January 10, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, IL — On 1/3/07, the Castle Theater owner Ben Slotky confirmed that his venue had closed, though a church will continue to offer Sunday services there. He refused to say if the theater, located at 209 E. Washington St., would be put up for sale or…if he planned to reopen it in the future, or if he would continue with previously announced plans for a downtown restaurant called “Your Mother’s,” although plans for the restaurant had been put on temporary hold for financial reasons.
Bank lenders claimed they had not foreclosed on the Castle nor taken over ownership. Slotky reportedly will continue his development of the Castle’s upper floors into condominiums. Slotky co-owns that space with downtown developer Fred Wollrab. Wollrab, who owns many downtown buildings, predicted this week that someone would purchase and operate the Castle if Slotky sells or if the bank forecloses, because the theater is in such good shape.
The downtown Castle had closed in 1988 but reopened in 2003 after a $1.5 million renovation. The City of Bloomington gave the Castle at least $315,000 in grants to help Slotky with renovations.
HONG KONG, CHINA — A new drive-in has opened that is attempting to bring people in by talking up its spaciousness.
Touted as a first for Hong Kong, The Drive-In movie theater was set to open its doors Thursday, banking that locals in this densely populated city will appreciate a rare break from congested surroundings and a taste of Americana.
Backed by an anonymous foreign businessman, The Drive-In features two 25-meter (82.5-feet) by 14-meter (46.2-feet) screens and 200 parking spots. It is set to open to the public with two screenings of the Japanese movie “Nana 2'‘ Thursday evening, Iris Wong, a spokeswoman for the movie theater, said.
For more, go to the Star Online.
January 8, 2007
NORTHAMPTON, MA — The Academy of Music has ended its run of showing films while it begins to rely completely on its live productions to keep its doors open. The possibility still exists that movies will come back, but with numerous key employees being laid off, the future isn’t looking that bright.
Andrew J. Crystal, president of the Board of Trustees of the 117-year-old theater, announced yesterday that the future of the Academy of Music – the first municipally owned theater in the country – is up in the air as the board “reassesses” strategies for its survival as an entertainment site.
“Typically, for a theater like the Academy of Music, which is nonprofit, which has no endowment and no dedicated source of revenue from the city that owns it – typically, that kind of organization requires 30 to 40 percent of its budget to come from unearned income,” Crystal said. “Ours is much, much less.”
“The board is committed to finding a way to keep the Academy of Music open and viable – so it can stay open for another 117 years.”
A huge loss to the community and a particular favorite of ours here at CT. To read more go to, Mass Live.
January 4, 2007
NORTH BERGEN, NJ — Not just a single screen theater but a multiplex, Cineplaza, committed to Indian films is turning heads in North Jersey. With more theaters like this sprouting up around the country, are specialized foreign film centers, the next way art houses will attempt to separate themselves from the chains?
Swollen ticket lines, shouting children, tempers rising as the movies sold out: This was any suburban multiplex during the holidays.
Vada pav sandwiches and mango kulfi were sold at the concession stand. Conversations were in Gujarati or Hindi. A poster in the lobby advertised an action film starring Aishwarya Rai on one of six screens showing Indian cinema.
To read more, go to the New York Times.
December 29, 2006
HAMBURG, PA — The historic Strand Theater, a single-screen theater in Hamburg Borough dating back to 1920, has been newly acquired by a local Berks County couple.
Christmas Day, eighty-six years ago, The Strand Theater first opened with the silent film,“The Whistling Devil.” It was not until March 1930 that the first talky, “Untamed,” was shown. Movies were only shown four days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday); the decision to stay closed on Sundays made by allowing patrons to vote on the issue. Currently, The Strand continues to operate only four days a week, Friday through Monday evenings. The remainder of the week, both days and evenings, the theater sits dark.
The new owners plan to have the theater operating at full capacity; opening throughout the week and, showing not only movies Friday through Monday, but serving as an avenue for the arts as well as for a multitude of events the remainder of the week.
December 26, 2006
FLINT, MI — National Amusements has temporarily lowered ticket prices at its three first-run megaplexes in the Flint, Michigan market. For a limited time, ticket prices have been reduced to $6 for evening shows and $4 for matinees, seniors and children at the Showcase Cinemas Flint East in Burton, the Showcase Cinemas Flint West in Flint Township and the Cinema 10 in Flint Township.
It is believed the lowered ticket prices are due to the local economy as well as new competition with the NCG Trillium Cinemas in Grand Blanc Township.
More information can be found in The Flint Journal.
December 25, 2006
Take a look at this public service announcement, presumably to be shown in cinemas when the upcoming animated film is released. I’m sure you’ll all get a chuckle. (Although I do think that it’s a bit naive to redress popcorn eaters for being ‘too noisy’, seeing as theater operators depend on bags and bags of this stuff being sold!)
December 15, 2006
LIVERMORE, CA — On the eve of its fiftieth anniversary, the Vine Cinema is celebrating its existence despite having to make many modifications over the years. However, with a new theater opening nearby, a format change may be the next step to ensure its future success.
As the city prepares for its new movie multiplex to open, the two-screen theater down the road is getting ready to celebrate 50 years of business.
The Vine Cinema, which has become somewhat of a landmark in downtown Livermore, is gearing up for its 50th anniversary.
The cinema has seen some changes over the years — the conversion into a two-screen complex in the mid-1970s and a stint as a second-run movie theater in the 1980s.
For more, go to Inside Bay Area.
December 8, 2006
ST. LOUIS, MO — Wehrenberg Theatres is celebrating their 100th Anniversary this year. They have had a number of fun promotions throughout the year including $1.00 admission days and $1.00 sodas and popcorn.
The neatest thing they have done is document their history in a new book called “100 Years of Reel Entertainment” by Stephen Debellis. The book weaves the circuit’s history into the history of Hollywood complete with pictures of their old and new theatres in the Midwest. The book is available online at their website.
December 7, 2006
CAPE MAY, NJ — The Beach Theater is now the subject of a demolition application. Let us hope that people are aware of the historical significance of this structure.
First of all, the theater was designed by the noted architect William H. Lee of Philadelphia who designed many theaters along the Jersey shore. Unfortunately, this is one of the last of his theaters that remains, particularly in the southern part of the state.
It is also one of the first, if not THE first theater in the country to be designed with retail stores attached, a style that is still duplicated today on a much larger scale, in many shopping malls. Secondly, the builder of the theater was Mr. William C. Hunt. Mr. Hunt began one of the nation’s first “nickelodeons” in Camden, NJ and built an empire in the theater business.
Any and all efforts should be made to save this structure before it is too late. Any suggestions and/or advice would be greatly appreciated. Time is crucial, as a hearing is scheduled for Monday, December 11, 2006 before the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.