• September 15, 2016

    Somerville, MA – Somerville Theatre Celebrates The Wonders Of Widescreen With 70 mm Film Festival


    From When you think of widescreen cinema there’s a good chance “Lawrence of Arabia” or “2001: A Space Odyssey” come to mind. They were shot to wow audiences with a picture so enormous it would literally turn heads. From left to right in a jam-packed movie palace, that is, not toward a tiny personal screen.

    And unless you’ve seen them in 70 mm — the most robust of all motion picture film formats, popularized in the late ‘50s and '60s to lure people away from TV — you haven’t seen them at all. So says David Kornfeld, the head projectionist at the Somerville Theatre.

    “The 70 mm frame is bigger than your iPhone!” Kornfeld points out, referring to the size of the image on a film print. “You should not miss these.”

    Both classics will screen in 70 mm along with 14 other films as part of the Somerville’s 70 mm & Widescreen Festival. It’s a first for the theater, as well as the region, and the showings will take place from Friday, Sept. 16 through Sunday, Sept. 25.

    Kornfeld is die-hard about film tech history, with a rabid fondness for 70 mm in particular.

    “Film stocks, projectors, cameras, lenses, special effects, the history of sound … it goes on and on,” he says. “You will never touch bottom. You can spend a lifetime and still learn something.”

    Putting together a festival that celebrates all that widescreen formats can offer has been a dream of his for at least a dozen years. But he didn’t do it alone.

    Reviving ‘A Dead Format’

    “I’ve worked every theater in Boston. Most don’t exist anymore,” Kornfeld says of a projectionist career that started in 1978 and fizzled out as systems became automated, unions broke down and, in his opinion, quality control disappeared. He says Ian Judge, the Somerville’s director of operations and programmer, pulled him out of retirement in 2004 (about two years after Judge took the reins). They’ve been plotting ways to screen 70 mm ever since.

    First they needed projectors. Judge says that Boston Light & Sound helped him track down a pair of Norelco DP-70s from the home of film restorationist Robert Harris about a decade ago. That was the easy part. Tweaking sound capability, including finding and installing processors, was far more complicated. As an example, there are 10 different sound formats for 70 mm alone.

    Judge recalls that naysayers told him, “This is pointless, you’ll never find prints to run, it’s a dead format.” Last year, the Somerville ran several 70 mm screenings to troubleshoot glitches and now, Judge says, “We can run virtually every format ever made with rare exceptions.”

    While shooting films on 70 mm became less common from the ‘80s onward, there are still many titles that were blown up to 70 mm for a better picture and six-track magnetic sound. “Silverado,” Lawrence Kasdan’s 1985 Western that is showing in this year’s festival, is case in point.

  • Dallas, TX – Lakewood Theater, ‘the soul of East Dallas,’ is now an official historic landmark


    From the Dallas Morning News: There was never any doubt that the Dallas City Council would vote Wednesday to designate the 78-year-old Lakewood Theater an official city of Dallas landmark.

    “This building is the soul of East Dallas,” said council member Phillip Kingston, whose district includes the former movie palace.

    Failing to protect it was never an option.

    “This is something you ought to be very proud of as a city,” Landmark Commission chair Katherine Seale said shortly before the council’s 15-0 vote in favor of landmark status for the Lakewood. “I want to applaud all of you.”

    The process, which Seale started last year without the owners' consent, wasn’t easy. It took longer than anyone expected and hit a few speed bumps when the owners and city staff spent the first half of this year wrangling over footnote-size details involving parking requirements, roofing materials, exterior remodeling and other minutiae.

    But, finally, it’s done — and with the blessings of the Lakewood’s owners, Craig Kinney and Bill Willingham, whose property has been vacant while awaiting the outcome of Wednesday’s vote. Kinney said afterward that he was relieved because now they can begin marketing the building, whose limbo has cost the owners a small fortune in would-be rental revenue, he said.

    Kinney said that “at most it would be divided into three spaces,” probably for restaurants that have expressed interest in recent months. He said there could be other uses, but that’s confidential for now: “Don’t want to give competitors any information,” he said on his way out of City Hall.

    Preservationists and neighborhood residents first became concerned about the Lakewood Theater’s fate in November 2014, when Kinney and Willingham began touting a major makeover and said the cavernous theater would probably be divvied up into several spaces. The owners maintained that the neon tower would remain.

    And, for a while, the neighborhood was content with that. But in August 2015, crews were spotted tossing the Lakewood’s chairs into a dumpster, and word spread that the stage was being ripped out. The owners maintained that it was for asbestos remediation. But Seale and East Dallas residents weren’t satisfied with that answer.

  • September 14, 2016

    Seal Beach, CA – Is Seal Beach’s historic Bay Theatre getting a new lease on life?


    From the Los Angeles Times: The iconic Bay Theatre in Seal Beach has sat dark for the past four years, but a Fullerton-based developer with a penchant for historic buildings has recently made it his mission to purchase the venue and rehabilitate it for films, music and the arts.

    With the Seal Beach City Council’s vote Monday officially designating the structure as a historic landmark, Paul Dunlap of the Dunlap Property Group is one step closer to breathing life back into the abandoned building. “I personally like preservation and historic buildings,” said Dunlap, who added that he became aware of the art house in early May through friends. “I appreciate the history of the architecture of the area; it helps people have a greater sense of the place.”

    Located on Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway, the single-screen theater has been a significant gathering spot for locals since it opened in 1947. It featured independent, foreign and classic movies on 35mm film for $8 admission until it closed in 2012. The noticeably large structure stands out among the boutiques and other shops on Main Street.

  • Rochester, NY – Little Theatre marquee getting a makeover


    From the Democrat & Chronicle: The 87-year-old marquee at the Little Theatre was taken down from the front of the historic East Avenue theater Monday. The marquee will get a renovation that addresses not only its appearance, but also its structure and electrical components, said Jim Malley, facilities manager of the theater.

    “Safety was a concern,” Malley said. Zoning laws have changed since the marquee was erected around 1929, and the marquee is no longer in compliance with modern-day codes. As a result, the process will require frequent meetings with the city to get approvals. The goal is to have the marquee back up and running in October or November.

    The marquee has had a series of changes and improvements throughout its history. The goal of this restoration is to incorporate the best features of the previous versions and add some new touches as well, he said.

  • Albany, GA – Businessman Lane Rosen wants shot at renovating Albany Theatre


    From the Albany Herald: Lane Rosen’s not pointing a finger at anyone but himself. He knows he should have followed up on his “informal proposal.”

    But when engineers called him recently seeking information about the historic downtown Albany Theatre,under the mistaken assumption that Rosen owns the building, the downtown businessman decided to speak up.

    “Look, I want to make it clear that I’m not blaming anyone in this but myself,” Rosen, who unsuccessfully challenged Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard for her seat during the most recent municipal election, said Friday. “I sent out an informal proposal indicating my interest in rehabbing the Albany, but I didn’t really follow up. And I had a few informal discussions with (city commissioner) Roger Marietta and shared my ideas with some of the folks in Planning.

    “But I didn’t go through proper channels. So I’m not pointing any fingers. But I honestly thought that by letting people know my interest in that historic building, someone would have at least reached out to see if I was serious. I really thought I’d get a call. But the only call I’ve gotten is from engineers who are apparently in the process of readying the building for demolition.”

    And the D-word is not one of Rosen’s favorites.

    “I have a love for history, and I have a love for old buildings,” the developer/entertainment manager said. “And I have a five-generations business tie to this community. I don’t know if the driving factor in my desire to try and save that building is familial — my great-great-grandfather built it — or if it’s historic. I guess a little of both.

  • September 13, 2016

    Troy, NY – American Theater renovation planned for downtown Troy


    From The Times Union: An ambitious $3 million project to restore the closed American Theater as a first-run movie showcase has won city support for an application for $1 million in state funds.

    Bonacio Construction, Bow Tie Cinemas and the city are working together on a plan for modernizing the historic brick theater at 285-289 River St.

    The theater project is seen as a catalyst for attracting more people to downtown Troy.

    Bow Tie has been successful opening movie theaters in downtown Schenectady and Saratoga Springs, and bringing people from throughout the Capital Region to those cities.

    “They’re confident it will do very well as a first-run theater. It’s a great reuse of that site,” said Steven Strichman, the city’s commissioner of planning and community development.

    The city is touting the project for a $1 million Restore NY Communities Initiative grant. The City Council voted 9-0 at its September meeting to support the application.

    Bringing back the 6,800-square-foot theater has been under consideration for several years; Bow Tie and Bonacio officials discussed it back in 2013. The American Theater has a seating capacity of 450.

    The movie theater for many years operated as the Cinema Art Theater showing adult films. The city closed it on March 2, 2006, with police alleging some patrons engaged in sexual acts. The city also removed the marquee on April 13, 2006. In 2012, the city paid Jan DeGroot, the building’s owner, $30,000 to settle his lawsuit about the marquee’s removal.

    “We’ve looked at a lot of different possibilities,” Larry Novik, director of business development for Bonacio, said about the building’s future. “Restoring the original use reflects the character of the building.

    Bonacio invested $5.9 million to transform the neighboring Dauchey Building at 275-283 River St. from office use into apartments.

    The return of a first-run theater is expected to stimulate business downtown.

    “It will bring business in. It would be great. It will bring social engagement and social interaction,” said Marla Ortega, chef-owner of the Illium Cafe at 9 Broadway on Monument Square, a short walk from the theater.

    Ortega said the city’s burgeoning restaurant scene would benefit from a theater bringing new customers downtown.

    “They need another renaissance benefiting downtown,” said Ortega, who compared the movie theater to the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, which attracts patrons to restaurants before and after a show.

    The city will hold a public hearing on the application for the $1 million grant at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, in the Planning Department Conference Room in City Hall, 433 River St.

    The movie theater project will depend on securing the state grants and other funding, Novik and Strichman said.

  • Palm Springs, CA – Palm Springs explores a restoration of the Plaza Theatre


    From the Desert Sun: The closed Plaza Theater in downtown Palm Springs could be on its way to a full restoration, setting the stage for live performances, film screenings, lectures and other entertainment uses.

    That’s the recommendation headed to the City Council from a subcommittee set up to explore how to move forward with establishing a new life for the historic city-owned theater.

    “I think it’s an amazing venue. I think we’re truly fortunate to have it. And at the same time I recognize, how do we deal with it?” said City Councilman J.R. Roberts at the subcommittee meeting in mid August.

  • September 12, 2016

    The rich history and fantastic theaters of Graven & Mayger, a forgotten architecture duo


    From At the intersection of 13th Street and Michigan Avenue in Chicago’s South Loop there stands an art deco building with strong vertical pillars and textbook, streamlined organic ornamentation. No plaque marks the building, and the city’s online database identifies it only as an office building from the 1920s by Graven, A.S.

    It’s the only reference to the work of this particular firm in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey, a 10-year effort to catalog important buildings. In a city overflowing with iconic, turn-of-the-century skyscrapers and high-rises, it doesn’t draw much attention. But it’s far from the firm’s only work, in the city or elsewhere. A 24-story office building still stands at 100 N. LaSalle Street, festooned with the same ornamentation as its cousin in the South Loop. Another stands nearby at 232 S. Wabash, noted in the survey but unattributed. They’re relics of a firm that had a brief, shining run designing palatial buildings across the country in the early 20th century.

    Anker Sverre Graven was the principal of an eponymous architectural firm when it was located at 100 N. LaSalle. He had originally founded a firm with his longtime partner, Arthur Guy Mayger, in 1926, and the pair went on to design a string of fantastic theaters across the United States.

    For the most part, their work stands forgotten. If not for the interest of a former colleague, a little luck, and the recent discovery of the firm’s forgotten archives, much of Graven and Mayger’s architectural work might have gone unnoticed, or unrecorded, just more building from the early 20th century by unknown architects that have been lost to time.

  • Beverly, MA – Beverly couple buys Larcom Theatre


    From the Salem News: The sale of the Larcom Theatre became official on Friday when a husband and wife from Beverly purchased the landmark venue for $645,000.

    The new owners, Donald and Lisa Crowell, plan to continue the theater as a performing arts center, said former owner David Bull.

    The Larcom had been on the market since March, with an original asking price of $699,900. It had been owned since 1984 by a group of performers from the former Le Grand David Magic Company, which also owned the Cabot Theatre before selling that building in 2014.

    “I know I share the sentiment that we are absolutely delighted that both the Cabot and the Larcom are continuing on as they were intended as performing arts venues,” said Bull, who played Le Grand David in long-running shows at both sites.

    Donald Crowell declined to comment on the sale. Bull described the Crowells as a young couple who moved to Beverly last year.

    The Larcom and Cabot are vaudeville-era theaters located less than a half-mile from each other in downtown Beverly. The Larcom, at 13 Wallis St., was built in 1912, eight years before the Cabot.

  • September 8, 2016

    Iuka, MS – State’s only drive-in looks to upgrade


    From the Daily Corinthian: For Mississippi’s only remaining drive-in movie theater, the show must go on.

    Even after most major film production companies halted the making of 35 mm film used by the Iuka Drive-In last December, manager Earl Curtis had the find a way to keep this drive-in open.

    “Thankfully a couple of companies continued to release some of the bigger titles on 35 mm film,” said Curtis, who has leased to drive-in from Bubba Jourdan for the last 30 years. “I think we’ve only shown like five movies all summer.”

    The historical landmark on West Quitman Street has been a fixture in Iuka since around 1957. Normally open from April-October, Curtis decided the drive-in could only support June-August or September this year.

    “Labor Day might be our last weekend,” he recently told the Daily Corinthian.

    “Suicide Squad” and “Central Intelligence” have been showing as a double feature at the drive-in for more than a month.

    “I know our customers have got tired of the same couple of movies being shown this year, but we’ve been trying the best we can,” he said. “It’s better to be open and show the same thing, then to be closed for good.”
Earlier this year, Curtis launched a Gofundme online account to try to raise the $50,000 needed to update the drive-in’s old 35 mm projector to a new digital projector.

    A month ago he found an even better deal.

    “TriState Theater Supply has a used digital projector for $10,000 and our plans are to get that one. Hopefully, we can have it upgraded by next year and back to showing first-run movies,” said an excited Curtis.

    With less than $8,000 to go, Curtis said they can’t do it without the community’s continued support and donations.

    “People have been pretty good to us,” he said. “So with everyone’s support, I don’t think there’ll be a problem to get to the $10,000 we need.”

    (Online donations can be made at For more information, visit

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