• August 24, 2010

    Cecil Whitmire – Led restoration of the Alabama Theatre passes on

    BIRMINGHAM, AL — It’s with sadness that I’m noting the passing of Cecil Whitmire.

    Cecil was a central figure in the successful restoration of The Alabama Theatre (“The Showplace of the South”) and was organizing the efforts to restore The Lyric Theatre nearby. He was one of the founders of Birmingham Landmarks Inc. which holds ownership of both theatres.

    Cecil’s memorial service will be held at The Alabama Theatre.

    “He was clearly the true believer in the potential of downtown,” said Michael Calvert, president of Operation New Birmingham. “He proved that if you give people a reason to come downtown, they will.”

    Mr. Whitmire began a three-decade love affair with the Alabama in 1976, when he moved to Birmingham from Knoxville to manage a hardware company. The Alabama was still a movie theater, and Mr. Whitmire would play the Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ before shows, entertaining audiences with classic tunes, nearly always including “Stars Fell on Alabama.”

    Read the full story in the Birmingham News.

  • August 20, 2010

    AMC plans to file $450 million IPO this year

    For the third time in its history, AMC Entertainment will file a $450 million IPO under the ticker symbol “AMC” on an unrelated stock exchange. This comes as revenue for the company has been boosted by rising prices for 3-D and IMAX (and IMAX digital) films as well as concessions.

    This is the second attempt at an IPO for Kansas City, Missouri-based AMC. The company first filed for a $500 million IPO in September 2007 but pulled the deal in October 2008 saying it had decided not to proceed with the offering, but did not give a reason.

    AMC’s revenue grew 6.7 percent to $2.42 billion in the year ended April 1. The company swung to a $79.91 million profit from a $149.05 million loss a year earlier, according to the new prospectus.

    Read more at Reuters.

  • August 10, 2010

    Petitions call for movie theater

    ROANOKE, VA — A young man is trying to get a local theater built the hard way by collecting signatures to submit to Carmike Cinemas.

    A young Roanoke man has petitions across Randolph County in hopes of getting a movie theatre to come back to Roanoke.

    Michael Fielder, 22, said he spoke with a representative of Carmike Cinemas who advised him to get signatures, get the city’s approval and call them back. The representative did not say how many signatures were needed, so Fielder set his goal at 2,000.

    Read the full story in the Randolph Leader.

  • August 6, 2010

    Foreign forces transform Hollywood films

    This article in theWall Street Journal discusses how global tastes are essential when deciding on which films to produce these days.

    When director Adam McKay pitched a sequel to his 2004 hit movie “Anchorman,” he thought it would be a no-brainer for Hollywood.

    The $20 million comedy, starring Steve Carell and Will Ferrell, grossed more than $90 million at the box office. But only $5 million of that came from ticket sales abroad. Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures nixed the sequel this spring, fearing the comedy’s uniquely American brand of humor wouldn’t play abroad.

  • 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