September 6, 2002
JACKSONVILLE, FL — The Center Theater, the last of 12 downtown movie houses in Jacksonville, partially collapsed early yesterday morning forcing officials to speed a planned demolition of the historic theater. Following the collapse, much of the old movie house was demolished yesterday with the remaining elements to come down during the week.
The Center Theater had previously been deemed a safety hazard by city officials and plans to demolish the theater were two weeks away when the theater unexpectedly folded in. No one was injured despite the Center closing out its days as an illegal residence for transients.
(Thanks to Mark Reed for the news.)
NORTH SALT LAKE, UT — The 1970s-era Trolley North theater closed for good last night after being resurrected in 2001 by Westates Theatres. According to the Deseret News, the three-screen theater has already been sold and will be knocked down and replaced by an office building.
Westates plans to erect a new 8-screen theater in Davis County sometime next year.
The Trolley North opened as a twin in 1974 known as the Mark II and was originally operated by Plitt. It became part of the Loews Cineplex empire following the sale of Plitt to Cineplex Odeon and the merger of Loews Theatres and C.O.
Unfortunately, the aging movie house fell victim to Loews Cineplex' bankruptcy reorganization and was shuttered in February 2001. “Loews had pretty much destroyed it before they left,” Westates vice president Tony Rudman is quoted as saying, and the company failed to bring the ‘rundown and out-of-date’ theater back to life.
(Thanks to Grant Smith for the news.)
September 5, 2002
LOS ANGELES, CA — “Bradley” is reporting that Westwood Village’s Mann National, one of the largest first-run movie houses in America and one of the last giant single screen theaters to be erected, will be closing in October for renovations.
“The seats, fixtures, drapery, carpets, etc. are all being replaced. I was told the theater will be there for a while. Mann seems intereted in keeping the BIG theaters open and in good use.”
Mann Theatres, which most recently gave Grauman’s Chinese Theatre a meticulous makeover, has a number of historic movie houses in Westwood Village including the Mann National, Mann Village, and Mann Bruin theaters along with two newer single screen houses, the Mann Plaza and Mann Festival.
While the National will benefit from the refurbishment, the news may be a bit of a blow to nostalgia fans who still visit this immense theater for its golden orange and brown interior and now increasingly rare fixtures.
In addition to housing one of the largest screens in Los Angeles, the Mann National has also hosted film premieres (Antz, In Dreams, etc.) and numerous advanced, promotional, and press screenings.
(Thanks to “Bradley” for the news!)
PHILADELPHIA, PA — The Philadelphia Daily News is reporting that the National Trust for Historic Preservation has granted $2,500 to the Committee to Save the Sameric for retention of real estate and tax experts to advise on ways the theater’s owner, the Goldenberg Group, which retains its demolition permit despite talk of turning the movie palace into a dinner theater, could donate the property for tax credits.
Committee founder Howard Haas has also taken steps to incorporate Friends of the Boyd, Inc. as a nonprofit organization. A meeting is expected in September with the committee, the theater owner, and Mayor Street, with the eventual goal of saving the Art Deco movie palace.
Haas recently filed an appeal of the Board of Licenses and Inspections Review decision to issue a permit to demolish the theater. “A status conference has been set for Thursday, October 3, 2002 at 9:30 AM in Courtroom 426 City Hall.”
(Thanks to Howard Haas for the update and for his tireless fight to save this jewel.)
August 30, 2002
ODESSA, TX — The 1951 Ector Theatre in downtown Odessa could face the same fate it did in 1985, when competition from a nearby multiplex forced it to close it doors, if it doesn’t get more business soon.
According to the Odessa American, since the Ector was reopened by owners Don and Toni Stice last year with a 1950s themed-celebration, audiences have not been filling the 681-seat movie house as anticipated. Toni Stice said the theater needs “at least 200 or more [theater-goers] each weekend to break even”. Lately, the numbers have been closer to half that amount.
The Stices have until November 1st, when their lease runs out, to make a turnaround. Otherwise, things look bleak for the Ector remaining open. Thus far, they have received around $3500 from donations to help keep the theater running, but will need much more help.
For more information, call (915)352-9031.
COUER D'ALENE, ID — The historic Panida Theatre is not only celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, but has just been awarded the 2002 Governor’s Awards in the Arts, reports the Couer d'Alene Press.
Karen Bowers, executive director of the Panida, says in the article that, in addition to switching from 16mm to 35mm projectors, the theater will be “spruced up” for its anniversary. A gala fundraiser is being held September 14th, including a perfomance by the Couer d'Alene Orchestra and appearances by actors Jack Bannon and Ellen Travolta, Couer d'Alene natives.
The Panida, which is a combination of the words “Panhandle of Idaho”, opened in 1927, and originally was a vaudeville house before switching to movies, which it continued to show until the mid 1980s. Today, the theater screens classic and foreign films, hosts concerts, and live theater.
August 29, 2002
RICHMOND, VA — According to the Richmond Times-Disptach, the popular seven-screen multiplex is being closed by Regal Cinemas on September 5th after 32 years as one of the most popular movie houses in the city.
The Ridge still draws an audience (though a continually smaller one), screening a mix of both mainstream and art features. It opened in 1970 with the Albert Finney and Alec Guinness musical “Scrooge” and Jack Nicholson in “Five Easy Pieces”, as a twin.
The Ridge’s closing has caused some dismay as it is still in decent shape, while other less presentable theaters owned by the chain in the area will continue to remain open.
(Thanks to Mary Wiggins!)
DALLAS, TX — Closed since a fire swept through it in 1995, the Texas Theater in Dallas is best known as the place where Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested in 1963 after assasinating President John F. Kennedy. However, once a nearly $6 million restoration is completed in 2003, the theater will host live stage shows, as well as house an exhibit relating to the Oswald arrest there.
The Houston Chronicle reports that the project will restore the Texas' interior to its original appearance, while the exterior will appear similar to how it looked when Oswald was arrested in 1963.
The theater was built for billionaire Howard Hughes in 1931.
August 28, 2002
MONTREAL, CANADA — According to a Canada.com article, the 1913 Imperial Theatre in Montreal will be restored to its original appearance inside and out, as well as getting new projection and sound equipment, and a larger stage.
Currently hosting the Montreal World Film Festival, which runs to September 5th, the Imperial will be closed until July of next year, when it will reopen in time to present the FantAsia Film Festival.
(Thanks to Mike Rivest!)
LOMBARD, ILLINOIS — A petition led by concerned Lombard residents to save the 74-year old DuPage Theater in downtown Lombard will lead to a vote this November on whether citizens want to save the former movie palace. Village officials are expected to add the vote to the election ballot prior to the election, according to the Daily Herald.
It is expected that Lombard must raise over $5 million, in addition to the $2 already promised by the village and a grant from the state of Illinois.