Theaters

  • August 26, 2016

    Springfield, MO – Springfield’s Palace Theater will show first-run movies, change names

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    From KSPR.com: The Palace Theater in Springfield’s Chesterfield Village will soon show first-run movies.

    Owners are renaming it as the Premiere Palace. The change starts Friday.

    Here is what you can expect. You will pay $4 for matinees. Evening movies will set you back $6.


    News release:

    The Palace Theatre will become the Premiere Palace, a discount first-run movie theatre, starting on Friday, Aug. 26. The Premiere Palace will show weekly new releases at a discounted rate. Ticket prices will be $4 for matinees, children (ages 3 – 12), seniors and students. The evening price for adults will be $6.

    “The people and city of Springfield have been incredibly supportive of the Palace since it opened,” said Warren Theatres president Bill Warren. “We are looking forward to giving the opportunity to see new movies, the weekend they open, at a discounted ticket price.”

    Online ticketing will be available soon after opening. The Premiere Palace will accept cash, Visa, MasterCard and Discover.

    The Premiere Palace is at 2220 W. Chesterfield Boulevard.

  • Philadelphia, PA – Watch drones race inside the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House

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    From Curbed Philadelphia: About a month ago, a group called the Philly Quad Squad went inside the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House to race drones for a segment on CSN Philly’s 700 Level Show. True, the 2:45-minute video is more about the drone racing than the opera house, but it still allows viewers to sneak a unique peek through the space.

    Take a very fast tour of the theater yourself:http://philly.curbed.com/2016/8/22/12582820/drone-video-philadelphia-metropolitan-opera-house

    Developer Eric Blumenfeld, who owns a stake in the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House, has plans to turn it into a major music venue after a $35 million renovation.

  • Lafayette, CA – New Owners Ready to Resurrect Park Theater

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    From Lamorinda Weekly: A trio of partners are excited to bring new life to the historic Park Theater in Lafayette, which has been closed for more than a decade. Armed with a business plan and a sense of urgency after learning that a developer was interested in the property, local residents Cathy and Fred Abbott, along with partner Alex McDonald, recently signed papers to purchase the theater property that comes with a small, narrow rectangular parking area in the rear. Cathy Abbot said she “figured it was now or never.” If all goes according to plan, escrow should close in early 2017. Shortly afterward, with the help of additional investors, the group hopes to begin an estimated $6 million of renovations. Their plan is for adaptive re-use of the 64-year-old building to feature movies, performances, and music by partnering with a variety of local entities for everything from comedy shows, educational lectures, independent films and more. The partners envision a beautiful structure that celebrates the art deco streamline moderne style, possibly including a living wall of plants on an upstairs rooftop deck and bar that would serve beer on tap and locally sourced wine. Grassroots efforts in the past to reopen the beloved landmark were never able to make a go of it, due to a variety of factors: the difficulty in making enough money to support the business with one screen in the age of the multiplex, significant structural issues, non-handicap accessible bathrooms, and of course parking constraints that don’t meet the current city code. Many residents had high hopes when rumors of Fenton’s Creamery taking over swirled in 2011, but they never materialized. The trio are well aware of the significant amount of investment it will take to allow the building to be open for business after a walk-through with a structural engineer. “Alex, Fred and I want to create something that is kid- and senior-friendly, a place where everyone feels welcome,” Cathy Abbott said. “We think it would be great to have a Battle of the Bands for the local high schools, a place for nonprofit benefits and private rentals,” said the Acalanes High School graduate, who went on to get an MBA from UC Berkeley. “We believe we have figured out a plan that will allow the theater to be a successful and sustainable business that adapts to the times and provides a magic mix of entertainment options for people in the local area.” Fred Abbott is an international law professor, specializing in trade, public health and intellectual property; he’s also a fan of science fiction and film noir. Originally from Scotland, Happy Valley resident McDonald is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who says he is committed to showing movies again at the theater. They acknowledge that a number of things will need to come together to get this project off the ground: finding the right architect that could restore the theater and make it more functional, working with the city about parking, and especially finding investors to breathe new life into the vintage gem. Noting that the city recently purchased a nearby parking lot, and with plans for alternative transportation, Cathy Abbott hopes for a compromise on parking, especially since a renovated business would bring vitality and additional tax revenue to the city. Built in 1941 and opening its doors with a screening of an Abbott and Costello film, the popular theater entertained generations of Lamorindans. Fast forward to 1987 and the Park Theater was taken over by Allen Michaan’s Renaissance Rialto Films. But over time, it wasn’t profitable, so it closed for good after more than 60 years in business in September 2005 with “Cinema Paradiso” and “Amelie.” Stanley Middle School student Joel Braunstein made a six-minute documentary film on the history of the theater, including information from the city’s point of view. To check it out on YouTube, go to www.YouTube.com and type in “The Park Theater Movie” in the search box.

  • Jackson, WY – Old theater now an empty shell

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    From the Jackson Hole News and Guide: The oldest theater building in the town of Jackson is now an empty shell as an ambitious renovation project brings the old structure up to current fire codes.

    But what will happen next in the old Teton Theatre is a mystery to all but those involved in the deal. Robert Gill of the Gill Family Trust, which owns the building, won’t spill the beans.

    “I don’t have any information for you as far as what it’s going to look like,” Gill said Tuesday.

    Unveiling a new use and design is up to the future tenant, he said. His job is to get the building ready for use.

    Passers-by on North Cache have noted a flurry of demolition work inside the building, phase one of the building’s restoration.

    Town records hold permits and reports with notes about some details, but no plans are on file for reconstruction of the basement, first and improved second floor.

    Closed for years

    Right now there isn’t much floor per se — just dirt, rocks and a pile of debris visible when exterior plywood is removed. Construction crews go about their work inside as pedestrians mill past outside.

    Gill said the walls were torn down to the bare rock, which was shot-coated with a layer of concrete to make a solid building even stronger. When the roof trusses were exposed they were also found to be solid. Gill said the town had suspected the trusses were some form of “cowboy” engineering — but they were in fact legitimately manufactured trusses.

    The theater opened in 1941. It was built by Bruce Porter, who also constructed and ran Jackson Drug just up the street. Porter had started showing movies in the space above his store in 1922.

    The building was an early landmark, with its stone exterior and location just off Town Square. The premiere of the classic and locally shot movie “Spencer’s Mountain” was shown there, with an after-party at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.

    In the 1980s the theater got a renovation that included a snack bar and new seats. In the old days people would buy snacks at the corner drug store before going to the movie house.

    Its marquee is still attached, but serves now as a political endorsement sign.

    The theater closed Sept. 30, 2012, after a Sunday showing of the movie “End of Watch.”

    Speculation about its future has been rife — and fruitless.

    A liquor license was transferred to the 120 N. Cache St. address in 2012, but no restaurant opened there.

    A tobacco shop located for decades in the building lost its lease in June and relocated just blocks away to the north.

    After four years work could finally begin on the building’s second life.

    “A lot of the problem is it’s difficult to do things in town because of the cost,” Gill said.

    While permits can be pricey, “That’s nothing compared to the housing fee.”

    And while he said there are fond memories of the place as a single-screen movie theater, times have changed.

    “It had really run its course a long time ago,” he said.

    Traffic delays

    Gill seemed disappointed in his dealings with officials.

    “I was hoping the town would be a little more helpful,” Gill said.

    The project will have a few impacts, but mostly during off hours.

    Roadway early birds may find some detours between Labor Day and Memorial Day as large structural members such as columns and beams are delivered.

    A report by Josh Kilpatrick of Nelson Engineering, on file with the town, estimates it may take as many as 14 separate days to get that work done, “and will necessitate temporary three-hour closures of North Cache Street.”

    The report states that a three-day advance notice will be given for 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. closures of the road between Deloney and Gill.

    “New construction will commence after Labor Day and following the demolition phase,” the report read.

    A window installation on the street side of the building will necessitate a covered walkway for pedestrian protection as rocks are removed from the facade.

    Another traffic and parking disruption will take place as infrastructure for a new water and fire suppression system are installed beneath the pavement between Sept. 20 and Oct. 15.

    Some parking spaces on the west side of the street will become a travel lane during part of that work.

  • August 24, 2016

    Waynesboro, VA – History: The Cavalier was Waynesboro’s ‘Other’ Theater

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    From the News Leader: Between 1920 and 1929 Waynesboro movie-goers enjoyed three movie theaters all within a mile of each other. But the youngest, the Cavalier, was considered the bad boy of the three.

    The city’s first was the Star Theater, located at 544 West Main Street, in a building that still stands. A former Presbyterian Church, the structure was bought and converted into a theater in 1922 by Col. Max Patterson and Carl C. Loth, film impresarios who were eager to capitalize on the booming 1920s movie business. The small, spartan Star played silent films with piano accompaniment probably provided by Wenonah School music teacher Frank Vanderherschen. In 1925 the Loths started constructing the Wayne Theatre just down the hill, and the Star closed when the Wayne opened in 1926.

    While not an extravagant “movie palace” like those built in larger cities, such as the Byrd and Lowes Theatres in Richmond, the Wayne was still considered “lavish,” and a distinct improvement over the Star. A pipe organ – also played by Vanderherschen – provided accompaniment to the silent films until talkies arrived in the late 1920s. In 1929 the Wayne installed an “RCA high fidelity” sound system, and the first commercial sound film, “The Jazz Singer,” was a sensation, with lines reportedly stretching up the hill.

    Buoyed by their enormous success with the Wayne, Patterson and the Loths incorporated, then built another theater at the other end of town at 307 West Main Street to better serve eastside and Basic City. They held a contest to name the new cinema, which was won by Eva Yount for her suggestion the “Cavalier Theatre.”

    While the Wayne was designed and operated as a luxurious first-run movie house, the Cavalier was more of a rowdy adult recreational destination, with films and live shows that reflected its earthy atmosphere and blue-collar demographic. With a capacity of about 900, the interior walls were painted cinderblock, a luncheonette served up fast food until after midnight to cater to shift workers at nearby Stehli and DuPont, and a bowling alley (with cigar smoking encouraged) operated in the basement. Since there were no automatic setters, local boys earned pocket money in that hot, smoky basement setting pins after every roll.

    Historian Curtis Bowman in 1967 described the distinct aroma upon entering the Cavalier (also nicknamed “the flea bag” and “the scratch”) – “a mixture of disinfectant, perspiration, cigar smoke and cooking food … the proximity of rest rooms to the entryway did not help.”

    After the 1941 flood ruined the Cavalier’s basement bowling alley, the Loth Corporation – consisting of President Max Patterson; F. R. Loth, vice president and manager of the Wayne; J. Ellison Loth, secretary and manager of the Cavalier; and Col. C. C. Loth, treasurer and manager of the bowling lanes and the luncheonette – built the Cavalier Lanes on Federal Street. On February 23, 1952, that building was completely destroyed in a five-alarm blaze. The Cavalier Theatre frequently featured live shows by traveling movie stars and performers, especially cowboys. Actor Billy Barty, film’s first “little person,” appeared in 1938. The following year, Roy Roger’s singing group the Sons of the Pioneers appeared in person, and happily posed for pictures with star-struck locals. The Three Stooges stopped by in the early 1940s. Johnny Mack Brown brought his horse on stage to do tricks.

    Throughout the 1950s the Cavalier maintained its “PG-13” reputation as an eastside hangout, showing more provocative grade-B horror, western and juvenile delinquency films. The former basement bowling alley was sometimes used at this time as a shooting range.

    As a result, many Waynesboro parents refused to allow their children to attend the more risqué movies shown there – so of course, many teens dropped off at the more reputable Wayne would sneak three blocks to the Cavalier.

    In 1964 the Loth Corporation sold the theaters to the B&K Virginia Corporation, then in April, 1966, Davidson Theaters in Washington D.C. acquired the Wayne Theatre on a long-term lease but passed on the Cavalier, which was forced to close. The building was purchased and torn down by Advance Auto.

    Despite being gone for 50 years, the lowly Cavalier still had the distinction of being the last movie theater built within the city limits of Waynesboro until Zeus Theaters opened in 2010.

  • August 22, 2016

    Allegan, MI – Historic Regent projector gets rebuilt for display at theater

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    From the Allegan Co. News: A piece of history is returning to Allegan’s iconic Regent Theatre.

    The theater’s film projector for at least 70 years is being rebuilt for display by Lake Allegan resident Michael Huth.

    For more than two years, Huth has disassembled every piece, cleaning, repainting and rechroming and then reassembling the subassemblies.

    “Plans are to put it in the lobby for all to see the history of film,” he said. “It’s a magnificent piece of machinery you might see at Henry Ford Museum but it will be right here in Allegan.”

    The projector became obsolete after the Regent, along with movie houses across the country, were forced into digital conversion in order to receive first-run movies. The last movie the old projector played using 35 mm film rolls was “Hunger Games.” It was also the first movie played on the new digital projector Dec. 4, 2013.

    To get the old, 6-foot-tall film projector removed from the projection booth, it was disassembled in five or six sections. That’s when Huth noticed it was about to be lost forever.

    “I didn’t want someone to heave it in a dumpster so I volunteered to restore it,” he said.

    Like the community members before him who restored the theater itself back to its original glory, Huth said he has a fondness for the Regent, it’s architectural art deco style, and that it’s locally owned.

    Living in the area for the past 20 years, he’d like to find out more from old-er-timers about the projector—when it was installed and when it was modified to Dolby. He wants to list that information along with names of projectionists on a plaque for display.

    “There were originally two projectors used, and feature films came on five to six reels,” Huth said. “After playing Reel 1, the projectionist would switch to Reel 2 on the other projector and, if he was really good, the audience wouldn’t notice.”

    At some point in time, the second projector became obsolete when splicing began to be used. Using a platter 6 feet in diameter, the film was spliced together into one roll and then the splices were broken up to rewind the film back up into smaller rolls.

    “I’d also like to know the time of conversion for that,” he said.

    Huth scavenged some of the parts from the second projector to make one that was operable. The lamp housing will be lit underneath with LED lights to show the engraved glass and how it would look while it was running.

    Today, movies arrive on a hard drive that plugs into the projector’s processor.

    Huth has an engineering background working 33 years in machine design making printing presses at Rockwell in Chicago before retiring.

    “I didn’t know there was a Rockwell in Allegan until I moved here,” he said.

    He continues to split his time between Allegan and Chicago where he is involved in set design and playwriting for live theater. In Allegan he owns Whisper Ridge bed and breakfast. It includes a refurbished 1893 wooden caboose on Lake Allegan.

    Another volunteer in the project is West Michigan Painting, a body shop on Ida Street.

    They’re doing all the painting,” Huth said. “I turn stuff into them, they paint it and turn it around.”

    Huth has even called Henry Ford Museum to get tips on how to clean nameplates and maker decals without stripping them with solvents.

    “I think people who aren’t interested in mechanics will stop in their tracks to look at it,” he said. “It’s all bright and shiny with a black gloss and has been rechromed.”

    The project is about three-quarters complete.

    “I am hoping for completion by the end of the year,” he said.

  • August 18, 2016

    Joliet, IL – VenuWorks plans quick start at Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet

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    From The Herald-News: VenuWorks plans to take the management reins Sept. 1 at the Rialto Square Theatre – and begin looking for shows even sooner – after being selected Wednesday as the firm to run the theater.

    The Rialto board voted 6-0 to hire VenuWorks to manage the theater.

    The one possible dissenting vote – Mary Beth Gannon – was taken from the Rialto in an ambulance just before the meeting started while repeatedly coughing violently for several minutes. A friend said Gannon was having an asthma attack.

    The vote on Wednesday does not immediately give VenuWorks the job.

    The Rialto still must negotiate a contract with the Iowa-based venue management company.

    But both sides expressed confidence they would get that done so VenuWorks could begin work Sept. 1.

    “We’ve developed a good relationship with them,” said VenuWorks Chief Financial Officer John Siehl. “We want to make this work.”

    Siehl said the company’s booking office will start looking for acts at the Rialto immediately.

    “Probably tomorrow we’ll start making calls and letting people know that this is part of our roster,” he said.

    VenuWorks manages 37 theaters, sports facilities, conference centers and outdoor venues.

    The Rialto board rejected requests from a few people who asked that the selection of a manager be slowed down for a month. The call for delay came amid a push to give the management contract to Ron Onesti, who runs the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles.

    Onesti Entertainment was one of five companies reviewed by a Rialto committee that recommended VenuWorks and Pinnacle Venue Services as the two finalists for the job.

    Gannon last week helped initiate an online petition drive urging Onesti for the job, and Onesti appeared at a City Council meeting on Monday with supporters suggesting the city intervene in the selection process.

    Pinnacle in making its final presentation on Monday announced that Onesti had become part of its team and would be involved in the Rialto if the firm got the job.

    The Onesti movement took another turn Wednesday when Onesti sent a letter addressed to city officials and the Rialto board calling all five management proposals “worthless” because the firms did not know enough about the theater. Onesti also urged a delay.

    Pinnacle Managing Partner Doug Higgons, when asked before the Wednesday meeting, said he was not aware of the Onesti letter.

    Adding Onesti to the team may not have helped Pinnacle.

  • Knoxville, TN – Tennessee Theatre plans relighting ceremony for refurbished marquee

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    From WVLT-TV: After months of work replacing light bulbs and refurbishing the vertical sign and marquee outside the Tennessee Theatre, it’s time for the signs to light up again.

    The theatre will celebrate the return of the iconic signage to Gay Street with a free open house and relighting ceremony on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

    “The vertical sign is an important part of downtown Knoxville’s visual identity and our theater’s history,” Tennessee Theatre Executive Director Becky Hancock said. “After more than two months of work, we will welcome back our vertical sign and refurbished marquee, both of which will shine on Gay Street even brighter and better. We look forward to the public joining us for the celebration.”

    McCarty Holsaple McCarty Architects and Interior Designers is sponsoring the open house, which includes self-guided tours of the stage and backstage areas from 6:00-8:00 p.m., and organ music from house organist Dr. Bill Snyder on the Mighty Wurlitzer. Visitors can also get their portrait with the marquee thanks to a caricature artist.

  • August 16, 2016

    Middlebury, VT – Town Hall Theater preserves historic character of building while enlarging stage door

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    From the Addison Independent: MIDDLEBURY — There was only one problem with the original 1884 loading dock door at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater. It was too small to actually load anything into the theater.

    “The original door gave us a 4’ by 6’ opening, far too small for the kinds of set pieces we use in productions today,” said THT executive director Douglas Anderson. “The old door was historic and lovely, but it seriously limited the kinds of productions and events we could host here at THT.”

  • August 15, 2016

    Carrizozo, NM – Lighting up the Lyric

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    From the Ruidoso News: In 2006, Dr. David Kammer submitted a multiple property listing titled “Movie Theaters in New Mexico built from 1905 to 1960” to the National Park Service for a National Register of Historic Places consideration.

    It was the first step in the nomination process and an important acknowledgement by The New Mexico Historic Preservation Division of its support of the New Mexico Main Street Program’s quest to identify the state’s historic movie houses. While not specifically named in the nomination, (letters were sent to owners and, in this case, there may have been no reply) Carrizozo’s Lyric Theater, formerly the Crystal Theater, is a prime example of the type and use of buildings, both existing and new, that became social centers in large and small towns alike.

    The nomination remains timely even 10 years out, since at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, the marquee of the Lyric will be lit after decades of being dark.

    Despite its remote location, Carrizozo was uniquely positioned for a movie theater due to the rail road that brought in influences from afar. The rural community was not alone: New Mexico saw an explosion in opera houses across the state. Just two years after the opening of United States’ first movie theater in Buffalo, New York in 1896, the movie “Indian School Day” was made in New Mexico and the Grant Opera House opened in Albuquerque.