The latest movie theater news and updates

  • 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.

  • Greenport, NY – After 44 years, it’s the end for Fairview Cinema 3

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    From the Register-Star: Fairview Plaza Cinema 3 has been a go-to destination for movie fans for 44 years, but despite all of his efforts to keep it open, owner Bruce Mitchinson has decided to close the theater. The theater will continue to show the Oscar-nominated film “Lion” until closing day March 19, but Mitchinson is working on bringing in other films to make the last weekend special, he said. “I’m going to miss my loyal customers, but it is just not feasible to continue,” he said. Mitchinson was born and raised in Hudson, graduating from Hudson High School and then attending Columbia-Greene Community College and graduating in 1972. From there, he planned to go into accounting, but got a summer job as manager at the old Hudson Studio Theater, which was located on upper Fairview Avenue where the Walmart Supercenter is, he said. From that point he never left the theater business, Mitchinson said. He is the third generation to get into the movie theater business. His grandmother worked in the box office at the Playhouse Theatre, which was on Warren Street, and his father was a longtime projectionist, working in several theaters in Hudson, including the Community Theatre, Warren Theater and The Strand, as well as in Kingston, he said. Mitchinson would hang out in the projection room while his father was working, he said. Brandt Theaters owned Hudson Studio and was then bought out by the Klein brothers, who also owned several area drive-ins, Mitchinson said. While still managing the Hudson Studio, he took over management of Cinema 3, “going back and forth between theaters” he said. Hudson Studio closed over 20 years ago. Mitchinson took over ownership of Cinema 3 18 years ago and had been running three screens until four years ago, when movie theaters were mandated to go digital, he said. Customers and Friends of Cinema 3 held a fundraiser to help the theater upgrade, but he was only able to purchase one digital projector, he said. This meant the theater went from operating three screens to one. Some years ago, Mitchinson also started showing more independent films. Operating one digital screen and tougher competition made it hard on the theater, he said. “The conversion to digital projection was particularly difficult for many independent movie theaters and [Cinema 3 has] essentially been operating as a single screen for a couple of years now,” said Fred Ulrich, board president of Chatham Film Club, which owns and operates the Crandell Theatre in Chatham. “We can relate to the unique programming challenges that a single screen presents.” “There is also a change in the movie industry and people are watching in different ways,” Mitchinson said. The industry is also “closing the window down,” meaning many movies are available before they are out of the theaters, he added. “It’s difficult to compete.” Another factor in his decision to close is his lease, which expired close to three years ago, Mitchinson said. He was unable to renegotiate a renewal with Fairview Plaza owners and has been operating month to month. The plaza owners will decide what to do with the space, he said. Tia Marx from Trinity Realty Group, the property manager of Fairview Plaza, said it is “too soon to say anything about the space.” The space is 8,000 square feet and is for lease, according to a flyer posted on the company’s website. Anyone interested in learning more about it can call Meredith Poole at 518-429-5093. Mitchinson’s staff was small but loyal and included Doreen Baretsky and Cathy Draffin working concessions and Ralph Jordan, the longtime theater manager, he said. “He made it easy for me,” Mitchinson said of Jordan, who retired last year. Hudson Movieplex owner Kevin Mullin called Mitchinson a gentleman, saying he “never viewed him as competition,” but rather “complementary” to business. Mullin made Mitchinson an offer a year and a half ago to buy him out, he said. Today, Hudson Movieplex 8 is looking into the possibility of expanding its space in Columbia Center. Time & Space Limited founder Linda Mussmann, a neighbor and friend of Mitchinson, didn’t see Cinema 3 as a competitor to her Hudson space, she said. “We never tried to upstage or compete,” she said, adding that TSL shows alternative films and independent films not shown mainstream. Mussmann said in general, people likely patronized both businesses. “People who love movies will go anywhere,” she said. Mitchinson is dedicated to cinema and the movies, Mussmann said. “He certainly loved what he did.” “It is sad to see another theater go, but it may draw people up from Hudson to Chatham,” said Annie Brody, executive director of Chatham Film Club. The Crandell is “very strong, membership is strong, FilmColumbia is strong,” she said. “The Chatham Film Club remains committed to keeping the Crandell Theatre open and showing movies year-round,” Ulrich said. “On a personal level, as a film lover, I am disappointed that this will leave only two dedicated movie theaters in Columbia County,” he said. Once the theater closes March 19, Mitchinson will work on liquidating the contents of the theater, he said. After that, he said he has no immediate plans. This is “kind of dramatic because I haven’t done anything else but this,” he said. “I’m going to take it one step at a time.” Mitchinson said he will announce plans for the final weekend on the theater website, www.fairviewcinema3.com, and in his regular newspaper ad.

  • Hillard, OH – Movie Tavern Closing Mill Run Location in Hilliard

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    From Columbus Underground: After exactly one decade of showing films to the dine-and-watch crowd, Movie Tavern is turning off the lights at their Hilliard location at 3773 Ridge Mill Drive at Mill Run. Fans of the theater have just one more month to catch a movie there before it closes.