The latest movie theater news and updates

  • March 20, 2017

    Fairfield, CT – Petition pushes to re-open town’s Community Theatre

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    From the Fairfield Citizen: The First Selectman tried, unsuccessfully, a few years ago to nudge the owner of the Fairfield Community Theatre to make a deal with a developer, so the shuttered movie house could be reopened. Now, Keith Rhodes, a member of the Economic Development Commission, has started an online petition, seeking to put pressure on owner David Pollack. In just a matter of hours Monday, Rhodes’ change.org petition had surpassed the initial 500 signature goal. As of Thursday that goal is now at 5,000 and over 3,300 people have signed the petition. “As evidenced by the groundswell of support, I am very confident that David Pollack and the Pollack Family Trust will do the right thing here and allow the town of Fairfield to finally broker a deal with the many interested property developers and other groups,” Rhodes said. “It is my understanding that all attempts of town diplomacy have failed, even at the highest levels.” The theater, and its marquee is an iconic part of the downtown. It was run as a non-profit foundation for about 10 years, but the group’s founder, Leo Redgate, was hesitant to raise the money needed to make needed repairs, without a long-term lease or purchase agreement. “The truth is that the entire Fairfield community is tired of the sad sight of the once vibrant Fairfield Community Theatre in the center of our proud town,” Rhodes said. “There is so much potential, and as a long-time town resident, father of two and a member of the town’s Economic Development Commission, I wanted to do something about it.” Community and Economic Development Director Mark Barnhart said the town shares the same goal in seeing the theater restored and re-opened. “The petition shows, that even after being closed for more than five years, there is a strong affinity for the Community Theater and frustration with the apparent lack of progress,” Barnhart said. “I have seen some hopeful signs as of late, as David has stated a willingness to sell the property, though, clearly, things are not moving as quickly as anyone would like.” Barnhart said he remains in touch with Pollack, and his broker, and will continue to provide whatever assistance he can to facilitate the sale of the property. Calls to Pollack were not returned. “The town’s goal is to create a beautiful, multipurpose performing arts center for children, students and parents alike,” Rhodes said. “To date, David Pollack has refused to sell the property, and the theater just sits there in disrepair.” The 100-year-old theater is about 8,000 square feet and seats 700.

  • Belleview, FL – In Photos: Ocala Drive-In Theatre Still Shows Films After More Than 50 Years

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    From WUFT.org: The Ocala Drive-In Theatre in Belleview brings the Americana experience of old drive-in theaters to a new generation.

    Though the drive-in first opened in 1948, it has closed, reopened and changed hands several times since then. It’s also had many updates since it first opened, including new projectors, projector bulbs, screen paint and sound systems.

    “Nostalgia. A lot of nostalgia here,” said Nancy Bigi, a cashier who currently works at the drive-in and who worked there in the ’70s and ’80s. “It brings back old memories, [for me] and the new generation,” Bigi said.

    Like a drive-thru restaurant, you pay at the first window and then pull forward. The inside of the theater is a field with two screens on opposing ends with a projector booth and concession building in the center.

    Typically, the drive-in shows two movies in one session for $6 per adult. A refurbished concession building offers the Ms. Pac-Man arcade game and snacks for movie-goers. The concession building also has several painted murals on each wall to enhance the retro aesthetic.

    The large grassy area and a larger arcade present opportunities for fun for the whole family. When the drive-in isn’t showing movies, it hosts flea markets in its 20-acre field.

  • March 17, 2017

    Pittsburgh, PA – No appeal for Garden Theater block redevelopment effort

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    From the Post-Gazette: Several historic facades in the Garden Theater block on the North Side could end up becoming casualties in the battle over a proposed apartment building at the site.

    Bill Gatti, CEO of Trek Development, said Thursday that tearing down the facades is an option now that state Commonwealth Court has upheld a lower court ruling denying a zoning variance to the firm for the construction of an eight-story apartment building at the site.

    Trek had planned to spend $2.7 million to save and restore the facades, which date to the 1890s, to maintain the historical character of the block.

    But if they are removed, it could allow the developer to build a smaller building at the site in an effort to comply with the current zoning, which limits the height to 45 feet.

    “It’s unfortunate that it’s come to this. Historic preservation is a core value of Trek. But we’re bumping up against harsh economic realities that is causing us to consider something that we wouldn’t naturally consider,” he said. “We’re open to demolition if that’s what it takes.”

    Mr. Gatti said it is unlikely that Trek will appeal the Commonwealth Court decision to the state Supreme Court, but instead will set out to find another solution.

    As tough as it would be to lose the historic facades next to the Garden Theater, some URA board members said it should be considered given the court ruling.

    “I’ll tell you at this point, from the residents I’ve heard from, they say just tear it down. They’d rather see some development happen,” said URA board member R. Daniel Lavelle, a city councilman.

    Board member Cheryl Hall-Russell said she has also heard that, adding the “level of frustration is so high right now” among residents who supported the project.

    In 2015, the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment approved variances for Trek to build to 97 feet behind the facades, one of which is 70 feet tall, nearly double the 45-foot limit.

    The argument was that the old building already exceeded the current height restriction. But Commonwealth Court ruled that Trek “failed to meet its burden to prove that it was entitled to the variances.”

    Interestingly enough, attorneys for the appellate, Stephen Pascal, argued that the facades weren’t necessary and the money budgeted for their restoration could be used to build a smaller building.

  • Shawnee, KS – Downtown theater plans up in the air

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    From the Shawnee Dispatch: A Shawnee couple’s dream to renovate the former Aztec Theatre has been put on hold.

    But plans for reviving the historic movie theater may still be in the works; it might just be with a different owner.

    At the Shawnee Fine Arts board meeting last Wednesday evening, Liam and Marie Tripp announced to a stunned crowd they were unable to finalize their purchase of the little downtown theater.

    Property owner Wade Williams told them in an email last week, he is in the process of selling the venue to another party.

    The news comes two months after the Tripps announced to the Shawnee community they had bought the theater, currently called the Fine Arts Theatre, and they were waiting on legal documents to be drafted.

    Williams confirmed to the Dispatch he offered the property to the couple, given they had “earnest money,” or, in other words, funds to finalize a contract. A sales agreement had not been drawn up at the time the couple went public with the news, however.

    In early February, the couple organized and held a public meeting at the Shawnee Library to formally announce themselves as the new owners and to reveal their renovation plans for the movie theater, which sits near the corner of Johnson Drive and Nieman Road. The meeting drew around 100 people, including city officials.

    To develop fundraising plans for the theater’s renovation, and make it a community effort, the Tripps created a nonprofit organization, the Shawnee Fine Arts Foundation, and established a board for it which currently has 15 members.

    But Williams told the Dispatch soon after the Tripps publicly announced themselves as the new owners he started to question the couple’s financial ability to purchase the venue. Since there was no final contract, he began looking at other offers.

    Meanwhile, the Tripps continued to rally the community with their quest to reopen the beloved theater.

    Last month, Williams toured the vacant theater with the Tripps and a group of Shawnee Fine Arts board members.

    This month, he officially announced his intent to sell the theater to another party instead.

    He wouldn’t reveal the names of the potential new owners to the Dispatch, saying it was up to the buyers to reveal themselves when the time was ready.

    And although the Tripps may not be the new owners after all, hopes for the theater’s restoration haven’t changed.

    “I can confirm I have a sales agreement and hope the theater sells because the buyers are substantial and will restore the property back to a classic movie theater,” Williams said.

    When Liam announced the news at the Shawnee Fine Arts board meeting last week, the reaction was solemn.

    “I’m sorry if I disappointed you people,” he told the board members. “That was the last thing I wanted to do.”

    Despite Williams’ announcement of his intent to sell the theater to another party, Liam insisted he still wants to help the potential new owners make the former Aztec Theatre an asset to the community.

    He hopes all the work he and his wife spent rallying the community will benefit the theater and any new owners in the long run.

    “I lit the fire, but I don’t have to carry the torch,” he said.

    The board members agreed it would only be in the city’s best interest to work with the new owners.

    After all, they said, the goal of having the theater reopened hasn’t changed.

    Shawnee Fine Arts chairman Joe Bolander said it’s important for the community to remain optimistic.

    “If he (Williams) now has a contract with someone else, we can’t do anything except show our support,” he said. “I’ll be very disappointed if the new owner doesn’t open it as a theater.”

    Bolander, along with many of the other board members, joined forces with the Tripps to reopen the theater because they all want to see its former glory restored.

    They hope that dream is kept alive.

    “I drive by this theater on my way to church every Sunday and I always used to look to see if it was going to open,” Bolander said. “To have such a beautiful old theater in my backyard is amazing and history will be brought back to life if it reopens. It’s about nostalgia.”

  • Gibsonton, FL – New state of the art movie theater with enormous screens opens just in time for ‘Beauty & The Beast’

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    From ABCactionnews.com: A brand new movie theater featuring giant-sized screens opens Thursday in Gibsonton just in time for the opening of “Beauty and the Beast.”

    The Riverview 14 GDX will offer film fans a unique movie-watching experience.

    The theater has fourteen theaters, each with IMAX-rated sound walls to ensure no sound bleeds through. Each theater comes complete with full-motion, plush leather recliners in stadium style seating.

  • Wilmington, NC – The Pointe 14 Movie Theater Opens in Wilmington

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    From WWAYTV3.com: The Pointe 14, Wilmington’s newest 14-screen theater, had its grand opening Thursday night.

    The theater is an anchor tenant in the 34-acre mixed use development at 17th Street and Independence Boulevard.

    There was a red carpet, popcorn, soda, and of course movies.

    The Pointe 14 has more than 2,000 seats, luxury club seating, discount Tuesdays and $1 Summer movies.

    “This side of Wilmington needed a truly deluxe theater,” Stone Theatres President and CEO Herman Stone said. “And that’s what this theater is.”

    You will be able to get tickets through the Stone Theatres mobile app and online.

  • March 9, 2017

    Corpus Christi, TX – Local non-profit, PATCH, asks city to help restore the Ritz Theater

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    From KRIStv.com: A local non-profit group called PATCH is asking the city to help them save the old Ritz Theater downtown. The group says it needs help funding the restoration of the building in order to bring more visitors to the downtown area.

    The historic theater was built in 1929 but needs a full renovation. The roof needs to be replaced, major plumbing repairs to get the bathrooms up and running for guests and over-all, needs a lot of T.L.C.

    So members of pitch are asking the city to help by financially backing the group.

    There was no decision from the city today (Tuesday) on any sort of financial backing, but the discussions will continue.

  • Lakewood, OH – See The Inside Of Lakewood’s Hilliard Square Theater Before Demolition

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    From the Lakewood Patch: The Hilliard Square Theater was built in 1927, and at that time it was one of the premier theater structures in the Cleveland area. The theater has gone through numerous transitions since its opening: silent movies, an “art-theater” showing adult films and what a lot of people still remember, the place to see a midnight showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

    The 1,200-seat theater was closed in 1988 and was eventually purchased by Bob Dobush in an effort to save it from being torn down. Unfortunately, Dobush didn’t have the funding or resources to properly maintain the theater or make necessary repairs, and the building began to deteriorate.

  • Restoring Historic Theaters: EverGreene Architectural Arts

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    From Live Design: Among the beautiful acoustical shells Wenger has worked on over the years, many showcase the artistry of Brooklyn-based EverGreene Architectural Arts. This week we’ll focus on this renowned company and their unique niche; we’ll also highlight a notable joint project.

    Jeff Greene, EverGreene’s Chairman, founded the company in 1978 after what he describes as “a series of left turns”. He had trained as a fine artist – a painter – and was interested in creating public art murals. Working on fresco painting inspired Greene to study architecture, which eventually led to architectural restoration and conservation work.

    The firm has prospered, today employing 200 people. Next year marks their 40th anniversary. “In a certain way, I think we succeeded because there was a market niche not being filled,” he recalls. Greene says his Type A personality inspired him to meet the challenge and keep pushing.

    Creative Problem-Solving. He considers EverGreene’s uniqueness to be their broad scope of work and holistic approach to the decorative arts. Their portfolio ranges from civic and sacred to commercial and theatrical, including work on nearly 400 theaters.

    From the 1910s through the 1950s, Greene says theater styles varied as widely as their uses: vaudeville, cinema, concerts, opera, etc. Today, because of their rarity, these historic theaters often inspire community pride and funding support. “But this doesn’t mean unlimited restoration budgets,” he remarks. “There are always economic constraints.”

    Having restored so many theaters of every imaginable style, Greene says his firm is always interpreting the architect’s vision to some degree. “We understand architectural styles and history and our conservators and craftsmen are well-versed in historic materials and methods of construction,” he explains. “We approach each project creatively and thoughtfully. Our depth of experience and problem-solving mean we’re not always reinventing the wheel.”

    Greene notes that many of the grandest historic theaters across the U.S. have already been restored, which means EverGreene is revisiting its projects from 20 or 30 years ago for upgrades, maintenance and repairs.

    Changing Technology. Even though much of EverGreene’s work is historic, the company embraces new technology like digital printing and stencil cutting to accomplish the work. And while there may be cost savings with these advancements, Greene says any new technology also has limitations.

    He recalls a recent project where another vendor enlarged a stage curtain’s design – visualized on a desktop computer monitor – to an enormous 25’ x 35’ size. All the detail was lost in the enlargement process; the end result looked terrible.

    In contrast, EverGreene’s approach to create such a large-scale digital reproduction would be first creating a full-sized prototype, hand-painting it and then photographing it with the highest possible resolution to capture more detail than the human eye can see.

    “We’re not in a race to the bottom – compromising quality in the quest for cheaper and cheaper,” says Greene. “Like Wenger, we want to craft something that’s well-built and durable – something with aesthetic quality and long-term value.”

    Improving computer capabilities enable EverGreene to help clients visualize projects in 3-D, where once it was necessary to create handmade scale models. In a similar way for its acoustical shells, Wenger also utilizes 3-D design software that enables the shell’s complex components to be almost assembled on-screen. In the past, some custom shells would have required Wenger to build a model to verify fit and function.

    Today’s acoustical shells feature extruded aluminum and composite panel construction, offering lighter weight, greater durability and improved flexibility. Aided by a custom-built vacuum press in its manufacturing plant, Wenger can create shell panels featuring virtually any curvature a consultant would want.

    ‘Atmospheric’ Shell. Several years ago, EverGreene and Wenger collaborated on the stunning acoustical shell at the Carpenter Theatre in Richmond, Virginia. Opened in 1928, the Carpenter was one of the original ‘atmospheric theaters’ designed by John Eberson. EverGreene handled the interior restoration, including the auditorium’s side walls designed to resemble building facades, complete with balconies, statues and inset niches glowing blue from the simulated “twilight” lighting behind them. The domed ceiling was painted dark blue and features twinkling stars.

    To continue this feeling of skyline depth, Wenger sandwiched together two 2” thick tower panels. The ‘blue sky’ Diva panel in back recedes behind the ‘city wall’ Diva panel in front.

    Wenger constructed niche boxes, or insets, in six of the 11 Diva wall towers, inspired by the niches in the auditorium’s walls. While the auditorium niches contain statues, the shell’s niches are simply insets featuring hidden lights that create a bluish, twilight glow.

    EverGreene executed the Carpenter’s creative shell painting on-site. For some shell projects, Greene says designs are digitally printed on canvas and then installed. We appreciate our long-term relationship with EverGreene, which results in theaters that look as splendid as they sound.

  • Beaumont, TX – Humidity wears on Jefferson Theatre

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    From the Beaumont Enterprise: The Jefferson was jumpin' this past weekend with movie lovers and concert goers, but that’s not the reason a net stretches across much of the theater ceiling. That net is meant to catch bits of loosened plaster that might fall onto the heads of patrons at the downtown Beaumont venue. The net is there out of an abundance of caution, said Lenny Caballero, director of the City of Beaumont’s event facilities department.