The latest movie theater news and updates
January 25, 2017
From Variety.com: AMC, the U.S. theater chain controlled by China’s Dalian Wanda group, is to pay $929 million for Nordic Cinema Group. The company is the largest cinema operator in seven countries in the Nordic and Baltic regions.
The deal follows AMC’s acquisition last year of Odeon-UCI, the largest cinema operator in Western Europe. AMC said that the two European chains will be operated together.
AMC is buying Nordic in a transaction from private equity firm Bridgepoint and Swedish media group Bonnier Holding. The transaction is to be an all-cash affair worth $929 million (SEK8.25 billion), and the deal is subject to approval from the European Union.
Nordic has 68 theaters in 50 large and medium cities, comprising 463 screens and 68,000 seats. The company also holds substantial minority stakes in another 50 theaters with 201 screens.
Acquiring the group is part of Wanda Chairman Wang Jianlin’s stated goal of owning 20% of the world’s movie screens. He believes that will give his company significant negotiating power in discussions with the world’s leading film distributors, most notably the six Hollywood majors. Prior to the Nordic deal, Wanda controlled some 12% of global screens through AMC and its separately listed Wanda Cinema line, which has cinemas in China and also owns Australia’s No. 2 operator, Hoyts group.
AMC also recently agreed with the U.S. Department of Justice on the terms of its proposed takeover of the North American Carmike chain; the deal was closed before Christmas.
“For the third time in the past 12 months, we believe we have discovered a substantial acquisition that gives AMC yet another opportunity to further expand and diversify our geographic reach and more firmly establish AMC as the undisputed leader in movie exhibition worldwide,” AMC CEO and President Adam Aron said in a statement of the Nordic Group acquisition.
“It has been our observation that Nordic is extremely well-run with a modern up-to-date theater circuit that in our opinion offers tremendous value potential for AMC over the foreseeable future. We are also excited by the growth potential of Nordic as it moves forward with 10 theaters already in development or redevelopment. We have been impressed with Nordic’s talented leadership team, and further believe that their added expertise will be invaluable to us in helping to drive AMC’s progress across Europe.”
AMC said that it will achieve additional economies of scale and save about $5 million in costs per year.
Reactions to the acquisition from local players have been for the most part muted.
Thor Sigurjonsson, general manager of Scanbox, one of Scandinavia’s top distribution outfits whose slate of releases include “Lion,” “Gold” and “Molly’s Game,” said the AMC pickup was “not a huge surprise.”
“It’s a natural consolidation of the business, and we welcome a true cinema player to the market. We’ve had great relations with Nordic Cinema Group and hope to continue to do so moving forward,” said Sigurjonsson, whose company, Scanbox, operates in Finland, Denmark and Sweden as well as Norway via Norse Filmdisturjbution.
Michael Porseryd, CEO of SF Studios, another Scandinavian heavyweight operating across the Nordics, said his company “has had a long and successful partnership with Nordic Cinema Group and their very professional team and hopes SF Studios’s close relationship with Nordic Cinema Group will continue in the future.” SF Studios’s slate include “Borg/McEnroe” with Shia LaBeouf.
From dmagazine.com: The website Cinema Treasures, an overwhelmingly large and detailed database of more than 47,000 movie theaters, has plenty of entries devoted to active theaters, from single-screen art houses to shopping mall multiplexes.
But it’s the obituaries on the site that prove the most compelling. The community on Cinema Treasures is just as thorough in cataloging the stories of past movie theaters, closed or demolished by the whims of market forces and real estate development—not to mention television, the internet, and Netflix.
Most of the entries include a brief history of the theater, photos, and often comments from people reminiscing on nights spent at the movies: piling friends into a car on a hot summer evening to see the double feature B-flicks at the Gemini Drive-In just north of Forest Lane off of Central, or seeing the 1961 romantic comedy Gidget Goes Hawaiian on a field trip to the Wynnewood Theater in Oak Cliff.
I got sucked in browsing through the listings for closed Dallas theaters, burning away a significant chunk of a day I should have spent working on something else, and not regretting it at all. Cinema Treasures has details on 127 closed Dallas theaters, and 145 overall. (It it is missing an entry for the Forest Theater near Fair Park, if anyone feels equipped to write an update.)
Each theater entry is fascinating, and if you go down the same internet wormhole that I did, keep a lookout for comments from “dallasmovietheaters,” who writes paragraphs and paragraphs on the history of many of these old theaters.
There are great photos of the Washington Theatre, the ostentatious movie palace opened on Elm Street downtown in 1912. The Queen Theater, later known as the Leo, soon followed, along with the Hippodrome—later renamed The Strand and torn down for parking spaces in 1960 Elm Street—and the other establishments that transformed Elm into the city’s historic theater row. The Majestic, which has had its ups and downs, is the only one of those early theaters still standing.
January 24, 2017
From LA Weekly: The restoration of the Orpheum Theatre, followed by an even more high-profile facelift at the Theatre at Ace Hotel, marked the start of a renaissance of sorts for Los Angeles’ many downtown theaters. A number of these dot Broadway, which at one point rivaled its New York counterpart with its cultural offerings. In 2008, Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar started his Bringing Back Broadway initiative, a 10-year plan to revive that particular thoroughfare, many of whose theaters have spent decades either vacant or not used to their full potential. The Bringing Back Broadway initiative has met many of its goals and now showcases Broadway’s renewed glamour once a year in a free street festival: Night on Broadway. In its third year, Night on Broadway has grown from 35,000 attendees in 2015 to 60,000 in 2016. On Saturday, Jan. 28, a mile-long strip of Broadway stretching from 3rd Street to Olympic will be closed off for the festival starting at 4 p.m. and running until 11 p.m. Six of Broadway’s historic theaters occupy this stretch and will host music, art and comedy: the aforementioned Theatre at Ace Hotel and Orpheum, as well as the Globe, the Palace, the Los Angeles and the Million Dollar.
The music is a mixed bag, featuring artists and DJs from Los Angeles staples including KCRW, dublab and Funky Sole as well as the trendsetting sounds and visuals of indie pop label Iamsound and an emerging local artists stage curated by Viva! Presents. Many theaters will have themes specific to their history, such as “Recalling the Golden Age” at the Million Dollar Theatre, with tributes to Pedro Infante, Antonio Aguilar and other stars of classic mariachi music and Mexican cinema. Additionally there are a few outdoor stages, including a main stage at Olympic and Broadway — a first for the festival — featuring headliners Mayer Hawthorne and Oingo Bongo Dance Party, among others.
“We have an eclectic group,” says Huizar. “We want people to experience what they may have seen in these theaters in the past, and what they may expect to see in the future, exposing them to performances they might otherwise not come across, something a little bit out of the ordinary — but always with a connection to what used to be on Broadway.”
From The Malibu Times: Sources say the days are numbered for Malibu’s only movie theater, the two-screen Regal Malibu Twin located in the Malibu Village shopping center — which is a big deal in a town where so many residents work in the movie biz. The 25-year lease the movie theater had enjoyed expired at the end of 2016, and the space will be operating month-to-month until at least the end of June.
In an attempt to rent the space to another movie theater chain, management of the Malibu Village, Jamestown Property Management, has made the contacts, but in the current market, their hands are tied. They say the existing space is simply too small for potential tenants to make any profit, so they’re not getting any bites. The business model for today’s film exhibitors is based on large multiplex or megaplex theater complexes.
“We’ve reached out to a number of tenants in the theater space to replace Regal and there has not been any serious interest given the challenges of operating a small movie theater,” a spokesperson for Jamestown said. “In the meantime, we have reduced Regal’s rent by 75 percent in order to keep them from leaving immediately.”
Jamestown went on to explain, “While the Malibu community does support the theater, Regal has determined that the current business model isn’t financially viable. They don’t get enough patrons and haven’t seen a payback for putting in amenities like reclining seats, new projection equipment, and beer and wine service that many competitor theaters have installed to continue attracting customers.”
From The Record-Eagle: Barbara Abbott and Larry Hauser moved north from Michigan’s capital to the village of Lake Leelanau, where their entertainment options became significantly more limited.
That’s why they’re grateful for the nearby Bay Theatre, one of the only small-town movie theaters in northern Michigan to offer daily films year-round.
“I love The Bay Theatre. Almost all the movies we see, except during the (Traverse City) Film Festival, we see at The Bay,” said Abbott, a retired Michigan State University professor. “We like movies a lot so we go to almost all the movies they have there. Except for ‘Rogue,’ even though it’s supposed to be good. It’s not our kind of movie.”
The couple was among the first to purchase a dual membership to The Bay, which is offering memberships for the first time in its 70-year history. The benefit gives patrons discounts on movies, concessions, special screenings and gift certificates and will give the theater much-needed year-round support.
Five levels of membership range from the basic “8mm” ($50 single, $75 dual) to the ultimate “Director’s Cut” ($800 single, $1,000 dual), which features a private screening for purchasers and 20 of their guests.
Former mid-week specials like “Free Popcorn Tuesdays” now are membership-only benefits.
The one-year memberships are both a way to honor loyal movie-goers and to raise revenue to help the theater pay off its loan for a 2013 digital conversion, make improvements like replacing seats and renovating restrooms and continue to bring in school and after-school groups for educational films — expenses for which nonprofit theaters can fundraise.
The memberships also will help keep movies and concessions affordable.
“We need to stay afloat and be profitable to some degree to keep ourselves moving here but I’ve tried not to raise prices,” said The Bay Managing Director Denise Sica, adding that ticket prices have remained the same since 2008 and that most concessions sell for $3 and under.
“That’s unusual in a small town. Most small-town theaters don’t stay open year-round, and they don’t stay open all week. We want to have that as part of our community. It’s part of life here.”
The theater opened in 1946 and pays tribute to its early years with original wood floors and historic black-and-white photos of the area that show before films. In keeping with its slogan, “Small Town Theatre, World Class Cinema,” it features mainstream, independent and foreign films, including the world-cinema The Bay Film Series. It also hosts concerts, fundraisers and other community and special events.
Abbott and Hauser go to about one movie a week at The Bay but say easing the pocketbook wasn’t the reason they bought a membership.
“We do save money on theater tickets and popcorn, but it was largely to help support The Bay Theatre,” said Abbott, whose regular movie day is Tuesdays.
The theater launched its memberships shortly before Christmas and is offering a total of 275 at the first four levels, plus unlimited “Director’s Cuts.”
“It’s all part of the mix: How can we raise a little revenue but keep our prices low and offer people who come to The Bay a different way of being part of the Bay Theatre,” Sica said.
Springfield, MA – New Springfield RMV opens in former movie theater with technology upgrades, more space and parking
From MassLive: he new Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Office the agency opened Monday in the Springfield Plaza shopping center has more chairs than its predecessor.
The RMV just hopes fewer people need to use them.
“Our goal is to get people in and out,” said Mary Tibma, deputy registrar for external services.
From the North Fork Patch: The movie theater in Greenport could soon be open on weekends in the winter — and the cinema’s owner spoke to Patch this week to describe how the community can make the idea come to life.
Recently, Greenport Village Mayor George Hubbard told a crowd at Peconic Landing that he’d spoken to the theater’s owner Josh Sapan about the possibility of keeping the doors open year-round, at least on weekends.
Hubbard mentioned possible memberships sold to patrons.
Sapan told Patch that he would love to keep the theater open year round. “As long as I can cover the expenses of heat, insurance, and management, I would be delighted,” he said.
Sapan then reached out to describe how the idea could unfold.
“I am very happy to provide the theatre rent free to the community for them to run it outside the summer,” Sapan said. “Our manager, projectionist and staff are hired for the summer, so the community would just need to cover expenses for insurance, heat and the like, and find people to manage the theatre, do the booking, projection and operate the concession,” he said.
Sapan agreed with residents who have enthusiastically embraced the idea on social media, stating that they’d love to have a movie theater to enjoy year-round.
“I have always dreamed of the theatre being open all year,” Sapan said. “The theatre is a passion of mine and I love providing the theatre at no cost to The Maritime Museum for their film showings, to the student film program at no charge for their film exhibition, and working with East End Arts,” he said. “We have an artist exhibit of their work each summer. There have been superb photography exhibitions.”
Last year, for example, an exhibit by the “extraordinary photographer Andrea Tese who has a place on the North Fork,” was featured, he said.
From the Santa Fe New Mexican: The six-screen UA DeVargas movie theater will shut down this month, leaving a hole in both the north-side DeVargas Center mall and the Santa Fe cinema scene that mall management and theater operators say they hope to see filled quickly. The theater’s manager refused repeated requests for comment about the venue’s demise after four decades, referring all questions to Regal Entertainment Group corporate offices in Knoxville, Tenn., where multiple phone messages seeking comment this week went unreturned. But the mall’s property manager, Katy Fitzgerald, confirmed that the DeVargas Center and Regal will part ways soon. The theater’s final screenings, she said, will be Sunday. The DeVargas Center will redevelop the 14,700-square-foot space — which has housed a movie theater since 1977 — over the next six months as part of a larger overhaul intended to make the mall’s exterior facing North Guadalupe Street more pedestrian-friendly, Fitzgerald said. As important, she added, is how a new tenant — not necessarily a theater — will mesh with the mall’s interior, which has been livelier since a flock of local businesses began migrating from Sanbusco Market Center in late 2015 after the New Mexico School for the Arts purchased that complex next to the Railyard. “We loved our theater customers, and we’ll be sad to see that go,” Fitzgerald said, “but I’m not really that concerned as far as how that affects the direction we’ve been heading in with our Sanbusco tenants and with the inside of the mall.” UA DeVargas is the second long-term tenant to leave the DeVargas Center in recent months: Hastings, part of the entertainment-media and books retail chain, went out of business last fall. But the losses won’t stall the mall’s momentum, Fitzgerald said; rather, in her view, those spaces facing North Guadalupe Street are in dire need of rejuvenation. The aim, she said, is to make that area of the mall as “open and inviting and local” as the section that fronts Paseo de Peralta. In diagnosing the demise of the DeVargas theater, several in the local cinema scene identified Violet Crown as a factor. The 11-screen Railyard venue opened in May 2015 and offers a full restaurant menu as well as an extensive beer and wine list. Peter Grendle, general manager at Violet Crown, said his theater and UA DeVargas “split the field” of film options, operating in a middle ground between a major blockbuster atmosphere and one of art-house chic. But the stakes have been raised: Moviegoers now want and expect more from a night out at the movies than the movie itself, he said, and thriving theaters have taken steps to accommodate the changing appetites of their audience. “The rule used to be, ‘Stay home for dinner, go out for entertainment,’” Grendle said. “Now you go out for dinner, stay home for entertainment. … My goal here is to be a hospitality venue, to make the movie theater an experience.” Far from crowing about a competitor’s closure, Grendle nonetheless sounded an optimistic note. “I think it’s a good thing for the little guys, for sure,” Grendle said, referencing The Screen on the Santa Fe University of Art and Design campus where he booked films for nine years before moving to Violet Crown. “It opens the field a little bit. Pretend you have five boxers in a ring, and one gets taken out. Life will change after that. The question on my mind is what is [Regal’s] next step, if any.” The theater chain’s Regal Santa Fe Stadium 14 on the city’s south side is not far from the Santa Fe Place mall, where the company once operated a pair of theaters when that mall was known as Villa Linda. Recent signage there has advertised Regal as a new tenant. However, messages left for Santa Fe Place management asking about any plans to bring a theater back to the shopping center off Rodeo Road were not immediately returned. Grendle said he would dispute the notion that Santa Fe is oversaturated with movie screens. The City Different, he remembers one film distributor telling him, has one of the best box offices in the nation, a market where films that close in one week elsewhere might run for three. Grendle chalks it up to eclectic tastes of the local moviegoing crowd. Jason Silverman, director of Center for Contemporary Arts Cinematheque, agrees that the DeVargas closure is not indicative of the state of moviegoing in Santa Fe. The CCA Cinematheque, for instance, is entering its 35th year, he said, and this past year was its best ever. The DeVargas theater’s disappearance from the local scene won’t much affect that, he said. “We don’t really think about fighting for titles,” Silverman said. “We play the films that we love.” But, Silverman said, “each time there’s a change, each time a venue arrives or leaves, the algorithm changes a little bit.” Elias Gallegos, who works for George R.R. Martin, the local author and owner of the Jean Cocteau Cinema in the Railyard, said the DeVargas closing is “something that we’re all kind of sad to hear about, and, you know, we wonder what’s next for that space.” He went on, “Who knows? Maybe George will be interested in more screens here in town,” referencing Martin’s 2013 purchase and restoration of the single-screen Cocteau. “We never say never here.” Of the seven films screening at UA DeVargas on Tuesday, four (Collateral Beauty, Jackie, Nocturnal Animals and The Eagle Huntress) were available at no other theater in Santa Fe. Mary Peters, on her way into the theater Tuesday to see The Eagle Huntress, said she drives down from Española specifically for UA DeVargas. The selection of films at the Dreamcatcher 10 doesn’t quite do it for her. “Ah, that’s too bad,” she said of the impending closure. “I’m bummed.” After UA DeVargas is gone, she said, “Violet Crown will probably be the next choice.” Anne Steele, bound for The Eagle Huntress with her grandchildren, was crestfallen when asked about the theater’s closing: “Oh, no, I’m really upset.” The UA DeVargas and CCA are her go-to spots, and she doesn’t like the Regal 14 on the city’s south side because she finds the audio there is too loud. The UA DeVargas, she said, has always been a “more humane experience, as opposed to a sensational experience out there.” David Morrell, a Santa Fe author, said that since he and his wife moved to Santa Fe in 1992, they have frequented the DeVargas theater more than any other. “If there was a unique film that we really wanted to see, we knew it would be at DeVargas,” Morrell wrote in an email. “Sad to see it close.”
January 17, 2017
From the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle: No word on how many employees will lose their jobs or if they will be offered work at another Cinemark property, the Tinseltown USA and IMAX in Gates.
The Brighton movie complex stood out from other theaters that offered reserved adult tickets for $12.49, reclining seats and larger format screens. . Four tickets to an evening screening of the animated film Storks at Movies 10 went for about $17.50 last weekend.
From KMVT.com: Charmy LeaVell and her husband bough the Schubert Theatre in Gooding in 2008.
“We heard it was going to be turned into a racquetball court so we made an offer on the building,” LeaVell said.
They held it until 2014, when they formed a nonprofit called Gooding Restoration for Entertainment, Arts and Theatre, or GREAT, Inc. and donated to the organization.
They plan to restore the almost 100-year-old theatre which entered the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
The theatre has seen better days and its age is certainly showing. Frozen water sits in corners, sunlight finds it’s way through cracks and holes and wires hang from the ceiling. This week the basement even flooded.
Then there’s the damage that came from previous owners. When they tried to make the theatre into a place to watch feature films, previous management spray painted over much of the original decorations with black paint.
“A lot of the beauty was covered and we do have to undo a lot of that, we have to undo a lot of damage,” said Diana Rowe, a volunteer with GREAT, Inc.