The latest movie theater news and updates

  • February 3, 2017

    Winchester, KY – Historic theater’s renovations uncovered film reels from the 1920s

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    From the Lexington Herald-Leader: After having suffered from deferred maintenance for several years, the historic theater in Winchester is getting a touch-up.

    The Leeds Center for the Arts is closed for the next couple of months while the historic theater gets renovations that include new plaster and paint. The work started in December.

    Tracey Miller, president of Winchester Council for the Arts, a non-profit organization formed in 1986 to save the theater after it temporarily closed because of lack of attendance and cost of upkeep, said a leaky roof, crumbling walls and water damage were some of the major problems with the approximately 400-seat theater.

    The roof has been repaired, and now new toilets, paint, a curtain and carpet are on the list to spruce up or replace.

    A $100,000 anonymous private donation and a $50,000 donation from the Clark County Community Foundation made the renovations possible.

    “Winchester is a very generous community,” Miller said.

    The deadline for completion of renovations is April 15, when the Kentucky native and cellist Ben Sollee is scheduled to perform.

    The theater, at 37 North Main Street, has had more than 18,000 visitors over the past two years, Miller said. He called it a “true theater” for the community, hosting theatrical productions, community gatherings and other performances.

  • February 1, 2017

    Highland, IN – Town Council cancels Town Theatre renovation

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    From nwitimes.com:
    The final curtain went down on the Town Theatre on Monday when the Town Council voted against a renovation of the long vacant building.

    A divided council voted 3-2 to reject a proposal, first made in 2014, to renovate and reopen the 71 year-old theater that was bought by the town in a county tax sale several years ago.

    Voting against the renovation were councilmen Mark Herak, I-2nd; Konnie Kuiper, D-2nd; and Council Vice president Steve Wagner, D-4th.

    Voting in favor were Councilman Bernie Zemen, D-1st and Council President Dan Vassar, D-3rd.

    The vote took place before a packed house of supporters and opponents.

    Because the proposal will never reach the drawing board, the historic building could soon face the wrecking ball because of its unsafe condition.

    The council’s vote instructed the Redevelopment Commission to cease all renovation efforts and seek contractor quotes to preserve the theater’s famous marquee and ticket booth.

    “The Town Theatre was not just about the theater,” Redevelopment Director Cecile Petro said. “It was to develop a district.”

  • Rochester, NY – East Rochester apartments were once a booming theater

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    From the Democrat & Chronicle: The Capri Apartments in East Rochester once housed the biggest movie theater between Rochester and Syracuse.

    Completed in 1918, the Rialto Theatre was the first of several cinemas across Western New York that Harold P. Dygert would own as part of his Associated Theatres company. The building was designed by W.A. Campbell, the architect behind John Marshall and Charlotte high schools as well as the Brighton Presbyterian Church.

  • January 31, 2017

    Boston, MA – BC students look to revitalize historic Hyde Park theater

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    From The Boston Globe: City Councilor Tim McCarthy remembers as a young kid seeing the original “Star Wars” film at the Everett Square Theatre, back when it was called the Nu-Pixie Cinema.

    He also recalls sneaking into the now-shuttered building to snag a seat in the balcony’s front row — the best seat in the house, he claims — so he could watch “Stripes,” starring Bill Murray. (But please, don’t tell his parents about that.)

  • Troy, NY – Troy gets state funds to aid project at historic downtown theater

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    From the Troy Record: The city of Troy was awarded more than $775,000 from a state revitalization program to aid in rehabilitating a historic downtown theater.

    Mayor Patrick Madden said in a late Friday news release the city was chosen to receive $778,205 through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Restore New York Communities Initiative. That money would help fund a planned $3 million project to restore the former American Theater on River Street and reopen it as a first-run theater.

    “The preservation of cultural assets like the American Theater is critically important to ensure the continued prosperity of the Collar City,” Madden said in the news release. “The restoration of this landmark space will not only attract new visitors and investment to our city’s thriving downtown, [but] it also supports the city’s long-term Riverwalk expansion effort.”

    The theater has been shuttered for more than a decade, last open as the Cinema Art theater, showing adult films until it was shut down by the city in 2006 amid allegations that patrons were engaging in sex acts in the theater. Bonacio Construction and Bow Tie Cinemas — which operates theaters in Schenectady and Saratoga Springs — are working together on the project, with the city offering its support by backing the application for state funding last fall.

  • Barberton, OH – Barberton’s once-abandoned West Theater reopens on its 70th birthday

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    From Ohio.com: Mark Anderson wanted the abandoned West Theater building for the space beneath it, behind it and on both sides of it. Since purchasing the building from the bank for $58,000 cash in 2012, that’s exactly the space he put to use. Storage rental units in the 8,000-square-foot basement. U-Haul trucks in the parking lot. Retail tenants on bookend storefronts. The 1947 theater whose screen last flickered in 2008? Well, that dark and cavernous space that Anderson would visit with a flashlight turned into a hobby. Since the rest of the property was paying the bills, Anderson was in no hurry. A bout of boredom would send the skilled handyman to the theater every once in a while to swap a few torn seat cushion fabrics here or fix some plumbing there. He found new curtains to hang on the stage, rigged a conference room projector from the ceiling, even found some parts to build a tankless water heater for warming the old theater’s bones. Then late last year, when he figured the theater was ready for a little action, a friend of a friend introduced him to another Mark. Mark Budnick, who had spent most of his adult life managing movie theaters, eagerly accepted the challenge of trying to turn a local nostalgic treasure into a productive business. Budnick said he remembers when he drove by the West after it had been sold, thinking: “Here we go again. Another old theater gutted.” He had no idea it had always been the buyer’s intent to someday get the old screen flickering again and that he would become part of the process. Helping to restore an old movie house “has always been a dream,” said Budnick, now the newly opened West’s manager and creative director. To be sure, the theater is not the epitome of luxury. The original 1947 seats have three different styles of red fabric coverings, the floor is gray concrete except for carpeted aisles, and the old water-damaged screen was replaced with a smaller but affordable alternative. Anderson said his shoestring budget was the result of failing to inspire any local banks or foundations to invest in his project, so he had to do what he could using his own skills and his credit cards. Canadian credit cards at that, said the Toronto native who followed his American wife to Barberton in 1984 and stayed. “Yeah, Canadian money helped do this,” he laughed as he looked around the empty theater. Anderson and Budnick are hoping nostalgia will bring curious locals in for a peek, and the diverse entertainment schedule will keep them coming back. “I’m not from here but I’m told people have a lot of memories of this place,” Anderson said. The past couple of weekends, the West has shown a Charlie Chaplin film festival and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

  • Menlo Park, CA – Menlo Park woman scrambles to shield cinema from developers

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    From The San Francisco Chronicle: Twice on Saturdays and twice on Sundays, Judy Adams walks from her Menlo Park home to the Guild Theatre on El Camino Real and back. She’s there when customers go into the old-time picture show and she’s there when they come out, but she doesn’t stay for the movie.

    Adams’ job, self-appointed and singularly motivated, is to get signatures for a petition to save the Guild, a single-screen cinema opened in 1926. It’s a heroic gesture considering that there is no indication the Guild is closing. But Landmark Theatres, which operates the Guild, is on a month-to-month lease, and the building may be for sale.

    Adams knows how this story ends, so she is taking “preemptive action,” she says, while standing in the cold of a January day last week before the 5 p.m. screening of “Manchester by the Sea.”

    “The goal is to get the city, Landmark Theatres and the owner talking about a way to keep a neighborhood theater and get it upgraded while keeping the charm of a small art house,” Adams says.

    If the Guild goes, so goes a long tradition of stand-alone movie theaters along the El Camino, the main commercial strip that connects all of the commuter towns that rose up alongside the tracks of the Southern Pacific line.

  • Gowanda, NY – Lt. Gov. Hochul brings grant news to Hollywood Theater

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    From the Observer: Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul recited Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address in Gowanda’s Historic Hollywood Theater. However, the normal address ended with a surprising twist.

    Hochul added that the Hollywood Theater will receive $324,000 to be applied toward the seating, lighting, carpentry and other items. The news was a part of the Restore New York Communities Initiative.

    A total of 75 projects were awarded in all of New York, with three within the local area.

    “We’re just ecstatic about it,” Hollywood Theater Board President Mark Burr said after hearing the news.

    The additional funds bring the restoration within around $650,000.

  • Indian Lake, NY – Cementing a historic milestone at the Indian Lake Community Theater

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    From The Sun: It was a little more than 10 years ago that nearly seven decades of community memories, experiences and life events were shuttered-up inside what had been the Indian Lake Theater. The movie house closed its doors in late-2006 and threatened to become a memory itself. The theater, where so many members of and visitors to the Indian Lake Community had special memories, was at risk of ceasing to exist. These were memories that marked milestone events in the lives of those who frequented the theater. Memories of having their first job at the theater, holding hands with a loved-one for the first time, sharing a first kiss, enjoying entertainment with friends and family or just spending a quiet time in the darkened room on a rainy afternoon or evening being transported by a film to a special place or becoming a part of an exciting story. Surely, the shutters were on — but the memories were working overtime. The memories were beginning to motivate a new chapter in the theater’s history. Slightly more than two years later on March 6, 2009, a local community organization purchased the 250-seat venue, capping off a 12-week, round-the-clock effort that saw nearly 500 people help to raise $160,000.
    The downtown movie house, for most small towns across America is a rapidly fading memory. But in Indian Lake, a historic theater began a new life nearly 10 years ago in a town with a population of 1,400 — all thanks to the efforts and determination of the surrounding community. The shutters came off and a non-profit, multipurpose community center was formed into a space for new and classic films, live community theater, concerts and special events for the community. Continuous refinement of space and capability has most recently been joined by digital technology, allowing The Indian Lake Community Theater to show the latest films coming out of Hollywood as well as the imaginations and efforts of independent filmmakers from around the world. It has been nearly 10 years since the new chapter in the theater’s life has been started by a determined and committed community, but, as Theater Director Sue Montgomery-Corey put it: “Progress always comes with a price.”
    Montgomery-Corey said even a standard film costs $250 to acquire for showing and an additional $40 for each trailer.
    More popular films cost more to acquire, and with companies like Disney that take a large, flat percentage of the gross for the showing of their films, the theater can have a hole to climb out of that can be as deep as 40 percent of gross revenue.
    All this represents a challenge for the theater given the low admission price of only $5.
    “For each showing, we need to have 80 paying customers in order to just cover the hard cost of the showing,” said Montgomery-Corey. Concessions help, and children deliver some good concession revenue. But films for adult viewers just don’t seem to deliver the concession sales that are so often touted by other theaters.
    “Perhaps we need to survey our adult customers to see if there is something else they would like to see us offering in the way of refreshments.” “If nothing else, the operational cost situation should make the community realize that it cannot start taking this fantastic community resource for granted,” Montgomery-Corey said. Operations, she said, are about as grassroots as it gets. Montgomery-Corey said she enjoyed seeing how the theater’s following is expanding, with crowds coming as far as Olmstedville. And while the venue’s Facebook page has drawn likes as far away as India and Pakistan, just liking the theatre doesn’t keep the doors open, the director points out. Surely the theater’s history and inspiring story of small community determination have a lot to do with its widespread popularity even beyond the community at large. But its programming has a lot to do with the venue’s ongoing popularity. Current films like “Manchester by the Sea”, “La La Land”, “Queen of Katwe”, “Dr. Strange” — all running in the coming weeks — are certainly a huge drive to the Indian Lake Theater’s popularity.
    Events such as the “Loren and Mark” March 10 reach-out musical performance at Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek (sponsors are still needed) and the April 28 Patsy Cline Tribute to take place in the theater are just some of the great live performances planned this spring.
    But the real driving force is the community at large. So as the Indian Lake Community Theater approaches it’s new chapter’s 10th anniversary, Montgomery-Corey suggests that the community celebrate the fact that it belongs to them.
    “Do it by taking in a few great movies. Attend a live performance. Bring a few friends and visitors. Enjoy some popcorn, a chocolate bar, a cup of coffee. Celebrate the great admission price, and if you can, don’t go past the contribution jar at the end of the counter without contributing, or the donation page on the website without giving a little ‘thank you’ to help keep the theater healthy, the admission price low and the memories coming.”

  • New York, NY – The Urban Lens: Inside the Village East Cinema, one of NY’s last surviving ‘Yiddish Rialto’ theaters

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    From 6sqft.com: 6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, award-winning photographers James and Karla Murray return with a look inside the spectacular Village East Cinema. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at tipsRegency Bruin Theatresqft.com.

    Moviegoers at the Village East Cinema located on 181 Second Avenue may be surprised to learn that they are visiting a recently restored New York City designated landmark. The Village East Cinema has a fascinating history as one of the last surviving “Yiddish Rialto” theaters along Second Avenue in the East Village. Today, the cinema is known for premiering many independent films and an eclectic mix of art and commercial releases. The theater’s most significant visual aspect, however, is its main auditorium’s ornate and colorful ceiling, which is regarded as having one of the most remarkable works of plaster craftsmanship displays in New York City.