August 22, 2002
MONTREAL, QB, CANADA — The 900-seat Imperial Cinema will undergo a major restoration and renovation effort next month, following the end of the Montreal World Film Festival on September 2nd.
According to the Montreal Gazette, the $4,5 million project is being funded through $1.4 million of federal and local contributions, $1.7 million from the theater itself, and an additional $500,000 from Senator Kolber whose contribution will give the building a new name, the Sandra and Leo Kolber Building.
In addition to repairing the facade and adding a brand new marquee, the theater will also relocate the projection booth and update its capabilities for 16mm, 35mm, and 70mm presentation as well as add a new sound system. Most intriguing, perhaps, is the addition of two new auditoriums in a building just north of the Imperial that was recently purchased for $450,000.
The Imperial will continue to be the annual host of the Montreal World Film Festival and is scheduled to reopen in time for the FantAsia festival next July. The imperial originally opened in 1915.
REGINA, CG, CANADA — In other Canadian news, the Cornwall Cinemas will close its doors tonight after 21 years. According to the Regina Leader Post, the Famous Players movie house did not renew its lease following months of dwindling audiences who the Canadian exhibitor says are venturing, instead, to newer complexes.
No new tenants have been found for the old four-screen plex.
(Thanks to Mike Rivest and Chad Irish!)
August 14, 2002
PHILADELPHIA, PA — Philadelphia Mayor John Street, in his weekly radio address on Saturday, publicly proclaimed that his “administration is committed to exploring every possibility to preserve the Sameric Theater.”
According to the KYW radio address, which has been reprinted on www.boydtheatre.com, the mayor also stated that, “Although I respect and fully support our development community, I do hope that by working together with the current owner, the Sameric can share the same success as the old Midtown Theater. In 1997, the Midtown Theater underwent a $10 million restoration and now houses the Prince Music Theater.”
(Thanks to Howard Haas for his tireless work on behalf of the Sameric and for sending this in!)
CHICAGO, IL — The legendary Chicago Theatre is reportedly on the auction block again as the Chicago Theatre Restoration Associates is “on the verge of defaulting on a $21 million loan from the city”, according to a report in today’s Chicago Tribune.
The theater’s current operator, the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA), is rumored to be a possible buyer. If the venerable theater is sold, CAPA would be among the many different owners who have controlled the former movie palace over the past two decades.
Elsewhere in Chicago, the Broadway Theatre is scheduled to reopen this fall as a live venue. According to the Tribune, the former movie house will be given a $25,000 makeover for various improvements and its name will revert back to the Lakeshore.
And finally, as we reported yesterday, the Water Tower Theatre will reopen this Friday, but this time as a three-screen art house cinema. An $8 ticket will admit you for either “13 Conversations About One Thing,” “Lovely and Amazing,” or the new version of Giusseppe Tornatore’s brilliant epic, “Cinema Paradiso.”
(Thanks to Bryan Krefft for the update!)
August 13, 2002
WINNIPEG, MB, CANADA — Burton Cummings, the lead singer of the rock group Guess Who, has become the benefactor of the struggling Walker Theatre, according to Chartattack.com. Cummings will begin donating a portion of the proceeds of his concerts at the Walker in order to pay down the theater’s $1.8 million debt and fund future renovations.
In exchange for his aid, the theater will be renamed the Burton Cummings Theatre for the Performing Arts after the singer who attended the former movie house as a child. The board hopes Cummings' name will help bring in additional grants and donations.
The 2000-seat Walker opened in 1907 and was named for its owner, Corliss Powers Walker, who brought in live theater, vaudeville, concerts, and silent films. The theater switched to a movies-only format in 1945 and remained in operation until 1990. In 1991, it reopened as a performing arts center and is an official Manitoba Provincial Heritage Site.
HUGHSON, CA — The Hughson City Council has voted to approve plans for a new redevelopment agency which has already cited the resurrection of the historic Del Ray Theater as part of its plan to revamp the ciyt’s downtown area.
According to the Modesto Bee, the Del Ray has been closed for almost 40 years, but could be restored and reopened as a venue for either live theater or classic films, or as a community center.
CHICAGO, IL — The Water Tower Theatres at Water Tower Place will reopen this Friday under the Village Theatres banner, according to a report in Crain’s Chicago Business. The three-screen theater has been closed since last year. The move follows on the heels of Village’s recent takeover of the historic Biograph.
August 9, 2002
Jeff Mills, the Producer/Director of the forthcoming documentary about the Interstate Theatres circuit, “Before the Curtain Rises”, is looking for anyone with archival material, anecdotal stories, and any other information on the long history of the Texas-based exhibitor.
He writes, “With the recent movement by the El Paso Community Foundation to put a great deal of money into the restoration of the Plaza in El Paso, we have ramped up our efforts to record their efforts and complete the film.”
The production team is currently looking for physical artifacts such as lobby cards, ticket books, copies of The Interstate newsletter, etc., as well as any photos, postcards, film or video, printed material, audio recordings, historical information, and/or oral histories to share. They are also looking for leads on specific theaters which would be of importance either extinct or extant.
Visit their website to watch the documentary’s trailer, as well as access numerous photos, virtual tours, interviews, and much more…
You can also contact Jeff Mills by phone at 713-661-6677.
August 8, 2002
BETHPAGE, NY — Cablevision has just announced that it will sell its Clearview Cinemas chain in an effort to boost profits. According to a report on CBSNewYork.com, the move will save the struggling company $70 million per year.
There is no official word yet on what will happen to the individual theaters in the circuit or information about any possible suitors. However, it is also possible that the theaters may be sold off, or leases may be broken, on a case-by-case basis, especially given the demand for New York area real estate.
Clearview Cinemas currently operates the legendary Ziegfeld Theatre, the Beekman, the Metro, the old Warner Quad, and many more in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and New Jersey with a number of old movie houses in its stable.
We’ll keep you posted …
Two raffles are currently being held to save historic movie houses in Pasadena, California and in Douglas, Arizona:
Raffle #1: A new 2002 Corvette Z06 is being raffled off for $75 per ticket to raise money for the restoration of the Grand Theater in Douglas, Arizona. The Grand opened in 1919, is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, and is raising money to repair the theater after a devastating roof collapase and subsequent water damage.
Raffle #2: Our good friend Gina Zamparelli is fighting the good fight against the owners of the Raymond Theatre who are trying to gut the Raymond in order to erect housing, retail, and parking space.
Friends of the Raymond Theatre is curently raising money to pay for the legal fees to save the historic movie house. Raffle tickets are only $1 each and the organization needs your help! To order tickets online, go to www.paypal.com and send payment to along with your full name, address and phone number.
Alternately, you can send payment to:
Friends of the Raymond Theatre
P.O. Box 91189
Pasadena, CA 91109-1189
Ticket prices are as follows:
$1 for 1 ticket
$5 for 6 tickets
$10 for 12 tickets
$20 for 25 tickets
$50 for 60 tickets
$100 for 125 tickets
$200 to $500 + donation – One raffle ticket for every dollar you donate!
August 7, 2002
PHILADELPHIA, PA — The Committee To Save The Sameric suffered a setback yesterday when the city’s Board of Licenses and Inspections Review ruled that it could not overturn the permit granted earlier to the Goldenberg Group to demolish the Art Deco movie palace.
According to the preservation group’s website, “Unfortunately, the L & I Review Board declined to revoke the demolition permit and refused to hear testimony from witnesses regarding the demolition permit. The Board stated they were limited to hearing about issues such as physical harm to adjoining properties and believed they could not consider the public interest of keeping Philadelphia’s last movie palace.”
The committee is still working with the Goldenberg Group in an attempt to save the theater. The owners insist the permit was acquired only as a last resort and are actively looking for a tenant. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “the group now intends to take the case to Common Pleas Court.”