• April 17, 2008

    Alexandria theater a dying breed

    ALEXANDRIA, IN — The Fifties gem, the Alex Theatre, is still packing them in with its huge screen and plush seats a throwback to the old days.

    The Alex Theatre in Alexandria has been serving Madison County bargain-hunting movie-goers for the better part of 50 years with $3 ticket prices and a unique concession stand.

    While the theater shows just one movie a week on its massive screen, the historic location is a big draw for area families looking for a cheap night out.

    Elwood sisters Terina (Decker) Ball and Christy (Decker) Bashum bought the location in 2000 from Jim McClary. He’d owned the theater since 1988 and brought it back to life after it had been closed by its original owners, according to Ball.

    Read more in the Herald Bulletin.

  • April 16, 2008

    AEG Live to buy Keswick Theater for $2.8 million

    GLENSIDE, PA — AEG is buying another theatre, the Keswick.

    AEG Live, the Los Angeles company that is the world’s second-largest concert promoter, behind Live Nation Inc., has won tentative approval to buy the Keswick Theater in Glenside for $2.8 million, according to concert-industry publication Pollstar. The seller of the 1,374-seat theater, which opened in 1928 and was designed by Philadelphia Museum of Art architect Horace Trumbauer, was promoter Jack Utsick’s Worldwide Entertainment. AEG, which books the annual Coachella Festival, to be held April 25 to 27 in Indio, Calif., is making an East Coast move. The company is also promoting All Points West Festival, which is to feature headliners Radiohead, Aug. 8 to 10, in Jersey City. And longtime Philadelphia booker Jon Hampton is now booking the Trocadero for AEG. – Dan DeLuca

    Courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    (Thanks to Many Cats 4 Me for providing the photo.)

  • Kansas Fox thrives

    HUTCHINSON, KS — The majestic Fox Theatre lives on as a center for the arts.

    “The marquee was the first flashing display of neon in Kansas,” Hemmings said. “And it’s one of the few surviving, original, functioning marquees in the country.”

    Besides adding to the ambience of downtown, the Fox – which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places -has an economic impact on the community, said Hemmings.

    “It’s a place of beauty, a regional center for the arts, and a treasure to our community,” she said.

    Get the full story in the Hutchinson News.

  • April 14, 2008

    Smadar turns 80

    JERUSALEM, ISRAEL — After many changes over the years, the Smadar Cinema is turning 80.

    This is the stuff nostalgia is made of: tattered bits of celluloid, faded memories of a John Wayne western, and the bitter taste of that first cigarette smoked in movie theater darkness. The story of Jerusalem’s Smadar Cinema, now celebrating its 80th anniversary, has these elements in spades.

    But this legendary movie theater in the German Colony neighborhood is more than filmlovers' memories. Long a cultural institution in the lives of Jerusalemites, Smadar is a phenomenon primarily thanks to its being the remnant of an era. Its incarnations correspond to the history of that elusive “Jerusalemness” that is secular and free of splendor and sanctity, expressions of which are fast disappearing. As such, it is hard to explain its remaining in place, when small movie theaters everywhere are all long gone.

    More at

  • April 7, 2008

    Concert promoters in tug-of-war over Uptown

    CHICAGO, IL — In Sunday’s Chicago Sun-Times, music writer Jim Derogatis reports on the battle that both Live Nation and local promoter Jam Productions are waging over who gets to develop and open the long-shuttered Uptown Theatre as a live concert venue.

    A redeveloped Uptown Theatre is seen by many, including 48th Ward Ald. Mary Ann Smith, as the key that finally could turn Uptown from a “war zone” into a thriving entertainment district — the only one in the city where live music is the main attraction.

    Now the theater itself has become what may be the bloodiest battleground yet in Chicago’s long-raging war between two powerful concert promoters: national giant Live Nation and Chicago-based Jam Productions. And the fight is just heating up.

    The complete article can be found here.

  • April 4, 2008

    Tiny cinema awaits giant’s arrival

    ALAMEDA, CA — With a capacity of under 50, this converted mortuary, the Central Cinema, has found ways to be successful.

    With a capacity of just 49 – the theater’s seating is a hodgepodge of couches and easy chairs found on Craigslist – Haskett says his Central Cinema is the smallest commercial movie theater in the United States. He fought local government attempts to shutter the theater when it opened three years ago, and now operates with the city’s blessing. His next challenge comes later this year, when a multiplex opens down the street.

    Currently the only movie house in Alameda, Haskett’s boutique theater raises immediate questions: How does it make money? Why do the studios let him play first-run movies? How can he compete with bigger theaters? But Haskett, 38, who grew up working in movie houses near Atlanta, says his business model makes even more sense than the much larger stadium-seating theaters in Emeryville and in Oakland’s Jack London Square. After getting a small amount of financing, Haskett says he has made a profit since the theater opened in 2004.

    The full story is in the San Francisco Chronicle.

  • March 19, 2008

    New Regal given new life

    CHICAGO, IL — Last year it was revealed that this atmospheric would reopen in October but no more news followed and the new website remained static. The delay was caused by an amount of $1.9 million which was owed to the city. City officials have now waived this debt which has allowed the new owners to purchase the theatre for $2.36 million. The new owners have already spent $400,000 on refurbishment,so can expect the theatre will reopen sometime soon.

    With a big assist from City Hall, investors have purchased the New Regal Theater with plans to revive the South Side landmark as a showcase for live entertainment.

    A venture run by Regina Evans, a former Chicago Police lieutenant who owns a limousine service, this week closed on a $2.36 million acquisition of the theater at 1641 E. 79th St. The deal has been pending for months and was made possible by an agreement from city officials to forgive $1.9 million in public loans and grants attached to the property.

    Full story in the Sun Times.

  • March 12, 2008

    Local projectionist shares memories

    DAGSBORO, DE — Charles W. Thorns has been showing films for over fifty years and as resident projectionist at the Clayton Theatre, he’s shared his passion as well.

    Sitting in the little projectionist booth at the Clayton Theatre — and more than 10 others over the years — he has virtually memorized the dialog for hundreds of films.

    It’s a dying art, he said, because while other larger theaters run a platter system — meaning a projectionist flips a switch to start the movie — he learns the films while he is watching. His attention is necessary as a little dot in the left hand corner of every film signals him to change projectors in moments.

    For more, go to the Daily Times.

  • March 6, 2008

    Alex gets by for now

    GLENDALE, CA — Despite a growing number of programs and events, the Alex Theatre reported a loss last year. While the yearly money from the city makes up for that, the theatre’s future, after they stop receiving a yearly stipend in seven years, remains in doubt.

    Second-quarter financial data released Friday for the Alex Theatre reflected signs of a strengthening client base, a key indicator of how successful its role as an independent venue will be seven years from now when city subsidies dry up, officials said.

    While its year-to-date loss had increased $42,000 to more than $247,700 over the same period last year, activity at the landmark theater had increased nearly 24%, bumping attendance up 4.8%, according to the report.

    Read more at the Glendale News Press.

    (Thanks to DonnaGrayson for providing the photo.)

  • March 5, 2008

    Airline Magazine by Ross Melnick features Historic Movie Theaters

    The current Southwest Airlines onboard magazine features a two page article entitled Classic Movie Theaters, by this site’s own Ross Melnick. A beautiful photo of the facade of the Grand Lake of Oakland, CA, with the roof sign lit, and an equally gorgeous photo of the atmospheric Tampa Theatre facing the proscenium arch of the auditorium, are included.

    Other theaters included are the Seattle Cinerama and the Music Box Theatre, Chicago, IL.

    Thanks Ross for your outstanding advocacy of cinema treasures!