• August 4, 2010

    3-D boom going bust?

    HOLLYWOOD, CA – High ticket prices, poor quality films, and customer complaints about image quality are causing increasing numbers of cinema patrons to avoid much of the recent crop of 3-D films. This article at takes a look at the apparent declining customer interest.

    A river of schlocky films certainly doesn’t help boost attendance, but a river of overpriced, 3-D schlock may actually be steepening the decline. A July survey of more than 2,000 moviegoers by BTIG LLC, a broker-dealer firm, found increasing chafe at the high cost of 3-D films, which tend to carry around a $4 surcharge. That brings a $9 children’s ticket to see, say, Despicable Me, up to $13 in New York City — a despicable premium for a product that often provides little additional value to the movie-going experience, and may even detract from it.

    Movie studios have never really risked broad consumer revolt against theatergoing because ticket prices have remained relatively low. Sure, theater attendance has suffered from a few slings and arrows, including the rise of the DVD and the increasing ease of online downloads. But the rollout of improved 3-D technology again gave the multiplex an edge, because the viewing experience could not be replicated at home.

  • August 2, 2010

    Beautiful cinema converted into a bookstore

    Like movie theaters, more and more independent bookstores are closing as they struggle to find their place in the modern world. However, these two entities have combined forces to create some pretty interesting theaters turned bookstores over the years. This piece in the Huffington Post describes some of the most unique bookstores still standing including the one in the space of the former Cine Teatro Grand Splendid.

  • July 23, 2010

    Traditional repertory theaters fading; film festivals gaining

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA — In the 1970’s, repertory theaters reached a peak, but now there are much fewer of them and they struggle to get 35mm prints of films. But the survivors are increasingly succeeding by promoting themed film festivals, and programmers are creating new festivals that, as temporary events, use a variety of venues.

    At the Roxie, for example, a sampling includes the Anti-Corporate Film Festival, the Irish Film Festival and Another Hole in the Head horror festival. Mr. Leggat sees the growth in number and variety of festivals as part of a larger picture.

    “American culture is moving from mass entertainment to more specific niche entertainment,” he said.

    This recent article in the New York Times took a look at this trend in the San Francisco Bay area.

  • July 20, 2010

    Live theatre arrives in English cinemas

    Like Opera in the U.S., live theatre is coming to British cinemas and has been rather successful.

    When the National Theatre unveiled plans to film productions and relay them live by satellite to cinemas in Britain and 21 other countries, I was sceptical. I feared the results would seem excessively stagy and lack the excitement of watching actors in the flesh.

    How wrong I was. The Esher Odeon was almost packed, and the performance of Dion Boucicault’s hilarious 19th-century comedy London Assurance was as entertaining on screen as it had been in the theatre. What’s more, there was a real sense of the live event about it. The cinema audience actually clapped at the end, and there was a sense of shared laughter and genuine community one rarely experiences at the flicks.

    Read more in the Telegraph

  • July 9, 2010

    Drive-In Theater documentary segment on YouTube

    In 1995, WHYY produced a documentary titled Remember When? It included a segment on drive-in theaters. This segment is now posted on YouTube.

  • July 7, 2010

    Keeping the neon lit on Main Streets of the Great Plains

    An article in the July 5, 2010 print edition of The New York Times (“Old Movie Houses Find Audience in the Plains”) describes local efforts to sustain historic Main Street storefront cinemas as focal points for their rural communities in the Great Plains region.

    In an age of streaming videos and DVDs, the small town Main Street movie theater is thriving in North Dakota, the result of a grass-roots movement to keep storefront movie houses, with their jewel-like marquees and facades of careworn utility, at the center of community life.

    Perhaps it’s a sign of a broader trend as well.

    The revival is not confined to North Dakota; Main Street movie houses like the [Alamo](/theaters/909/) in Bucksport, Me., the [Luna](/theaters/8801/) in Clayton, N.M., and the [Strand](/theaters/12682/) in Old Forge, N.Y., are flourishing as well. But in the Great Plains, where stop signs can be 50 miles apart and the nearest multiplex is 200 miles round trip, the town theater -- one screen, one show a night, weekends only -- is an anchoring force, especially for families.

    The entire article (with a brief slide show, mostly of Langdon, ND’s Roxy) is here at

  • June 30, 2010

    Joesph Musil passes away quietly

    SANTA ANA, CA — Famed Theatre Designer and Showman Joseph J. Musil Jr. died at age 74 last night after a long illness. He will be mostly remembered by his greatest work, the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood as well as the Majestic Crest in Westwood.

    You can find more information about this genius at Cinema Sightlines along with a tribute.

  • June 29, 2010

    IMAX to deploy portable theaters in the U.S. and China

    NEW YORK, NY — The IMAX Corp. has announced plans to build and deploy portable theaters to serve areas of the U.S. and China. The first will be unveiled in September, and apparently will resemble inflatable tennis bubbles.

    IMAX hopes to unveil its first portable theater at an event in New York this September, said IMAX spokeswoman Sarah Gormley. The theaters, which the company likens to a tennis bubble, have inflatable exterior walls and come with full seating for an audience of about 450 people. Gormley says the interior walls and ceiling come acoustically treated to ensure the sound quality of a normal IMAX film.

    There is more in the Wall Street Journal.

  • June 25, 2010

    Belated Obit: Silent Film Pianist Viola Barton, 107

    Viola Barton, former silent film pianist, died in Glendale, California January 30, 2010. She was 107, born March 11, 1902, just five weeks shy of her 108th birthday. This likely went unnoticed nationwide although she was a favorite of the local press. Unlike Rosa Rio and Bob Mitchell who were still actively playing for silent films, Mrs. Barton played privately for herself and friends at the retirement home where she lived.

    She played piano for silents in South Dakota throughout the 1920s. She also taught music and gave concerts. The deaths of Mitchell, Barton and Rio all within the past year seem to close the final and remarkable chapter of accompanists who lived to advanced ages.

  • June 17, 2010

    More voices weighing in on issue of theater ownership by studios

    HOLLYWOOD, CA — It is probably too early to call it a movement, but more is appearing in print on the issue of studios once again operating their own theater circuits, as reported here on CT previously. Key points in the growing discussion include who gets to control the length of the theatrical distribution window, the effects of the explosion of technology that is seriously eroding the DVD market, and whether current market conditions warrant revisitation of the issues raised in 1948 Supreme Court decision that limited the ability of studios to operate movie theaters.

    There is more in Variety.(reg rqr’d)