• July 2, 2007

    Top theatre historian passes away

    Joseph R. DuciBella, ASID, of Chicago, arguably the most influential and prolific theatre historian in the United States, died Friday, June 29. He was 62.

    Known internationally for being a founding member (1969) and longtime Chicago-area director of Theatre Historical Society of America, DuciBella was an accomplished designer of theatre, office, residential and commercial interiors. A Chicago Academy of Fine Arts graduate, he operated an independent interior design firm for 24 years. During that time, he was the designer of choice for Classic Cinemas, of Downers Grove, Ill., an independent, family-owned company of more than 80 screens in the region. DuciBella led the renovations of two of Classic Cinemas' most historic theatres, the Tivoli Theatre, in Downers Grove, Ill., and the Lake Theatre, Oak Park, Ill.

    A passionate researcher and storyteller of Chicago history, he had the unique ability to weave with words the complex religious, ethnic, labor, political and architectural histories of Chicago into near-epic tales – neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block, and theatre to theatre. He was most recently featured in the documentary film “Uptown: Portrait of a Palace,” which gave a glimpse of his knowledge about the challenges of historic theatre renovation and reuse.

    DuciBella was a frequent speaker and informed tour guide for events and symposia related to architecture and historic preservation – particularly theatre buildings. He rallied enthusiasm and anticipation for decades for his comprehensive book, “The Theatres of Chicago,” that has not yet been published. However, he published articles and lectured on theatre design history extensively for more than 30 years.

    A quiet but methodical activist, DuciBella worked steadily in many historic preservation efforts in Chicago, including support of the Wicker Park (neighborhood) historic district, the Chicago Theatre, the Oriental Theatre, the Uptown Theatre, the Congress Theatre and St. James Cathedral. He was a proud owner of a National Register home in Wicker Park, in which had been a tenant. He out-stayed the other boarders, bought the building and restored it over time to its original Victorian beauty.

  • June 25, 2007

    This summer at the movies

    Dan Glickman of the MPAA sounds off on the summer’s film business.

    It’s been just a few weeks since the official start of summer. As folks break out their summer whites, dive into the local swimming pool and fire up the grill, one additional seasonal pastime is off to a blazing start: it seems everyone is heading to the movies.

    Moviegoers today have plenty of choices for their entertainment — from television to video games to the beckoning outdoors. Yet the allure of air conditioning and fresh popcorn alone can hardly account for the movie-going masses visiting the theaters in such large numbers. From long-awaited summer sequels to smaller films that make us laugh, think, or both, the movies are enjoying a revival today.

    First out of the gate were a bevy of fan favorites — from Spider-man to Shrek to Pirates of the Caribbean. Independents like Waitress found a place in our hearts and continue to thrive at the box office. Knocked Up demonstrated a bull market for films that celebrate the humor of being, well, human. Fans came back to see the gang from Ocean’s and just last weekend Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer beat box office figures for the original which debuted in 2005.

    For more, read the Huffington Post.

  • June 21, 2007

    The Revue Cinema rises again

    TORONTO, ON, CANADA — The historic Toronto west-end theatre, the Revue Cinema, closed at the end of June 2006. Over the past year, the hardworking community group, the Revue Film Society, has toiled to find a way to reopen the theatre. Finally, this week, we announced our success.

    The Revue has been purchased by local couple Danny and Letty Mullin, who have agreed to lease the building to the Revue Film Society. The RFS, in turn, will operate the cinema. The Revue is expected to be open by the end of summer 2007.

    For more information, please visit the official Revue Website.

  • June 14, 2007

    Frank S. Caglia passes away

    FRESNO, CA— Last Wednesday, Frank S. Caglia, the owner of the Fresno Warnor’s Theatre passed away.

    Frank was 95. Frank purchased and restored the Warnor Theatre and organ in the early 1970’s. Around this same time, Frank was also selected as the Theatre Historical Society’s Member of the Year/Honorary Member.

    Frank always used to say, “You see, I bought a pipe organ. There just happened to be a theatre building around it.”

    The theatre will continue on under the guidance of the Caglia Family.

    Please see the Fresno Bee for more on this remarkable man.

  • June 11, 2007

    Four ways to save big on movie tickets

    This piece provides some interesting tips on how to cut dollars away from your moviegoing expenses.

    If you enjoy going to the movies, you don’t have to spend a fortune on tickets.

    While most people purchase their tickets for full price at the ticket window, there are numerous ways that you can see your favorite summer movies for less. Always read the fine print on discount movie tickets. While many are good at any time, some may have restrictions for newly released movies.

    Anyone have any other pointers?

    For the full report, go to

  • June 6, 2007

    Monthly attendance stats

    Does anyone out there know what months are considered more busy than others? Which months are traditionally considered ‘slow’?

  • May 17, 2007

    Simultaneous release a possibility?

    Sure to be shot down by the theater chains, but regardless very tempting to the studios, Comcast is re-inciting discussion on the idea of simultaneously releasing new films to homes and theaters. They won’t say who but have claimed studios are interested if viewers at home would be willing to pay $30-$50 per showing.

    How much would you pay to see a new theatrical release in the comfort of your own home? Comcast is trying to make the “simultaneous release” dream happen, but with prices being proposed in the $30-50 range per screening, the dream looks more like a Hollywood acid trip.

    Comcast COO Stephen Burke told attendees at last week’s national cable confab that studios are interested, but that interest must be limited, for he didn’t name names and the studios aren’t talking. It is the first time we’ve heard some quasi-solid pricing details from a major player, however.

    The idea behind “simultaneous release” is that technology-in particular, bandwidth to the home-has advanced to the point where day-and-date distribution of new films is not only technically feasible, but desirable.

    For more, read Ars Technica.

  • May 8, 2007

    Text message advertisiments being tested

    Mining theaters for more ways to get inside patrons' heads, ad campaigns are being introduced which involve text messaging with audience members.

    The Guard, which has deployed recruitment ads to theaters before, fielded a new weapon: text-messaging moviegoers before the previews.

    A slide in about 1,100 theaters in December invited patrons to use their cell phones to text in their age and let the Guard tell them about its required fitness level.

    Those who opted in were messaged back sit-up, push-up and running requirements. They also got follow-up messages that touted enlistment benefits, such as tuition assistance.

    For more, go to Indy Star.

  • May 3, 2007

    Connecticut Law offers filmmakers 30 percent tax credit

    In July, Connecticut passed a law that offers filmmakers a 30 percent tax credit for productions costing $50,000 or more – cited as the most generous for filmmakers in the United States. This has worked as we’ve seen 5 movies being filmed in Southwestern Connecticut since then, with more slated for the coming months.

    New portions of the initiative would extend eligibility to 50 percent of a production’s out-of-state expenses and eliminate limits on talent fees for extras and actors with small roles. Pornography would not qualify.

  • April 30, 2007

    Film company exhibition tracks

    How does the track system begin and change over time with movie theaters?

    Does a theater chain sign a contract with a distributor to play its product at a specific list of movie theaters? How does this change over time? Was looking at microfilm ads and noticed one former Century theater ( New Rochelle, NY) had switched from running steady United Artists and MGM films to Universal and 20th Century Fox in the early 1970’s.

    Aside from Jason Squires book “The Movie Business” are there any others that were written about distribution and exhibition patterns, etc??

    Thanks much