September 12, 2007
NEW YORK, NY — The Playpen may have had more theater incarnations than any cinema in town, but apparently that’s not enough to keep it going. The changing trends of Times Square will almost certainly soon demolish the building.
The homogenization of the Times Square area (yes, The Times has contributed to the phenomenon with its new headquarters opposite the Port Authority Bus Terminal) has claimed another quirky victim: the Playpen, a former cinema that closed recently after 90-odd years.
Very odd years.
What Eighth Avenue will lose with its disappearance is more than an adults-only emporium with suggestive neon come-ons — “Live Girls,” “Preview Booths,” “Leather & Lace.” It will lose the last home of the Funny Store, an almost vaudevillian novelty shop. It will lose one of the most distinctive facades of any surviving theater from the early 20th century, a kind of heroic Palladian composition. And will lose a three-dimensional history lesson in the evolution of Times Square.
The rest along with the history of the structure over its changing years is in the New York Times.
September 7, 2007
PHILADELPHIA, PA — Watch a TV news clip of former Philadelphia movie houses! The AMC Orleans 8 opened as a single screen cinema showplace in Northeast Philadelphia in 1963 with reportedly the largest screen in Philadelphia.
TV Fox 29 reported on the closure of the Orleans last night, and showed what’s left of the exteriors of other former Northeast Philly single screen moviehouses- the Tyson, Castor, Benner, Devon (which will reopen for live shows), and the Mayfair. Those theaters were Art Deco and opened in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Watch the clip here.
September 6, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — My long-time friend and theater buff/walking encyclopedia; Jim Lewallen, former door man at the famous Castro Theatre, has kindly called me with happy news of the 1910 Vogue Theatre.
Apparently, it closed, only for a short while, and it was thought that the dreaded wrecking ball was heading its way.
“Not so” says Jim… “because she was snapped up by a small non-profit group and reopened after some volunteer TLC.”
September 4, 2007
KNOXVILLE, TN — Far from the usual story of a new multiplex driving people away from downtown businesses, this new theater seems to be improving business.
“We couldn’t wait until it opened,” said Hossein Ghodrat who owns the Market Square Kitchen. “So far it’s helped a lot, we see a lot more people coming downtown that we’ve never seen before.”
Ghodrat says his restaurant was nowhere near this busy when it opened four years ago.
“We didn’t have a Saturday and Sunday like we do now,” he said. “Today we can’t find enough good help around here.”
You can read more at WVLT.
August 23, 2007
SOUTH PASADENA, CA — My wife and I battled our way along the insane freeways of California to say “goodbye” to South Pasadena’s venerable Rialto Theatre.
This was our only visit and found the old lady looking very stressed-out -the facade looked like a bad case of sunburn from decades ago. In fact it must be countless decades since the structure, in and outside ever saw any TLC.
Entering the almost pitch black auditorium we were welcomed by the wonderful sounds of George Wrights recorded pipe organ music… so lovely, but not the NON-air conditioned atmosphere which smelled hot and very stale. The latter must have come from the rock-hard, ancient seats. No wonder the audiences moved away.
August 17, 2007
OCALA, FL — It has been over 25 years since the Marion Theatre felt the glow of a projector on her screen. On Saturday August 11th the seats were full and lights dawned her stage after a four year $2 million renovation.
Charlotte Spell Bunyan has fond memories of the Marion Theatre.
“We came here in 1945,” she said. “We were here all the time…This was something special that my mother and I would do.”
Bunyan was one of dozens of people present for the theater’s grand reopening Saturday, a day that brought back fond memories for many.
Please go to the Star-Banner for more details.
August 7, 2007
BARNSLEY, ENGLAND — Almost two years ago, 19th of September 2005 to be exact, Barnsley Odeon was closed and thought to be never open again. However this Wednesday, the 8th of August, it will reopen as a Parkway Cinema and will broadcast its first film of Shrek 3 at 1.10pm.
July 19, 2007
ORLANDO, FL — On October 1, a new movie theatre in downtown is scheduled to open. Currently under construction, when it is operating it will be the first movie theatre to be located in the city’s center in 30 years.
There is no word yet on what company will operate it. This information is from Cameron Kuhn, Orlando downtown developer.
June 20, 2007
HONOLULU, HI — Here’s a report from the final day at the Varsity Twin.
After 68 years, the Varsity Twin Cinema closed its doors for good yesterday, drawing a modest Sunday audience of theater regulars and foreign-film buffs.
Nu'uanu resident Clifton Hew, who attended a noontime screening of the French comedy “The Valet,” said the Varsity was a “one of a kind” neighborhood theater whose broad aisles and art-house ambience can’t be replaced.
“I’m kind of disappointed to see it go. But I guess we live in the age of multiplexes and it’s more profitable to show several movies on a smaller screen,” said Hew.
For more read the Honolulu Advertiser.
June 18, 2007
YORK, ENGLAND — It has been announced today that the former Odeon Cinema, in York, which closed last August after 69 years, will reopen under the ownership of Reel Cinemas, a company that is bringing the whole movie-going experience back to the cinema.
After months of silence, the company has taken over the lease of the Art Deco, Blossom Street landmark, which is the city’s last remaining pre-war picture house.
The company are hoping that after an intial cleanup the cinema could reopen as soon as August. After that a major refurbishment will take place to create a 5 screen complex with original art deco features being restored. The complex will remain open during this time apart from perhaps the occassional day or week. Managing director Mr Kailash Suri said he was confident that there would be sufficient custom for the cinema, despite there being a multi-screen complex and arts cinemas elsewhere in the city.