March 7, 2017
From Mlive.com: After sitting vacant for nearly two years, Saginaw’s historic Court Street Theatre is getting new life.
The single-screen theater, built in 1938 and located at 1216 Court, closed in 2015. Now, signs posted outside announce that a newly refurbished theater is coming soon.
Saginaw-based Raynemaker LLC purchased the property in April 2016 for $85,000, according to the Saginaw Area GIS Authority.
Two city permits were pulled recently for work on the property: a building permit for siding and painting and a plumbing permit for fixtures and drains. Gerald G. Bergman Inc. and Earegood Plumbing & Heating Inc. are the contractors.
Crews have been working on the building for months. It has an all-new facade but the vertical sign on the marquee still reads “Court.” Painters were working inside the lobby Thursday morning, March 2, applying fresh coats of bright colors.
The building’s owner could not be reached for comment and details of the project, including a timeline for reopening the theater, are unclear.
“My understanding is that they are working on the interior at this point and that their goal is to return it to the grander state it has been for the past several decades, which is obvious by the exterior work,” said Paul Barrera, owner of Jake’s Old City Grill, 100 S. Hamilton St. in Old Town Saginaw.
“At a point when they’re ready, and that readiness they’ll determine, they’ll open up for movies as well as special events.”
February 19, 2017
From News9.com: The historic Tower Theatre on NW 23rd Street held its grand reopening Saturday after falling into years of disrepair. New owners now hope to capture the theater’s glory days. The beacon of NW 23rd Street is shining brightly once more, but while the iconic marquee reflects the rich history of the NW 23rd Street strip, the Tower Theatre has a whole new vibe.
Hip-hop beats reverberated through the near-century old entertainment hall Saturday.
The starting line-up of rappers was headlined by Oklahoma City-native Jabee, whose dream of seeing his name on Tower’s marquee started as a child.
“My mom brought me here to Sound Warehouse when I was 10 to buy a cassette tape, and the cassette tape was Jackson 5,“ he said. "On the way back home, I saw the (Tower) sign and I was asking her about it, and she was telling me it was a theater, and I was like man I’ve got to get in there.”
The Pivot Group bought the building two years ago, when the strip’s revitalization was just getting underway. The developers strived to recreate the essence of the original theater, adding era-influenced elements from floor to ceiling.
“They came back in and inlaid original floor to match the time period, that Art Deco feel,” described the facility operator Scott Marsh of Levelland Productions. “They had a custom fixture put in to match that. The ceiling on the theater itself is stair-stepped and is back to its original glory; things that we put in like a special velour curtain both for aesthetics and sound.”
“You walk in, you feel like you’re taking a step back into the 30s, 40s, 50s. You’re going to be able to expect a great room that changes, that molds itself to what the show is,” Marsh said.
From NextPittsburgh.com: Cinephiles living in Pittsburgh can usually get their movie fix at one of the city’s many independent theaters, whether it’s at the historic Harris Theater Downtown or the Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville. But for those living outside the region, being able to enjoy the latest limited release or award-winning film may be too far out of reach. The new Tull Family Theater in Sewickley hopes to change that.
After five years in development, the Tull Family Theater officially opens this week in Sewickley, making it the first movie theater to operate there in more than three decades. The 12,000-square-foot venue includes two screening rooms—the 77-seat Huntington Bank screening room and a yet unnamed room that fits 166 people—as well as the Esmark and Bouchard Family Community Room performance and events space.
Tull Family Theater executive director Carolina Pais-Barreto Beyers says the nonprofit arthouse theater was created to strengthen cultural, educational and entertainment experiences in the region northwest of Pittsburgh.
“This is truly a grassroots effort that started with community leaders who looked around and realized that Pittsburgh’s cultural vibrancy did not extend beyond the city,” says Beyers.
The theater was made possible through efforts by the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development, the Allegheny County Regional Asset District (RAD) and the Borough of Sewickley, as well as a combined $1.5 million donated by 400 families. One of the largest contributors was Pittsburgh resident and former Legendary Entertainment head Thomas Tull, who gave $500,000 for naming rights to the theater, which was formerly called the Vanguard Theater.
From The Baltimore Sun: The concept of dinner and a movie should take on new meaning next week with the opening of Baltimore’s newest movie theater, and the only one to offer fine dining with your film.
CineBistro, which will offer full meals combined with first-run movies at its seven-screen theater, will open Feb. 24 at the Rotunda in Hampden. The movies scheduled for that opening day are “Collide,” “The Great Wall,” “Fifty Shades Darker,” “Fist Fight,” “La La Land” and “John Wick: Chapter Two.”
Before (and possibly during, if the patron prefers) the movies, dining possibilities will include a full range of appetizers, main courses and desserts — everything from “custom-blended burgers to prime beef, fresh seafood, and more,” according to a news release announcing the opening.
Guests will need to arrive at least 30 minutes before the movie begins to take full advantage of the dining options. Admission will be restricted to people 21 and older.
February 13, 2017
From WITN.com: An eastern Carolina movie theater that shut down last year is back open under a new name and new management.
A new independent group called ‘Golden Ticket Cinemas’ purchased the old Carmike 7 in Washington after it suddenly closed in December.
Golden Ticket officially re-opened Friday with 7-theaters renovated with new screens and surround sound speakers.
The first customer in line for a 12:00 p.m. showing was given a free year-long movie pass and Golden Ticket GM Stoney Crouse says the company is thrilled to continue providing the area with the latest movies at the lowest prices.
Crouse says, “We plan on doing the same good customer service, if not better, definitely a lot of different choices when you’re coming in and absolutely better prices.”
Scott Askew was the first customer and says, “My first movie here was Pippi Longstocking as a class when I was in kindergarten and that would be 1979 and so we’ve lived here all our lives and I’ve seen every big movie, every Star Wars I saw here, so we’ve been here all our lives so it’s great.”
From The Palm Beach Post: The days of questionably-comfortable movie theater seats with the choice of just soda, popcorn and candy are over — at least at the new Paragon 10 in Wellington.
The new, luxury theater at the Mall at Wellington Green is holding a grand opening ceremony this weekend, and officially cut the ribbon Thursday night. Adult evening tickets go for $11.50, and the theater will have a promotion every Tuesday where it sells tickets for $6.
January 31, 2017
From Ohio.com: Mark Anderson wanted the abandoned West Theater building for the space beneath it, behind it and on both sides of it. Since purchasing the building from the bank for $58,000 cash in 2012, that’s exactly the space he put to use. Storage rental units in the 8,000-square-foot basement. U-Haul trucks in the parking lot. Retail tenants on bookend storefronts. The 1947 theater whose screen last flickered in 2008? Well, that dark and cavernous space that Anderson would visit with a flashlight turned into a hobby. Since the rest of the property was paying the bills, Anderson was in no hurry. A bout of boredom would send the skilled handyman to the theater every once in a while to swap a few torn seat cushion fabrics here or fix some plumbing there. He found new curtains to hang on the stage, rigged a conference room projector from the ceiling, even found some parts to build a tankless water heater for warming the old theater’s bones. Then late last year, when he figured the theater was ready for a little action, a friend of a friend introduced him to another Mark. Mark Budnick, who had spent most of his adult life managing movie theaters, eagerly accepted the challenge of trying to turn a local nostalgic treasure into a productive business. Budnick said he remembers when he drove by the West after it had been sold, thinking: “Here we go again. Another old theater gutted.” He had no idea it had always been the buyer’s intent to someday get the old screen flickering again and that he would become part of the process. Helping to restore an old movie house “has always been a dream,” said Budnick, now the newly opened West’s manager and creative director. To be sure, the theater is not the epitome of luxury. The original 1947 seats have three different styles of red fabric coverings, the floor is gray concrete except for carpeted aisles, and the old water-damaged screen was replaced with a smaller but affordable alternative. Anderson said his shoestring budget was the result of failing to inspire any local banks or foundations to invest in his project, so he had to do what he could using his own skills and his credit cards. Canadian credit cards at that, said the Toronto native who followed his American wife to Barberton in 1984 and stayed. “Yeah, Canadian money helped do this,” he laughed as he looked around the empty theater. Anderson and Budnick are hoping nostalgia will bring curious locals in for a peek, and the diverse entertainment schedule will keep them coming back. “I’m not from here but I’m told people have a lot of memories of this place,” Anderson said. The past couple of weekends, the West has shown a Charlie Chaplin film festival and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
January 5, 2017
Canby, MN – With hundreds pitching in, western Minnesota residents bring the Canby Theatre back to life
From the Star-Tribune: It’s a plotline straight out of a Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland flick from the 1930s: “Hey, kids! Let’s fix up the old barn and put on a show!”
And that’s what they did, hundreds of people in and around this western Minnesota city of 1,800. They came from Dawson and Minneota, from Marshall and Porter. They pitched in and brought back to life the Canby Theatre, opened in 1939 as a grand movie palace and closed in 2012 as a tired mess. Electricians and plumbers donated their skills. The mayor hung drywall and acoustical tile.
Across the area, even over the nearby border with South Dakota, cities and civic groups raised money through bake sales, burger fries, music shows and cruise nights. They sold calendars and $200 sponsorships for the theater’s 210 seats. They put jars on store counters and dropped in their spare change. Local businesses donated money and bought ads.
Out here in the heart of the Minnesota prairie, the people raised $300,000 from their own pockets to buy the theater and renovate it for the 21st century with digital projectors and reclining seats — and, more important, to send the world a signal that their town is still going strong.
January 2, 2017
Paintsville, KY – Showing at the SIPP: Paintsville hosting movies again in ‘historic’ theater to energize downtown
From The Daily Independent: An 85-year-old movie theater dripping with nostalgia was revived by an eastern Kentucky city determined to invigorate a once-hopping downtown.
The Paintsville Main Street Association bought the old SIPP Theatre in 2010, four years after it played what most believed was likely its final film. At that time, the brick building had slipped into poor condition and become a ghost of its former self, showing mostly second-run movies as management struggled to compete with a five-screen cinema in the nearby plaza.
But 10 years after its last screening, the “Historic” SIPP is hosting movies again. In October, a line of hundreds of moviegoers wrapped around the block for a weekend showing of 1985’s “The Goonies.”
After receiving the bag of popcorn and can of soda pop included in the $5 ticket price, the crowd waltzed into the elegant, one-screen theater that used to capture many childhood imaginations.
In November, the SIPP fittingly hosted another 1985 classic, “Back to the Future.” In December, “It’s a Wonderful Life” returned to the SIPP screen for the first time in 70 years.
First-year Paintsville Tourism executive director Jeremiah Parsons said community response to the resurgence of the SIPP has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We’ve had people stop in there every day that it’s open,” he said. “Sometimes they just stick their head in. They say, ‘I used to be in here all the time,’ or ‘I got my first kiss up in the balcony.’ People have happy childhood memories of that place, that’s for sure.”
The city has invested significant money and time into renovating the SIPP to attract former patrons who now have children of their own.
In the past year, the city removed the façade installed in the 1960s, replaced windows and stripped paneling back down to the original brick. A classic three-sided marquee was added above a new wooden ticket booth.
Parsons said the facelift was vital for the downtown area.
“Any time you want to revitalize downtown, you have to have something that makes people want to come in,” he said. “We have our local downtown businesses where they’ll come and shop, but there’s no entertainment. Now they can have dinner and watch a movie before going home, all at a very affordable price, and all very local.”
Further renovations to the interior are scheduled for the winter months. The city will install a new floor and paint most of the theater. New, taller seats with head rests will replace the old, stationary seats. Once renovations are complete, the SIPP will resume showing one movie per month, Parsons said, in addition to plays and concerts.
The Main Street Players, a local theater group, began performing in the SIPP in 2012. The Johnson Central High School drama club also calls the SIPP home. An entertainment series, U.S. 23 Country Music Songwriters Night, will continue to alternate between the theater and the Country Music Highway Museum in Paintsville.
The classic theater has hosted hundreds of concerts and movies and been rejuvenated multiple times over its rich history by groups like the SIPP Theatre Foundation and now the city.
Local residents hope the newest efforts will turn the classic theater into the anchor for a lively downtown once again.
December 16, 2016
From qconline.com: At the holidays, it’s a pleasure to see a family-friendly Christmas movie in a single-screen theater, with concessions, and not have to take a second mortgage to do so.
Since this month started, that’s been possible here in the seat of Mercer County, as Aledo native Dan Mellgren and his wife, Michelle, reopened the historic Aledo Opera House. The 1904 building — with 414 seats — had been closed for two years.
“This town needs some entertainment,” Dan said recently. “We didn’t have to do anything. The building’s here, the screen’s here. Everything was here.”
“We’re gonna gear it toward the junior-high age group,” he said. “Parents are looking for a place to drop their kids for a couple hours. That’s what it was when I was a kid — here’s 10 bucks and we’ll see ya in a couple hours.”
Dan said it last closed because of the costs for licensing each movie. The Mellgrens lease the theater — and since Aug. 1, The Slammer Bed & Breakfast — from Dick and Jennie Maynard, and run the businesses.
“This building has been a million different things,” Dan said of Aledo Opera House, including a roller rink and a basketball court. “Nothing’s really changed in here,” he said, noting the main difference since he was a kid was that three rows were removed to make more leg room between rows.
The theater opened on Feb. 26, 1904, with a production of the play “Quincy Adams Sawyer.” It was first used as a movie theater in 1909, and also has served as a church. While operating as a movie house in the ‘70s and '80s (when Mr. Mellgren grew up here), it closed in 1997.
An October 2000 fire in a neighboring building damaged the theater, and a renovated opera house reopened in 2002. It closed once before during the past decade.
“It’s a historic building in our downtown area, been part of our community for 100 years. It’s really an asset,” said Tarah Sipes, Aledo’s economic development coordinator. “It’s an amenity for our residents; there’s a big nostalgia factor as well. I also spent time there in my youth. The movie theater was a great place to go.”
She’s working with the city administrator and Main Street director about securing private funding to get digital projection needed for new films.
“I’m excited; the Mellgrens do have quite a bit of energy and passion for what they’re doing, which makes a big difference,” Ms. Sipes said. “If we can harness their energy, make more it visible, I hope that we can get things rolling in the same direction.”
Dan met Michelle when they attended Southern Illinois University. While they didn’t graduate, Dan worked in management with AirTran airlines for 10 years. They’ve been married since 2000. They have two children — 14-year-old Emma, and 11-year-old Colin.
The Mellgrens lived in the Miami, Fla., area for eight years; he left AirTran in 2010, and started working as vice president for a company that sold merchandise to duty-free stores.
“I left that because I was gone nine months out of the year,” Dan said, noting he traveled all over the Caribbean.
When they moved back to Aledo about two years ago, he started a “pay it forward” gift business.
“This is the best way to slow it down — move to a small town, tie yourself to some big anchors,” Dan said of the historic landmarks they manage. “The nice part of it is, the kids can be part of it,” Michelle said, noting their kids help out.
“I want my kids to have a little bit of what I had growing up,” Dan said. “This was an easy fix. With the Slammer, I usually do the morning stuff, so it leaves the afternoon for this. It’s a win-win, and my son helps me clean. He actually takes the money for tickets and enjoys it. The reason we’re back here is family. … My son, daughter, wife and I can all be here together.”
“It’s definitely good for both of them,” Michelle — whose family is in Chicago — said of their kids. “Emma’s friends come and help. They take pride in it.”
The nine-room Slammer is in the 1909 former Mercer County Jail. It was listed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1997 and was converted into a bed and breakfast in 1998 (originally The Slammer was the restaurant and B & B called The Great Escape).
Michelle is studying at Black Hawk College, with plans to become an elementary-school teacher, and is the current PTO president in Aledo.
The first weekend of December, and their first running the theater, was hectic — in addition to showings of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in 35-millimeter, they hosted It’s a Mystery dinner theater and the Untangled women’s conference at The Slammer (both Saturday).
The dinner theater (a special, and not regular, event) was catered by La Belle Vie, a local restaurant. “Little did we know we’d be running a movie theater at that time,” Michelle said.
“It was a little crazy, but everything worked out,” she said, noting she didn’t expect to have the theater up so soon. “I had agreed to it. I just didn’t know he was doing all the work. It was in the middle of (Black Hawk) finals.”
However, the 35-mm projector didn’t work well, so Dan got a projector to play DVDs (now attached to the 20-foot-high ceiling), which is the fix before they raise money ($25,000 to $50,000) for a digital projection system.
Geneseo’s 1924 Central Theater is owned and operated by the Geneseo Park District, and made the digital conversion in 2012. It shows first-run films.
“What we’re trying to do is give people an experience,” Dan said. Tickets for the 7 p.m. showings are $5, and popcorn is just $1.50, among other concessions. They have a new sound system loaned by True Audio in Aledo, for as long as they need.
“To have everything line up like that, who gets that blessed?” Michelle said. “I’ve had so many people reach out and say, ‘If you need help, I’m here.’ It just seems unreal.”
“It looks sexy to get into, but once you get into the bills, it’s not,” Dan said, noting there are licensing fees for each film. “Keeping old buildings open, letting people experience this is half of why we’re doing it. It’s a cool old theater.”
“There’s just so much history here,” Michelle said of their two businesses. “I think Aledo takes pride in their history, where they come from. To be part of it, someone’s gotta lead it. Somehow we’re crazy enough.”
At The Slammer (theslammer.net), “I would definitely love to do more community things, just some things to open up the doors, for groups to meet there,” she said.
People have asked the couple if the theater is just a seasonal thing. “We genuinely will be year-round. This is forever,” Michelle said. They plan to show films every weekend, at 7 p.m. each night — including Christmas and New Year’s Day, she said.
“Elf” is showing this weekend. “White Christmas” will be Dec. 23-25.