Theaters

  • January 17, 2017

    Annville, PA – 100-year-old theater building also has three apartments, office space: Cool Spaces

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    From Pennlive.com: The Allen Theatre has been known by many names in the 100 years that it’s been around in Annville.

    The theater at 35 Main St. was called the “Hippodrome” when it opened in 1917. It was a common name for such venues then, much like “Colonial” or “State,” according to co-owner Allen “Skip” Hicks. The theater was later known as “Astor” in 1930.

    That all came before 1993 when Skip, who grew up watching movies at similar venues in Lebanon, asked his mother Mary Jane Hicks for help purchasing the theater. She thought her son could do no wrong — “She thought everything I did was right,” he said — and bought and paid for a total renovation of the building.

    “My mother assumed that responsibility,” Skip said. “She gave me a theater. I’m essentially the luckiest guy in the world.”

    It’s how the venue became known as the Allen Theatre for the last 21 years. If you think Skip named it after himself, you’d be mistaken. The theater is named after his father, and the coffee shop MJ’s just inside its lobby is named after his mother.

  • USA – The Coolest Drive-In Theater in Each State

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    From Aceable.com: There’s nothing better than the nostalgia of a drive-in movie theater. What better place is there for a first date after finally getting your license? Or to have a girl’s night and watch your favorite chick flick with your besties? Not to mention, they usually have some great snacks and it’s a chance to get away from the fam for a few hours. Or hey, bring them with you. Do what you want. We’re not in charge here.

  • January 14, 2017

    Brooklyn Heights, NY – Catching Up With Kenn Lowy: The Last Owner of Brooklyn Heights Cinemas

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    From Brooklyn Heights Blog: Brooklyn Heights Cinemas, at the end of its 42-year run, was the oldest independently-owned cinema in all of New York City. When the cinema shut off its projectors for good in 2014, the neighborhood collectively mourned the loss of yet another community sanctuary. A place where neighbors and visitors gathered for shared experiences. A place where you walked in and the owner and employees knew your name and what you liked without asking. If you were a regular customer, you probably miss the last owner, Kenn Lowy, as much as the cinema itself. When the neighborhood thinks of the old cinema, we think of Kenn, although he only owned it for its last three years. In the interview below, Kenn tells his story of his one-man mission to save the cinema, a labor of love that was life-altering in both good and bad ways.

    BHB: How did you become the last owner of Brooklyn Heights Cinemas?

    KL: I had been going to the cinema off and on since I was 17 years old. My family had moved from Philadelphia to Cobble Hill in the late 70’s and that was the only cinema around. I lived for a time in Brooklyn Heights, Vinegar Hill, and Park Slope, and then I moved away for a few years. And when I moved back 20 years ago, it became my cinema again. I used to go there all the time. Then, in late 2010, there was an article in one of the local papers about the owner being indicted for wire fraud. There had been several times before when the cinema almost went out of business. I wondered what was going to happen to the cinema. So I went and saw Amy, the Manager there. She knew me as someone who saw almost every movie they played. I asked her what was going to happen and she half-jokingly said, “Do you want to buy the place?” Like an idiot, I said, “Yeah, maybe.” She said, “I don’t know if he wants to sell it or not, but I’ll ask.” Literally, a week later, I was sitting down with the owner and we started talking about how I could buy the place. That’s what led to it. It would have gone under unless someone bought it. The cinema had been losing money for years. The owner had other cinemas, one that was making money and another one that was going nowhere. It took about six months of negotiating. I had no money, so I cashed in my IRA’s and maxed out my credit cards. And that’s how I bought the place.

    BHB: What led you to take such a risk?

    KL: {Laughs} I thought at the time that I could make it work. I didn’t think they were getting the best movies. They were getting good ones, but not the ones enough people wanted to see to make it viable. But I wanted to keep it as an independent cinema. I thought I could make it work. I never thought I would make money from it. But as long as I could break even, I was going to be happy, just to keep it going. Personally, it was an important place to me. It had been my local movie theater, like for many in Brooklyn Heights. This was our hometown movie theater.

    BHB: At the time, were you making a living with a day job?

    KL: Yes. I was a computer consultant, mostly Apple computer stuff. I had been doing that pretty much most of my life. Until my early 30’s, I was a journalist and a musician. I’m still a musician, but that’s how I used to make a living. Then the music industry changed and journalism changed, where I really couldn’t make a full time living at it. That’s when I got into computers and I’ve been doing that for the last 25 years.

    BHB: When you bought the cinema, did you think, “If I break even I’ll be okay because I could support myself with the computer consulting?”

    KL: No, when I said “break even,” I meant to be able to support myself, where maybe I wouldn’t be saving a lot, but I wouldn’t be losing money. I tried doing the consulting half the time and the cinema the other half, but that just wasn’t working. The first couple of months, I was at the cinema on the weekends and just hanging out. But after that, I was pretty much there full-time, along with my manager and the projectionist. After a few months, I wanted to be more hands-on and not being there didn’t make much sense.

  • January 11, 2017

    Washington, IA – This Iowa movie theater is the oldest of its kind in the entire world

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    From The Des Moines Register: When’s the last time you saw a movie in a theater?

    Take a drive east from Des Moines to Altoona and your experience at just one of many state-of-the-art theaters will consist of ultra high-definition picture quality, surround sound, reclining lounge chairs, self-service concessions and even alcohol.

    But if you continue the drive another two hours in that direction, you’ll find yourself in Washington, Ia. — home of the world’s oldest continuously operating movie theater in a town of 7,000 people.

  • San Antonio, TX – Can a New Partnership Jumpstart the Alameda Theater’s Revival?

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    From The Rivard Report: The iconic Alameda Theater hasn’t hosted large crowds for Spanish-language films and performers in decades, but the storied Latino performing arts venue which now sits in disrepair may soon get the facelift it desperately needs – and with it a chance of revival.

    The City of San Antonio and Bexar County are finalizing an agreement with Texas Public Radio (TPR) that will allow the nonprofit to move its headquarters from its longtime offices on Datapoint Drive near the Medical Center into the space behind the Alameda Theater, located at 318 W. Houston St., and will include investments from both entities to help renovate the historic structure.

  • January 5, 2017

    San Francisco, CA – Richmond district’s historic 4-Star Theatre, still without a buyer, offered for sale on Craigslist

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    From SFGate.com: The Richmond district’s 4-Star Theatre, a longtime San Francisco movie theater built in 1913, has been on the market since June 2015 without a serious buyer. At the time, it was being offered for $2.8 million, but now, over a year and a half later, a listing for it has been posted to Craigslist in hopes of attracting anyone who will continue to operate the two-screened establishment as a theater, or else develop it into “a church, school, event space, fitness center – subject to conditional use approval.” The Craigslist posting currently does not list a price, but advises interested parties to call for more information.

  • January 4, 2017

    Houston, TX – In the Age of Streaming, How Houston’s Cinemas Keep You Going to the Movies

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    From the Houston Press: In July 1999, the River Oaks Theatre had the honor of exclusively hosting The Blair Witch Project for two weeks. Lines snaked around the building for an endless stream of sold-out shows. People began trying to sneak their friends in through the exit. With too many people and not enough seats, a minor riot ensued.

    Then-general manager Rob Arcos and the rest of the staff ended up barricaded in the office while the cops escorted people out. Artisan Entertainment eventually sent the various Landmark Theatres staff T-shirts saying “I survived The Blair Witch Project,” as thanks for handling the two weeks of insanity.

    Ah, those heady days when going to the movies was still a must-do experience. Nowadays, confronted with streaming entertainment and digital piracy, Houston theaters are finding new best strategies as they try to hold onto their share of the market and remain relevant.

    For instance, he really isn’t a ghoul, but when Robert Saucedo of Alamo Drafthouse finds out a celebrity actor has died, he springs into action, operating on the premise that when someone you love dies, you go to that person’s funeral. When an actor you love dies, you go to the movies.

  • Pomona, CA – That’s a wrap: When Pomona used to have movie theaters

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    From the Daily Bulletin: The olden days of moviegoing in Pomona is an occasional topic here. My column last fall on the Sunkist Theater, the most obscure of the four major theaters in town, had as its genesis a reader query about the city’s classic movie houses.

    Don Russell, a retired general manager of this fine publication, had emailed to say he’d find it interesting “to read about the other walk-in theaters that once were in the city of Pomona and what happened to them.”

    In my attempt to oblige him, my research turned up the startling fact that Howard Hughes had built and operated the Sunkist, an association that had been brief and long-forgotten.

    So the Sunkist became the story. But as I still have all my notes on the other theaters, let me round up those stories for you now before we get caught up in the mad whirl of 2017. Posterity demands it.

    The facts are gleaned from Progress-Bulletin files, the website Cinema Treasures, the Facebook group Growing Up in Pomona in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s and, last but not least, the Pomona Public Library.

    • In the silent era, when theaters were fairly easily set up, Pomona had several, among them La Pictoria (478 W. Second St.), the American (470 W. Second St.), the Lyric (366 W. Second St.) and the Fraternal Aid Opera House (Gordon and Third), all of which appear to have closed by the mid-1920s; none of the buildings is still standing.

    • The Belvedere (255 S. Garey Ave.) opened in 1911. Howard Hughes’ Hughes-Franklin Co. bought the theater in 1931, early in the sound era. The company announced a major remodeling that would include a name change to the Mirror and an exterior that would be covered in “thousands of little mirrors.” Neither occurred. (Imagine having the job of gluing them onto the building.) Still named the Belvedere, the theater burned down Nov. 20, 1933.

    • The California/United Artists (235 W. Third St.) opened in 1923 as the California with Buster Keaton’s still-delightful comedy “Our Hospitality.” The theater, at 1,212 seats, later became the Fox California and, in 1949, the United Artists Theater, closing in 1972. In the 1980s it became the Pomona Valley Auditorium, which hosted rock concerts, some of them promoted by a young Paul Tollett, who now puts on the Coachella festival. The former theater these days is a Spanish church.

    • The Fox Pomona (301 S. Garey Ave.) opened in 1931 with Laurel and Hardy’s “Laughing Gravy.” The city’s grandest theater with 1,751 seats, it often hosted sneak previews of movies, for which stars and studio heads would be in attendance, the better to gauge the reaction of a typical audience so that changes could be made before release. The Fox closed as a first-run movie house in 1976. It showed Spanish-language movies until the late 1980s, was used as a church and later for rave concerts. In 2009, the Fox reopened as a concert venue after a $10 million renovation. The theater has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1981.

  • January 2, 2017

    Hailey, ID – Bruce Willis, Demi Moore donate Idaho theater to troupe

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    From The Roanoke Times:
    Actors Bruce Willis and Demi Moore have donated the Liberty Theatre in downtown Hailey to a local theater company.

    The Idaho Statesman reports (http://bit.ly/2ir425O ) that the formalized gift gives the Company of Fools a secure, permanent space where the theatrical company has performed since 1996.

  • December 30, 2016

    Highland, IN – Final fate of Town Theatre a coming attraction

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    From nwi.com: The question of whether the Town Council will say “action” on renovating the Town Theatre probably will be answered next month, the theater’s board of directors recently learned.

    Invitations to bid were sent out to about 15 contractors, said Redevelopment Director Cecile Petro. “We’d like to have a lot of bids.”

    The bids are due by noon Jan. 16, when they will be opened and announced in Town Hall through the help of Morris Architects and Planners of Chicago.

    Although no official action will be taken that day, the public will be allowed to attend the bid openings.

    “Basically, the architect will go through them and evaluate them” to make sure they follow the stipulations set by the Redevelopment Commission, said Rhett Tauber, theater board attorney, of the bids.

    Contractors must include a base bid for comparison purposes, board members said.

    The ultimate winner — if the project is approved — will be the lowest and most responsive qualifying bid, Petro noted.

    Town officials will conduct a walk-through of the historic 70-year-old building on Jan. 5 for interested contractors.

    Attendance at the function will hint at the level of interest among qualified builders, Director Michael Maloney said. Interest already has been expressed by inquiring contractors from Indianapolis, South Bend and Chicago, Petro said.

    The bid amounts will determine whether the curtain will be raised again in the theater.