February 13, 2017
From the Press-Democrat: Looking back, as any social scientist (or grandparent) will tell you, can be instructive. And it can also be comforting in those moments when we need comfort.
Last month we went to the circus. Today, let’s pack up our snacks, put the kids in their “jammies” and go to the drive-in.
Those who are old enough to have made a trip or two to the drive-in movies may not be able to remember what film they saw, but they are sure to come forth with a carload of nostalgia.
We have to be careful about nostalgia. It isn’t history.
It is wistful, sentimental, a longing to retrieve some aspect of one’s past.
History is far more complex. It is, in its simplest form, chronology, a record of past events, a study of a people or an institution, often including a theory or interpretation of those events.
History is more trustworthy by far. Memory is too often pushed off the truth track by emotions, by sentiment if you prefer.
So we save the nostalgia for now. And start with the history. Consider it a hook on which to hang your hatful of memories.
The whole notion of outdoor movies is as quirky as any accidental invention. It was a man named Richard Hollingshead, an auto parts salesman in Camden, New Jersey, who “invented” the drive-in, according to a 2008 article in Smithsonian magazine. The story quoted the head of the United Drive-In Theatre Owners, who told it like this:
“His (Hollingshead’s) mother was — how should I say it? — rather large for indoor theater seats, so he stuck her in a car, put a 1928 projector on the hood and tied two sheets to trees in his yard.”
In 1933 Hollingshead opened the first drive-in theater, but his brilliant idea didn’t really take hold until in-car speakers were developed in the 1940s. And, in the early ’50s, with the war over and at least one car in every garage, the drive-in became a way of life in suburban and rural America, where there was space to work with.
By 1958 there were 4,063 drive-in theaters in the nation. Two were located in Sonoma County, with three more to come and go. The quintet, in order:
From the Post-Bulletin: “One of the last few one-screen, family-owned movie theaters in the U.S.” now is operating under new ownership.
Michelle Haugerud announced last week that her family sold the JEM Movie Theatre at 14 Main Ave. N in Harmony to another local family.
“The new owners, Amber and Dana Coaty and their four children are excited to keep the JEM Movie Theatre going for many more years. I hope you all continue to support the only movie theater in Fillmore County and one of the last few one-screen, family-owned movie theaters in the U.S.,” Haugerud wrote on the theater’s website on Jan. 31.
Michelle and Paul Haugerud bought the classic single-screen theater in 2002. In 2012, Paul Haugerud unexpectedly died and the community rallied around Michelle Haugerud, their six children and the movie theater.
Michelle Haugerud continued to run the theater until last week.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported my family and the JEM for the last 14-plus years! … We have enjoyed owning the JEM and watching everyone come and enjoy a movie, birthday parties, live music and all those special events. Also, thank you to all the people who have helped me at the JEM,” she wrote in Tuesday’s posting.
Now under the Coatys' leadership, the small-town movie theater is continuing to show first-run movies as well as classics.
Tonight, Saturday and Sunday, the theater is showing the PG-rated “Monster Trucks” movie at 7:30 p.m.
The Jem is showing a free matinee of the animated “The Peanuts” movie at 4 p.m. Saturday. The showing is sponsored by Thrivent Financial. The first 40 people will receive a free popcorn.
On Valentine’s Day next Tuesday, the theater is offering a free showing of “a true movie classic,” “The Princess Bride,” at 7:30 p.m.
February 10, 2017
On September 7, 1929 the Loew’s Kings Theatre in Brooklyn opened its doors to the public for the first time. Less than 50 years later they were shut, seemingly for good. Designed by the Rapp & Rapp architecture firm in the French Baroque style, the Kings is not only an architecturally important piece of Brooklyn history, but from community standpoint as well. Many Brooklynites had their first date at the theater, or walked across the stage during their high school graduation. Now, after almost 40 years of darkness, the curtain is beginning to rise.
When it reopened in 2015, the Kings became the largest indoor theater in Brooklyn and the third largest in New York City. It is a place for the community to gather once again, hosting everything from Broadway shows to concerts. Take a trip through the history of the Kings via photographs and artifacts spanning the theater’s heyday through its renovation. Watch the theater return to its original splendor and learn for yourself why it’s called Brooklyn’s “Wonder Theater.”
This new book by Matt Lambros contains never before seen historic and modern photographs of the Kings, as well as a complete history of the theater. There are a limited supply available online at Amazon.
LINK TO PURCHASE THE BOOK: https://www.amazon.com/Kings-Theatre-Rebirth-Brooklyns-Wonder/dp/0692032002/
ABOUT THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA: Founded by Ben Hall in 1969, the Theatre Historical Society of America (THS) celebrates, documents and promotes the architectural, cultural and social relevance of America’s historic theatres. Through its preservation of the collections in the American Theatre Architecture Archive, its signature publication Marquee™ and Conclave Theatre Tour, THS increases awareness, appreciation and scholarly study of America’s theatres.
Learn more about historic theatres in the THS American Theatre Architecture Archives and on our website at historictheatres.org
February 9, 2017
Podcast from KFGO.com: l Michels, the owner of “The Scenic” Theater in beautiful Lisbon North Dakota. The Scenic opened in 1911 with the showing of “Nemo,” a 10-minute black-and-white movie.
February 7, 2017
From the Post-Gazette: Three 18-wheeler tractor-trailer trucks pulled into the Strip District in October, carrying the weight of the history of commercial movie theaters in America — a history that began in Pittsburgh in 1905.
The Theatre Historical Society of America that was founded in 1969 to celebrate and document America’s movie theaters had outgrown its home in the circa-1924 York Theatre — now a multiplex — in a suburb of Chicago. In 2009, the society had to take on additional storage space for an archive that is now 100,000 items and growing.
The society waited until the archive was settled into its new home, the ninth floor of the Heinz History Center’s Museum Conservation Center at 1221 Penn Ave., Strip District, before making an official announcement. Proposals from 38 cities were considered before deciding on Pittsburgh, where for now the archive remains as the nation’s largest research and preservation resources for items pertaining to movie theaters and their social and historical significance.
Looking ahead, there may be showcases for the public to see some of the society’s treasures. There have been talks about partnering on exhibitions here, “but ultimately the bigger goal is to have some exhibition space or maybe even a larger facility with an operational theater where we are displaying materials and there is educational programming,” executive director Richard Fosbrink said, one of three staff members who moved here with the archive. His hope is to eventually fill out the staff to five.
The search for a new home had been centered in the Chicago area until Mr. Fosbrink came onboard and said, “If we have to move everything anyway, why not expand the search?”
Pittsburgh first sold itself when society members came here in 2014 for their annual theater tour of an American city, with the Downtown theaters of the Benedum Center, Heinz Hall and Byham as well as the Palace Theatre in Greensburg among their stops.
Mr. Fosbrink, a Connellsville native who attended Seton Hill University and taught at Central Catholic High School, was speaking with Pittsburgh Cultural Trust leader Kevin McMahon while preparing the tour and mentioned that the society was in need of new digs.
“You should move to Pittsburgh,” Mr. McMahon said.
From FoxNews: Movie-goers in Nashville are in for a unique experience as plans have been unveiled for an indoor drive-in with a 1960s feel, Fox 17 reports.
The “August Moon Drive-In” is slated to open at the intersection of James Robertson Parkway and Interstate 24 in 2018.
But this is not your typical drive-in.
The environment in the 40,000 square-foot space with an air-supported dome will be complete with 50 classic cars, full-sized trees, hammocks, a starry night with an August “sailor’s moon” and even fireflies. It also boasts the largest non-IMAX movie screen in the North America.
“The August Moon Drive-In will be the first of its kind and an attraction that dramatically enhances the way people experience movies,” a news release sent to Fox 17 News said.
The drive-in will operate daily, with an initial schedule of 18 showings a week.
February 1, 2017
From the Democrat & Chronicle: The Capri Apartments in East Rochester once housed the biggest movie theater between Rochester and Syracuse.
Completed in 1918, the Rialto Theatre was the first of several cinemas across Western New York that Harold P. Dygert would own as part of his Associated Theatres company. The building was designed by W.A. Campbell, the architect behind John Marshall and Charlotte high schools as well as the Brighton Presbyterian Church.
January 31, 2017
From The Boston Globe: City Councilor Tim McCarthy remembers as a young kid seeing the original “Star Wars” film at the Everett Square Theatre, back when it was called the Nu-Pixie Cinema.
He also recalls sneaking into the now-shuttered building to snag a seat in the balcony’s front row — the best seat in the house, he claims — so he could watch “Stripes,” starring Bill Murray. (But please, don’t tell his parents about that.)
From the Troy Record: The city of Troy was awarded more than $775,000 from a state revitalization program to aid in rehabilitating a historic downtown theater.
Mayor Patrick Madden said in a late Friday news release the city was chosen to receive $778,205 through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Restore New York Communities Initiative. That money would help fund a planned $3 million project to restore the former American Theater on River Street and reopen it as a first-run theater.
“The preservation of cultural assets like the American Theater is critically important to ensure the continued prosperity of the Collar City,” Madden said in the news release. “The restoration of this landmark space will not only attract new visitors and investment to our city’s thriving downtown, [but] it also supports the city’s long-term Riverwalk expansion effort.”
The theater has been shuttered for more than a decade, last open as the Cinema Art theater, showing adult films until it was shut down by the city in 2006 amid allegations that patrons were engaging in sex acts in the theater. Bonacio Construction and Bow Tie Cinemas — which operates theaters in Schenectady and Saratoga Springs — are working together on the project, with the city offering its support by backing the application for state funding last fall.
From The Sun: It was a little more than 10 years ago that nearly seven decades of community memories, experiences and life events were shuttered-up inside what had been the Indian Lake Theater. The movie house closed its doors in late-2006 and threatened to become a memory itself. The theater, where so many members of and visitors to the Indian Lake Community had special memories, was at risk of ceasing to exist. These were memories that marked milestone events in the lives of those who frequented the theater. Memories of having their first job at the theater, holding hands with a loved-one for the first time, sharing a first kiss, enjoying entertainment with friends and family or just spending a quiet time in the darkened room on a rainy afternoon or evening being transported by a film to a special place or becoming a part of an exciting story. Surely, the shutters were on — but the memories were working overtime. The memories were beginning to motivate a new chapter in the theater’s history. Slightly more than two years later on March 6, 2009, a local community organization purchased the 250-seat venue, capping off a 12-week, round-the-clock effort that saw nearly 500 people help to raise $160,000.
The downtown movie house, for most small towns across America is a rapidly fading memory. But in Indian Lake, a historic theater began a new life nearly 10 years ago in a town with a population of 1,400 — all thanks to the efforts and determination of the surrounding community. The shutters came off and a non-profit, multipurpose community center was formed into a space for new and classic films, live community theater, concerts and special events for the community. Continuous refinement of space and capability has most recently been joined by digital technology, allowing The Indian Lake Community Theater to show the latest films coming out of Hollywood as well as the imaginations and efforts of independent filmmakers from around the world. It has been nearly 10 years since the new chapter in the theater’s life has been started by a determined and committed community, but, as Theater Director Sue Montgomery-Corey put it: “Progress always comes with a price.”
Montgomery-Corey said even a standard film costs $250 to acquire for showing and an additional $40 for each trailer.
More popular films cost more to acquire, and with companies like Disney that take a large, flat percentage of the gross for the showing of their films, the theater can have a hole to climb out of that can be as deep as 40 percent of gross revenue.
All this represents a challenge for the theater given the low admission price of only $5.
“For each showing, we need to have 80 paying customers in order to just cover the hard cost of the showing,” said Montgomery-Corey. Concessions help, and children deliver some good concession revenue. But films for adult viewers just don’t seem to deliver the concession sales that are so often touted by other theaters.
“Perhaps we need to survey our adult customers to see if there is something else they would like to see us offering in the way of refreshments.” “If nothing else, the operational cost situation should make the community realize that it cannot start taking this fantastic community resource for granted,” Montgomery-Corey said. Operations, she said, are about as grassroots as it gets. Montgomery-Corey said she enjoyed seeing how the theater’s following is expanding, with crowds coming as far as Olmstedville. And while the venue’s Facebook page has drawn likes as far away as India and Pakistan, just liking the theatre doesn’t keep the doors open, the director points out. Surely the theater’s history and inspiring story of small community determination have a lot to do with its widespread popularity even beyond the community at large. But its programming has a lot to do with the venue’s ongoing popularity. Current films like “Manchester by the Sea”, “La La Land”, “Queen of Katwe”, “Dr. Strange” — all running in the coming weeks — are certainly a huge drive to the Indian Lake Theater’s popularity.
Events such as the “Loren and Mark” March 10 reach-out musical performance at Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek (sponsors are still needed) and the April 28 Patsy Cline Tribute to take place in the theater are just some of the great live performances planned this spring.
But the real driving force is the community at large. So as the Indian Lake Community Theater approaches it’s new chapter’s 10th anniversary, Montgomery-Corey suggests that the community celebrate the fact that it belongs to them.
“Do it by taking in a few great movies. Attend a live performance. Bring a few friends and visitors. Enjoy some popcorn, a chocolate bar, a cup of coffee. Celebrate the great admission price, and if you can, don’t go past the contribution jar at the end of the counter without contributing, or the donation page on the website without giving a little ‘thank you’ to help keep the theater healthy, the admission price low and the memories coming.”