Theaters

  • January 25, 2017

    Dallas, TX – Visit an Online Graveyard of Old Dallas Movie Theaters

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    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

    Malibu, CA – Malibu Likely to Lose its Only Movie Theater

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    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.”

  • Sutton’s Bay, MI – From ‘8mm’ to ‘Director’s Cut’

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    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

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    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.

  • Greenport, NY – Owner Sheds Light on How to Keep Greenport Movie Theater Open Year Round

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    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

    Annville, PA – 100-year-old theater building also has three apartments, office space: Cool Spaces

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    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.

  • USA – The Coolest Drive-In Theater in Each State

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    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.

  • January 14, 2017

    Brooklyn Heights, NY – Catching Up With Kenn Lowy: The Last Owner of Brooklyn Heights Cinemas

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    From Brooklyn Heights Blog: Brooklyn Heights Cinemas, at the end of its 42-year run, was the oldest independently-owned cinema in all of New York City. When the cinema shut off its projectors for good in 2014, the neighborhood collectively mourned the loss of yet another community sanctuary. A place where neighbors and visitors gathered for shared experiences. A place where you walked in and the owner and employees knew your name and what you liked without asking. If you were a regular customer, you probably miss the last owner, Kenn Lowy, as much as the cinema itself. When the neighborhood thinks of the old cinema, we think of Kenn, although he only owned it for its last three years. In the interview below, Kenn tells his story of his one-man mission to save the cinema, a labor of love that was life-altering in both good and bad ways.

    BHB: How did you become the last owner of Brooklyn Heights Cinemas?

    KL: I had been going to the cinema off and on since I was 17 years old. My family had moved from Philadelphia to Cobble Hill in the late 70’s and that was the only cinema around. I lived for a time in Brooklyn Heights, Vinegar Hill, and Park Slope, and then I moved away for a few years. And when I moved back 20 years ago, it became my cinema again. I used to go there all the time. Then, in late 2010, there was an article in one of the local papers about the owner being indicted for wire fraud. There had been several times before when the cinema almost went out of business. I wondered what was going to happen to the cinema. So I went and saw Amy, the Manager there. She knew me as someone who saw almost every movie they played. I asked her what was going to happen and she half-jokingly said, “Do you want to buy the place?” Like an idiot, I said, “Yeah, maybe.” She said, “I don’t know if he wants to sell it or not, but I’ll ask.” Literally, a week later, I was sitting down with the owner and we started talking about how I could buy the place. That’s what led to it. It would have gone under unless someone bought it. The cinema had been losing money for years. The owner had other cinemas, one that was making money and another one that was going nowhere. It took about six months of negotiating. I had no money, so I cashed in my IRA’s and maxed out my credit cards. And that’s how I bought the place.

    BHB: What led you to take such a risk?

    KL: {Laughs} I thought at the time that I could make it work. I didn’t think they were getting the best movies. They were getting good ones, but not the ones enough people wanted to see to make it viable. But I wanted to keep it as an independent cinema. I thought I could make it work. I never thought I would make money from it. But as long as I could break even, I was going to be happy, just to keep it going. Personally, it was an important place to me. It had been my local movie theater, like for many in Brooklyn Heights. This was our hometown movie theater.

    BHB: At the time, were you making a living with a day job?

    KL: Yes. I was a computer consultant, mostly Apple computer stuff. I had been doing that pretty much most of my life. Until my early 30’s, I was a journalist and a musician. I’m still a musician, but that’s how I used to make a living. Then the music industry changed and journalism changed, where I really couldn’t make a full time living at it. That’s when I got into computers and I’ve been doing that for the last 25 years.

    BHB: When you bought the cinema, did you think, “If I break even I’ll be okay because I could support myself with the computer consulting?”

    KL: No, when I said “break even,” I meant to be able to support myself, where maybe I wouldn’t be saving a lot, but I wouldn’t be losing money. I tried doing the consulting half the time and the cinema the other half, but that just wasn’t working. The first couple of months, I was at the cinema on the weekends and just hanging out. But after that, I was pretty much there full-time, along with my manager and the projectionist. After a few months, I wanted to be more hands-on and not being there didn’t make much sense.

  • January 11, 2017

    Washington, IA – This Iowa movie theater is the oldest of its kind in the entire world

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    From The Des Moines Register: When’s the last time you saw a movie in a theater?

    Take a drive east from Des Moines to Altoona and your experience at just one of many state-of-the-art theaters will consist of ultra high-definition picture quality, surround sound, reclining lounge chairs, self-service concessions and even alcohol.

    But if you continue the drive another two hours in that direction, you’ll find yourself in Washington, Ia. — home of the world’s oldest continuously operating movie theater in a town of 7,000 people.

  • San Antonio, TX – Can a New Partnership Jumpstart the Alameda Theater’s Revival?

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    From The Rivard Report: The iconic Alameda Theater hasn’t hosted large crowds for Spanish-language films and performers in decades, but the storied Latino performing arts venue which now sits in disrepair may soon get the facelift it desperately needs – and with it a chance of revival.

    The City of San Antonio and Bexar County are finalizing an agreement with Texas Public Radio (TPR) that will allow the nonprofit to move its headquarters from its longtime offices on Datapoint Drive near the Medical Center into the space behind the Alameda Theater, located at 318 W. Houston St., and will include investments from both entities to help renovate the historic structure.