The latest movie theater news and updates

  • August 26, 2016

    Elkhart, KS – Historic theatre proves more than a hub in town’s revival

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    From The Washington Times: Brent McKinley recalls it well – watching Willie Nelson in “Honeysuckle Rose” on the Doric Theatre’s big screen.

    The 1980 movie “probably wasn’t very good,” he said with a chuckle.

    But it would be the last movie the then-10-year-old McKinley would recall watching on the Doric’s screen before Morton County’s only theater went dark a short time later.

    The theater was turned into apartments for a while before becoming a deteriorating storage building. McKinley, who tried to lead a revival of the theater last decade, didn’t figure it would ever flicker on again, due to the expensive price tag.

    Now, the 35-year intermission has ended. The popcorn is popping again. The movies are rolling.

    At the age of 98, there is a breath of new life in the Doric.

  • Springfield, MO – Springfield’s Palace Theater will show first-run movies, change names

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    From KSPR.com: The Palace Theater in Springfield’s Chesterfield Village will soon show first-run movies.

    Owners are renaming it as the Premiere Palace. The change starts Friday.

    Here is what you can expect. You will pay $4 for matinees. Evening movies will set you back $6.


    News release:

    The Palace Theatre will become the Premiere Palace, a discount first-run movie theatre, starting on Friday, Aug. 26. The Premiere Palace will show weekly new releases at a discounted rate. Ticket prices will be $4 for matinees, children (ages 3 – 12), seniors and students. The evening price for adults will be $6.

    “The people and city of Springfield have been incredibly supportive of the Palace since it opened,” said Warren Theatres president Bill Warren. “We are looking forward to giving the opportunity to see new movies, the weekend they open, at a discounted ticket price.”

    Online ticketing will be available soon after opening. The Premiere Palace will accept cash, Visa, MasterCard and Discover.

    The Premiere Palace is at 2220 W. Chesterfield Boulevard.

  • Irwin, PA – Lamp Theatre in Irwin ready to shine for 2nd grand reopening

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    From Triblive: A second grand reopening of the renovated historic Lamp Theatre is planned for Saturday, about three years after major renovations were started on the former Main Street movie house.

    “The goal has been to entertain the community. It has been mission No. 1, and it has been a great response. We keep exceeding expectations,” said John Gdula, president of the Lamp Theatre Corp. board of directors, which oversees the multi-use performance center. Irwin turned over ownership of the structure to the theater corporation in August 2015.

    In the past year, the Lamp has attracted more than 10,000 patrons to watch a variety of performances, including concerts, comedies and musical theater, said John Cassandro, general manager of the Lamp and president of Irwin Borough Council.

    “Our gate receipts are really good,” Gdula said.

    With a year of operations under their belt, managers have a better idea of how to operate the facility, Gdula said.

    “It was a learning curve. We’re evaluating the market and seeing how the community is responding” to the kind of acts that are being booked, Gdula said.

    Those theatergoers flowing into downtown Irwin have benefited the restaurants and has given the community more vibrancy, said Lois Woleslagle, president of the Irwin Business and Professional Association, a volunteer group that promotes Main Street activities.

    “Some businesses are profiting from what is going on,” Gdula said.

    For the grand opening, a VIP reception will be at 5:30 p.m. Saturday for donors, business owners and those who played key roles in its revitalization. The evening will feature the Beatles tribute band Hard Day’s Night.

    The night’s festivities “will be able to show those people who so kindly donated their time and money exactly what has been done with both,” said Bill Elder, operations manager. “We can show everyone where the theater started, where we stand now and where we plan to be in the future.”

    The Lamp closed in 2004, a victim of changing times, when movie buffs were opting for multi-screen theaters in shopping malls and plazas. Downtown theaters in places such as Greensburg, Charleroi and Monessen became a relic of the past, although the Lamp hung on longer than most.

    The Westmoreland Cultural Trust, a Greensburg-based foundation that owned and renovated the city’s Palace Theatre, assumed ownership of the Lamp in January 2007. But progress toward reopening suffered a setback in March 2009 when a fire in the abutting Irwin Hotel damaged the theater. When the proposed renovations for the theater came in at $250,000 over estimates in July 2012, the project again stalled.

    Irwin took ownership of the building in May 2013 and began exterior renovations. Officials hoped to have it opened by fall 2014, in time for the 150th anniversary of Irwin’s founding.

    “It was a little bit daunting at first,” Gdula said of the necessary renovations.

    To get the point where it was viable again and worthy of a grand opening, backers had to raise sufficient money to save the 79-year-old theater. It was the beneficiary of about $600,000 in county and state grants and another $150,000 of in-kind contributions. The renovations that relit the Lamp could not have been completed with the money that was available were it not for an estimated 3,000 hours of volunteer work from more than 300 people, Gdula said.

    Gdula said he was “amazed” by the community’s response to rebuild the Lamp.

    “The whole community got invested into it,” Woleslagle said.

    The rebirth of the Lamp is proof “there’s a phenomenal group of people in that town,” said Irwin native Christine Orosz, executive director of Stage Right!, a Greensburg-based theater company that put on children’s and adult performances at the renovated Lamp.

    “It’s a nice-sized place. People are as happy to be at the Lamp as we are,” Orosz said.

    Orosz remembers going to see movies at the Lamp as a youngster. Now, it’s fun to see the students they have taken to Irwin for performances enjoying the town as she and her brother, Anthony Marino, artistic director for Stage Right!, did years ago.

    For the next 12 months, Gdula said, the theater board will focus on two initiatives that will require fundraising — obtaining a digital projector that costs an estimated $50,000 and extending the theater into a proposed courtyard with a walled-in area and a concessions section, a project estimated to cost $100,000.

    So many of the patrons have asked management, “ ‘When can we start seeing movies again?‘ ” Gdula said.

  • Philadelphia, PA – Watch drones race inside the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House

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    From Curbed Philadelphia: About a month ago, a group called the Philly Quad Squad went inside the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House to race drones for a segment on CSN Philly’s 700 Level Show. True, the 2:45-minute video is more about the drone racing than the opera house, but it still allows viewers to sneak a unique peek through the space.

    Take a very fast tour of the theater yourself:http://philly.curbed.com/2016/8/22/12582820/drone-video-philadelphia-metropolitan-opera-house

    Developer Eric Blumenfeld, who owns a stake in the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House, has plans to turn it into a major music venue after a $35 million renovation.

  • Lafayette, CA – New Owners Ready to Resurrect Park Theater

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    From Lamorinda Weekly: A trio of partners are excited to bring new life to the historic Park Theater in Lafayette, which has been closed for more than a decade. Armed with a business plan and a sense of urgency after learning that a developer was interested in the property, local residents Cathy and Fred Abbott, along with partner Alex McDonald, recently signed papers to purchase the theater property that comes with a small, narrow rectangular parking area in the rear. Cathy Abbot said she “figured it was now or never.” If all goes according to plan, escrow should close in early 2017. Shortly afterward, with the help of additional investors, the group hopes to begin an estimated $6 million of renovations. Their plan is for adaptive re-use of the 64-year-old building to feature movies, performances, and music by partnering with a variety of local entities for everything from comedy shows, educational lectures, independent films and more. The partners envision a beautiful structure that celebrates the art deco streamline moderne style, possibly including a living wall of plants on an upstairs rooftop deck and bar that would serve beer on tap and locally sourced wine. Grassroots efforts in the past to reopen the beloved landmark were never able to make a go of it, due to a variety of factors: the difficulty in making enough money to support the business with one screen in the age of the multiplex, significant structural issues, non-handicap accessible bathrooms, and of course parking constraints that don’t meet the current city code. Many residents had high hopes when rumors of Fenton’s Creamery taking over swirled in 2011, but they never materialized. The trio are well aware of the significant amount of investment it will take to allow the building to be open for business after a walk-through with a structural engineer. “Alex, Fred and I want to create something that is kid- and senior-friendly, a place where everyone feels welcome,” Cathy Abbott said. “We think it would be great to have a Battle of the Bands for the local high schools, a place for nonprofit benefits and private rentals,” said the Acalanes High School graduate, who went on to get an MBA from UC Berkeley. “We believe we have figured out a plan that will allow the theater to be a successful and sustainable business that adapts to the times and provides a magic mix of entertainment options for people in the local area.” Fred Abbott is an international law professor, specializing in trade, public health and intellectual property; he’s also a fan of science fiction and film noir. Originally from Scotland, Happy Valley resident McDonald is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who says he is committed to showing movies again at the theater. They acknowledge that a number of things will need to come together to get this project off the ground: finding the right architect that could restore the theater and make it more functional, working with the city about parking, and especially finding investors to breathe new life into the vintage gem. Noting that the city recently purchased a nearby parking lot, and with plans for alternative transportation, Cathy Abbott hopes for a compromise on parking, especially since a renovated business would bring vitality and additional tax revenue to the city. Built in 1941 and opening its doors with a screening of an Abbott and Costello film, the popular theater entertained generations of Lamorindans. Fast forward to 1987 and the Park Theater was taken over by Allen Michaan’s Renaissance Rialto Films. But over time, it wasn’t profitable, so it closed for good after more than 60 years in business in September 2005 with “Cinema Paradiso” and “Amelie.” Stanley Middle School student Joel Braunstein made a six-minute documentary film on the history of the theater, including information from the city’s point of view. To check it out on YouTube, go to www.YouTube.com and type in “The Park Theater Movie” in the search box.

  • Las Vegas, NV – State, Huntridge Theater Owner Settling Suit Over Historic Venue

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    From Nevada Public Radio: The state of Nevada and the owner of the Huntridge Theater are settling a lawsuit that complicated efforts to restore the east Charleston Boulevard landmark.

    In 2014, the state of Nevada sued Huntridge owner Eli Mizrachi, contending he failed to protect the building, a condition that came with his purchase of the state-designated historic site.

    The proposed settlement halves $750,000 sought by the state and gives Mizrachi the opportunity to avoid any payment if he makes improvements to the building and makes it a usable building where events are held several times a year.

    The deal also extends for 12 years restrictions on what he can do with the property.

    The state Commission on Cultural Centers and Historic Preservation votes on the matter this week.

    Heidi Swank is a Nevada assemblywoman and the CEO of the Nevada Preservation Foundation. She told KNPR’s State of Nevada that she thinks it’s a good compromise.

    “I think that’s really the big thing that the community and the state wants to see is to not have this important building to our community just sitting there empty in disrepair not functioning,” she said, “This I think it provides both a carrot and a stick to get us where we want to be with that building.”

    The Huntridge opened in 1944 as a glittering example of streamline modern architecture at the eastern outskirts of a town of 15,000.

  • Jackson, WY – Old theater now an empty shell

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    From the Jackson Hole News and Guide: The oldest theater building in the town of Jackson is now an empty shell as an ambitious renovation project brings the old structure up to current fire codes.

    But what will happen next in the old Teton Theatre is a mystery to all but those involved in the deal. Robert Gill of the Gill Family Trust, which owns the building, won’t spill the beans.

    “I don’t have any information for you as far as what it’s going to look like,” Gill said Tuesday.

    Unveiling a new use and design is up to the future tenant, he said. His job is to get the building ready for use.

    Passers-by on North Cache have noted a flurry of demolition work inside the building, phase one of the building’s restoration.

    Town records hold permits and reports with notes about some details, but no plans are on file for reconstruction of the basement, first and improved second floor.

    Closed for years

    Right now there isn’t much floor per se — just dirt, rocks and a pile of debris visible when exterior plywood is removed. Construction crews go about their work inside as pedestrians mill past outside.

    Gill said the walls were torn down to the bare rock, which was shot-coated with a layer of concrete to make a solid building even stronger. When the roof trusses were exposed they were also found to be solid. Gill said the town had suspected the trusses were some form of “cowboy” engineering — but they were in fact legitimately manufactured trusses.

    The theater opened in 1941. It was built by Bruce Porter, who also constructed and ran Jackson Drug just up the street. Porter had started showing movies in the space above his store in 1922.

    The building was an early landmark, with its stone exterior and location just off Town Square. The premiere of the classic and locally shot movie “Spencer’s Mountain” was shown there, with an after-party at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.

    In the 1980s the theater got a renovation that included a snack bar and new seats. In the old days people would buy snacks at the corner drug store before going to the movie house.

    Its marquee is still attached, but serves now as a political endorsement sign.

    The theater closed Sept. 30, 2012, after a Sunday showing of the movie “End of Watch.”

    Speculation about its future has been rife — and fruitless.

    A liquor license was transferred to the 120 N. Cache St. address in 2012, but no restaurant opened there.

    A tobacco shop located for decades in the building lost its lease in June and relocated just blocks away to the north.

    After four years work could finally begin on the building’s second life.

    “A lot of the problem is it’s difficult to do things in town because of the cost,” Gill said.

    While permits can be pricey, “That’s nothing compared to the housing fee.”

    And while he said there are fond memories of the place as a single-screen movie theater, times have changed.

    “It had really run its course a long time ago,” he said.

    Traffic delays

    Gill seemed disappointed in his dealings with officials.

    “I was hoping the town would be a little more helpful,” Gill said.

    The project will have a few impacts, but mostly during off hours.

    Roadway early birds may find some detours between Labor Day and Memorial Day as large structural members such as columns and beams are delivered.

    A report by Josh Kilpatrick of Nelson Engineering, on file with the town, estimates it may take as many as 14 separate days to get that work done, “and will necessitate temporary three-hour closures of North Cache Street.”

    The report states that a three-day advance notice will be given for 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. closures of the road between Deloney and Gill.

    “New construction will commence after Labor Day and following the demolition phase,” the report read.

    A window installation on the street side of the building will necessitate a covered walkway for pedestrian protection as rocks are removed from the facade.

    Another traffic and parking disruption will take place as infrastructure for a new water and fire suppression system are installed beneath the pavement between Sept. 20 and Oct. 15.

    Some parking spaces on the west side of the street will become a travel lane during part of that work.

  • August 24, 2016

    Waynesboro, VA – History: The Cavalier was Waynesboro’s ‘Other’ Theater

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    From the News Leader: Between 1920 and 1929 Waynesboro movie-goers enjoyed three movie theaters all within a mile of each other. But the youngest, the Cavalier, was considered the bad boy of the three.

    The city’s first was the Star Theater, located at 544 West Main Street, in a building that still stands. A former Presbyterian Church, the structure was bought and converted into a theater in 1922 by Col. Max Patterson and Carl C. Loth, film impresarios who were eager to capitalize on the booming 1920s movie business. The small, spartan Star played silent films with piano accompaniment probably provided by Wenonah School music teacher Frank Vanderherschen. In 1925 the Loths started constructing the Wayne Theatre just down the hill, and the Star closed when the Wayne opened in 1926.

    While not an extravagant “movie palace” like those built in larger cities, such as the Byrd and Lowes Theatres in Richmond, the Wayne was still considered “lavish,” and a distinct improvement over the Star. A pipe organ – also played by Vanderherschen – provided accompaniment to the silent films until talkies arrived in the late 1920s. In 1929 the Wayne installed an “RCA high fidelity” sound system, and the first commercial sound film, “The Jazz Singer,” was a sensation, with lines reportedly stretching up the hill.

    Buoyed by their enormous success with the Wayne, Patterson and the Loths incorporated, then built another theater at the other end of town at 307 West Main Street to better serve eastside and Basic City. They held a contest to name the new cinema, which was won by Eva Yount for her suggestion the “Cavalier Theatre.”

    While the Wayne was designed and operated as a luxurious first-run movie house, the Cavalier was more of a rowdy adult recreational destination, with films and live shows that reflected its earthy atmosphere and blue-collar demographic. With a capacity of about 900, the interior walls were painted cinderblock, a luncheonette served up fast food until after midnight to cater to shift workers at nearby Stehli and DuPont, and a bowling alley (with cigar smoking encouraged) operated in the basement. Since there were no automatic setters, local boys earned pocket money in that hot, smoky basement setting pins after every roll.

    Historian Curtis Bowman in 1967 described the distinct aroma upon entering the Cavalier (also nicknamed “the flea bag” and “the scratch”) – “a mixture of disinfectant, perspiration, cigar smoke and cooking food … the proximity of rest rooms to the entryway did not help.”

    After the 1941 flood ruined the Cavalier’s basement bowling alley, the Loth Corporation – consisting of President Max Patterson; F. R. Loth, vice president and manager of the Wayne; J. Ellison Loth, secretary and manager of the Cavalier; and Col. C. C. Loth, treasurer and manager of the bowling lanes and the luncheonette – built the Cavalier Lanes on Federal Street. On February 23, 1952, that building was completely destroyed in a five-alarm blaze. The Cavalier Theatre frequently featured live shows by traveling movie stars and performers, especially cowboys. Actor Billy Barty, film’s first “little person,” appeared in 1938. The following year, Roy Roger’s singing group the Sons of the Pioneers appeared in person, and happily posed for pictures with star-struck locals. The Three Stooges stopped by in the early 1940s. Johnny Mack Brown brought his horse on stage to do tricks.

    Throughout the 1950s the Cavalier maintained its “PG-13” reputation as an eastside hangout, showing more provocative grade-B horror, western and juvenile delinquency films. The former basement bowling alley was sometimes used at this time as a shooting range.

    As a result, many Waynesboro parents refused to allow their children to attend the more risqué movies shown there – so of course, many teens dropped off at the more reputable Wayne would sneak three blocks to the Cavalier.

    In 1964 the Loth Corporation sold the theaters to the B&K Virginia Corporation, then in April, 1966, Davidson Theaters in Washington D.C. acquired the Wayne Theatre on a long-term lease but passed on the Cavalier, which was forced to close. The building was purchased and torn down by Advance Auto.

    Despite being gone for 50 years, the lowly Cavalier still had the distinction of being the last movie theater built within the city limits of Waynesboro until Zeus Theaters opened in 2010.

  • August 22, 2016

    Allegan, MI – Historic Regent projector gets rebuilt for display at theater

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    From the Allegan Co. News: A piece of history is returning to Allegan’s iconic Regent Theatre.

    The theater’s film projector for at least 70 years is being rebuilt for display by Lake Allegan resident Michael Huth.

    For more than two years, Huth has disassembled every piece, cleaning, repainting and rechroming and then reassembling the subassemblies.

    “Plans are to put it in the lobby for all to see the history of film,” he said. “It’s a magnificent piece of machinery you might see at Henry Ford Museum but it will be right here in Allegan.”

    The projector became obsolete after the Regent, along with movie houses across the country, were forced into digital conversion in order to receive first-run movies. The last movie the old projector played using 35 mm film rolls was “Hunger Games.” It was also the first movie played on the new digital projector Dec. 4, 2013.

    To get the old, 6-foot-tall film projector removed from the projection booth, it was disassembled in five or six sections. That’s when Huth noticed it was about to be lost forever.

    “I didn’t want someone to heave it in a dumpster so I volunteered to restore it,” he said.

    Like the community members before him who restored the theater itself back to its original glory, Huth said he has a fondness for the Regent, it’s architectural art deco style, and that it’s locally owned.

    Living in the area for the past 20 years, he’d like to find out more from old-er-timers about the projector—when it was installed and when it was modified to Dolby. He wants to list that information along with names of projectionists on a plaque for display.

    “There were originally two projectors used, and feature films came on five to six reels,” Huth said. “After playing Reel 1, the projectionist would switch to Reel 2 on the other projector and, if he was really good, the audience wouldn’t notice.”

    At some point in time, the second projector became obsolete when splicing began to be used. Using a platter 6 feet in diameter, the film was spliced together into one roll and then the splices were broken up to rewind the film back up into smaller rolls.

    “I’d also like to know the time of conversion for that,” he said.

    Huth scavenged some of the parts from the second projector to make one that was operable. The lamp housing will be lit underneath with LED lights to show the engraved glass and how it would look while it was running.

    Today, movies arrive on a hard drive that plugs into the projector’s processor.

    Huth has an engineering background working 33 years in machine design making printing presses at Rockwell in Chicago before retiring.

    “I didn’t know there was a Rockwell in Allegan until I moved here,” he said.

    He continues to split his time between Allegan and Chicago where he is involved in set design and playwriting for live theater. In Allegan he owns Whisper Ridge bed and breakfast. It includes a refurbished 1893 wooden caboose on Lake Allegan.

    Another volunteer in the project is West Michigan Painting, a body shop on Ida Street.

    They’re doing all the painting,” Huth said. “I turn stuff into them, they paint it and turn it around.”

    Huth has even called Henry Ford Museum to get tips on how to clean nameplates and maker decals without stripping them with solvents.

    “I think people who aren’t interested in mechanics will stop in their tracks to look at it,” he said. “It’s all bright and shiny with a black gloss and has been rechromed.”

    The project is about three-quarters complete.

    “I am hoping for completion by the end of the year,” he said.

  • August 19, 2016

    Jamaica, NYC, NY – Exclusive: This year’s Open House New York will include the Metropolitan Opera House and ornate Loew’s “Wonder Theatre”

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    From Time Out New York: If you’ve always dreamed of being on stage at the Met, here’s your chance to come pretty close.

    The Metropolitan Opera House is one of this year’s brand-new additions to the Open House New York, the weekend-long festival where more than 250 fascinating sites across New York open their doors to the public. The incredibly popular two-day event offers glimpses into spaces that are usually off limits to the public, from sky-high rooftop gardens to palatial apartments. This year’s OHNY will be held on October 15 and 16. In addition to the opera house, curious New Yorkers will be able to explore Pier 17, a redevelopment project in The Seaport District, Westbeth, the largest artist community in the United States, the state-of-the-art WABC-TV studio, the construction site for The New York Wheel on Staten Island and the Tabernacle of Prayer for All People, the first of five Loew’s “Wonder Theatres” (Loew’s Valencia) built in the New York area. All sites are new to the festival this year.

    On top of those additions, the National Park Service will be partnering with the festival to celebrate its centennial anniversary. A dozen NPS sites will be open for ranger-guided tours, historical re-enactments and general exploration. That will include tours of Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, the General Grant National Memorial, the Hamilton Grange National Memorial and a sunrise tour of Ellis Island before it opens to the public.

    The festival will also once again be partnering with Curbed this year to provide a look into intriguing residences around the city. You’ll be able check out recently renovated apartments in the historic skyscraper 70 Pine as well as spaces in The Charles and Clifton Residence.

    Many OHNY favorites will be returning this year as well including the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, the Brooklyn Army Terminal, Google, Masonic Hall, City Hall, Jefferson Market Library, Jeffrey Hook’s Lighthouse, the New York State Pavilion and the Newton Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

    The full list of sites for this year’s festival will be revealed on Wednesday, October 5. You can pick up a free event guide with all of the Open Access sites in the October 5 issue of Time Out New York. Most sites can be visited for free, but some require Advance Registration with a $5 fee per person. You’ll be able to register for those sites on October 6.