The latest movie theater news and updates

  • July 8, 2016

    Flint, MI – Renovation work begins on Capitol Theatre, grand re-opening set for fall 2017

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    From MLive.com: Officials are ready to kick off renovations at The Capitol Theatre building with today’s announcement that Uptown Reinvestment Corp. and The Whiting have officially acquired the building.

    The revamped theater is slated to reopen in Fall 2017.

    The project, which will include complete modernization of the entire building and restoring historically significant elements of the facility, is expected to take 14 to 16 months to complete. With the updates comes all-new, state-of-the-art theatrical and production equipment, according to a Tuesday, July 5, news release from The Whiting and Uptown Reinvestment Corp.

    Officials said previously that the project was expected to cost $21 million and includes renovations of 25,000 square feet of attached office and retail space.

    “We are thrilled to be at this point and to begin field work on the restoration of this iconic arts and entertainment venue in Flint. More exciting still are the opportunities a reactivated, modernized Capitol Theatre will create for our entire community,” said Jarret Haynes, executive director for The Whiting.

    Uptown Reinvestment Corp. will handle the redevelopment and restoration while The Whiting and its governing body, the Flint Cultural Center Corp., will manage operations, programming and marketing.

    “The unique and complementary partnership between URC and the Flint Cultural Center, through The Whiting, demonstrates the broad support and commitment for this project, and bodes well for its ultimate and long term success, both artistically and in terms of economic benefits for Flint and the entire region,” said Tim Herman, president of Uptown Reinvestment Corp.

    The theater will seat about 1,600, Haynes said previously. Built in Italian Renaissance style, one ceiling was designed after the outer vestibule of St. Peter’s cathedral in Rome, according to Flint Journal files, and interior walls recreate views of buildings that evoke old Italy.

    The building also hosted a mishmash of live concert performances, including AC/DC, Ray Charles, John Mellencamp and Mel Tillis from the late 1970s until the theater portion of the building closed about 20 years ago.

  • Muskegon, MI – Harbor Cinema to reopen after short closure; will show first-run films

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    From MLive.com: Harbor Cinema is back open for business.

    Less than two months after the charming movie theater in Muskegon’s Lakeside District announced it would be closing its doors, owner Dan Taylor-Tubergen has made the decision to reopen. He said it was a change in policy by one of the film industry’s leaders that provoked the change of heart.

    “We decided to reopen because (21st Century) Fox has dropped the issue of clearances which is what was stopping us from showing their first run films along with the Carousel before,” Taylor-Tubergen said. “So now we will be able to show some first run movies.”

    The Harbor Cinema, 1937 Lakeshore Drive, has had a long up-and-down history in Muskegon. It has operated under several owners and names over the years. The theater had been closed since May 8 with owners citing “unwelcomed theater competition in the community by another corporate theater chain.”

  • July 7, 2016

    Newberg, OR – 99W Drive-In still a hot ticket on a summer night

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    From Oregonlive.com: Drive-in movie theaters are fading fast. They’re a novelty, a relic, a quaint reminder of postwar Americana. They can’t compete with multiplex cinemas or independent theaters. Their days are numbered. They’re history.

    Only, somebody forgot to tell the 99W Drive-In in Newberg, which is still very much alive and kicking.

    The 99W is one of four remaining drive-in movie theaters in Oregon, and among just more than 300 in the United States. When most drive-ins shut down for good, the Newberg business kept going, and now stands to not just survive but flourish in the 21st century.

    “There are some times when I desperately want people to know about the drive-in and some times when I don’t want anybody to know about the drive-in,” owner Brian Francis said. “The fact that we have cars lined up down the highway, we’re real sensitive to that.”

    For decades, it’s been conventional wisdom that drive-ins can’t compete with multi-screen indoor movie theaters. They still can’t – Francis willingly admits that ­– but something is happening culturally that is drawing more people back to the outdoor movie theater. Maybe it’s social media, maybe it’s a growing population or a renewed sense of community; whatever the case, 99W is reaping the benefits.

    One weekend last month, all four nights of the double feature of “Finding Dory” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass” sold out. That hasn’t been unusual. People showed up in droves for “Purple Rain.” Even “X-Men: Apocalypse” sold out two days. Last year, interest in “Jurassic World” was so high that people who couldn’t get in parked illegally on a hill across the street just to watch.

    Adding a feather to its cap, the 99W Drive-In was recently voted the number one drive-in theater in the country, in a poll conducted by USA Today this spring.

    “It was a nice little honor,” Francis said of the award.

    He’s modest about the theater’s success, and reserved about the future. He’s been in the industry long enough to have seen the ups and downs.

  • San Francisco, CA – Classic S.F. theater reborn as dinner-and-a-movie site

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    From The Sacramento Bee: Chicken-liver mousse pairs well with Colonial American horror, it turns out.

    The recently opened, five-screen Alamo Drafthouse New Mission Theater in San Francisco’s Mission District offers a food menu consisting mostly of easy-to-eat-in-the-dark items common to dine-in theaters, such as pizza and sandwiches. But we started our meal, consumed while watching the low-budget, 17th-century New England-set film “The Witch,” with the menu’s most gourmet offering.

    Fanciness seemed in keeping with a 1916 theater that had just undergone a $10 million, four-year-long rehab to restore it to its former grandeur, after some inglorious years spent as a mattress storage facility. The New Mission marks the first foray into California by Alamo Drafthouse, the Texas theater chain that popularized the idea of in-theater drink and meal service.

    The mousse went down smoothly, its sharpness cut by the huckleberry jam accompanying it. It remained palatable even during more disturbing moments of “The Witch,” in which bonnet-ruffling forces of evil beset a Puritan family.

    Part of the ease with which our party of two consumed the mousse, along with a Brussels-sprouts salad, Nashville “hot chicken” sandwich, plus a Coke and a Knee Deep Citra Extra Pale Ale (the theater chain that put “draft” in its name offers 28 beers on tap, including this offering from Auburn), can be attributed to vast experience with movie-theater eating.

    We’ve shoveled in popcorn, candy, nachos and reheated pizza while watching horror films since the 1980s. Made-to-order food prepared in a real kitchen, led by a real chef (Ronnie New, formerly of San Francisco’s Comstock Saloon), and served to us at the table between our seats felt less like a foreign concept than a luxurious extension of past experiences (though neither the $16 sandwich nor $12 salad tasted near as good as the $11 mousse).

  • July 6, 2016

    Stone Harbor, NJ – New shore cinema arises from 1940s movie house

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    From the Press of Atlantic City: The marquee was hoisted atop the borough’s 1940s-era movie theater this week, as its new owners plan a mid-July reopening and a business model reflected at more cinemas across the country.

    Nearly $1 million in renovations at the Harbor Square Theatre on 96th Street include widening chairs and aisles and cutting the number of seats, co-owner Clint Bunting said.

    The movie house also includes third-party tenant Harbor Burger Bar, a restaurant that offers food and alcohol that can be consumed inside the theater.

    And the theater will be open year-round, Bunting said. Its predecessor, Frank Theatres Harbor 5, was opened seasonally last year.

    In the past five years, online streaming platforms such as Netflix have drawn moviegoers from theaters, according to research firm IBISWorld.

  • July 5, 2016

    Sioux City, IA – Riviera 4 theater ends run in Sioux City

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    From the Sioux City Journal:
    Sioux City’s financially troubled second-run movie theater ended a 12-year run Thursday.

    Riviera 4 Theater owner Eric Hilsabeck announced the closing in a letter posted on the theater’s Facebook page. As a show of appreciation to its customers, movie-goers were admitted free on the final day to its films, which included “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Kung Fu Panda 3.”

    Hilsabeck cited shortened release times between first-run movie theaters and video-on-demand services as a primary reason for the Riviera 4 closing.

    “Previous to this change, we were guaranteed that our distribution window would be free from any other form of competitive distribution,” he said in the statement. “However, over the last two years, our release window has dissolved almost completely.”

    The Rivera was the last second-run theater operating in Iowa, he said. The shortening of the distribution window, he predicted, would force the closure of all remaining such theaters worldwide.

    Earlier this year, Hilsabeck told the Journal that the Rivera 4 was looking for new options with the property facing foreclosure.

    In the Facebook page statement, Hilsabeck said options are still being sought for the building, but nothing would prevent the theater’s closing.

    In the statement, Hilsabeck thanked and recommended Security National Bank for “their receptiveness to small business owners in Sioux City.”

    Security National Bank had earlier asked for a judgment of foreclosure and sale of the property at 714 Fourth St. to repay nearly $400,000 in loans the bank said Hilsabeck and Beck Theatres had defaulted on.

    The city of Sioux City and a Delaware company also had taken legal action to recover money loaned to Hilsabeck.

    The Riviera closed as a first-run movie theater in the 1990s. Hilsabeck reopened the Riviera as a second-run theater in 2004 after the building had briefly housed a night club.

  • June 30, 2016

    Larchmont, NY – Larchmont Residents Rush to Save Theater

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    From The Wall Street Journal: Strolling to the Larchmont Playhouse to watch the latest films has been a tradition in Vicki Rosenstreich’s family for more than 30 years.

    Now she and other fans of the 83-year-old theater want future generations to have that same opportunity.

    The owner of the Larchmont Playhouse has put it up for sale, asking $1.5 million. Residents in Larchmont, a Westchester County village 13 miles northeast of Manhattan, fear the theater could close.

    A group of admirers are hoping to raise enough money to buy the theater and operate it as a nonprofit organization or form a partnership with another group interested in keeping the space as a movie house.

    “What we are hoping for is a stay of execution,” said Ms. Rosenstreich, 72 years old, a Larchmont resident of 36 years.

  • June 29, 2016

    Ann Arbor, MI – Renovation of Ann Arbor’s historic State Theatre would double screens

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    From Mlive: Plans for renovation of the historic State Theatre are in the hands of the city’s Historic Planning Commission.

    Part of the renovation calls for creating four separate theaters to screen movies, doubling the two screens currently available.

    The State Theatre is located at 225 S. State St.

    The theaters would have seating capacity of approximately 180, 150, 80 and 50 people respectively and will comply with the American Disabilities Act, according to Russ Collins, CEO of the Michigan Theater Foundation, the group which owns the State Theatre.

    “We need to make comfortable venues that are excellent in terms of a great place to go to the movies,” Collins said. “There’s going to be four theaters with very comfortable seats and it will be a great place to go to the movies.”

    The new theaters will have plenty of leg room and newly installed seats that will provide more comfort for a better viewing experience, Collins said.

    Previously, the ownership group announced plans to renovate the theater to restore the art deco theme to the building, including updating the marquee and the building’s exterior. In February, the Downtown Development Authority committed $200,000 toward the cost of renovating the marquee and the façade.

    Other planned improvements to the facility include the installation of an elevator to get patrons to the second floor of the building where the theaters are located and updates to the lobby areas, along with updates to the bathrooms.

    The Michigan Theater Foundation purchased the State Theater in October 2014 and announced plans to invest between $2 million to $3 million in the facility.

    While work on the facility cannot begin until plans have been completely approved by the city, Collins is hopeful to begin work later this fall.

    The goal is to unveil the renovations in 2017, which also is the 75th anniversary of the State Theatre.

  • Fairbury, NE – Bonham Theatre renovation to start next month

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    From the Beatrice Daily Sun – The Bonham Theatre Project, a nonprofit group dedicated to saving the theater, bought the building after it closed in 2012. Four years later the funds are in place, and officials broke ground Monday to commemorate the restoration’s start.

  • June 28, 2016

    South Pasadena, CA – South Pasadena’s historic Rialto Theatre sold to downtown developer

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    From the Los Angeles Times: zek Shomof, a prominent redeveloper of older buildings in downtown Los Angeles, has purchased the historic Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena and hopes to turn it into an entertainment venue that could include a bar and screenings of old movies.

    The 1,200-seat theater, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of the last single-screen movie theaters in Southern California. The building was closed to the public in 2010 after a piece of the facade broke off and crashed onto the sidewalk.

    The deal was finalized last month, according to Matthew Dobson, a representative of NGKF Capital Markets, the brokerage firm handling the transaction. The sale price is undisclosed, and Shomof said he is still negotiating with potential tenants.

    Shomof’s pattern is to buy older buildings and put them back together. He’s helped redevelop several older buildings in downtown Los Angeles, and he’s leading a group of investors who want to transform the historic Sears Tower in Boyle Heights into shops, restaurants, apartments and creative space.

    “I like historical buildings, and I like to renovate them and make them how they used to be,” Shomof said. “That’s what I care about more than anything to start with.”