The latest movie theater news and updates

  • July 7, 2016

    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.”

  • Baltimore, MD – Baltimore City considering plans to tear down the back of the Mayfair Theatre

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    From Virtual Heritage: In mid June, Baltimore City posted a emergency condemnation and demolition notice on the front of the Mayfair Theater at 506 North Howard Street. The city, which owns the ornately-detailed 1903 building, is considering a plan to tear down the back portion of the theater where the auditorium was located and retain the front facade and front house. In 1998, the auditorium roof collapsed into the basement and the back portion of the building has remained unsecured and exposed to the elements for nearly two decades since. In contrast, the Mayfair’s front house is about thirty-five feet deep and city engineers have concluded that its roof is tight and it is structurally solid.

  • June 27, 2016

    Clifton Forge, VA – Raising the curtain on Historic Masonic Theatre

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    From the Roanoke Times:
    The old stage had to go.

    Workers inside the Historic Masonic Theatre on Main Street in Clifton Forge pried up dry-rotted boards. At least 10 feet above them, pallets dangled from new rigging. The boxes on those pallets contained the new stage curtains, held in suspense until crews finished the unplanned replacement of the stage floor.

    Renovations tend to come with surprises. This one, though inconvenient, wasn’t going to keep the 110-year-old theater from being ready for its July 1 grand reopening.

    Seven years ago, a determined group of residents set up the Masonic Theatre Preservation Foundation to restore the crumbling theater to life. This month, the $6.5 million construction project is nearly done.

    “It’s not an end. It’s just a beginning,” said John Hillert, the retiree from the insurance industry who started the push to save the theater.

    The grand reopening will include big-band music by the Sway Katz and Americana rock from the Scott Miller Trio, a screening of “The Wizard of Oz,” and tours of the theater, which promoters dub an “architectural treasure.”

    “It’s a remarkable project,” said theater executive director Jeff Stern. “You can feel the love, the desire from the community, in the building when you walk into it. It’s a meaningful part of Clifton Forge and the history of this region.”

    The reopening of the theater launches the most ambitious piece of a concerted effort to recast the 3,884-population town, once home to a major maintenance shop for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, as a hub for creativity and a picturesque destination for tourists. The theater is intended to serve as the crowning jewel of a small downtown with shops, restaurants and galleries all in walking distance.

    “We’re very proud of what’s happening up here,” said Clifton Forge town manager Darlene Burcham.

  • June 23, 2016

    Waterville, ME – Waterville Opera House celebrating 114th birthday Thursday

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    From centralmaine.com: When the Waterville Opera House opened on June 23, 1902, patrons were so eager to attend the dedication ceremony that they filled the 925-seat theater, lobby and stairs and spilled out onto Castonguay Square.

    Over the ensuing years, the grand theater on the second floor of City Hall would become a gathering place for all kinds of entertainment, including plays and musical performances, ballet, touring shows, community meetings, celebrations, and film.

    Thursday, on its 114th birthday, the 800-seat Opera House continues to serve those functions and provides space for children’s theater programs, broadcasts from the National Theatre in London, the Bolshoi Ballet and Metropolitan Opera, and hosts film screenings and receptions for the Maine International Film Festival.

    Diane Bryan, executive director of the Opera House for 12 years, is excited about what the future holds.

    “The Waterville Opera House has been the gathering place for arts, culture and community for 114 years,” Bryan said Wednesday. “As caretakers, we hope to position the Opera House to shine brightly for at least the next 114 years. We are so grateful that the community has embraced this grand space and that we are part of the exciting resurgence of downtown Waterville.”

    Nathan Towne, marketing manager for Waterville Creates!, which promotes arts and culture in the Waterville area, grew up in Waterville and performed as a teenager on the Opera House stage. He said he looks at that stage every day and it gives him a sense of hope and pride — “pride in what Waterville has managed to keep alive and vital over the last 20 years of change, as well as hope that what we are building here together in Waterville as part of the revitalization process will continue to delight and inspire future generations to greatness.”