September 26, 2002
BOSTON, MA — In another victory for local preservationists, the Boston Landmarks Commission voted on Tuesday to block the demolition of the Modern/Mayflower Theatre paving the way for its renaissance alongside the Opera House and the Paramount Theatre.
According to the Boston Globe, the Boston Redevelopment Authority is now working to purchase the theater from the Levin family or take it by eminent domain. Work on the theater is estimated to cost $5 million and could bring the theater back to life as a mixed use venue for movies and live performances.
Meanwhile, the $15 million restoration of the Paramount’s interior is about to get underway, and the Opera House, which won its court case this week, should soon begin a $30 million expansion, renovation, and restoration project.
BALTIMORE, MD — Through a series of strategic legal and financial moves, the Senator Theatre will soon be leased and operated by a non-profit entity, the Senator Theatre Foundation, which will also assume operation of the long-shuttered Rotunda twin theater nearby.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the moves will help keep the Senator Theatre afloat and will give its operator, Thomas Kiefaber, a move-over house in the newly renamed, Rotunda Cinematheque. When the system is in place, the Foundation plans to show first-run films in the Senator and then move them over to the Rotunda.
The plan has been in place for nearly a year pending funding which is now coming in the form of a bank loan, half of which has been secured through the city of Baltimore. The theaters will be run by the newly formed foundation which is currently pending IRS approval. With the Rotunda, the Senator should be able to book more first-run movies by giving them a longer life with both theaters in operation.
The Rotunda closed last year as part of Loews Cineplex' bankrupcty reorganization. The Senator, meanwhile, is one of the best presentation movie houses in the country and has a cult-like following amongst its celebrity and everyday patrons. These moves should help future generations enjoy this Art Deco movie house treasure.
September 25, 2002
HONOLULU, HI — The Hawaii Theatre has finally posted a profit in its sixth year of operation after reopening in 1996 following a seven year restoration effort. According to the Pacific Business News, the theater ended the fiscal year with a net profit of $178,000 and has reduced its outstanding debt to $1.5 million.
The theater’s $10.5 million capital campaign recently received a $500,000 Kresge Foundation grant and $1 million from the state and is now within $2 million of completion. With the funds, the theater hopes to first pay down the remaining debt and then restore the exterior of the former movie palace and install a new “movie marquee”.
The Hawaii Theatre was originally opened in 1922 by Consolidated Amusements which operated the theater until 1984 when it was finally shuttered. Saved from the wrecking ball, the theater was carefully restored and then reopened as a performing arts center.
BOSTON, MA — The final legal hurdle has been removed in Clear Channel Entertainment’s battle to restore and reopen the aging Opera House/Keith’s Memorial in Downtown Crossing thanks to a Superior Court judge who ruled in favor of the city and against a condominium complex which had sought to block the theater’s expansion efforts.
According to the Boston Globe, with the ruling, Clear Channel now plans to spend $30 million to redevelop, renovate, and restore the 2,500-seat palace into a venue for touring Broadway productions. The theater has been closed for over a decade and is need of substantial repair.
The early Thomas Lamb theater was built as a memorial to B.F. Keith and was a popular vaudeville venue for years. The theater later switched to movies as part of the RKO circuit and was the jewel of the Sack Theatres empire when it was known as the Savoy.
It was taken over by Sarah Caldwell in 1991 as a venue for opera, but the project ran out of money and the theater has changed hands and arrangements several times over the last decade. It appears, thankfully, that the Opera House will be back and better than ever.
Mayor Thomas Menino, who helped spearhead its revival, is proving to be one of the best friends a movie palace could have in goverment office and is now moving ahead with more plans to “revive” the Paramount and Modern theaters which are just a few doors down from the Opera House.
If all three of these theaters go back in operation and the Wang Center, Orpheum and Majestic are still delighting patrons, Boston would become a must-see destination for historic theater fans. When was the last time you could say that?
September 24, 2002
MARIETTA, GA — Plans are underway to renovate and reopen the historic Strand Theatre in downtown Marietta as a mixed use venue for “films and other peformances”, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.
A press release from Don Shafer, who also operates the 3-screen Marietta Star Cinema, says that the 800-seat Strand is also “in the process of securing exclusive rights to an advanced digital system of delivery and presentation that is just being made available to theaters in the USA. This could be available to the Strand as an exclusive area venue.”
The Strand may have some competition in the future as the Downtown Marietta Development Authority has just agreed to issue up to $80 million in bonds to erect a new performing arts center.
(Thanks to Don Shafer for the update.)
CHEHALIS, WA — Lund Theaters, which owns and operates the historic Chehalis Theater, has taken over operation of the old Yard Birds Mall triplex in North Chehalis.
According to the Chronicle, the theater, which had been operated by the Regal Entertainment Group until last Thursday, is already being run by Lund who had planned to take over the theater at the end of the year. Regal now operates only one theater in all of Washington state, the Regal Capital Mall 4 in Olympia.
Daryl Lund, owner of Lund Theaters, plans to install new seats, curtains, a new sound system, and alter the auditoriums for stadium seating. He also plans to add five screens to the Yard Birds.
Despite these plans, Lund will continue operating the old Chehalis (former Pix) Theater which was erected in 1938 and still turns a tidy profit. Lund resurrected that theater in 1994 after it had been closed for a decade.
September 23, 2002
BALTIMORE, MD — The much heralded, newly restored print of David Lean’s masterpiece, “Lawrence of Arabia,” is now playing at the historic Senator Theatre in the ‘wide-gauge, 70mm format including a DTS digital soundtrack.’
The Senator joins the Music Box in Chicago, the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, and the Ziegfeld in New York in celebrating the 40th anniversary of this epic motion picture.
September 20, 2002
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Sprenger-Lang Foundation, which had previously put $450,000 down of the necessary $1.2 million to purchase the shuttered Atlas Theater, has now pledged another $2 million dollars to help bring the Atlas back to life, according to a report by WJLA-TV.
The planned restoration and renovation project will turn the John Zink-designed movie house into the Atlas Performing Arts Center and will “contain four theaters for both movies and live performances, as well as offices and restaurants.” $12 million more is needed to begin the project.
The 1000-seat Art Moderne Atlas opened in 1938 and has been closed since 1976. Theater organizers hope to bring the Atlas back to life in 2004.
In other Washington, D.C.-area news, Jennifer Kaplan of the Avalon Theater Project reports that a new Northwest Current article has been published entitled “Jemal Says Avalon To Reopen by Christmas.”
The ATP has been working tirelessly to bring the old twin movie house back to life which now seems scheduled to reopen by the end of 2002. The Avalon was previously closed by Loews Cineplex as part of their bankruptcy reorganization in April 2001.
The festival is an all-day celebration of poetry [which] will bring together several generations of world-class, eclectic poets from all across the country to read in a festival atmosphere from Noon until Midnight.
Readings will be interspersed with screenings of experimental films inspired by poetry, and with rare sound recordings of poets. Presses and literary magazines will feature works by the participants, and food and alcohol will be available.
Closed for the last 25 years, the 2,800-seat St. George is being brought back to life by the not-for-profit organization, The St. George Theatre Inc. and its volunteers.
(Thanks to Jean for the update.)
In other New York news, the Upper East Side of Manhattan, which has been battered by a number of movie theater closings over the past decade including the 68th Street Playhouse, the Baronet and Coronet, the Crown Gotham, and the Manhattan 1 & 2, has managed to retain its most recent loss, the New York Twin on 66th & 2nd.
The New York Twin, which has been closed since this past Spring, is reportedly being reopened by Crown Theatres on October 4th. This will be Crown’s first New York theater since the Crown Gotham was shuttered in 2001.
September 19, 2002
TORRINGTON, CT — The $7 million restoration of the Warner Theatre is nearly complete with theater officials announcing that the Art Deco movie palace will have its official reopening on November 23rd.
According to the Register-Citizen, when the Warner reopens in November, “surrounded by shiny black marble, blinding gold leafing and elegant, larger-than-life size murals, theatergoers will feel as if a door to the past has been permanently reopened.”
The official reopening ceremonies on November 23rd will be a formal, black tie gala complete with live big band music with guests arriving in vintage cars from the 1920’s and 30’s.
The theater attracted almost 75,000 guests during the 2001-2002 seasons while organizers were completing the year-long restoration. They expect even larger numbers to come.
Opened in 1931, the theater was rescued from demolition in 1980 and reopened as a performing arts center in 1983.