Theaters

  • July 20, 2016

    Stevens Point, WI – Fox Theater revival project at a standstill

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    From the Stevens Point Journal: Three years after a group started raising money and pledged to reopen the historic Fox Theater in downtown Stevens Point, its members have collected around $200,000 in donations but made no progress toward restoring the crumbling building.

    Organizers say they have funds in the bank — enough to pay this year’s property taxes and insurance — after having spent $30,000 to study the building'sarchitecture, plus money on a temporary roof repair and on general building upkeep, taxes, insurance and utility bills. Organizers have collected donations including money, celebrity appearances and time from students.

  • July 19, 2016

    Lexington, KY – Kentucky Theatre’s Mighty Wurlitzer organ will be saved, new group promises

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    From the Lexington Herald Leader: The remains of Kentucky’s Mighty Wurlitzer organ can’t be played at the moment — but there is hope that within the next decade they may again ring through its original home at Lexington’s Kentucky Theatre.

    The sumptuous golden and ivory console is wrapped in plastic and sitting in a Jessamine County warehouse. The rest of the massive organ, which totals about 20,000 pounds, sits in pieces nearby. While parts of the organ have been restored during the last 20 years, there’s still a lot of work to do.

    “It is a treasure,” said Bill Webber, whose group, the Bluegrass Chapter of The American Theatre Organ Society, is now overseeing fund raising for the restoration and resettlement of the organ. “We must save it. … There are only a few original organs like this intact.”

    The organ that’s in the Kentucky Theatre is played by Webber on Wednesday nights during the Summer Classic Movie series.

    The original Kentucky Theatre organ — the theater opened in 1922 — has seen a lot, and not just during the years between 1922 and 1934 when it provided the music and sound effects for silent movies at the theater.

    Theater organs, with their distinctive horseshoe-shaped consoles and ornate decoration, once appeared all over the country. An estimated 7,000 of them were installed in movie houses from 1925 to 1933. Few of the instruments remain today, but both Cincinnati and Knoxville have restored Mighty Wurlitzers.

    Organ performers in the early days of film provided a soundtrack during silent movies. The instrument could provide simulations for everything from horse hoof beats to train whistles. The siren and antique car horn — which makes the sound “oo-ga” — are Webber’s favorites, he said.

    The Lexington organ was sold in 1977 to an organ broker, but later bought by Oscar Wilson, who put it in his home on Winchester Road and invited people to concerts.

    Wilson later donated it to the University of Kentucky. Over the years such theater organs became increasingly rare, and getting the parts and expertise to restore them more difficult.

    H. Steven Brown first came upon the organ in a “Lost Lexington” exhibit in The Central Library in 1993, and wanted to lead the charge to restore the massive instrument. For more than 20 years Brown’s group, Kentucky’s Mighty Wurlitzer, raised money toward that goal.

    But ultimately, the organ was never approved for re-installation into the Kentucky Theatre, and a flood of occasionally contentious paperwork flew between Brown and leaders representing UK, the urban county government and the Kentucky Theatre. Last month, Brown dissolved his organization.

    Brown said the problem his group faced wasn’t with raising money to restore the organ, but with raising money to complete the complex re-installation of the organ into its Kentucky Theatre home. Donors to the project over the years still need to be honored, he said.

    Brown’s organization did some good work in fundraising and providing restoration for the organ, Webber said. Donors to Brown’s group “need to know that their donations were not for nothing. They have gone toward the renovations that have happened so far,” he said.

    So far, Webber’s organization has two anonymous major donors for its organ restoration, he said. A Louisville restoration company is attached to the project and will soon start work, along with a group of volunteers.

    Restoration of the organ will cost about $200,000, Webber said.

    Like Brown’s group, Webber’s organization also wants to return the organ to the Kentucky but without altering the theater’s present structure.

    “We are going to get this done,” Webber said. “I promise you, this is going to happen.”

    Read more here (with photo gallery and video): http://www.kentucky.com/living/article90255362.html#storylink=cpy

  • July 18, 2016

    Ridgewood, Queens, NY: Historic former Ridgewood Theatre advertises new apartment rentals for insane prices

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    From qns.com: New apartments at blockbuster prices will soon be the feature presentation at the former Ridgewood Theatre.

    The former moviehouse located at 55-27 Myrtle Ave. is being converted from a 2,500-seat, five-screen multiplex theater to a five-story, mixed-use building featuring a commercial space on the lower floor and 50 residential units on the upper floors.

  • Coconut Grove, FL – Segregation-era movie theater in Coconut Grove wins national historic designation

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    From The Real Deal: A Coconut Grove theater steeped in history from Miami’s segregation era has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, paving the way for redevelopment, sources told The Real Deal.

    The ACE Theatre at 3664 Grand Avenue was added on June 13, according to the register’s website.

    The historic designation means the owner, ACE Development Company, can now focus on its plans to renovate of the property into a multi-use entertainment venue, according to ACE attorney Mark Grafton.

    “We are extremely excited about unlocking the development potential,” Grafton told TRD. “Being placed on the register allows us to sell transferable development rights, makes the ACE Theatre eligible for federal and some state grants, and it also unlocks a 20 percent federal tax credit which will make it more appealing to outside investors.”

    Two years ago, ACE Development — which is owned by longtime Coconut Grove residents the Wallace Family — won approval for a local historic designation from the Miami Historic and Environmental Preservation Board. Built in 1930, the movie theater was the only film house serving the Grove’s black community in the 1950s. Today, the building is shuttered and in need of extensive repairs.

    “The main goal was to get the historic designation,” ACE Development President Denise Wallace told TRD. “There are a lot of changes taking place in the Grove so we felt it was important to preserve the property.”

    With a historic designation from the city of Miami, ACE Development was able to win the support of the Florida Division of Historic Resources, which nominates buildings to the National Register of Historic Places. Other local theaters on the list include the Lyric Theater in Overtown and Olympia Theater in downtown Miami.

    Wallace said ACE Development is exploring the possibility of a public and private partnership with the city or Miami-Dade County to restore the theater and operate it as multi-use entertainment facility for Grove residents.

  • Stanton, KY – Powell Co. drive-in movie theater damaged in Thursday’s storms

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    From WKYT-TV: The Mountain View Drive-In movie theater in Powell County has been open since 1957. For the first time in its history, the owners say part of the building suffered storm damage.

    Around 5:30 Thursday night, strong wind gusts and heavy rain blew through Central Kentucky.

    After the storm cleared, the owners of the drive-in found the wind had ripped off a portion of the projection room roof, as well as that of the concession stand.

    Owners don’t yet know if the projector has been damaged because the building still did not have power as of Friday morning.

    As for the concession stand, crews have been working since Thursday to get it fixed up and there’s still plenty of work to be done.

    Keith Justice, owner of Justice Contracting said, “About a third of the roof was just folded back on top of the rest of it. The front corner post over there is laying over here now. Just a real bad gust of wind.”

    Owners say the plan is to be open Friday evening on their secondary screen. They’re still not sure whether or not they’ll have movies on the main screen at least for the time being.

    Full story, with video and photos, at: http://www.wkyt.com/content/news/A-Powell-Co-drive-in-theater—-386986781.html

  • July 15, 2016

    Calumet, MI – Historic theater could see modern feature

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    From ABC10up.com: The goal of a three-year fundraising effort for a historic theater in Calumet is within reach. Three years ago the Calumet Theater set out to raise money for a much-needed elevator to their second floor ballroom and balcony. The goal of the Lift Us Up project was $325,000 and the theater has raised over $300,000 already. Tickets for the Calumet Theater’s Grand Raffle are now on sale and should help them reach their goal.

    Calumet Theater Executive Director Laura Miller said, “$34,000 worth of cash prizes and there’s ten cash prizes, and you can win two tickets for all 2017 stage events; and if we can sell this to the level that we’ve sold it in the past years, we are going to have enough money to break ground on our elevator in 2016.” The winning tickets will be drawn by Jake and Elwood July 23rd during the Blooze Brothers concert.

    It’s just one of the hot shows during the theater’s busiest time of year. Miller said, “Biggest month ever in July with Vaudeville and the Movie Magic Films and, of course, the Blooze Brothers-and all these shows bring people in the door and, when people get in the door, they buy those Grand Raffle tickets.” Don’t miss out on the chance for a big payoff.

    With raffle tickets becoming more difficult to sell and because they are so close to their goal, this will be the theater’s last Grand Raffle.

  • July 13, 2016

    Knoxville, TN – Knoxville’s iconic downtown theaters basking in newfound success

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    From the Knoxville News Sentinel: The Tennessee Theatre had its best attendance month ever in April, drawing more than 25,000 patrons. And right now it is on track to recording its most successful year in history. Not to be outdone, the Bijou Theatre across the road has experienced its first profitable period in its modern history.

    Much of the theaters' success is attributed to AC Entertainment’s unique management style. AC Entertainment started working with the Tennessee Theatre 20 years ago and partnered with the Bijou Theatre 10 years ago.

    “April was an amazing month for both the Tennessee and the Bijou,” said Ashley Capps, who founded AC Entertainment 25 years ago. “The Tennessee had its most successful month ever, by any metric. ‘The Book of Mormon’ drove that along with a number of sellout shows.”

    This is no overnight success. “I would love to say that we had this impulse to revive the theater and that we knew what we were doing,” he said. “But we were making it up as we went along.”

    Capps started promoting shows at the Bijou back in 1980 — “just for the fun of it.” Then he started promoting shows at the Tennessee Theatre about 1982 and continued to do so throughout the 1980s.

    In 1996, James Dick, the owner of the Tennessee Theatre, gave AC the opportunity to take over the day-to-day operations and management. “When we took the reins at the Tennessee Theatre we had one primary objective — we didn’t want to see it close, its future looked a bit shaky,” he explained.

    “In the late 1990s, the theaters were in rough shape,” Capps said. “The bones of the Tennessee were in good shape but there were no amenities for touring personnel and the dressing rooms were fairly frightening. The tractor-trailer trucks had to pull up on Gay Street and roll everything in through the lobby onto the stage, all of these heavy cases with sound and lights and band instruments were not good for the lobby.”

    AC leveraged its extensive network of venues and festivals and industry experience to bring top acts to Knoxville. AC are co-producers of the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival with Superfly Productions and the producers of Big Ears Festival and other events in Ontario, Kentucky, Alabama and North Carolina.

    “We were young and aggressive,” Capps admitted. “We just rolled the dice and worked it really hard. We were able to bring some amazing acts.” Capps recalls Chet Atkins performing his last concert and Johnny Cash performing his last full concert, and Bob Dylan and Santana all taking to the Tennessee Theatre stage in the late 1990s.

    At the time, The Tomato Head was the only restaurant open downtown at night. “Most of Gay Street was boarded up, buildings were empty,” he said. “I remember a visitor driving downtown, rolling down his window — I thought he was going to ask for directions, but he asked what had happened there? It was like a ghost town.”

    At the same time AC had to overcome the fact the Tennessee Theatre was designed as a movie house, not a modern concert venue. “I’m a Knoxville native, my first memories are going there as a little kid,” Capps said. “We would go to see all of the first run movies, I would see Disney and John Wayne movies when I was 5 years old.”

    In a sense it has all become easier, according to Capps. “The big challenge is that there is a lot more of it. The challenge is not so much booking it but managing it. With all of this volume, still delivering the highest experience that we can. Being committed to crafting an experience for both the artist and the fans.

    “For the theaters, we are the staff, that’s the simplest way of looking at it,” Capps said. “We take care of all of the day-to-day operations, manage the theater and the calendar.” AC also works closely with the Knoxville Symphony and Knoxville Opera as well other groups that want to use the theaters.

    With just 1,600 seats, the Tennessee is considered a secondary venue making it financially challenging for many promoters. Capps said that they make it easier for those outside promoters to use the theater effectively.

    “They are definitely different,” Capps said of the two Gay Street theaters. “The philosophy is similar. (However) because of its size and amenities you could never do a real touring Broadway production in the Bijou. It is a little scrappier, it requires a lot more from our team in some ways — they are super hands-on with every aspect of the show.”

    AC Entertainment is not resting on its laurels. “We are always looking for ways to further develop programming for everything that we do, I’m very excited and proud of what we have accomplished up until this point,” Capps said.

    The Bijou is primed for a whole new phase of its existence, according to Capps. “We are excited to be working with the Bijou, crafting the vision for the next 10 years and really exploring the other facets of what the Tennessee Theatre can be in the future.”

    Although the theater has been active for almost 88 years, Becky Hancock, Executive Director of the Tennessee Theatre, said the real turning point was when it was restored and renovated in 2005 so that it could function in the 21st century.

    “But a crucial component was making sure that the theater could book and secure great entertainment,” she said. “We are fortunate to have AC Entertainment in town. Their management and bookings have played a great role. They have great contacts with artists, agents and producers, they know the market well and they know the venue well, they have been an integral part.

    “April is the top of the heap, we have been doing very, very well,” said Hancock of the theater’s success. “For the rest of the year things look good. We don’t book too far out in advance, Ashley would be the first to tell anyone that it is a volatile industry, it’s affected by many factors. In some ways we hedge our bets, but I feel that the formula we have will work well.”

  • July 12, 2016

    Schroon Lake, NY – AFS celebrates new digital projection at Strand Theatre

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    From The Sun: In celebration of the Strand Theatre’s recent acquisition of digital film-projection equipment, the Adirondack Film Society (AFS), which was the nonprofit conduit for New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) grant funding of the upgrade, is presenting a series of special screening programs in partnership with the Strand.

    First up Saturday, July 16—in digital cinema package (DCP) format—is the madcap comedy, “A Night at the Opera,” starring the inimitable Marx Brothers in one of their funniest movies and one of the truly great comic movies of all time. Then on July 17, the AFS will screen one of the greatest films ever made—the Depression-era comedy-drama classic, “Sullivan’s Travels,” written and directed by Hollywood wunderkind Preston Sturges, which itself is a love letter to the art of movie-making and which served as a partial inspiration for the Coen Brothers’ 2000s classic, “O Brother, Where Art Thou.”

    Saturday, Aug. 13 and Aug. 14, brings an entirely different flavor to the Strand’s big (and brand-new) screen with the world premiere of “The Night We Met,” an independent feature directed and co-written by Albany-area-based filmmaker Jon Russell Cring and shot in and around Schroon Lake—about the kind of unforgettable night shared by two young lovers that we’ve all had or wished we had at least once in our youth.

    Meet the Author and the Filmmakers

    Introducing North Country filmgoers to filmmakers and other industry professionals—typically, in small, intimate, up-close-and-personal settings—is one of the chief calling cards of the Adirondack Film Society, the people who have brought area movie buffs the highly celebrated Lake Placid Film Forum on an annual basis most years since 2000. The “AFS Easy Screening Series at the Strand” is no different.

    In August, director Cring will be on hand at the Strand, along with his wife Tracy Cring—who served as the film’s co-writer, director of photography and editor—to introduce their film and answer questions about the thrills and travails of indy filmmaking in the Adirondack North Country after each screening. And serving as emcee for the premier collaboration between the movie theater and the AFS in July is author and lecturer John DiLeo, whose books include “And You Thought You Knew Classic Movies” and “100 Great Film Performances You Should Remember But Probably Don’t.” Mr. DiLeo will introduce each film and lead a Q&A session following each screening. As an added bonus, on each evening of the weekend prior to the film screening that night, Mr. DiLeo will present an informal 45-to-50-minute program of memorable film clips and movie-lore tidbits on a theme.

    On July 16, “Bloopers, Secrets, and Surprises from Hollywood’s Golden Age,” which will set the stage for the hilarity to come with Groucho, Chico and Harpo in “A Night at the Opera.” On Sunday the 17th, John DiLeo shifts the focus from outtakes to outstanding but underappreciated screen appearances by some of Hollywood’s shiniest starts with “Great Film Performances You Should Remember But Probably Don’t,” adapted from his book of the same name.

    The festivities begin each evening at 6:15 p.m., with a reception, followed by Mr. DiLeo’s movie clips-and-anecdotes program at 7 p.m., and the film at 8 p.m., capped off by the Q&A. Admission to each evening’s program is $10 per person; tickets are available for advance purchase during the day at the Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce and in the evening at the Strand, as well as at the door on the evening of each screening. For more information, call the AFS at 588-7275 or visit adirondackfilmsociety.org.

  • July 7, 2016

    Newberg, OR – 99W Drive-In still a hot ticket on a summer night

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    From Oregonlive.com: Drive-in movie theaters are fading fast. They’re a novelty, a relic, a quaint reminder of postwar Americana. They can’t compete with multiplex cinemas or independent theaters. Their days are numbered. They’re history.

    Only, somebody forgot to tell the 99W Drive-In in Newberg, which is still very much alive and kicking.

    The 99W is one of four remaining drive-in movie theaters in Oregon, and among just more than 300 in the United States. When most drive-ins shut down for good, the Newberg business kept going, and now stands to not just survive but flourish in the 21st century.

    “There are some times when I desperately want people to know about the drive-in and some times when I don’t want anybody to know about the drive-in,” owner Brian Francis said. “The fact that we have cars lined up down the highway, we’re real sensitive to that.”

    For decades, it’s been conventional wisdom that drive-ins can’t compete with multi-screen indoor movie theaters. They still can’t – Francis willingly admits that ­– but something is happening culturally that is drawing more people back to the outdoor movie theater. Maybe it’s social media, maybe it’s a growing population or a renewed sense of community; whatever the case, 99W is reaping the benefits.

    One weekend last month, all four nights of the double feature of “Finding Dory” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass” sold out. That hasn’t been unusual. People showed up in droves for “Purple Rain.” Even “X-Men: Apocalypse” sold out two days. Last year, interest in “Jurassic World” was so high that people who couldn’t get in parked illegally on a hill across the street just to watch.

    Adding a feather to its cap, the 99W Drive-In was recently voted the number one drive-in theater in the country, in a poll conducted by USA Today this spring.

    “It was a nice little honor,” Francis said of the award.

    He’s modest about the theater’s success, and reserved about the future. He’s been in the industry long enough to have seen the ups and downs.

  • June 28, 2016

    South Pasadena, CA – South Pasadena’s historic Rialto Theatre sold to downtown developer

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    From the Los Angeles Times: zek Shomof, a prominent redeveloper of older buildings in downtown Los Angeles, has purchased the historic Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena and hopes to turn it into an entertainment venue that could include a bar and screenings of old movies.

    The 1,200-seat theater, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of the last single-screen movie theaters in Southern California. The building was closed to the public in 2010 after a piece of the facade broke off and crashed onto the sidewalk.

    The deal was finalized last month, according to Matthew Dobson, a representative of NGKF Capital Markets, the brokerage firm handling the transaction. The sale price is undisclosed, and Shomof said he is still negotiating with potential tenants.

    Shomof’s pattern is to buy older buildings and put them back together. He’s helped redevelop several older buildings in downtown Los Angeles, and he’s leading a group of investors who want to transform the historic Sears Tower in Boyle Heights into shops, restaurants, apartments and creative space.

    “I like historical buildings, and I like to renovate them and make them how they used to be,” Shomof said. “That’s what I care about more than anything to start with.”