The latest movie theater news and updates

  • November 11, 2016

    Athens, TX – Texan Theater renovation continues


    From The Athens Review: A clean-up, preliminary to construction at the Texan Theater location is underway this week.

    Athens Community Development Manager Thanasis “Nasi” Kombos said the current work is clean-up.

    “They’re doing some clean-up inside the theater,” Kombos said. “They’ll be wrapping up around the middle part of next week.”

    It will be after the first of the year before any construction begins on the project.

    “The architect is working right now on the construction documents, which are anticipated to be completed at the end of January,” Kombos said. “Assuming that funding is secured for the project, at that point, I would anticipate that we will be moving with construction.”

    David Chase of ArchiTexas told the Athens City Council in October construction of the project should last another nine months, making completion of the theater about a year away.

    The remaining structure of the theater, built in the 1940s, will be part of a new venue. But once patrons walk past the restored Texan sign, the venue will be quite different from the movie theater where a couple of generations of Athens area residents went for entertainment.

    The original Texan Theater had a sloping floor. The new venue will have a flat floor to make it more for multi-purpose use. The type of roof chosen was an enclosed overlapping structure. A mezzanine section will be located above the restrooms. Once imagined as an outdoor venue, it will now be enclosed and air conditioned.

    The south side of the building, where the neon Texan sign was located, will still be the main entry, but access will be possible from the back. The back masonry wall will be taken down, and replaced by a glass wall. A roll-up door will be located at the back.

  • Williamstown, MA – Images Cinema celebrates 100 years of film excellence


    From The Williams Record: This month, Images Cinema celebrates its 100-year anniversary.

    Before it was a theater, Images was one of the College’s fraternity houses. A century ago, in November 1916, Hiram C. Walden repurposed the house as a movie theater. Designed to screen only “high class” fare with live musical accompaniment, the Walden Theatre — a 530-seat affair spanning two commercial spaces — emerged. “Walden” is still etched above the marquee. Since then, the theater has donned several other monikers in succession: the Taconic Theater, the Nickelodeon and College Cinema. Since 1977, however, the quaint spot at 50 Spring Street has been known as Images Cinema.

    Images is one of the oldest continuously operating movie theaters in the Northeast and the site of an ever-evolving movie-going experience. The building initially screened popular silent films, which featured icons such as Billie Burke, Charlie Chaplin and the Keystone Cops. By 1920, the advent of talkies saw the movie industry skyrocket. Images premiered its first talkie in the 1930s. Romantic detectives were at the heart of 1940s features, while the 1950s saw the dominance of Westerns and pop culture became the prevalent theme in the 1970s.

    Today, the staff at Images Cinema opts for films that run the gamut, from independent to foreign to classic. Images was perhaps best described by Executive Director Doug Jones in its 100th Anniversary Party press release as “a year-round non-profit, member-supported community film house that presents a wide range of films that impact filmmaking and our culture … Images continuously seeks to entertain, educate and engage the community with quality programming while maintaining its dedication to independent film and media.”

    But adapting to present-day culture has not always been easy. Janet Curran, the managing director of Images, explained some challenges that the theater has faced.

    “It’s rare and special for a single-screen cinema, especially one in such a small community, to have continually stayed in business for 100 years,” Curran said. “The movie distribution system is designed for a multi-screen structure, so we are a single-screen playing in a multiplex world. It’s a real challenge to get new movies in a timely fashion at terms that are reasonable for us without having to show the movie for three weeks. In a small community, two weeks is usually the upper limit, given [that] we have a limited population from which to draw an audience.”

    Curran highlighted the difficulty of competing with large movie theaters that cater to in-demand box office releases. Unlike these multiplexes, Images largely features independent films. Because they are not financed by Hollywood studios, independent films can enjoy greater freedom of expression and of ideas.

    Another challenge for Images is ubiquitous access to media, whether on television or online. The theater’s incredible adaptability in the digital age can largely be attributed to community involvement as well as support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The late 1980s saw a period of stagnation for Images, which resulted in downsizing. The original theater was cut in half to create additional retail space, and the Red Herring now occupies the space where the other half of the theater once was. In 1989, actor Christopher Reeve, a Williamstown local, led a campaign to support the theater. Images still houses plaques that commemorate that effort.

    Afterward, then-manager of Images Don Fisher purchased the cinema and ran it until the late 1990s when sales experienced another downtick. In 1998, Williamstown community members Ellen Bernstein, Larry Weber, Matt Harris, Julius Rosenwald and Professor of English Shawn Rosenheim determined that the cinema was no longer viable as a for-profit business and raised funds to purchase Images Cinema and turn it into a nonprofit.

    Under the new management, Images cemented its place as a community film house dedicated to film as an art form as well as a source of entertainment. Director Alexandra Kalmanofsky and Managing Director Angela Cardinali took initiative by showing art house films, hosting conversations around films, bringing in filmmakers, building educational programs, hosting special film events, developing a membership program and engaging community volunteers as well as the College community.

    The 2000s brought another wave of management changes, with each staff member working hard to preserve Images while meeting 21st-century demands. In 2008, Images restored its Spring Street entrance — since the late ’80s, the entrance had been located off the alley. In 2012, Images switched over from 35mm film projection to digital cinema projection, which Curran called, “the biggest industry-wide change since the dawn of the talkies.” Equipment upgrades were also made possible by community-wide support for a capital campaign.

    Thus far, Images has celebrated its centennial year with 100 Years of Images, a year-long film series spanning the decades to honor a century at Images. Highlights of Images Cinema’s centennial will include its 100th Anniversary Party on Nov. 11 and its Nov. 30 screening of Safety Last, in honor of the first Images film shown on Nov. 30, 1916.

  • November 10, 2016

    Iron Mountain, MI – Historic Braumart Theater: the heart of a city


    From The Braumart Theater has been in Iron Mountain since the 1920s and, for decades, the historic fixture was the heart of the city’s downtown area.

    Billed as the “finest amusement house north of Milwaukee” at its opening in 1925, many names have been splashed across the Braumart’s marquee. But the one that has stood the test of time and remains today is the name of the theater itself, derived from a combination of the names of two men, pivotal for its inception.

    “When they named The Braumart, the ‘B-R-A-U’ portion of the name was from August C. Brauns, and the ’M-A-R-T' was part of the first name of Martin Thomas. So, Brau-Mart,” historian for the Menominee Historical Foundation Bill Cummings said."

    With a vision of bringing the most modern theaters for local entertainment to the area, in 1924 manager of the newly-formed Colonial Theatre Company Martin Thomas, and owner August Brauns announced plans for the new theater, estimated to cost over $200,000.

    At its grand opening in April of 1925, the Braumart became an instant hit. Patrons on that day, more than 90 years ago, were turned away as the 1,000-seat theater filled for the first performances. For years to come, the Braumart would evoke memories and bring a community together.

  • November 8, 2016

    Allentown, PA – Civic Theatre of Allentown kicking off $5.5 million capital campaign with celebrity support


    From The Morning Call: Civic Theatre of Allentown is launching the first major capital campaign in its history in hopes of raising $5.5 million to help restore the historic 19th Street Theatre.

    The announcement was made Friday afternoon in a news release announcing the campaign will kick off with “The Next Act … Setting the Stage for the Future,” a Nov. 15 invitation-only event at which actress Christine Taylor, an Allentown Central Catholic graduate and former Civic student, will speak. Taylor is the campaign’s honorary celebrity chairwoman.

    Also on the celebrity committee are film and stage actors with area ties and connections to Civic Theatre, including Dane DeHaan, Daniel Roebuck, Kelly Bishop and Anna Wood; Tony Award-winning director and actor Joe Mantello; Tony-nominated costume designer Michael McDonald; Tony-winning playwright and screenwriter Terrence McNally; and comedian/actor Tim Heidecker.

  • Kingston, NY – UPAC operator seeks Broadway theater angel


    From The Daily Freeman: The owners of the Ulster Performing Arts Center are looking for a private investor to raise nearly $1.4 million for improvements at the Broadway Theater.

    Chris Silva, executive director of Bardavon 1869 Opera House Inc., which operates UPAC, said the non-profit theater wants a for-profit investor to funnel $1,393,000 into its coffers. In exchange, he said, the investor would become 99 percent owner and would be able to access state and federal historic tax credits for at least five years as part of a federal program.

    The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program “encourages private sector investment in the rehabilitation and re-use of historic buildings,” according to the U.S. Department of Interior’s website.

    Under its proposal, Bardavon would continue to operate the theater and make decisions on personnel and artistic matters, Silva said. Theater would remain tax exempt, he said.

  • November 7, 2016

    Red Lodge, MT – Under new management, historic Red Lodge theater anchored on Broadway


    From The Billings Gazette: In its early days, boxing matches would precede film showings at the Roman Theater in Red Lodge, said manager Mike Booth.

    But for most of the theater’s long history, it’s just been movies. The Roman was built in 1917 and has been seating audiences since. A short list of managers have overseen the building over the years, and it’s changing the guard once again.

    “For a lot of us who grew up here, there’s all those memories of the theater,” said Booth, who took over as manager in October.

    The aged Broadway Avenue building contains 202 seats, which are rarely filled. Booth said an average of 15 to 25 people show up each night. The balconies that flank the center gallery no longer hold a crowd of people. They’re used for storage.

    Building owners Jeff Anderson and Betsy Scanlin put in a new screen and invested in a digital projector in 2012 — anything to keep Red Lodge’s only theater going.

    “We’re very lucky if we break even,” Anderson said.

  • Patchogue, NY – Patchogue Theatre: Past, Present and Future


    From Ward & Glynee’s Patchogue Theatre opened on Main Street in May 1923. For the next three decades, Patchogue was a major source of employment in the textile, tourism, shipbuilding, and fishing industries. In fact, the village was called “The Queen of the South Shore” during this time.

    The theater attracted celebrities, first-run feature films, Broadway productions, vaudeville, and even burlesque. Later, in the 1970s and ’80s, Patchogue Theatre operated as a triplex movie theater. According to board member Chris Capobianco, “everyone has a story from those times.” But the triplex was closed in the mid-80s, and the theater lay empty for 10 years. Capobianco believes that 1997 was a key year, not just for the theater, but for the village’s restoration as a whole. The BrickHouse Brewery and Restaurant had just opened, and thanks to the help of some local business people, it was announced that the Patchogue Theatre would be saved from the wrecking ball. The then-owners wanted to sell the venue so that it might be demolished to build an office building.

    A lot has happened since the theater reopened in 1998. Last season, Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts achieved a record annual attendance of over 150,000. Capobianco remembers the first show after the theater was restored to its original grandeur—Gateway Playhouse presented The Nutcracker on Ice from Russia. The performing arts center closed once again this year, but only from January to March for interior renovations. “The $1.5 million renovations to the interior have greatly improved the ‘Patchogue Theatre Experience’ for our patrons,” says Bernie Fabig, Public Relations & Marketing Manager. “Our new seats are not only wider and more comfortable, but the Village had seating experts come in to make sure that the sight-lines were improved, so that you are never sitting directly behind someone.”

  • Washington, MO – Calvin Theater Owners Remove Old Marquee


    The marquee at the Calvin Theater was removed this weekend by the owners of the building.

    The city of Washington contacted the property owner’s, Douglas and Gregory Strothkamp, in early October about property maintenance code violations at the old theater on 311 Elm St.

    In a letter to the Strothkamps, the city outlined numerous problems with the building.

    The letter said the property was in violation of Sections 106 and 107 of the city’s property maintenance code and the owners have 30 days to address the problems. The letter is dated Oct. 4, 2016.

    City Administrator Jim Briggs said the letter did not call for the marquee’s removal, but did address several issues with the sign.

    Briggs said a resident complained about the condition of the marquee and pointed out potential safety hazards.

    “We got a complaint that it was in horrible shape,” Briggs said. “He said he thought it could cause dangerous harm.”

  • Centralia, WA – Nostalgic Fox Theatre Brings the Golden Days Back to Downtown Centralia


    From Thurston Talk: There is something magical about the glow of a Marquee sign. It brings fond memories of soda fountains and the golden age of Hollywood. If you grew up in the area, you may remember when the historic Fox Theatre lit up South Tower Avenue in Centralia. Nestled in amidst the old shops, it was a hub of activity when it opened in 1930 as part of the Fox West Coast Theatre chain. At the time, it was a 1,200 seat art-deco theatre that ran as a movie theater until 1999. But then the films stopped. The marquee went out, darkening the entire street. It was a stark reminder against the skyline that the city had seen better days.

    Almost a decade later, in 2008, Scott White moved back home to Centralia with one goal in mind: to do something about the darkened theater. He founded the non-profit Historic Fox Theatre Restorations and has been the President of the Board of Directors ever since. This is a 100-percent volunteer position for him.

    “After spending 20 years working in the entertainment industry, I hoped to use some of the experience I gathered along the way to make the project a success,” Scott says. “Having grown up in Centralia, the Fox Theatre was a very important part of my childhood and was the beginning of a lifelong love of theater and movies.”

    The group’s ultimate goal is a complete restoration of the building, inside and out, to its former 1930s glory. But, Scott, says, this doesn’t mean it won’t be able to handle today’s needs when it comes to technology.

  • Buffalo, NY – Shea’s Seneca Theatre destined for revival


    From The Buffalo News: A historic commercial building that was once part of Shea’s Seneca Theatre in South Buffalo is now destined for reuse, with developer Jake Schneider planning a mix of apartments, a theatre and performance art space in the 88-year-old structure.

    Schneider Development on Monday said it wants to spend $9 million to renovate the vacant and underused property at 2178 Seneca St., restoring its original architecture and bringing the building back to life as part of the latest adaptive reuse project in the city, and particularly along Seneca Street.

    “We’re very excited about the neighborhood. It’s a well-established and proud community with great assets to build upon,” he said. “It is our hope that this project will serve as a catalyst for the revitalization of the Seneca Street commercial corridor.”

    Located at the intersection of Seneca and Cazenovia streets, near Cazenovia Park, the historic two-story brick building was originally constructed in 1929 by well-known regional cinema icon Michael Shea, who built Shea’s Buffalo downtown, the North Park Theatre in North Buffalo, and several other iconic movie and entertainment houses that have since been demolished. With 2,500 seats, Shea’s Seneca was once said to be the largest community theater in the city, and grandly featured a colored marble lobby, ornamental plaster and arched windows. It also had a Wurlitzer theater organ, which was played on opening night in 1930 during the showing of The Mighty.