January 31, 2017
From the Troy Record: The city of Troy was awarded more than $775,000 from a state revitalization program to aid in rehabilitating a historic downtown theater.
Mayor Patrick Madden said in a late Friday news release the city was chosen to receive $778,205 through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Restore New York Communities Initiative. That money would help fund a planned $3 million project to restore the former American Theater on River Street and reopen it as a first-run theater.
“The preservation of cultural assets like the American Theater is critically important to ensure the continued prosperity of the Collar City,” Madden said in the news release. “The restoration of this landmark space will not only attract new visitors and investment to our city’s thriving downtown, [but] it also supports the city’s long-term Riverwalk expansion effort.”
The theater has been shuttered for more than a decade, last open as the Cinema Art theater, showing adult films until it was shut down by the city in 2006 amid allegations that patrons were engaging in sex acts in the theater. Bonacio Construction and Bow Tie Cinemas — which operates theaters in Schenectady and Saratoga Springs — are working together on the project, with the city offering its support by backing the application for state funding last fall.
From The Sun: It was a little more than 10 years ago that nearly seven decades of community memories, experiences and life events were shuttered-up inside what had been the Indian Lake Theater. The movie house closed its doors in late-2006 and threatened to become a memory itself. The theater, where so many members of and visitors to the Indian Lake Community had special memories, was at risk of ceasing to exist. These were memories that marked milestone events in the lives of those who frequented the theater. Memories of having their first job at the theater, holding hands with a loved-one for the first time, sharing a first kiss, enjoying entertainment with friends and family or just spending a quiet time in the darkened room on a rainy afternoon or evening being transported by a film to a special place or becoming a part of an exciting story. Surely, the shutters were on — but the memories were working overtime. The memories were beginning to motivate a new chapter in the theater’s history. Slightly more than two years later on March 6, 2009, a local community organization purchased the 250-seat venue, capping off a 12-week, round-the-clock effort that saw nearly 500 people help to raise $160,000.
The downtown movie house, for most small towns across America is a rapidly fading memory. But in Indian Lake, a historic theater began a new life nearly 10 years ago in a town with a population of 1,400 — all thanks to the efforts and determination of the surrounding community. The shutters came off and a non-profit, multipurpose community center was formed into a space for new and classic films, live community theater, concerts and special events for the community. Continuous refinement of space and capability has most recently been joined by digital technology, allowing The Indian Lake Community Theater to show the latest films coming out of Hollywood as well as the imaginations and efforts of independent filmmakers from around the world. It has been nearly 10 years since the new chapter in the theater’s life has been started by a determined and committed community, but, as Theater Director Sue Montgomery-Corey put it: “Progress always comes with a price.”
Montgomery-Corey said even a standard film costs $250 to acquire for showing and an additional $40 for each trailer.
More popular films cost more to acquire, and with companies like Disney that take a large, flat percentage of the gross for the showing of their films, the theater can have a hole to climb out of that can be as deep as 40 percent of gross revenue.
All this represents a challenge for the theater given the low admission price of only $5.
“For each showing, we need to have 80 paying customers in order to just cover the hard cost of the showing,” said Montgomery-Corey. Concessions help, and children deliver some good concession revenue. But films for adult viewers just don’t seem to deliver the concession sales that are so often touted by other theaters.
“Perhaps we need to survey our adult customers to see if there is something else they would like to see us offering in the way of refreshments.” “If nothing else, the operational cost situation should make the community realize that it cannot start taking this fantastic community resource for granted,” Montgomery-Corey said. Operations, she said, are about as grassroots as it gets. Montgomery-Corey said she enjoyed seeing how the theater’s following is expanding, with crowds coming as far as Olmstedville. And while the venue’s Facebook page has drawn likes as far away as India and Pakistan, just liking the theatre doesn’t keep the doors open, the director points out. Surely the theater’s history and inspiring story of small community determination have a lot to do with its widespread popularity even beyond the community at large. But its programming has a lot to do with the venue’s ongoing popularity. Current films like “Manchester by the Sea”, “La La Land”, “Queen of Katwe”, “Dr. Strange” — all running in the coming weeks — are certainly a huge drive to the Indian Lake Theater’s popularity.
Events such as the “Loren and Mark” March 10 reach-out musical performance at Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek (sponsors are still needed) and the April 28 Patsy Cline Tribute to take place in the theater are just some of the great live performances planned this spring.
But the real driving force is the community at large. So as the Indian Lake Community Theater approaches it’s new chapter’s 10th anniversary, Montgomery-Corey suggests that the community celebrate the fact that it belongs to them.
“Do it by taking in a few great movies. Attend a live performance. Bring a few friends and visitors. Enjoy some popcorn, a chocolate bar, a cup of coffee. Celebrate the great admission price, and if you can, don’t go past the contribution jar at the end of the counter without contributing, or the donation page on the website without giving a little ‘thank you’ to help keep the theater healthy, the admission price low and the memories coming.”
January 25, 2017
From the Journal-Sentinal: Two competing plans have surfaced that would reuse the historic, but long vacant, West Bend Theatre in that community’s downtown.
Historic West Bend Theatre, a nonprofit group, is talking to city officials and others about its plans to renovate the building, 125 N. Main St.
That group would convert the former cinema into a venue for such events as concerts, dance recitals and weddings.
From dmagazine.com: The website Cinema Treasures, an overwhelmingly large and detailed database of more than 47,000 movie theaters, has plenty of entries devoted to active theaters, from single-screen art houses to shopping mall multiplexes.
But it’s the obituaries on the site that prove the most compelling. The community on Cinema Treasures is just as thorough in cataloging the stories of past movie theaters, closed or demolished by the whims of market forces and real estate development—not to mention television, the internet, and Netflix.
Most of the entries include a brief history of the theater, photos, and often comments from people reminiscing on nights spent at the movies: piling friends into a car on a hot summer evening to see the double feature B-flicks at the Gemini Drive-In just north of Forest Lane off of Central, or seeing the 1961 romantic comedy Gidget Goes Hawaiian on a field trip to the Wynnewood Theater in Oak Cliff.
I got sucked in browsing through the listings for closed Dallas theaters, burning away a significant chunk of a day I should have spent working on something else, and not regretting it at all. Cinema Treasures has details on 127 closed Dallas theaters, and 145 overall. (It it is missing an entry for the Forest Theater near Fair Park, if anyone feels equipped to write an update.)
Each theater entry is fascinating, and if you go down the same internet wormhole that I did, keep a lookout for comments from “dallasmovietheaters,” who writes paragraphs and paragraphs on the history of many of these old theaters.
There are great photos of the Washington Theatre, the ostentatious movie palace opened on Elm Street downtown in 1912. The Queen Theater, later known as the Leo, soon followed, along with the Hippodrome—later renamed The Strand and torn down for parking spaces in 1960 Elm Street—and the other establishments that transformed Elm into the city’s historic theater row. The Majestic, which has had its ups and downs, is the only one of those early theaters still standing.
January 24, 2017
From The Malibu Times: Sources say the days are numbered for Malibu’s only movie theater, the two-screen Regal Malibu Twin located in the Malibu Village shopping center — which is a big deal in a town where so many residents work in the movie biz. The 25-year lease the movie theater had enjoyed expired at the end of 2016, and the space will be operating month-to-month until at least the end of June.
In an attempt to rent the space to another movie theater chain, management of the Malibu Village, Jamestown Property Management, has made the contacts, but in the current market, their hands are tied. They say the existing space is simply too small for potential tenants to make any profit, so they’re not getting any bites. The business model for today’s film exhibitors is based on large multiplex or megaplex theater complexes.
“We’ve reached out to a number of tenants in the theater space to replace Regal and there has not been any serious interest given the challenges of operating a small movie theater,” a spokesperson for Jamestown said. “In the meantime, we have reduced Regal’s rent by 75 percent in order to keep them from leaving immediately.”
Jamestown went on to explain, “While the Malibu community does support the theater, Regal has determined that the current business model isn’t financially viable. They don’t get enough patrons and haven’t seen a payback for putting in amenities like reclining seats, new projection equipment, and beer and wine service that many competitor theaters have installed to continue attracting customers.”
From The Record-Eagle: Barbara Abbott and Larry Hauser moved north from Michigan’s capital to the village of Lake Leelanau, where their entertainment options became significantly more limited.
That’s why they’re grateful for the nearby Bay Theatre, one of the only small-town movie theaters in northern Michigan to offer daily films year-round.
“I love The Bay Theatre. Almost all the movies we see, except during the (Traverse City) Film Festival, we see at The Bay,” said Abbott, a retired Michigan State University professor. “We like movies a lot so we go to almost all the movies they have there. Except for ‘Rogue,’ even though it’s supposed to be good. It’s not our kind of movie.”
The couple was among the first to purchase a dual membership to The Bay, which is offering memberships for the first time in its 70-year history. The benefit gives patrons discounts on movies, concessions, special screenings and gift certificates and will give the theater much-needed year-round support.
Five levels of membership range from the basic “8mm” ($50 single, $75 dual) to the ultimate “Director’s Cut” ($800 single, $1,000 dual), which features a private screening for purchasers and 20 of their guests.
Former mid-week specials like “Free Popcorn Tuesdays” now are membership-only benefits.
The one-year memberships are both a way to honor loyal movie-goers and to raise revenue to help the theater pay off its loan for a 2013 digital conversion, make improvements like replacing seats and renovating restrooms and continue to bring in school and after-school groups for educational films — expenses for which nonprofit theaters can fundraise.
The memberships also will help keep movies and concessions affordable.
“We need to stay afloat and be profitable to some degree to keep ourselves moving here but I’ve tried not to raise prices,” said The Bay Managing Director Denise Sica, adding that ticket prices have remained the same since 2008 and that most concessions sell for $3 and under.
“That’s unusual in a small town. Most small-town theaters don’t stay open year-round, and they don’t stay open all week. We want to have that as part of our community. It’s part of life here.”
The theater opened in 1946 and pays tribute to its early years with original wood floors and historic black-and-white photos of the area that show before films. In keeping with its slogan, “Small Town Theatre, World Class Cinema,” it features mainstream, independent and foreign films, including the world-cinema The Bay Film Series. It also hosts concerts, fundraisers and other community and special events.
Abbott and Hauser go to about one movie a week at The Bay but say easing the pocketbook wasn’t the reason they bought a membership.
“We do save money on theater tickets and popcorn, but it was largely to help support The Bay Theatre,” said Abbott, whose regular movie day is Tuesdays.
The theater launched its memberships shortly before Christmas and is offering a total of 275 at the first four levels, plus unlimited “Director’s Cuts.”
“It’s all part of the mix: How can we raise a little revenue but keep our prices low and offer people who come to The Bay a different way of being part of the Bay Theatre,” Sica said.
Springfield, MA – New Springfield RMV opens in former movie theater with technology upgrades, more space and parking
From MassLive: he new Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Office the agency opened Monday in the Springfield Plaza shopping center has more chairs than its predecessor.
The RMV just hopes fewer people need to use them.
“Our goal is to get people in and out,” said Mary Tibma, deputy registrar for external services.
From the North Fork Patch: The movie theater in Greenport could soon be open on weekends in the winter — and the cinema’s owner spoke to Patch this week to describe how the community can make the idea come to life.
Recently, Greenport Village Mayor George Hubbard told a crowd at Peconic Landing that he’d spoken to the theater’s owner Josh Sapan about the possibility of keeping the doors open year-round, at least on weekends.
Hubbard mentioned possible memberships sold to patrons.
Sapan told Patch that he would love to keep the theater open year round. “As long as I can cover the expenses of heat, insurance, and management, I would be delighted,” he said.
Sapan then reached out to describe how the idea could unfold.
“I am very happy to provide the theatre rent free to the community for them to run it outside the summer,” Sapan said. “Our manager, projectionist and staff are hired for the summer, so the community would just need to cover expenses for insurance, heat and the like, and find people to manage the theatre, do the booking, projection and operate the concession,” he said.
Sapan agreed with residents who have enthusiastically embraced the idea on social media, stating that they’d love to have a movie theater to enjoy year-round.
“I have always dreamed of the theatre being open all year,” Sapan said. “The theatre is a passion of mine and I love providing the theatre at no cost to The Maritime Museum for their film showings, to the student film program at no charge for their film exhibition, and working with East End Arts,” he said. “We have an artist exhibit of their work each summer. There have been superb photography exhibitions.”
Last year, for example, an exhibit by the “extraordinary photographer Andrea Tese who has a place on the North Fork,” was featured, he said.
January 17, 2017
From Pennlive.com: The Allen Theatre has been known by many names in the 100 years that it’s been around in Annville.
The theater at 35 Main St. was called the “Hippodrome” when it opened in 1917. It was a common name for such venues then, much like “Colonial” or “State,” according to co-owner Allen “Skip” Hicks. The theater was later known as “Astor” in 1930.
That all came before 1993 when Skip, who grew up watching movies at similar venues in Lebanon, asked his mother Mary Jane Hicks for help purchasing the theater. She thought her son could do no wrong — “She thought everything I did was right,” he said — and bought and paid for a total renovation of the building.
“My mother assumed that responsibility,” Skip said. “She gave me a theater. I’m essentially the luckiest guy in the world.”
It’s how the venue became known as the Allen Theatre for the last 21 years. If you think Skip named it after himself, you’d be mistaken. The theater is named after his father, and the coffee shop MJ’s just inside its lobby is named after his mother.
From Aceable.com: There’s nothing better than the nostalgia of a drive-in movie theater. What better place is there for a first date after finally getting your license? Or to have a girl’s night and watch your favorite chick flick with your besties? Not to mention, they usually have some great snacks and it’s a chance to get away from the fam for a few hours. Or hey, bring them with you. Do what you want. We’re not in charge here.