September 25, 2002
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.
MIAMI, FL — In other restoration news, the Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts will reopen on October 12th following a $1.8 million restoration to re-enhance the theater’s atmospheric interior and ceiling, remold the theater’s decorative ornaments, and install a new air conditioning unit in the auditorium.
According to the Miami Herald, more restoration work will follow next summer when new seating, end panels, and carpeting will be installed to match the theater’s original appearance. “New theatrical rigging and audio systems” will also be installed at that time.
September 17, 2002
GUTTENBERG, NJ — The Galaxy Theatre has announced its upcoming schedule for its “Big Screen Classics” series, beginning this Thursday, September 19th, featuring a wide array of classic films including everything from “The Godfather” to “Saturday Night Fever.”
The films will be presented in 35mm on the Galaxy’s 45-foot screen and highlights include:
September 19 – “West Side Story”
September 26 – “Saturday Night Fever"
October 3 – "13 Ghosts” PRESENTED IN ILLUSION-O!
October 31 – “The Phantom of the Opera” (1925) with live organ accompaniment by Jeff Barker on the Galaxy Kimball Theatre Pipe Organ!
November 4 – “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”
November 21 – “The Godfather"
December 5 – "From Here to Eternity”
(Thanks to Peter Apruzzese for the news.)
CHICAGO, IL — Rumors of the McClurg Court’s demise may have been premature as the aging Loews Cineplex movie house prepares to square off against a new 21-screen AMC megaplex opening nearby, according to a report in today’s Chicago Tribune.
A previously announced plan by another group to spend $5 million to convert the McClurg Court into a performing arts center seems to have fallen apart due to a lack of financing, and for the time being, the McClurg Court has remained open and still showing first-run movies.
According to the Tribune, Loews Cineplex currently has no immediate plans to shutter the 1970s theater which houses three auditoria including its popular 800-seat main screen.
AMC’s new complex has taken four years to bring to fruition, but the successful exhibitor, which weathered the exhibition collapse without filing for bankruptcy, has finally announced that November 1st will be the opening day of the new 21-screen AMC River East.
Let the games begin…
(Thanks to Bryan Krefft for the news!)