in 2013.

    “I’ve been in here hundreds of times during the past year and it’s so amazing how tightly this building was sealed,” said Kathy Vollmar, the committee co-chair. “I’ve not seen any mice and only a couple of crickets.”

    Fellow co-chair Brenda Cronin mentioned a rabbit that seems to inhabit a space between the interior structure and the outer quonset shell in the back.

    The restoration effort features new drywall, carpeted walls (for better acoustics), 150 high-back leather seats that rock, a new neon marquee, a new furnace, a $6,000 movie screen with 3D capability, a new digital projector, seating areas for those in wheelchairs, and more.

    The lobby and theater sparkle with new paint, lighting and carpet, all completed in a 13-month span, thanks to fundraisers that range from a daily lemonade stand to sales of seats inside the reclaimed theater.

    A fundraiser Sunday features pianist Richard Steinbach, of Sioux City, who headlines a “Piano & Pie” event at the Rosemary Clausen Center inside Ridge View High School in Holstein. Steinbach, the Briar Cliff University professor who has played at Carnegie Hall, will be joined by soprano Katie Pacza and flutist Christina Kjar-Hanson.

    There’s a symmetry in having a concert in one new theater being held to breathe life back into an 89-year-old theater about six blocks to the west, all in a city of 1,409 residents.

    The development is a testament to the can-do spirit of this community. The theater chairs, according to Vollmar, were trucked by VT Industries, Holstein’s largest employer, from Michigan and then unloaded by high school student-athletes.

    “It’s been so neat to see how the community has reacted and joined in,” Vollmar said. “Whenever we’ve posted something about needing help cleaning or something like that, boom, 12 people show up ready to help.”

    Residents volunteered to bake pies over the weekend to serve with ice cream and coffee at 2 p.m. Sunday, prior to Steinbach’s 3 p.m. performance. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students.

    One volunteer jumped into the restoration effort and we see it continue. Alyssa Dreeszen, a native of Lehigh, Iowa, remembered seeing the State Theatre when she first visited Holstein eight years ago. The facility seemed to be on its last legs.

    “It looked then like it had just been closed,” said Dreeszen, who went on to study digital filmmaking at the Kansas City Art Institute. “When I was young, we used to go to Fort Dodge or Webster City to see a movie. It’s so cool a town like this has a theater.”

    Dreeszen was so taken with the State Theatre, she offered to volunteer her services as the first manager. She’s currently planning theme months and show schedules, excited that the State, as an independent, won’t be obligated to show everything other theaters must.

    “We’d also love at some point to make the balcony seating usable,” Dreeszen said, noting how the narrow space in the balcony has been cleared.

    Vollmar said plans remain to refurbish the two cry-rooms for parents with young children. And, at a future date, the area behind the screen might be made into a party room. After a theater is saved, the thinking goes, there’s reason to celebrate.