January 6, 2003
Our vacation is officially over and we’re back at work!
We hope you a terrific holiday, saw some of the better movies that were released at the end of 2002, and maybe pitched in to help a theater in need. In these difficult economic times, theaters, performing arts groups, and preservation organizations need all the assistance they can get.
Luckily for those theaters still showing movies, motion pictures have usually bucked economic downturns during their history, as evident by last year’s box office performance. According to Yahoo!/The Hollywood Reporter, the total box office for last year should reach $9.4 billion, up a reported 13% from 2001, with ticket sales reaching their highest count in 45 years.
While this news is terrific for resurgent theater chains such as Loews Cineplex, Regal Entertainment Group, Pacific Theatres, AMC, and more, the independent exhibitor is still struggling. The reasons are too many to list, but access to product, high overhead, and the inability to book multiple films in single screen theaters are amongst the largest culprits.
Still there were bright spots in 2002: “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” proved to be a lifesaver for theaters such as the Catlow; and more and more older, second run theaters switched to art house product for far better profits and reliability.
But there were so many theater closures at the hands of financially strapped exhibitors, frustrated landlords, and expanding drugstore and retail chains, we would need UPS to deliver the hefty list.
As we look ahead to 2003, we’ll begin focusing more of our attention not only on the stories and events that impact you, the exhibitor, the patron, the preservationist, or the theater lover, but show you how others have stayed alive and what we can all learn from their experiences.
The news will be changing as well. Lately there have been so many news stories regarding historic theaters that it’s been impossible for us to relay them to you quickly and effectively. Therefore, we will be posting more of them in link format so that you can read the original stories sooner and in more depth.
Elsewhere, our incredibly dedicated volunteer staff like Bryan Krefft, Grant Smith, William Gabel, Roger Katz, Ian Grundy, and others will continue to help us preserve the memory and futures of these beloved theaters around the world.
We’re extremely excited to get Cinema Treasures 2003 underway and we’ll be back tomorrow with more theaters, more news, and more of what you’ve come to rely on at Cinema Treasures.
Thanks and let’s start saving some theaters!
December 12, 2002
CENTENNIAL, CO — Regal Entertainment Corp has announced a massive digital projection initiative, with plans to equip nearly 80% of its existing locations with digital projectors, high-speed networks, and satellite downlinks, according to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times.
While Regal (which owns both the Edwards Cinemas and United Artists theater chains) plans to spend $70 million going digital, initial plans call only for the digital projection of short films and advertisements. In other words, these conversions will not allow theaters to digitally project feature-length films—at least for now.
“At some point in time, digital projection will become a standard for theatrical films,” said Jeffrey Logsdon, managing director of investment bank Gerard Klauer Mattison. “Until then, Regal believes that if it can put the infrastructure in now, and build a business around it with promotional or advertising customers, it’ll put the company that much farther ahead of everyone else.”
Regal’s digital rollout is in partnership with Christie Digital, a company which specializes in the deployment and management of digitial projection systems.
By the end of the 2003, Christie Digital and Regal plan to deploy the new systems on over 4,500 screens. Additionally, plans call for the installation of over 1,400 42' high-resolution plasma displays throughout Regal theater lobbies.
December 11, 2002
“The story I am sending to you is about the theatre that I have been involved with for 15 years or so. I lead a group that saved the theatre and got it reopened and operating. This influx of funds is an answer to my prayers eventhough I have been living in Chicago for 6 years.”
Dave is referring to the fact that the State of Illinois announced on Monday that the Lincoln Square will receive a $3.5 million grant, as part of its Illinois FIRST program.
The city plans to renovate the 1917 theater using private funds and then hand over operational control of the theater to a private group.
“We are very much interested in improving the Uptown entertainment district,” said Alicia Berg, the commissioner of planning and development. “This is a historic building and an incredibly important one.”
In fact, the Riviera was one of first movie palaces in Chicago that was built specifically for movies, instead of more traditional theatrical purposes.
Note: registration is required to view article.
(Thanks to Bryan Krefft for telling us about this.)
December 10, 2002
MILLVILLE, NJ — According to this inspiring story from Bridgeton News, teenager Samantha White has become a junior board member of the Levoy Theatre Preservation society, a group which is working to restore Millville’s classic Levoy Theatre.
White began working with the society last year, as part of her volunteer duties as a member of the Key Club at the Millville Senior High School. She was so well-recieved that the society recently made her a junior board member of their organization.
The irony of all of this is that the Levoy closed in 1974, so Samantha White never enjoyed the theater while it was still operating. However, according to the article, she’s learned a lot about the theater from conversations with her uncle.
(Thanks to Gregg Anderson for both of today’s stories.)
PORTLAND, OREGON — According to a recent article in the Oregonian, the 76 year-old Hollywood Theatre has experienced two fires in the past month, both occuring on the theater’s emergency-exit staircase, which is located at the rear of the building.
As theater manager Shannon Donaldson put it:
“Unfortunately, it’s a wonderfully perfect spot for homeless people to sleep or for kids to drink beer or for people to shoot up drugs.”
Thankfully, the fires did not seriously damage the Hollywood. Current plans call for the theater to improve lighting and security around the stairs at a cost of $25,000, which the theater expects to raise from local supporters.
December 9, 2002
MYMENSINGH, BANGLADESH — According to this BBC News report, a series of bomb blasts rocked a movie Bangladeshi theater complex on Saturday, killing 15 people and injuring over 200 others.
The blasts happened at a four-screen movie theater located in Mymensingh, a large town in northern Bangladesh. At the time of the explosion, the theater was packed with over 2000 people.
Although the cause of the blasts has not officially been determined, it is suspected that pro-Taliban radicals are most likely to blame. In the past year, nearly 100 other Bangladeshis have been killed in similar bombings.
(Thanks to UAGirl for sending in this tragic story.)
December 6, 2002
HARTFORD, CT — According to an article in the Hartford Courant, a groundbreaking ceremony will be held at the site of the former Colonial Theater this upcoming Wednesday, December 11.
The ceremony comes at the end of a tortured 5-year effort to find a productive use for the site. After several efforts to preserve the theater as a performing arts center, the theater was ultimately raised in 2000, athough its Greek Revival facade, which is a city landmark, was preserved.
As part of a $5 million grant to redevelop the site and nearby properties (which are part of Hartford’s West End neighborhood), a new building will be built on the Colonial’s site and will incorporate the theater’s facade.
(Thanks to Gregg Anderson for this story.)
December 5, 2002
GENEVA, IL — According to a recent article in Wednesday’s edition of the Chicaco Tribune, the Geneva Theatre, which closed in 2000, is bringing new interest in Geneva’s downtown area since its owner decided to carve the theater’s space into storefronts.
“The city was very concerned about what would happen to that location when the theater closed in 2000,” said Chris Aiston, Geneva’s economic development director. “At first, we tried to reintroduce a theater there, but we couldn’t make that work. We’re happy about how this project is turning out.”
Thankfully, unlike other theater-to-storefront alterations, the Geneva’s owners are concerned with preserving the theater’s character. $30,000 was spent on restoring the theater’s marquee, and many of the retailers have incorporated a movie motif into their interiors.
Note: registration required to view article.
STREAMWOOD, IL — In other Chicago-area theater news, the former Loews Cineplex Theatre in Streamwood, IL will be sold at auction on Dec. 19, according to an article in Tuesday’s Daily Herald.
Since the opening of a megaplex in nearby South Barrington that features stadium-style seating and enhanced sound, the Loews Cineplex has faced stiff competition for moviegoers' interest. So much so, in fact, that parent company Loews Cineplex now wishes to rid itself of the theater completely.
According to auctioneer Alan Krevts, the opening bid for the Loews Cineplex is set at $2.2 million, although it is unknown at this time how many potential buyers are interested in the property.
(Thanks to Bryan Krefft for both of today’s stories!)