The latest movie theater news and updates

  • February 19, 2017

    Theater Group President: No, Netflix Isn’t Killing the Multiplex

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    From The Hollywood Reporter: New technology is shaking up the entertainment business, but John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, argues that box office is thriving even as TV and home video take a hit and streaming services up their investments. “Three-fourths of (those) interviewed are spending more evenings at home now. Slightly more than half are going to the movies less often, although formerly they were confirmed and in most cases very heavy moviegoers.” — U.S. News & World Report

    New technology has upended the movie theater industry, disrupting production and distribution; movie theaters are dying.

    You’d be forgiven if you thought I was talking about today, the internet and movie streaming services like Netflix and Amazon. The report above actually is from 1955, the disruptive technology was television, and the disruption was real. There were other factors, such as the Paramount Consent Decrees, which forced studios to divest their movie theater properties, but the body blow to theaters that television represented was a complete revolution in the entertainment ecosystem. Theaters no longer held a monopoly on recorded audio-visual entertainment, and box-office revenue hit bottom at $875 million in 1962, down 48 percent from 1946, with admissions off 78.5 percent. The box office would not return to 1946 levels until 1974.

    But what about today? Have the internet and movie streaming to the home caused a fresh disruption in the theater industry?

    Despite a fairly constant drumbeat of impending doom and decline facing the cinema industry, the reality is otherwise. Since 2004 — following two rather anomalous years that peaked at over 1.5 billion admissions — movie admissions have moved up and down over a fairly narrow range, from 1.27 billion to 1.48 billion annually. Some of that fluctuation is a reflection of the movies in the marketplace, and some is surely because of increased competition from the home market.

  • Canon City, CO – Show must go on: Historic Skyline Theater has been pleasing audiences since 1916

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    From The Pueblo Chieftain: From Davy Crockett’s “Old Betsy” to temporary closures and war taxes, the historic Skyline Theater has withstood a roller coaster of ups and downs in its 100-year history.

    In September 1917, L.A. Jones, proprietor of the Busy Corner Store announced that he intended to build a state-of-the-art theater in downtown Canon City, the likes of which would cost an estimated $20,000 investment, according to newspaper accounts of the time.

    By December that year, the Canon City Daily Record was touting the soon-to-be-completed theater as a “new, modern moving picture theater” on which “a great deal of money is being spent to make this the finest cinema theater in any small town in the west.”

  • Sewickley, PA – Tull Family Theater caters to arthouse movie lovers outside of Pittsburgh

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    From NextPittsburgh.com: Cinephiles living in Pittsburgh can usually get their movie fix at one of the city’s many independent theaters, whether it’s at the historic Harris Theater Downtown or the Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville. But for those living outside the region, being able to enjoy the latest limited release or award-winning film may be too far out of reach. The new Tull Family Theater in Sewickley hopes to change that.

    After five years in development, the Tull Family Theater officially opens this week in Sewickley, making it the first movie theater to operate there in more than three decades. The 12,000-square-foot venue includes two screening rooms—the 77-seat Huntington Bank screening room and a yet unnamed room that fits 166 people—as well as the Esmark and Bouchard Family Community Room performance and events space.

    Tull Family Theater executive director Carolina Pais-Barreto Beyers says the nonprofit arthouse theater was created to strengthen cultural, educational and entertainment experiences in the region northwest of Pittsburgh.

    “This is truly a grassroots effort that started with community leaders who looked around and realized that Pittsburgh’s cultural vibrancy did not extend beyond the city,” says Beyers.

    The theater was made possible through efforts by the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development, the Allegheny County Regional Asset District (RAD) and the Borough of Sewickley, as well as a combined $1.5 million donated by 400 families. One of the largest contributors was Pittsburgh resident and former Legendary Entertainment head Thomas Tull, who gave $500,000 for naming rights to the theater, which was formerly called the Vanguard Theater.

  • Baltimore, MD – CineBistro dinner-and-movie theater to open Feb. 24 at the Rotunda

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    From The Baltimore Sun: The concept of dinner and a movie should take on new meaning next week with the opening of Baltimore’s newest movie theater, and the only one to offer fine dining with your film.

    CineBistro, which will offer full meals combined with first-run movies at its seven-screen theater, will open Feb. 24 at the Rotunda in Hampden. The movies scheduled for that opening day are “Collide,” “The Great Wall,” “Fifty Shades Darker,” “Fist Fight,” “La La Land” and “John Wick: Chapter Two.”

    Before (and possibly during, if the patron prefers) the movies, dining possibilities will include a full range of appetizers, main courses and desserts — everything from “custom-blended burgers to prime beef, fresh seafood, and more,” according to a news release announcing the opening.

    Guests will need to arrive at least 30 minutes before the movie begins to take full advantage of the dining options. Admission will be restricted to people 21 and older.

  • February 13, 2017

    Sonoma County, CA – Drive-in movie theaters gone but not forgotten in Sonoma County

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    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:

  • Harmony, MN – New owners running Harmony’s classic movie theater

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    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.

  • Washington, NC – New Washington movie theater opens

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    From WITN.com: An eastern Carolina movie theater that shut down last year is back open under a new name and new management.

    A new independent group called ‘Golden Ticket Cinemas’ purchased the old Carmike 7 in Washington after it suddenly closed in December.

    Golden Ticket officially re-opened Friday with 7-theaters renovated with new screens and surround sound speakers.

    The first customer in line for a 12:00 p.m. showing was given a free year-long movie pass and Golden Ticket GM Stoney Crouse says the company is thrilled to continue providing the area with the latest movies at the lowest prices.

    Crouse says, “We plan on doing the same good customer service, if not better, definitely a lot of different choices when you’re coming in and absolutely better prices.”

    Scott Askew was the first customer and says, “My first movie here was Pippi Longstocking as a class when I was in kindergarten and that would be 1979 and so we’ve lived here all our lives and I’ve seen every big movie, every Star Wars I saw here, so we’ve been here all our lives so it’s great.”

  • Wellington, FL – New, luxury Wellington movie theater holds grand opening at mall

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    From The Palm Beach Post: The days of questionably-comfortable movie theater seats with the choice of just soda, popcorn and candy are over — at least at the new Paragon 10 in Wellington.

    The new, luxury theater at the Mall at Wellington Green is holding a grand opening ceremony this weekend, and officially cut the ribbon Thursday night. Adult evening tickets go for $11.50, and the theater will have a promotion every Tuesday where it sells tickets for $6.

  • Missoula, MT – Roxy Theater to renovate facade to match 1930s glory days

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    From Missoulian.com: The Roxy Theater is planning a 1930s makeover for its 80th birthday this year.

    The nonprofit community cinema will renovate its facade to reflect the original art deco design, complete with a period-era neon sign, a ticket booth right on Higgins Avenue, and a new paint job.

    The exterior improvements will better reflect the nonstop activity in the theater, said Ingrid Lovitt-Abramson, the Roxy’s operations and development director.

    Last week, the state announced a $67,605 tourism infrastructure grant for the historic renovation work. In addition to the matching grant, the Roxy has been fundraising privately for the work, which will cost around $200,000.

    The state tourism funds came through the Montana Department of Commerce, the Office of Tourism and Business Development Tourism Grant Program. They target projects that can improve the economy through tourism.

    They’re aiming to turn on the bright-red neon sign by late September to mark the theater’s anniversary.

    It was originally a second-run theater with a single screen, featuring movies that had already played downtown at the Wilma Theatre.

    For the facade, they’re working with Fernando Duarte Design, who has helped renovate art deco theaters around the West Coast, such as the Hollywood Theatre in Portland, Oregon.

    He did historical research here in Missoula, both at the Mansfield Archives at the University of Montana, on microfiche at the Missoula Public Library, and consulted with UM art history professor Rafael Chacon, author of a book on Missoula architect A.J. Gibson.

    There are no color photographs from the Roxy’s earliest days, but Steinberg said there was a limited palette of colors in use.

    The handsome sign, meanwhile, will boast the “Roxy” name with rows of neon.

    “It’s a classic neon, as opposed to what passes for neon these days,” Steinberg said. The double doors will have diagonal brass handles, just like the old theater did.

  • Princeton, WV – Historic Princeton Theater renovations mix old with new

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    From The Exponent Telegram: Talk to any Princeton natives and they will quickly relay stories of going to the former Lavon Theater, often standing in line all the way down the sidewalk, eagerly waiting to pay less than $1 to see the current hit movie.

    The Lavon Theater, which started out as the Royal Theater in 1911 and changed hands in 1954 to become the Lavon, is rich in history. And organizers of the Princeton Renaissance Project are renovating the building with plans to preserve such history by incorporating some “old with the new,” according to Mercer County Commissioner Greg Puckett, who is spearheading the project.

    The theater restoration has been underway since 2013 when the building was first purchased, Puckett said. Volunteers and experts have removed walls, and the final steps will include installing a new roof and skylights, along with electrical work and the finishing touches of refurbishing many of the original chairs.