Oakland Movie Palace rivals to compete

posted by HowardBHaas on August 3, 2007 at 3:55 pm

OAKLAND, CA — With the reopening of the the long closed Fox Theatre next year, many eyes are turned toward the future of the aging Paramount Theatre. In a controversy sure to be envied by many of us, what’s a city to do with two refurbished, large-scale movie palaces?

Still, the Paramount’s future may not be so secure. The aging building is in dire need of a new roof, an exterior paint job, and hazardous materials removal — repairs estimated around $1 million. And there’s discussion about increasing the depth of the stage to accommodate more Broadway-type shows, plays, and musicals. “Our bottom line being near the break-even level, only a few things have to happen and we could see losses again,” says board president Tom Hart.

One thing sure to happen is the opening of the Fox Theater in late 2008. The $58 million renovation of the long-slumbering venue, also a city-owned facility, is raising concerns about competition between the two facilities. The Fox’s maximum capacity of more than 3,000 people will be on par with the Paramount’s 3,040. The non-union Fox will be operated by a successful concert promoter, Another Planet Entertainment.

Read the full story at the East Bay Express.

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Comments (3)

bruceanthony on August 3, 2007 at 7:10 pm

The Paramount is secure just needs to be a little more aggressive and be happy that the Fox is being restored, it took over 30 years. It will give Oakland a theatre district and two of the largest theatres in California. I think the City should start a Capitol fund for future improvements and renovations as needed. These two theatres have enormous potential if presented properly.The stage of the Paramount should have been expanded years ago to give the theatre more flexibility when booking live acts.The City should promote these two theatres as no other in the state compare and that includes LA. When completed the Fox should be part of the Paramount tours that are presented on Saturdays and charge a small fee like they do in other cities. A little competition between the two may be a good thing. I also feel the classic film series should be brought back ASAP. It should draw on quality films from all decades.The Paramount and the Fox don’t belong to just the City of Oakland, but the entire Bay Area and should draw beyond Oakland’s borders.The restoration of the Fox and the Uptown project should improve the image of downtown as a viable safe place to go in the evening.I would even place in add in Variety to show off both facilities when the Fox opens. There are a lot of people under the age of 50 that don’t even know these theatres exist. If Detroit and Cleveland can turn around there downtowns Im sure Oakland can. The restorations of movie palace’s in those two cities helped bring back downtown.Sometimes you need to spend money to make money.Im sure glad the Fox is getting a full restoration instead of the small cabaret that had been suggested. I think one should always go after the awe factor instead of what did they do to the theatre. A big thanks to Jerry Brown for getting things moving or the theatre would have sat for another 30 years.brucec

GaryParks on August 5, 2007 at 5:31 am

In the big picture, beyond the issues of what’s going on with the Paramount and Fox Oakland today, there’s the inevitability of two things:
1. Growth. It is inevitable for all cities. It may yet take a while, but ultimately, Oakland will need both these theatres.
2. Regardless of all our cocooning technology today, people are going to still need to go out for live events of all sizes. The need to gather in groups and be entertained has taken a slap from all the individualized entertainment devices of late, but the communal need will always be with us.

25-50 years from now, I predict that every surface parking lot in downtown Oakland will be filled with highrise dwellings and places of business, as will most real estate now occupied by buildings of one or two storeys. The densely populated inner city is going to come back—out of necessity. Future generations will make good use of these two large entertainment venues downtown.

terrywade on August 5, 2007 at 7:13 pm

The Paramount in Oakalnd Ca has been out of it for years. Now they are crying about the Fox Oakland re opening. At one time they were both run by Fox West Coast Theatres and got along. The Paramount still has many thing going for it. The organ and Its 35mm projectors and large Cinemascope screen. The Fox Oakland can have the rock shows and live events. I’d rather go to the Fox Oakland or Paramount any day then the bad needle area the San Francisco Fox Warfield is located on the worst area of SF’s Market St. When both the New Fox in Oak and the Paramount have shows many people from all over the bay area will just take Bart trains to the doors. The Oakland Paramount needs to put in a main lobby bar and let people drink in the main theatre. Bring first run movies back from time to time. The Oakland area is very undersceened. You watch in a few years with all the condos going up near the Fox Oakland & Paramount you will see a Century -Regal multiplex shoebox going up. I know for a fact real estate people have told me a large circuit is looking in the Grand Ave/Broadway area of Oakland for a big no showmanship multijunk theatre. Both the Paramount and new people at the Fox Oakland need to book events for all the Bay Area. Don’t forget the seniors. They will come in droves to both Theatres to see classic events and memories of these two great movie palaces. As San Francisco does not even have a indoor arena (and please the dumpy Cow Palace is not even in SF) many hunger for different entertainment they are not getting in SF they will go to both Oakland Theatres to see events. For the second year in a row the famed Ringling Bros Circus is not in the Cow Palace but going to a new arena in Stockton Ca.this Sept. So bring on the shows at the Fox Oakland and Paramount and watch downtown Oakland come alive, It’s been sleeping way to long.

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