July 17, 2002
DENVER, CO — The lease to the Paramount Theatre has been sold to Kroenke Sports in a transaction that includes not only the Art Deco movie palace, but also an adjacent building which houses the offices of the Historic Paramount Foundation and the House of Blues Concerts which books the 1970-seat theater.
According to reports in the Denver Business Journal and the Rocky Mountain News, Kroenke Sports, which also owns the Colorado Avalanche hockey and Denver Nuggets basketball franchises, as well as the the Pepsi Center arena, will now commence a “decade-long renovation effort.” Kroenke Sports was established by Wal-Mart’s Stan Kroenke who may seek to purchase the building outright in the future.
The restoration and renovation project will include repairs to the theater’s silk tapestries, the Paramount marquee, and the theater’s roof, as well as the installation of a new air conditioning system.
The Kroenke Sports lease will last until at least 2026 — four years prior to the Paramount’s 100-year anniversary.
July 16, 2002
BURNHAM-ON-SEA, ENGLAND — The Ritz, Burnham-on-Sea’s last movie house, has closed after 70 years of operation. According to ThisIsBristol.com, the theater had been operated since September 2000 by Starlight Cinemas which has now decided to close the twin because of the “lack of support”.
The Ritz opened as a movie house in the 1930s with a balcony and was split several years ago. Prior to Starlight Cinemas, it was used by the Ritz Social Club, which still occupies the ground floor of the building.
The liquidators have descended upon the Ritz as it has faded to black…
CULVER CITY, CA — The Center Theatre Group has been forced to scrap its plans for an additional 100-seat auditorium to be built inside the old Culver Theater balcony because it could not be lowered enough, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
The former movie house will reopen in 2004 as a performing arts center named the Kirk Douglas Theatre after the legendary actor who has pledged $2.5 million to its restoration campaign. Costs for the project have increased from an estimated $8 million to $10.9 million with $7 million already in the bank.
The theater will now house a 320-seat auditotium and a mixed rehearsal space/classroom in the converted balcony area.
ONEONTA, NY — The Oneonta Theatre has been sold to former employee Terry Mattison who plans to convert the twinned 105-year-old movie house into a live theater venue in the future. According to the Daily Star, Mattison has worked at the movie house since 1974.
The Oneonta, which opened as a single auditorium theater in 1897 and is on the National and State Register of Historic Places, may now return to its roots to accomodate live performances. Mattison may also make other modifications including repairing the theater’s roof and other touch-ups.
July 11, 2002
HINSDALE, IL — The Hinsdale Theater has announced a new series of classic film screenings to benefit the ongoing restoration of the 1920s movie house. According to the Chicago Tribune, the series will commence this Friday night at 7:00 p.m. with a showing of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”
Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $7 for children with all of the proceeds going to the theater’s operation. The series will continue weekly until August 16th and additional film series may run after that date featuring the works of Alfred Hitchcock and Woody Allen.
The Hinsdale Theater Foundation has already raised $1 million of the necessary $4.5 million total to complete interior and exterior modifications. The Hinsdale Theater opened in 1925, showed its final film in 1996, and closed in 1999. The Hinsdale will reopen as a cinema and performing arts center when restorations are completed.
(Thanks to Bryan Krefft for the news!)
July 9, 2002
EL PASO, TX — El Paso’s local NBC affiliate, KTSM-TV Channel 9, is conducting an online poll to gauge community support of the city’s proposed $13 million infusion to the $26 million restoration of the historic Plaza Theater. The results of the poll will be broadcast tonight on their evening news and can help continue the growing momentum to restore this beloved, but closed, “Cinema Treasure”.
The gorgeous atmospheric Plaza opened in 1930 and was narrowly saved from demolition in 1987. It was previously selected as part of the “Save America’s Treasures” program and is in the midst of a large fundraising campaign to restore and reopen the 2000-seat theater.
Along with the city funding, the El Paso Community Foundation is proposing to assist El Paso in the following ways: commiting to raising $12 million for the project; donating the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ which once graced the theater (it was restored in 1998); and donating an adjacent building (Centre Annex Building) to be integrated into the operations of the Plaza Theatre. This building would contain a restaurant facility, event ballroom/children’s theater and a roof-top patio garden for community events.
(Thanks to Roman Herrington/EPCF!)
The Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts is begining the first of eight fundraising events this week to raise at least $4 million by October 5th when its option to buy the historic movie palace would expire. Estimates for the theater’s restorations range between $18 – 30 million.
According to Crain’s Chicago Business, “The group will also host the first public tours of the structure in more than two decades later this summer as part of the fund-raising drive.”
(Thanks to Michael Beyer and the UTCA.)
VENTNOR, NJ — The Philadelphia Inquirer recently featured the reopened Ventnor Twin Theater and profiled its success in bringing in patrons to this beachside community. Ventnor sits adjacent to an area once filled with movie palaces, Atlantic City.
Once teeming with theaters along its boardwalk, and with several prominent movie houses in the outlying towns, the Atlantic City area has but three movie theaters left with the Ventnor Twin the only one with historical significance.
The Art Deco theater opened in 1938 and was later converted into a twin in the 1960s. It closed several years ago, but was recently reopened by a man who works maintaining movie theaters.
(Thanks to George Quirk for the update!)
July 3, 2002
NORFOLK, VA — Local real estate developer Bobby Wright has paid $600,000 for the long-shuttered Granby Theater in hopes of reopening the old movie house. According to the Virginian-Pilot, the 1,000 seat theater has been closed since 1987 and is still in relatively good shape.
Possible uses for the Granby include a dinner theater a la the Commodore Theatre in nearby Portsmouth. To that end, Wright is negotiating with Commodore owner Fred Schoenfeld to help out on the movie side of the business. Wright is also eyeing dancing, first-run and classic films, and hosting smaller concerts than Norfolk’s Norva Theater.
According to the Virginian-Pilot, the original Granby Theater opened in 1915 in another spot down the street. The current incarnation opened in 1923 and became part of the Fabian Theaters chain in 1967 and renamed the Lee Theater.
As residents moved away from downtown and into the suburbs, the Lee survived on a steady diet of adult films. In 1976, the theater was purchased again and renamed the Granby Mall Cinema showing family movies. When one of the owners died in 1987, the theater doors were shut for good … until now.
July 2, 2002
TACOMA, WA — The Tacoma Mall Twin Theatre is closing this month after almost 35 years of delighting area audiences, according to a report in the News-Tribune/yellowBrix.
The former single-screen cinema opened in 1968 at a cost of $1 million and was the first hard-top built in 40 years when it opened. The News-Tribune wrote at the time that the Tacoma was ‘Grauman’s, the Cathay Circle, Hollywood Boulevard and London Airport all wrapped into one and brought up to date.’
In 1974, it was split into a duplex and renamed the Tacoma Mall Twins creating a 700-seat and a 400-seat theater out of the large 1200-seat auditorium. Over the years, the construction of multiplexes and megaplexes damaged the vitality of the theater.
With Loews Cineplex abandoning the theater later this month, the Tacoma Mall is now in negotiations with several chains regarding the construction of a new restaurant in its place.
Another 60s movie palace appears lost forever…