The latest movie theater news and updates

  • January 25, 2017

    Jonesborough, TN – Jonesborough using tourism grant to help rebuild historic Jackson Theatre

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    From WCYB.com: Jonesborough won a $50,000 state grant to help boost tourism, and Tennessee’s oldest town is using the money to help restore a historic downtown theatre to its former glory.

    Built in the early 1900’s the Jackson Theatre has been a huge part of the town for more than a century. The tourism grant is going to help renovate and refurbish this iconic building, and the hope is that the theater will bring more people into the town and help boost the economy.

    “We’re bringing back a touch history so future generations can go back and say this is what is was and this is what it is again,” said Shawn Hale.

    It’s been used as a silent movie theatre, an office space, and even a furniture store. Now the building will be transformed into a 300 seat theatre.

    The town started working on it last year and it could cost up to $2 million to repair, and that’s why the tourism department said this grant is so important.

    “We’ll be able to incorporate more plays, or musicals, more musical acts, more performances,” said Cameo Waters, Jonesborough Tourism Director. “It’s just so great to be able to expand and bring activities into Jonesborough.”

    It’s also a big opportunity for the Repertory Theatre Company which will be using The Jackson. Actor and theatre company member, Shawn Hale, said they’re working out of a theatre space now that’s too small, they even had to put the men’s dressing rooms in the attic.

    “We’ve done wondrous things here but to have space that’s going to be available to us,” said Hale. “That we have the dressing rooms, we have a dance studio, we have a working space so we can build our sets and our props.”

    The actors said they can’t wait for The Jackson Theatre’s opening night.

    Right now the town is working on the structure and framework of the building. It’s a long road ahead, but they say this money is going make a big difference to help bring this historic theatre back to life.

  • Auburn, NY – Auburn Schine Theater owners refine mission as project remains stagnant

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    From Auburnpub.com: After a stagnant 2016, the Cayuga County Arts Council has taken steps early in 2017 to reinvigorate its long-running restoration of the Auburn Schine Theater.

    The seven-member council board completed a work session Jan. 7 with former Auburn Mayor Melina Carnicelli, according to a recent news release. The board emerged from the three-hour session, held at Beardsley Architects & Engineers in Auburn, with new mission and vision statements. The former declares the council’s commitment to restoring the 1938 art deco theater “by engaging community partners”; the latter describes the council as “a sustainable downtown business located in the historic Schines Theatre that promotes, educates and supports the expression of talent.”

    The council, the release continues, will reach out to community members this year to fill various committee positions. In a Friday phone interview, council Vice Chair Dia Carabajal said the areas in which it could most use that community assistance are fundraising and communications, as well as the council’s already existing building committee. That committee’s chair of almost two years, Tim Kerstetter, left the council at the end of his term in December because he could no longer make the time commitment the project requires, he said Friday.

  • West Bend, WI – Competing plans surface for West Bend Theatre

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    From the Journal-Sentinal: Two competing plans have surfaced that would reuse the historic, but long vacant, West Bend Theatre in that community’s downtown.

    Historic West Bend Theatre, a nonprofit group, is talking to city officials and others about its plans to renovate the building, 125 N. Main St.

    That group would convert the former cinema into a venue for such events as concerts, dance recitals and weddings.

  • Leawood, KS – Wanda Expands Global Theater Reach as AMC Pays $929 Million for Nordic Cinema

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    From Variety.com: AMC, the U.S. theater chain controlled by China’s Dalian Wanda group, is to pay $929 million for Nordic Cinema Group. The company is the largest cinema operator in seven countries in the Nordic and Baltic regions.

    The deal follows AMC’s acquisition last year of Odeon-UCI, the largest cinema operator in Western Europe. AMC said that the two European chains will be operated together.

    AMC is buying Nordic in a transaction from private equity firm Bridgepoint and Swedish media group Bonnier Holding. The transaction is to be an all-cash affair worth $929 million (SEK8.25 billion), and the deal is subject to approval from the European Union.

    Nordic has 68 theaters in 50 large and medium cities, comprising 463 screens and 68,000 seats. The company also holds substantial minority stakes in another 50 theaters with 201 screens.

    Acquiring the group is part of Wanda Chairman Wang Jianlin’s stated goal of owning 20% of the world’s movie screens. He believes that will give his company significant negotiating power in discussions with the world’s leading film distributors, most notably the six Hollywood majors. Prior to the Nordic deal, Wanda controlled some 12% of global screens through AMC and its separately listed Wanda Cinema line, which has cinemas in China and also owns Australia’s No. 2 operator, Hoyts group.

    AMC also recently agreed with the U.S. Department of Justice on the terms of its proposed takeover of the North American Carmike chain; the deal was closed before Christmas.

    “For the third time in the past 12 months, we believe we have discovered a substantial acquisition that gives AMC yet another opportunity to further expand and diversify our geographic reach and more firmly establish AMC as the undisputed leader in movie exhibition worldwide,” AMC CEO and President Adam Aron said in a statement of the Nordic Group acquisition.

    “It has been our observation that Nordic is extremely well-run with a modern up-to-date theater circuit that in our opinion offers tremendous value potential for AMC over the foreseeable future. We are also excited by the growth potential of Nordic as it moves forward with 10 theaters already in development or redevelopment. We have been impressed with Nordic’s talented leadership team, and further believe that their added expertise will be invaluable to us in helping to drive AMC’s progress across Europe.”

    AMC said that it will achieve additional economies of scale and save about $5 million in costs per year.

    Reactions to the acquisition from local players have been for the most part muted.

    Thor Sigurjonsson, general manager of Scanbox, one of Scandinavia’s top distribution outfits whose slate of releases include “Lion,” “Gold” and “Molly’s Game,” said the AMC pickup was “not a huge surprise.”

    “It’s a natural consolidation of the business, and we welcome a true cinema player to the market. We’ve had great relations with Nordic Cinema Group and hope to continue to do so moving forward,” said Sigurjonsson, whose company, Scanbox, operates in Finland, Denmark and Sweden as well as Norway via Norse Filmdisturjbution.

    Michael Porseryd, CEO of SF Studios, another Scandinavian heavyweight operating across the Nordics, said his company “has had a long and successful partnership with Nordic Cinema Group and their very professional team and hopes SF Studios’s close relationship with Nordic Cinema Group will continue in the future.” SF Studios’s slate include “Borg/McEnroe” with Shia LaBeouf.

  • 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

    Los Angeles, CA – The Night on Broadway Festival Has Become One of L.A.’s Best Free Events

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    From LA Weekly: The restoration of the Orpheum Theatre, followed by an even more high-profile facelift at the Theatre at Ace Hotel, marked the start of a renaissance of sorts for Los Angeles’ many downtown theaters. A number of these dot Broadway, which at one point rivaled its New York counterpart with its cultural offerings. In 2008, Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar started his Bringing Back Broadway initiative, a 10-year plan to revive that particular thoroughfare, many of whose theaters have spent decades either vacant or not used to their full potential. The Bringing Back Broadway initiative has met many of its goals and now showcases Broadway’s renewed glamour once a year in a free street festival: Night on Broadway. In its third year, Night on Broadway has grown from 35,000 attendees in 2015 to 60,000 in 2016. On Saturday, Jan. 28, a mile-long strip of Broadway stretching from 3rd Street to Olympic will be closed off for the festival starting at 4 p.m. and running until 11 p.m. Six of Broadway’s historic theaters occupy this stretch and will host music, art and comedy: the aforementioned Theatre at Ace Hotel and Orpheum, as well as the Globe, the Palace, the Los Angeles and the Million Dollar.

    The music is a mixed bag, featuring artists and DJs from Los Angeles staples including KCRW, dublab and Funky Sole as well as the trendsetting sounds and visuals of indie pop label Iamsound and an emerging local artists stage curated by Viva! Presents. Many theaters will have themes specific to their history, such as “Recalling the Golden Age” at the Million Dollar Theatre, with tributes to Pedro Infante, Antonio Aguilar and other stars of classic mariachi music and Mexican cinema. Additionally there are a few outdoor stages, including a main stage at Olympic and Broadway — a first for the festival — featuring headliners Mayer Hawthorne and Oingo Bongo Dance Party, among others.

    “We have an eclectic group,” says Huizar. “We want people to experience what they may have seen in these theaters in the past, and what they may expect to see in the future, exposing them to performances they might otherwise not come across, something a little bit out of the ordinary — but always with a connection to what used to be on Broadway.”

  • 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.