The latest movie theater news and updates
September 12, 2016
From The Boston Globe: Nearly a year after closing the Colonial Theatre, Emerson College is considering proposals from a handful of outside groups to reopen the storied playhouse — a move that would broaden the city’s cultural offerings and could help arts organizations navigating a rapidly changing entertainment landscape.
The college, which endured widespread criticism last fall when the Globe disclosed Emerson’s possible plan to convert the Colonial into a flexible dining hall and performance space, has declined to identify the groups or characterize their proposals. But the Globe has identified several organizations that submitted bids. They include a consortium of arts groups operating locally, as well as at least one national theater management company.
The local consortium — which includes Celebrity Series of Boston, Broadway in Boston, Boston Lyric Opera, and Live Nation — has put in a proposal to provide programming. In addition, Boston Lyric Opera submitted its own independent programming bid.
Pennsylvania-based SMG, an international venue management, marketing, and development firm, has also entered a plan for the theater, which has been dark since “The Book of Mormon” closed in October.
“We’re looking at the proposals internally,” said Carole McFall, director of media relations at Emerson. “We’re hoping to make a decision this fall.”
Don Law, president of Live Nation New England, said the consortium would bring touring Broadway shows, musical acts, opera, and more to the theater.
From the Salem News: The sale of the Larcom Theatre became official on Friday when a husband and wife from Beverly purchased the landmark venue for $645,000.
The new owners, Donald and Lisa Crowell, plan to continue the theater as a performing arts center, said former owner David Bull.
The Larcom had been on the market since March, with an original asking price of $699,900. It had been owned since 1984 by a group of performers from the former Le Grand David Magic Company, which also owned the Cabot Theatre before selling that building in 2014.
“I know I share the sentiment that we are absolutely delighted that both the Cabot and the Larcom are continuing on as they were intended as performing arts venues,” said Bull, who played Le Grand David in long-running shows at both sites.
Donald Crowell declined to comment on the sale. Bull described the Crowells as a young couple who moved to Beverly last year.
The Larcom and Cabot are vaudeville-era theaters located less than a half-mile from each other in downtown Beverly. The Larcom, at 13 Wallis St., was built in 1912, eight years before the Cabot.
September 8, 2016
From MLive: The historic State Theatre in downtown Ann Arbor is getting ready to undergo a major restoration and transformation.
The movie house at 233 S. State St. will show its last midnight film this Saturday, Sept. 10, followed by a handful of additional film screenings next week, before closing for renovations for eight to 12 months.
The city’s Planning Commission voted Wednesday night, Sept. 7, to approve the plans, which include constructing a 2,000-square-foot addition on the south side of the building where there’s an alley enclosed behind double doors.
The addition, measuring 7.7 feet wide and 88.5 feet deep, will fill in the alley and house a new elevator, which is just one of a number of upgrades planned. The Michigan Theater Foundation is undertaking a large-scale interior and exterior renovation of the State Theatre to restore its art deco look and feel in conjunction with its 75th anniversary in 2017.
That includes restoration of the iconic marque and facade along State Street, as well as converting the two-screen theater into a “one-of-a-kind cinema space” with four smaller screening rooms, more comfortable seating and more leg room.
The project includes restoring and refreshing the art deco design of the entrance, lobby and restrooms as well.
The theater is in the State Street Historic District. The city’s Historic District Commission already signed off on the project, which has support in the form of funding from the Downtown Development Authority and private donors.
The theater was originally designed by architect C. Howard Crane, who also designed the Fox Theatre in Detroit.
Construction began in 1940 and the State Theatre opened in 1942. The first floor was originally clad in red structural glass panels.
From San Jose Inside: Downtown San Jose is losing its only first-run movie theater. Camera 12 Cinemas, San Jose’s largest independently owned movieplex, announced today that it will punch its final tickets this Friday, Sep. 9. Camera Cinemas’ two other theater complexes—Camera 3, located just blocks from Camera 12, and Camera 7 in Campbell—will remain open.
“I’m really sad—really sad,” said Jack NyBlom, a managing partner of Camera Cinemas. However, he added, the closure simply could not be avoided. “A decade’s loss of revenue from a promised growing residential market, that’s just now coming online, coupled with the staggering costs of maintaining a large, aging, poorly designed building has led us to this decision to close.”
Camera Cinema’s spokesman, Dan Orloff, said that years of accumulated debt posed a challenge to the local ownership group. The “straw that broke the camel’s back,” Orloff says, was the tenant’s obligation to maintain and repair the roofs, escalators and other building elements, which were in serious disrepair.
Camera 12 took over the taxpayer-subsidized cinderblock building next to the federal courthouse and Fairmont Hotel in July 2004, several years after United Artists moved out of the complex without notice in the middle of the night. The $11 million, 70,000-square-foot complex received $4.4 million in city redevelopment funds after another national chain, AMC, abandoned its plans for a 16-screen complex as part of the Pavilion, a Redevelopment-sponsored retail mall that was eventually converted into a computer server farm.
In December 2000, just four years after the theater was built, Redevelopment Agency director Susan Shick tried to knock it down. “The theater is obsolete,” Shick said. “It’s not a theater built to modern-day standards.” Things turned around after the Cameras leased the facility, and both private and public money was poured into maintaining the operation.
And yet it was not enough. According to NyBlom, after a tile fell from the cieling a few weeks back, it was discovered that the building had some serious plumbing issues. Plus, he added, the theater’s escalators were proving to be both a hazard and a money pit. “It’s just not a safe environment for our customers anymore,” he said.
NyBlom is pleased that Camera Cinemas’ other two locations, Camera 3 and Camera 7, will be able to keep showing films. But even though both theaters are doing well, he believes the loss of the independent Camera 12 represents a major blow to downtown San Jose culture.
For starters, Camera Cinemas has always made it a priority to work with the local community in ways larger theater chains might not. At Camera 7, for instance, on the first and third Wednesday of every month, there are special showings for parents with infants—the idea being, if everyone in the crowd is bringing a baby, no one will object to a little crying.
Camera 12 has also been a major hub for screenings during the Cinequest Film Festival. “We’re going to try to continue to work with Cinequest,” NyBlom said, noting that Camera 3 will remain available as will Camera 7. However, that does leave a big vacuum when it comes to downtown screenings. “We have a 27-year relationship with those guys. We’ll try to get them placed wherever we can.”
Camera Cinemas has also served as a force for good in sticking up for other independent theaters. After moving into the Camera 12 building in 2004, Camera Cinemas sued the national Century Theater chain over their practice of creating “clearance agreements” with movie studios. These agreements would guarantee Century had exclusive rights to screen certain movies for a certain period of time within a given region—sort of like the radius clauses live music venues make bands sign, preventing many acts from playing both San Francisco and San Jose in succession.
Their legal action proved fruitful—at least in San Jose—after then-Attorney General Bill Lockyer launched an antitrust investigation into the practice of clearance agreements. Though no legal action was taken, Century backed off and Camera Cinemas won the rights to screen first-run films at Camera 12, a major coup for the independent theater.
The suit may have also played a role in spurring other independent theaters to take fight clearance agreements in their regions.
See below for the full Camera Cinemas news release.
From the Daily Corinthian: For Mississippi’s only remaining drive-in movie theater, the show must go on.
Even after most major film production companies halted the making of 35 mm film used by the Iuka Drive-In last December, manager Earl Curtis had the find a way to keep this drive-in open.
“Thankfully a couple of companies continued to release some of the bigger titles on 35 mm film,” said Curtis, who has leased to drive-in from Bubba Jourdan for the last 30 years. “I think we’ve only shown like five movies all summer.”
The historical landmark on West Quitman Street has been a fixture in Iuka since around 1957. Normally open from April-October, Curtis decided the drive-in could only support June-August or September this year.
“Labor Day might be our last weekend,” he recently told the Daily Corinthian.
“Suicide Squad” and “Central Intelligence” have been showing as a double feature at the drive-in for more than a month.
“I know our customers have got tired of the same couple of movies being shown this year, but we’ve been trying the best we can,” he said. “It’s better to be open and show the same thing, then to be closed for good.” Earlier this year, Curtis launched a Gofundme online account to try to raise the $50,000 needed to update the drive-in’s old 35 mm projector to a new digital projector.
A month ago he found an even better deal.
“TriState Theater Supply has a used digital projector for $10,000 and our plans are to get that one. Hopefully, we can have it upgraded by next year and back to showing first-run movies,” said an excited Curtis.
With less than $8,000 to go, Curtis said they can’t do it without the community’s continued support and donations.
“People have been pretty good to us,” he said. “So with everyone’s support, I don’t think there’ll be a problem to get to the $10,000 we need.”
(Online donations can be made at gofundme.com/keepiukagoing. For more information, visit facebook.com/iuka.drivein.)
Read more: Daily Corinthian – State s only drive in looks to upgrade
From DNA Info: It’s one of the most eagerly anticipated movie premieres of the year — the return of the Davis Theater.
The cinema, 4614 N. Lincoln Ave., has been closed since January for a multimillion-dollar makeover.
The opening date is now looking like November, according to owner Tom Fencl, who’s aiming to have the Davis up and running in time for the holiday season.
Ben Munro, operating partner at the Davis and its new companion restaurant/bar Carbon Arc, provided a recent behind-the-scenes tour.
Stadium seating is taking shape in the Davis' two front theaters (labeled Theater One and Theater Three) and meticulous restoration work is progressing on the main theater (aka, Theater Two), which is being returned to its Art Deco glory.
September 7, 2016
From Curbed NY: Some good news for Park Slope residents: The Pavilion, the neighborhood’s last remaining movie house, will be preserved and transformed into a Nitehawk multiplex theater with seven screens, 650 seats, two bar areas, and in-theater dining, reports the New York Times.
The theater has a long history of changing hands—and names, for that matter. It debuted in 1928 as the Sanders, but that iteration shuttered in 1978. The theater reopened in 1996 as the Pavilion, eventually expanding to nine screens in the early 2000s. Over time, the theater lost its appeal as its upkeep exhibited less than ideal characteristics—bedbugs, crummy seats, and the like.
In 2011, Nitehawk cinema founder Matthew Viragh began discussing the possibility of converting the Pavilion with Hidrock Properties, who owns the site, but determined that the timing just wasn’t right. Hidrock later decided to convert the theater into a six-story condo building with a three or four-screen theater, an option that proved unfavorable with the community. That plan has since fallen through, with Nitehawk poised to take over the space. This will be the second theater under the theater company’s umbrella (in addition to its original Williamsburg outpost), and will be dubbed Nitehawk Prospect Park.
Steven J. Hidary, whose family owns Hidrock, told the Times, “we had to decide, do we build condos or do we save Brooklyn? So we saved Brooklyn.” There are currently no plans to bring condos of any sort to the site.
“This is a victory for community activism and partnership,” said City Council member Brad Lander, a longtime advocate for the cinema’s preservation. “When we heard about plans to eliminate the theater, we spoke up loud and clear. Together with neighbors, we pushed to save the theater, and make sure any renovation/development respected the historic character of the neighborhood.”
The $10 million renovation project is slated to begin around the end of October and wrap up around early fall 2017.
From the Salem News: Due to a number variables, the credits have rolled on the independent movie theater Hollywood Hits, which closed Monday night.
“We regret to inform you that we have closed,” the theater said on its website. “We thank all of our customers for their patronage over the past 17 years.”
Since 1999, the small, independent cinema at 7 Hutchinson Drive showed movies on the North Shore as a low-price alternative to seeing films in large multiplexes.
It was a place to catch both first-run movies and movies that appealed to the art crowd. Its concessions were also less expensive than those at the chains.
Reached by phone Tuesday, owner and Beverly resident Scott Przybycien confirmed the announcement.
“That is true,” he said. “We closed the doors last night.”
Przybycien said he was “heavy-hearted” having to close up the cinema building for the last time.
The theater, visible from Route 128 north, had been a corporate chain until 1999, when Loews left the location for a space in the Liberty Tree Mall, Przybycien said.
In 1999, Hollywood Hits started off as a discount theater, but changes in the industry saw it become an art house that also showed first-run films.
In recent years, Hollywood Hits was able to run the same mainstream blockbusters as the AMC Loews Liberty Tree Mall 20, and Przybycien said his theater was doing well with this product.
In May, “X-Men: Apocalypse” was the first movie that 20th Century Fox dropped clearances to allow both the chain theaters and the independents to run the same films at the same time, Przybycien said. That was good news.
But a number of factors conspired to keep Hollywood Hits from showing the hits well into the future.
From The Tennessean: An affiliate of a Utah-based real estate investment company is the new owner of the apartments and retail space at the redeveloped historic former Melrose theater in Berry Hill.
Salt Lake City-based Cottonwood Residential paid an undisclosed price for the seven-acre property at 2600 Franklin Pike.
The purchase included the 220-unit The Melrose apartments and more than 26,000 square feet of fully leased retail and restaurant space with Sinema, The Sutler Saloon, Fenwick’s 300 and beauty salon Lunatic Fringe as tenants.
“It was an exciting project for the Parkes and the Fulchers to be able to redevelop this iconic property and restart the development of the Melrose area,” said Joe L. Parkes Jr., president of Franklin-based Parkes Development Group.
Along with Ed and Mary Fulcher of Nashville-based Fulcher Investment Properties, Parkes redeveloped the former 1940s-era movie theater and bowling alley space into the mixed-use development that Cottonwood Residential just bought.
Parkes said proceeds from the sale will help to fund the construction he and the Fulchers along with co-investor Cottonwood Residential have underway on a second phase of The Melrose development that’s expected to include 139 apartment units and 8,500 square feet of retail space.
That 1.2-acre site at the southeast corner of Franklin Pike and Kirkwood Avenue includes the former Regions Bank branch at 2610 Franklin Pike and former fabric store location at 2608 Franklin Pike. Regions Bank will move back into a portion of that new mixed-use building.
The sale of the first phase of The Melrose development comes shortly after The Sutler’s owner, restaurateur Austin Ray’s A. Ray Hospitality, took over the lease for the basement space at the historic former theater where Melrose Billiards has been the longtime tenant. Melrose Billiards will close at the end of this month with Ray planning a similar concept to replace that pool hall dive bar, which has been a fixture in Berry Hill’s Melrose area for more than 70 years.
In the Nashville area, Cottonwood Residential’s portfolio of owned and/or managed apartment complexes 1070 Main in Hendersonville and Cason Estates in Murfreesboro.
Among other Nashville area projects, Parkes was co-developer along with Oldacre McDonald of the Nashville West shopping center in West Nashville.
September 6, 2016
From the Star Tribune: Theater Latté Da has purchased the historic Ritz Theater in northeast Minneapolis. The company moved its administrative offices into the building in September 2014 and had been producing shows in the 245-seat auditorium since 2015. The terms were not announced.
“We will continue to deepen our relationship with northeast Minneapolis,” said artistic director Peter Rothstein. “The Ritz is a fantastic building and we’re thrilled to be part of its next chapter.”
The company, which specializes in reinterpreting musical classics and creating new musical theater, had entered into an exclusive negotiating arrangement last March with the Ritz Foundation, which owned the building at 345 13th Av. NE. Rothstein said the deal was finalized Monday.
Latté Da has grown from an itinerant troupe that staged cabarets in small venues to one of the prominent midsize companies in the Twin Cities. Rothstein was named the Star Tribune’s Artist of the Year in 2015. The company’s annual budget was $1.3 million in fiscal 2015, according to tax filings.
After producing shows for several years in the now-defunct Loring Playhouse, the company had been without a permanent performance space since 2006. The Ritz purchase means that for the first time in the company’s 18-year history, Latté Da will have administration, rehearsal and performance spaces in the same building.