July 13, 2016
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
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
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
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.”
June 23, 2016
From centralmaine.com: When the Waterville Opera House opened on June 23, 1902, patrons were so eager to attend the dedication ceremony that they filled the 925-seat theater, lobby and stairs and spilled out onto Castonguay Square.
Over the ensuing years, the grand theater on the second floor of City Hall would become a gathering place for all kinds of entertainment, including plays and musical performances, ballet, touring shows, community meetings, celebrations, and film.
Thursday, on its 114th birthday, the 800-seat Opera House continues to serve those functions and provides space for children’s theater programs, broadcasts from the National Theatre in London, the Bolshoi Ballet and Metropolitan Opera, and hosts film screenings and receptions for the Maine International Film Festival.
Diane Bryan, executive director of the Opera House for 12 years, is excited about what the future holds.
“The Waterville Opera House has been the gathering place for arts, culture and community for 114 years,” Bryan said Wednesday. “As caretakers, we hope to position the Opera House to shine brightly for at least the next 114 years. We are so grateful that the community has embraced this grand space and that we are part of the exciting resurgence of downtown Waterville.”
Nathan Towne, marketing manager for Waterville Creates!, which promotes arts and culture in the Waterville area, grew up in Waterville and performed as a teenager on the Opera House stage. He said he looks at that stage every day and it gives him a sense of hope and pride — “pride in what Waterville has managed to keep alive and vital over the last 20 years of change, as well as hope that what we are building here together in Waterville as part of the revitalization process will continue to delight and inspire future generations to greatness.”
June 20, 2016
From The Springfield News-Sun: A local theatre is moving forward with plans for a $1.2 million restoration project after being awarded a grant for historic preservation.
The Holland Theatre, 127 E Columbus Ave., Bellefontaine, originally opened in 1931. It’s the only remaining Dutch themed theatre in the country, said Kris Swisher, president of Logan County Landmark Preservation.
“We’re going back to the original look,” Swisher said.
Swisher recently learned the theatre was awarded a $430,000 grant from the Jeffris Family Foundation for historical preservation.
“They believed in this theatre because of the very uniqueness and the small town atmosphere here,” she said.
To receive the funds, Swisher said, the theatre has to raise $860,000 in the next three years.
“We will be selling seats for community involvement,” she said. “And approaching businesses in the community to sponsor buildings.”
The restorations will include all new seats in the theatre, architect Karen Beasley said, as well as repairs to the building facades that frame the stage.
“This is a great thing for our community to have,” Beasley said.
Beasley and Swisher believe the funds will be raised in time.
“We have confidence that we won’t let you down and we’ll go forward with this,” Swisher said.
The restorations will begin as soon as the money is raised, Swisher said.
June 16, 2016
From theadvocate.com: Two years after undergoing a full renovation intended to bring back its glory days of more than a half-century ago, the Carver Theater is up for sale.
Along with the well-known landmark itself, the $5.5 million asking price — about half of what was spent restoring the theater, which has no fixed seating but holds 925 people — includes additional properties that are both developed and undeveloped. Altogether, they span more than a block along Orleans Avenue.
The Carver Theater opened in a segregated New Orleans in 1950 as a moviehouse for black New Orleanians and was converted to a medical clinic in the 1980s. The clinic largely treated residents of the nearby Lafitte housing development.
Dr. Eugene Oppman, an optometrist, began leasing an office in the building in 1987. He bought it four years later and oversaw its renovation.
Since it reopened in 2014, the theater has hosted a mix of public and private events, including wedding receptions and musical performances.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu delivered his State of the City address there last year. More recently, Snoop Dogg performed a late-night show there during Jazz Fest. In addition to the 17,613-square-foot theater, the properties up for sale include a vacant two-story, 3,232-square-foot commercial building and a two-story, 4,020-square-foot commercial building that houses a bakery and a barbershop that are both leased until early 2019, according to Richard Stone, a broker with NAI/Latter & Blum Commercial in New Orleans.
The offering also includes four undeveloped lots.
“This property package is being offered at far below the acquisition and renovation costs,” Latter & Blum said in materials marketing the sale, “and represents a tremendous opportunity to acquire a local landmark with major historical and cultural significance.”
Oppman, 55, began considering selling the theater about eight months ago, he said Wednesday, and recently decided that it was “time to just move on.”
June 14, 2016
From WCYB.com: An effort to save a historic theater is now one step closer to reality. The Elizabethton City council voted unanimously Thursday night to purchase the Bonnie Kate Theatre.
The Elizabethton/Carter County Community Foundation gave the city $111,000 to make the purchase. Plans are to make it a performing arts center. They already have a tenet to place a bakery and restaurant in the theater as well.
John Huber has been leading the fight for the theater.
“It’s a diamond in the rough. I see such potential for it, and it just needs somebody to lead it to that potential,” Huber said.
The purchase should be completed in a few days. Then, a business plan will be made, and the restoration process will begin.
The city is also considering purchasing the gravel lot next door to the Bonnie Kate for approximately $20,000.
June 13, 2016
With its classic marquee and iconic balcony level, the Majestic Theatre was once considered a crown jewel in Streator.
The movie house, built in 1907 in the 100 block of North Vermillion Street, was closed and boarded up in August 2014. It fell into foreclosure some months later.
Local residents and city officials are hoping for an investor to see the value of purchasing the 8,100 square-foot building for some business purpose or restoring it back to its former glory as one of the most attractive movie theaters in North Central Illinois.
The property features two separate auditoriums with seating accommodations for 450 people, a concession stand area and an unfinished apartment on the second level. Sales promotions admit the building is in need of some updates and repairs to restored the structure in its “original and nostalgia of yesterday.”
The property will be sold as is.
June 9, 2016
From brighamyen.com: As the listing agent for the Olympic Theatre in Downtown LA owned by Titan Metropolis LLC, I am especially excited to report that we have signed a new retailer that will become another strong addition to Downtown LA’s growing shopping district. H&M is so bullish on downtown’s future — and why shouldn’t they be when their massive flagship store in DTLA has been doing extremely well — that they are now going to turn the dilapidated Olympic Theatre into their much more exclusive and fashion forward brand called COS (like “coss”), which stands for Collection of Style.
Built in 1927, the Olympic Theatre has a total square footage of 9,835 square feet spanning three levels (basement, ground floor, and mezzanine). Unfortunately, besides the vertical “Olympic” sign installed on the front along with the beautiful arched facade, most of the historic detailing inside has not survived the decades of decay and different ownership alterations. However, given the upscale nature of COS, the retailer plans to invest a substantial amount of money to rehab and upgrade the building, including relighting the original vertical Olympic signage. You may also recall, the historic Rialto Theatre on Broadway was converted to an Urban Outfitters store back in 2013.