• October 18, 2016

    Augusta, ME – Augusta developer pitches plan to expand, revitalize Colonial Theater


    From A plan to restore and reopen the neglected but historic Colonial Theater includes adding a 13,000-square-foot, multi-story building next to it, an ambitious timeline for the work, and a schedule of as many as 300 shows a year in the hope that it could bring culture, people and revenue to the city’s downtown.

    Organizers of nonprofit efforts to restore and preserve the vacant theater, which is between Water Street and the Kennebec River, said the region is starved for the performing arts, they already have acts and shows they could bring there, and the theater would bring people to fill the city’s downtown and area restaurants and other businesses.

  • October 14, 2016

    Conway, NH – Conway movie theater named to US historic register


    From A group of storefronts in Conway has been named to the National Register of Historic Places.

    The Bolduc Block with Art Deco features was designed to have four shops and a theater on the first floor and offices on the second. The theater entrance has gold-painted wooden frames designed to hold movie advertisements.

    Throughout its history, Bolduc Block’s storefronts were occupied by a variety of businesses, including a pharmacy, grocer, department store, sewing store, telephone business offices and post office.

    The building’s exterior has changed little. Despite a fire in the theater in 2005, the interior still has many features from the 1930s, including light fixtures, cast iron radiators and cushioned brocade fabric wall panels in the lobby.

  • October 11, 2016

    Tupelo, MS – Something strange in your neighborhood: Tupelo’s Lyric Theatre


    From There are some things in this world that go way beyond human understanding – things that cannot be explained – things some people don’t even want to know about. You hear something go bump in the night. You see something out of the corner of your eye. You feel something on the nape of your neck.

    Most unexplained events can be easily dismissed: The wind blew something over or faulty wiring made that bulb flicker, ominously. But, sometimes, you’re in a place with a history behind it. And whether those stories have been passed down over generations or are still actively discussed today, they haunt those areas as much as the ghosts in the stories.

    Over the next four Fridays, the Daily Journal will be spotlighting four separate locations in Northeast Mississippi that share a common bond: ghosts and the legends that surround them.

    The Lyric Theatre

    What is now the home of Tupelo Community Theatre has undergone many changes since its inception in 1912.

    At that time, R. F. Goodlett sought out financial backers to construct a vaudeville theater called The Comus. The structure remained a home for live theater until 1931, when it was purchased by the M.A. Lightman Company chain and turned into a movie theater. It was at that time the facility received its now iconic marquee and art deco appearance. From 1931 to 1984, lots of tales came out of the movie house, like Elvis Presley’s first kiss in the balcony during a Saturday matinee, but it was the 1936 tornado that decimated Tupelo, killing an untold number in its path, that gave credence – and still does – to the greatest story out of the Lyric Theatre.

    “‘Antoine,’” said Tupelo Community Theatre executive director Tom Booth, chuckling. “Where did that name even come from? Nobody knows. I can’t for the life of me tell you where his name came from.”

    “Antoine” is the name given to the Lyric’s local haunt, a presence that many have felt but few can put into words. Some see him as a glowing light, while others hear a childlike giggle in the darkness of the historic structure. TCT inherited the spirit, and his story, when they acquired the theater in the mid-’80s.

    There are two separate stories of Antoine that have followed the theater to this day, and many off-shoots of the main legends.

    One is that Antoine was a caretaker of the theater who worked under the stage, shoveling coal. It’s believed he may have even had an apartment in the facility he looked after.

    The more popular legend is that Antoine was a small child killed during the twister of ’36. Whether he was killed and taken to the theater – which was used as a makeshift hospital and morgue in the aftermath of the tornado – or was taken there to be treated and died later remains a mystery, much like Antoine himself.

    Still, strange things happen daily in the landmark, but Booth usually just chalks that up to it being a “big, old building.” That’s not to say he hasn’t had his own run-ins with Antoine.

  • October 6, 2016

    Birmingham, AL – Alabama Theatre announces 2016 Christmas movie schedule


    From Halloween is still more than three weeks away, but it’s not too early to start making your Christmas plans at the Alabama Theatre.

    Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. today, Oct., 6, for the Alabama’s 2016 Holiday Film Series, and if you want to make sure to get tickets to see some of your favorite Christmas movies, you might want to go ahead and buy your tickets now.

    Last Christmas season, a record 29,281 people attended the Holiday Film Series, and 12 of the 18 screenings were sold out, according to Brant Beene, executive director of Birmingham Landmarks, which owns and operates the Alabama Theatre.

    “These are so popular,” Beene said. “People even plan their holidays around them.”

    Tickets to this year’s movies are $8, with the exception of the two screenings of “The Polar Express.” Those tickets are $12, with proceeds benefiting Kid One Transport.

    Order tickets online at or by phone at 800-745-3000. There is an additional charge for online purchases.

    Here is the 2016 Holiday Film Series schedule:

    Dec. 9, Friday, 7 p.m. — “White Christmas.”

    Dec. 10, Saturday, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. — “The Polar Express.”

    Dec. 10, Saturday, 7 p.m. — “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

    Dec. 11, Sunday, 2 p.m. — “Miracle on 34th Street.”

    Dec. 11, Sunday, 7 p.m. — “Elf.”

    Dec. 12, Monday, 7 p.m. — “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

    Dec. 13, Tuesday, 7 p.m. — “Home Alone.”

    Dec. 14, Wednesday, 7 p.m. — “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

    Dec. 15, Thursday, 7 p.m. — “Elf.”

    Dec. 16, Friday, 7 p.m. — “A Christmas Story.”

    Dec. 17, Saturday, 2 p.m. — Christmas Cartoon Matinee: “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

    Dec. 17, Saturday, 7 p.m. — “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

    Dec. 18, Sunday, 2 p.m. — “White Christmas.”

    Dec. 18, Sunday, 7 p.m. — “Home Alone.”

    Dec. 19, Monday, 2 p.m. — “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

    Dec. 19, Monday, 7 p.m. — “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

    Dec. 20, Tuesday, 2 p.m. — “White Christmas.”

    Dec. 20, Tuesday, 7 p.m. — “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

    Dec. 21, Wednesday, 2 p.m. — “A Christmas Story.”

    Dec. 21, Wednesday, 7 p.m. — “Elf.”

    Dec. 22, Thursday, 2 p.m. — Christmas Cartoon Matinee: “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

    Dec. 22, Thursday, 7 p.m. — “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

    The Alabama Theatre is at 1817 Third Ave. North in downtown Birmingham.

  • Waterbury, CT – Tour given of historic Waterbury theater


    Friday, October 15, is a chance to learn some of what makes the magic happen behind the curtain along with the history and lore steeped in 95 years as an entertainment venue during the Waterbury Palace Theater’s upcoming monthly tour from 11a.m. to 12:30p.m.

    For information, visit, call 203-346-2000, or in person at the Box Office, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury. Groups larger than 10 people are asked to contact the Box Office to book their reservations in advance.

    During the tour, attendees are led through nine decades of the theater viewing and hearing facts and lore, about the stunning architecture and backstage magic related to the Palace’s rich history. In addition to exploring the many spaces within the theater, patrons also have the opportunity to visit hidden areas not seen by the general public, like the green room, wig room and star dressing rooms, you can even stop to take a selfie at the stage door. Tour takers will also be able to experience the thrill of walking across the stage and viewing the venue’s hidden backstage murals featuring show motifs painted and signed by past performers and Broadway touring company cast members. Guests will also browse a collection of the theater’s pre-restoration photos, in addition to viewing elements from the Palace’s Tenth Anniversary History Exhibit, which include a visual timeline of historic milestones dating back to 1922, as well as original theater seats from the 1920s.

    Each tour is approximately 90 minutes and is led by a team of engaging volunteers well-versed in the theater’s rich history, architectural design and entertaining anecdotal information. The walking tour covers five floors of history and architecture, including grand staircases from the 1920s. While elevator access is available, guests with walking disabilities or health concerns are asked to inform the Box Office ahead of time, so that the tour guides can make accommodations in advance to insure a pleasurable experience for all.  

    For general information about the venue, visit

  • October 5, 2016

    Hollywood, CA – Followup: Vendor Carts Removed From Front of Historic TCL Chinese Theatre Following Social Media Controversy


    From The Hollywood Reporter: A rep for TCL declines to comment, but known Los Angeles documentarian Alison Martino celebrates a victory for Hollywood preservationists: “Power to the people. Social media is an incredible force.”

    A slew of souvenir carts and kiosks have been removed from the sidewalk in front of Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre, where the structures were blocking access to historic handprints, footprints and signatures of beloved stars such as Jean Harlow, Bette Davis and Lana Turner.

    The removal comes after a dust-up on social media kick-started by noted Hollywood documentarian Alison Martino and her Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page, which posted a photo on Sept. 30 taken by Brian Donnelly. The image showed a retail structure selling inexpensive hats and T-shirts while covering iconic cement blocks lining Hollywood Boulevard in front of the theater. “How incredibly disrespectful,” the post reads, as seen below. “If Lucy and Ethel were to try and steal John Wayne’s footprints today, they couldn’t even find it! This is not a pretty sight TCL Chinese Theatres!”

    The post generated more than 750 comments and 530 shares and was enough to launch a petition requesting the removal of the vendor carts from the forecourt, as well as a news story on Curbed Los Angeles. The petition, signed by more than 2,600 supporters as of Monday afternoon, called for the removal of the carts out of respect for Hollywood history and the millions of tourists who flock to the block each year.

    “Capsules of Hollywood history, the cement blocks are precious to film enthusiasts all around the globe, many of whom travel a great distance to visit the forecourt and have the opportunity to see their favorites’ blocks,” the petition reads. “The current situation of the vending carts directly on top of the blocks reduces all citizens’ enjoyment of the forecourt, and does not even allow many visitors to see some of the blocks, being entirely covered by carts.… Please don’t allow commerciality to overshadow the history contained there.”

    While it can be assumed that TCL opted to move the retail structures following the controversy, it’s not confirmed, because a rep for TCL Chinese Theatre declined to comment. It remains unclear where the vendor carts will go, though a source indicated they may be relocated to the nearby Hollywood & Highland mall.

    Martino offered to talk, telling The Hollywood Reporter that she drove to the block on Monday once she heard that the carts were no longer in place. “It’s unbelievable — power to the people,” she said, crediting Donnelly with the original image and Elena Parker for launching the petition. “I’ve been operating the Vintage Los Angeles page for five years and I’ve never seen a reaction like this. The outcry and outrage grew really fast. My VLA community really took it to heart. It was their passion and perseverance that drove this. Social media is an incredible force.”

  • October 3, 2016

    Hollywood, CA – Famous handprints at TCL Chinese Theatre covered up by souvenir stalls


    From Curbed LA: Visitors to Hollywood hoping for a classic photo-op pressing their hands into the prints of one of their favorite Hollywood luminaries may be a bit disappointed to discover that many of the iconic, concrete-preserved prints and celebrity signatures in the TCL Chinese Theatre courtyard have been covered over by another well-known Hollywood attraction: cheap souvenirs.

    On Friday, the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook group posted a photo showing a rack of hats and t-shirts taking up a good-sized chunk of real estate next to Bette Davis’s handprints in the famous courtyard. As the post notes, the souvenir cart appears to be covering up the signatures of both Jean Harlow and Lana Turner.

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina – This 100 year old movie theatre was transformed into a breathtaking bookstore


    From Whether you’re an avid bookworm, moderate reader or anywhere in between, there’s no doubt that glancing at this display of books will absolutely take your breath away.

    The setup at El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires, Argentina makes you want to simultaneously run through the aisles singing yet stand back in awe.

  • October 2, 2016

    Cleveland, OH – Capitol Improvements: Theatre Enthusiasts Face Grim Realities with Courage and Grace


    From Representatives from the Detroit-Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) and Cleveland Cinemas assembled a multi-generational bushel of Capitol Theatre enthusiasts Tuesday evening to discuss the west side movie theater’s financial challenges and explore options for enhanced marketing and publicity.

    Last week, Cleveland City Council voted to restructure a loan made by the city to Detroit-Shoreway for the Capitol’s extensive renovations in 2009. The theater, which is owned by DSCDO and operated by Cleveland Cinemas, now has two more years of breathing room before it must begin making payments on the principal of the $1.5 million loan. Until September, 2018, the theater will only be required to make monthly “good will” payments of $100.

    But the city is also asking that the theater develop concrete marketing plans to increase its business. Currently, the Capitol attracts 50,000 visitors per year. That’s less by half than initial projections, based on community surveys.

    Jenny Spencer, DSCDO’s Managing Director, who led the meeting Tuesday, said that 50,000 visitors per year is enough to “keep the lights on,” but certainly not enough to pay back the loan, and not enough to make capital improvements — pun, this time, unintended — which are becoming necessary, even though the theater is only seven years old. Pricey new digital projection equipment, spot treatment for the theater’s old plaster, and cosmetic updates like new carpeting are all on the wish list, (in that order).

    On the fundraising front, Spencer announced an inaugural benefit event, a gala-type big-ticket shindig scheduled for April 21, 2017, about which there are as yet few public details.

    On the customer-attraction front, DSCDO is enlisting the neighbors. The meeting Tuesday, with gratis popcorn and veggie plates on the Capitol’s second-floor mezzanine, was positioned as a re-establishment of the “Friends of the Capitol Theatre” group. Given that movie theaters attract the highest percentage of their customers from the immediate neighborhood — the Cedar Lee being the region’s notable exception, due to its unique programming — Detroit-Shoreway wants community members to be the theater’s biggest champions.

    And they are. The meeting’s attendees told stories of their personal outreach and marketing among social networks. Many of them said they forward Capitol emails to contacts who they think might enjoy certain films, for instance. Others said they regularly organize “dinner and a movie” outings with friends.

    But those efforts aren’t quite enough, in the long-term — at least not without a critical mass of such efforts — and Cleveland Cinemas' wider publicity tactics have been frustratingly hit-or-miss, said Dave Huffman, the local theater chain’s director of marketing.

    Though special events continue to do very well — the upcoming Seventh annual 12 Hours of Terror all-night movie marathon (October 15-16) is expected to be the biggest yet, collecting in a single night what most movies collect in a full one-month run, Huffman said — other efforts have fallen far short.

    Films in the summer “Capitol Selects” series, for instance, were largely very poorly attended. And attempts to market the Capitol to Spanish-speaking audiences have failed dramatically.

    “We’ve talked to every Spanish-speaking organization in town, and they all are incredibly enthusiastic,” Huffman said, “but people aren’t showing up for the movies.”

    After pleading with a studio to get the mainstream Spanish-language film No Manches Frida, Huffman said, the Capitol posted the second-lowest gross in the country for that film. Box-office performances like that jeopardize the theater’s ability to get additional titles from the studio.

    Therein lies the biggest challenge and Catch-22 for the Capitol, said Huffman. The theater hasn’t attracted enough business to convince studios to grant them certain films — they wanted to show Snowden at the Capitol, for example, but the studio said no — but they can’t attract the business they’d like without titles that people are interested in.

    That said, marketing efforts continue apace. Screened at the Tuesday meeting was a new 30-second clip that will soon precede all films at the Capitol, a trailer explaining the Capitol’s renovations and its importance in the community. Additionally, the Capitol on Tuesday began its fall documentary series, and October will be saturated with cult horror classics in honor of the season.

    Also encouraging are the neighborhood advocates — young professionals, mid-career types, seniors, and even a high-schooler, attending with his dad — who helped brainstorm additional special events and grassroots strategies long after the meeting had officially run its course.

  • September 29, 2016

    Skowhegan, ME – Reddish glow at Skowhegan Drive-In Theater a good sign


    From The reddish glow in the evening sky on U.S. Route 201 east of downtown Skowhegan is a signal.

    It’s a sign.

    It’s the Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre, which moved into the future this past summer when it converted to digital projection.

    This week, theater owner Don Brown stepped back from the future and into the past with the installation of a replica neon sign that looks just like the original sign did when the drive-in opened in 1954, mounted on a red 35-foot pole.

    “They took the old sign that had been lying on the ground and they made a pattern from that and they duplicated it,” Brown said Wednesday as he turned on the sign with its bright red neon arrow pointing to the refurbished ticket booth at the entrance to the drive-in.

    Sign Services Inc., of Stetson, did all the work, paid for with just over $8,000 from the Skowhegan facade grant program. The white sign with blue lettering spells out “Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre,” with “theater” spelled the old-fashioned way.

    “It was the last piece of the original theater that we had not rehabilitated,” said Brown, 53. “It had been there for so many years and so many people have asked us, ‘Are you every going to do anything with the sign?’ that when the opportunity to apply for the facade grant came up, we did.”

    Jeffrey Hewett, the town’s director of economic and community development, said it’s nice having the red glow of the neon arrow illuminating the evening sky along U.S. 201, also called Waterville Road.

    Hewett said the sign is real neon with “glass set-asides” that hold the neon and copper wire that keeps it all in place.

    “It brings back a lot of memories for me,” Hewett said. “In the daytime it doesn’t really grab you as much; it’s the nighttime and that kind of reddish glow that comes off that gets you. I don’t think that there are very many of the neon signs that are left anymore.”

    Brown, who lives in Felton, Delaware, during the winter, bought the drive-in theater in May 2012 from Doug Corson’s Encore Skowhegan Drive-In.

    The drive-in has a capacity of 340 to 350 cars, set old-fashioned-style in semicircles with a standing pipe that once held the audio speakers. Sound for the movies now comes over the car’s FM radio at 88.3 on the dial.

    There are now five drive-in movie theaters in Maine, including Skowhegan’s, according to the website

    Two years ago, an estimated 357 drive-in movie theaters remained in the United States, a steep decline from the 4,000 or 5,000 that gave drive-in theaters entertainment status in the late 1950s and ’60s. Generations of families have packed station wagons with coolers, lawn chairs and kids in pajamas, and young lovers went out for a night of cinema under the stars.

    Brown said he wants to continue that tradition while polishing up some of the nostalgia of the experience along the way.

    “We went right through the building when we came here in 2012. Everything has been reproduced to be of the original design. It’s just been modified on occasion here and there for more contemporary standards,” he said.

    Everything, including the concession stand, looks “pretty much the same” as it did in the 1950s, Brown said. He said two of the movies that ran this past summer were on the old 35 mm film, but the rest — a new feature every week — were projected using the new digital equipment.

    “I think what we’ve done with the drive-in combines the best aspects of the present yet preserves certain vital elements from the past that made the drive-in appealing,” he said.

    He said bringing the drive-in into the digital age was necessary for the business to survive; it was either digital or die. Hollywood studios were phasing out 35 mm film and switching production to modern digital. The sign, on the other hand, combines the element of nostalgia with the contemporary projection.

    Two years ago, on the 60th anniversary of the opening of the drive-in, Brown was facing a $40,000 investment in new equipment and modifications or he would be forced to close. With donations from the community, including a Stephen King marathon of scary movies and a lot of his own savings, Brown finally took delivery of the new projector.

    “It’s neon, and there used to be a neon sign out there,” Randy Gray, Skowhegan’s code enforcement officer, said Wednesday. “So good for him for doing it.”

    Brown said the drive-in is closed for the season, but he’ll leave the sign’s light on for a while Friday and Saturday night as a signal that he’ll be back in the spring for another summer of movies under the stars.

    “The drive-in is unique because it combines elements of the past, such as the sign, with today’s modern technology, such as the projectors,” he said. “That’s been the constant over the years, over the generations, that the drive-in’s been around. The technology used has always been changing, but the experience has always been the same.”