November 15, 2002
FROSTPROOF, FL — The Frostproof Chamber of Commerce will vote on whether or not to purchase the old Ramon Theater when the board meets on November 19th. According to The Ledger, the plan to purchase the theater and an adjacent building from owner David Higginbottom is nearly a done deal.
Future plans for the shuttered Ramon include screenings of classic films and live performances. The Ramon and the adjacent Thompson building both need new roofs which will cost roughly $50,000.
The Ramon opened in 1925 for motion pictures and stage shows.
PHILADELPHIA, PA — While plans for the Sameric are still on hold, the Goldenberg Group, which owns the Center City movie palace, is eyeing a joint operation of the Trocadero as a premiere arts venue.
According to the Philadelphia Daily News, the 1870 theater is “on the National Registry of Historic Places and is the oldest Victorian theater still in operation.” It has been a venue for rock concerts since 1986.
Meanwhile, the Sameric/Boyd’s demolition permit expires next month with no movement one way or another in the works. The Goldenberg Group is still discussing ways to revamp and reopen the theater as “multi-purpose entertainment facility.”
The Friends of the Boyd is also working to preserve the former UA movie palace.
(Thanks to Howard Haas for the update!)
November 12, 2002
According to the Business Journal, “the non-binding agreement” calls for Onex to pay roughly “$36.3 million in equity capital, with the rest coming from acquisition financing.” The Los Angeles Times reports the total sale at $80 million.
With the two exhibitors under one corporate roof, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Landmark Theatres will be operated as a “specialty film division” of LCE. Oaktree Capital, which is selling Landmark to the Onex Corporation, is currently a co-owner of LCE with Onex.
Landmark currently operates 67 theaters with 290 screens including the Oriental, Nuart, Sunshine, and many more Cinema Treasures around the country. There is no word yet on management or operational changes, or of any imminent theater closings.
We’ll keep you posted…
SMITHTOWN, NY — The former Smithtown Theatre reopened two weeks ago and is now playing to nearly full houses as a for-profit performing arts center. Last operated by United Artists, the Smithtown underwent a three year, $1 million restoration effort before reopening on October 26th.
The article also cites a trend on Long Island, and in particular Suffolk County, of restoring old movie theaters with recent efforts in Patchogue and Westhampton Beach. However, the Art Deco Suffolk Theatre, located in nearby Riverhead, is still facing an uncertain future.
November 4, 2002
VIENNA, AUSTRIA — According to ScreenDaily.com, “The city of Vienna has agreed to subsidise the operation of two historic art house cinemas that were threatened with closure after they ran into financial difficulties.”
The Vienna International Film Festival will take over the 736-seat Gartenbau cinema, while the Austrian Film Archive will operate the “historic and architecturally important” Metro Cinema.
The city will also help finance the future of these two movie houses which were put in jeopardy after the opening of nearby multiplexes.
November 1, 2002
CHICAGO, IL — According to an email sent by the Friends of the Uptown, the historic Riviera Theatre went up for sale on Wednesday for $4.5 million — a figure which includes the attached commericial space. G.B. Property Management is handling the sale of the 1918 former Balaban & Katz movie house.
According to the Friends, the 2,500-seat Riviera was the second B&K “presentation house”, after the Central Park, and was built by Rapp & Rapp, who would continue a long and fruitful relationship with Balaban and Katz.
After closing in the early 1980s, it first became a nightclub, and by the end of the decade, transformed into one of Chicago’s most popular concert venues. It continued to host concerts into 2002.
(Thanks to the Friends of the Uptown for the news.)
ANN ARBOR, MI — The Wagner Electric Sign Company has just installed a new vertical sign on the Michigan Theater.
According to Gary Flinn, the Michigan removed the original and much larger vertical sign in 1956. Flinn also reports that the lighting of the new sign is scheduled for tonight.
For more information or to see another terrific job from Wagner, visit their Michigan Theater project page.
(Thanks to Paul Drury for the update!)
October 30, 2002
SALINAS, CA — The old Crystal Theater will be demolished today, along with three other surrounding buildings, to make way for a new 14-screen, 2,916-seat Maya Cinemas megaplex. According to the Californian, a ceremony will be held today at 4 p.m. at Monterey and Market streets.
Tom Delay dates the Crystal to 1916 when it was originally known as Brown’s Opera House. It was briefly renamed the T & D Theatre when it became part of the T & D circuit, before that moniker was given as the original name of the current Fox California Theatre.
The 86-year-old movie house has been known as the Crystal ever since 1921. It closed in 1972 with Gary Parks noting its last uses as a Spanish-language movie house and boxing venue.
Parks, commenting on Cinema Treasures on June 15, 2002 about the redevelopment project, noted that despite the demolition:
The Crystal’s facade, vertical sign and marquee are shown in the rendering [of the new megaplex] as being preserved.
The rest of the complex will be in a sort of Mediterranean motif. Aside from preservation considerations, the Crystal’s facade and signage are being kept because they are grandfathered-in under the sign ordinance of Downtown Salinas, which no longer allows any new overhanging signage. This way, the new theatre will have both a monumental sign and eye-catching marquee.
No official word yet on whether this is confirmed.
(Thanks to Charles Parker for the update.)
NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND — November 26, 2002 will be the final day of the 71-year-old Odeon, according to The Journal.
The now four-screen theater, which has a historic link with the James Bond series, will host a gala charity event and screening of the new Bond film, “Die Another Day” on November 19th — just one week before its final end. (Tickets are still available for 7.50.)
According to the Journal, “The charity premiere of the latest Bond film which stars Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry, is in aid of the Cinema & Television Benevolent Fund.” Peter Talbot, who has served as the general manager of the Odeon Newcastle since 1976, is on the board of the Fund.
The closing of the old theater on November 26th will take place one day before the grand opening of a new 12-screen Odeon cinema in Newcastle named The Gate.
According to Ian Grundy, the Odeon Newcastle originally opened on September 7, 1931 as the Paramount and was built by the US-based theater circuit. It bears a strong aesthetic similarity to the Paramount in Aurora, IL.
In 1939, Paramount sold the Newcastle palace, along with the rest of its UK theaters, to Odeon Cinemas. In the 1970s, the theater was converted to a triplex and then in 1980, a fourth screen was converted out of the former stage area.
Grundy writes, “In 1999, the Odeon was grade 2 listed with English Hertitage stating ‘[It is] the best surviving Paramount cinema in Britain, with well composed facade and rich interior with Lalique glass fittings.’
The future of the theater is now uncertain.
October 29, 2002
FLUSHING, NY — Here’s a name from the past: the Keith’s Theatre, in Flushing, whose sad tale is legendary by now. After closing in 1986 as a tarnished, but still beautiful triplex, the Keith’s was purchased by Thomas Huang who subsequently demolished landmarked sections of the building.
The city of Flushing evoked his permits after discovering the violation, but the damage had been done.
According to the Daily News, Huang plead guilty in 1999 to two felony counts of “endangering the public health, safety and environment and presenting a false instrument for filing in connection with the old theater.”
The Daily News is now reporting that a new, unnamed developer has purchased the gutted and dilapidated theater from Huang. The sale is expected to close by November 12th and the new “community-minded developer” is expected to develop the site for commercial and residential use.
The Northern Blvd. landmark opened in 1927 as a 3,000-seat movie palace. It was one of the grandest theaters built in all of the New York city area and its loss is still fresh among outraged preservationists.
We’ll keep you posted…