The latest movie theater news and updates

  • June 22, 2016

    Benton, AR – City of Benton moves forward with renovation plans for Palace Theater

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    From KATV: Tuesday the Benton City Council held a special community meeting to discuss the future of the historic Palace Theater in downtown Benton.

    There were three different proposals given, lots of discussion from council members, and a final outcome to have the city finance committee review the plan.

    After three years of questions about the future of the theater, the council unanimously voted to approve the money for stabilization of the building through the finance committee. They decided to ask for $175,000 to renovate the theater.

    “It hasn’t been pleasant, but we’re finally getting back to common census prevailing,” David Mattingly, Mayor of Benton, said.

    All three proposals include the city investing in the asbestos abatement, fixing the roof and doing minor work on the mortar. The council voted to get that approved, and decided if that’s approved they will put the building up for auction once its deemed safe.

    “Maybe we can hold an auction before Christmas and we’ll have a little bit of party and a present for everybody,” Mattingly said.

    The new owner will be in charge of maintaining it and the rest of the cost.

  • June 21, 2016

    Duluth, MN – An old Duluth theater is finally getting a $30M makeover

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    From Bring Me The News: It’s been a long time coming, but next week marks the start of the highly-anticipated restoration of Duluth’s NorShor Theatre.

    The Duluth City Council announced Friday that the $30.5 million project restoring the 100-plus year old arts venue will get underway.

    The art-deco venue – which over its illustrious history has showcased artists including Charlie Chaplin and Duluth’s own “Trampled By Turtles” – will be revamped to “improve visitor experiences, accessibility, expand programs and sustain the theatre into its next century.”

    It marks the end of a 5-year saga to find funding for the project, with the pieces of the puzzle finally falling into place last September.

  • June 20, 2016

    Worcester, MA – Owner of former Paris Cinema wants to demolish building

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    From The Telegram: One of the buildings targeted for demolition by the Worcester Redevelopment Authority, as part of its Downtown Urban Revitalization Plan, could come down much sooner than envisioned.

    The owner of the former Paris Cinema, 66-70 Franklin St., has petitioned the Historical Commission for a waiver to the city’s demolition delay ordinance, which puts a one-year hold on tearing down historical buildings.

    In its application, Quincy-based Worcester Park Plaza LLC indicated that it wants to demolish the vacant 90-year-old, three-story brick and concrete building because of its “severe structural deterioration.”

    The building is said to have code violations, as well as health and safety issues.

    The Fire Department has placed an “X” sign on the front of the building, which has been closed since 2006, to warn firefighters that it is unsafe.

    Bolton & DiMartino Inc., local consulting structural engineers, said they have found the exterior brick of the building to be in poor condition and said it needs to be rebuilt at severely deteriorated areas because of a lack of maintenance for decades.

    It also found the interior of the building to be in poor condition, with significant deterioration from water infiltration and lack of maintenance.

    “Based on our limited review of the existing conditions, it is our professional opinion that the Paris Cinema is structurally compromised and presents safety concerns in its current condition,” wrote Christopher Tutlis, an engineer with the firm.

    “We recommend limiting access to the theater due to falling finishes, and concerns of the integrity of the floors, roof and stairs,” he added.

    As part of its application, the company indicated that one of the reasons it is seeking a demolition delay waiver is economic hardship.

    The Historical Commission is scheduled to take up the petition for a waiver at its meeting on June 30.

    Before then, representatives of the building owner are supposed to meet with staff from the city Division of Planning and Regulatory Services to provide additional information on the need for the waiver.

    Because the building is listed on the Massachusetts Cultural Resources Information System, it is subject to the demolition delay ordinance.

    The purpose of the ordinance is to delay demolition for up to 12 months so there could be additional time to explore alternative uses for a historic building or a new owner for it.

    The Historical Commission can waive the ordinance, however, if the owner is able to prove that a building’s demolition will not negatively impact the historical or architectural resources or the city, or that it would cause an undue economic hardship to keep the building up for another year.

    There are actually three buildings on the parcel at 66-70 Franklin St. – the former Paris Cinema and two brick buildings with frontage on Portland Street.

    While the movie theater portion of the building is three stories in height, the buildings with frontage on Portland Street are up to five stories tall. Those buildings will be left in place when the theater portion of the building is demolished.

  • Bellefontaine, OH – Bellefontaine theatre plans restorations

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    From The Springfield News-Sun: A local theatre is moving forward with plans for a $1.2 million restoration project after being awarded a grant for historic preservation.

    The Holland Theatre, 127 E Columbus Ave., Bellefontaine, originally opened in 1931. It’s the only remaining Dutch themed theatre in the country, said Kris Swisher, president of Logan County Landmark Preservation.

    “We’re going back to the original look,” Swisher said.

    Swisher recently learned the theatre was awarded a $430,000 grant from the Jeffris Family Foundation for historical preservation.

    “They believed in this theatre because of the very uniqueness and the small town atmosphere here,” she said.

    To receive the funds, Swisher said, the theatre has to raise $860,000 in the next three years.

    “We will be selling seats for community involvement,” she said. “And approaching businesses in the community to sponsor buildings.”

    The restorations will include all new seats in the theatre, architect Karen Beasley said, as well as repairs to the building facades that frame the stage.

    “This is a great thing for our community to have,” Beasley said.

    Beasley and Swisher believe the funds will be raised in time.
    “We have confidence that we won’t let you down and we’ll go forward with this,” Swisher said.

    The restorations will begin as soon as the money is raised, Swisher said.

  • June 17, 2016

    Logan, UT – Utah Theatre To Open After a Decade Of Restoration

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    From upr.org: When Michael Ballam, the founding general director of the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre, came home from sabbatical in Italy 10 years ago, he saw the Utah Theatre at 18 W. Center St. – closed at the time – and knew instantly he wanted to reopen it.

    His vision was it would be something for everyone. “It’s going to be a unique theater in Northern Utah,” Ballam said. “It will be able to do things that we cannot do in the (Ellen) Eccles Theatre or any other theater north of Salt Lake City, and this will allow us to do essentially any kind of performance imaginable.” The Utah Theatre used to show movies only. In its restoration, however, the plan is to host performances, organ concerts, silent and classic films. Restoration of the theater began in 2006 with the hope of completing it by 2008. However, as crews put more effort into the restoration, they realized more work needed to be done.

    While they were digging a pit for an organ chamber to make room for a 1930’s Wurlitzer organ, crews hit a lot of water 11 feet down, a couple hundred of gallons a minute, UFOMT Managing Director Gary Griffin said.

    The UFOMT then put in extra expenses for the organ so it could withstand the flow. “We poured four-and-a-half feet of reinforced concrete underwater, put a membrane, poured the walls and then pumped the water out, and put another membrane,” Griffin said. “So that organ chamber is setting in about four feet of water.” Ballam said he hopes people who visit the theater realize what a jewel box it is. To show its capability, the Utah Theatre’s first performance will be “Peter Pan,” a performance Ballam said will demonstrate freedom, youth and magic – all qualities of the restored Utah Theatre. d more. Ballam said the theater will not play movies that are playing in nearby cinemas because they don’t want to arouse concerns of competition.

  • St. Paul, MN – New theaters Strike and North Garden rush to open renovated spaces

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    From citypages.com: If all goes according to plan, two new theaters will have opened their doors in the Twin Cities by the time we see our next snowfall. Both will be small, but — their founders hope — essential to their communities. advertisement

    On West Seventh Street in St. Paul, Ryan and Tina North have just saved a historic theater from the wrecking ball. The Garden Theater originally opened exactly 100 years ago as a movie house, but hasn’t been used for entertainment since the 1960s.

    Ryan North says that last year, the city told the previous owner the severely deteriorated building would have to be torn down unless a viable renovation plan was put into place soon. “You could stand where our center stage is going to be,” he recalls, “and look up and see the sky.”

    The Norths, a married couple with a long history in the local theater scene, came up with a plan: They bought the building and will reopen it this fall as North Garden Theater. After renovations, the venue will be a flexible space with the capacity to accommodate an audience of about 150.

    “Tina and I have a couple of ideas,” says Ryan on the shows they’d like to produce in the theater themselves, “but we hope to mostly make it available for all of the nomadic performers and artists and groups who need a space.”

    With the newly opened Schmidt Artist Lofts right across the street, the neighborhood is experiencing a renaissance. “The West Seventh neighborhood has extreme potential,” says Ryan. “It’s already a great, cool little neighborhood, but we think it’s about to just pop.”

  • June 16, 2016

    New Orleans, LA – New Orleans’ historic Carver Theater, recently renovated, is up for sale

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    From theadvocate.com: Two years after undergoing a full renovation intended to bring back its glory days of more than a half-century ago, the Carver Theater is up for sale.

    Along with the well-known landmark itself, the $5.5 million asking price — about half of what was spent restoring the theater, which has no fixed seating but holds 925 people — includes additional properties that are both developed and undeveloped. Altogether, they span more than a block along Orleans Avenue.

    The Carver Theater opened in a segregated New Orleans in 1950 as a moviehouse for black New Orleanians and was converted to a medical clinic in the 1980s. The clinic largely treated residents of the nearby Lafitte housing development.

    Dr. Eugene Oppman, an optometrist, began leasing an office in the building in 1987. He bought it four years later and oversaw its renovation.

    Since it reopened in 2014, the theater has hosted a mix of public and private events, including wedding receptions and musical performances.

    Mayor Mitch Landrieu delivered his State of the City address there last year. More recently, Snoop Dogg performed a late-night show there during Jazz Fest. In addition to the 17,613-square-foot theater, the properties up for sale include a vacant two-story, 3,232-square-foot commercial building and a two-story, 4,020-square-foot commercial building that houses a bakery and a barbershop that are both leased until early 2019, according to Richard Stone, a broker with NAI/Latter & Blum Commercial in New Orleans.

    The offering also includes four undeveloped lots.

    “This property package is being offered at far below the acquisition and renovation costs,” Latter & Blum said in materials marketing the sale, “and represents a tremendous opportunity to acquire a local landmark with major historical and cultural significance.”

    Oppman, 55, began considering selling the theater about eight months ago, he said Wednesday, and recently decided that it was “time to just move on.”

  • June 15, 2016

    N. Tonawanda, NY: Historic Riviera Theatre selects Foit-Albert Associates for theater expansion, development project

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    From wnypapers.com: The Historic Riviera Theatre and Performing Arts Center has selected award-winning Foit-Albert Associates to design the regionally significant Riviera Theatre expansion and development project, which is designed to set the stage for future generations to enjoy the venue.

    Foit-Albert Associates will design a 23,000-square-foot addition in the rear of the theater on a fully remediated brownfield site that will enable the Riviera Theatre to increase the number and type of events offered. The project increases accessibility, includes general upgrades that will benefit patrons and performers, positively influences the theater’s economic impact on the downtown and region, and establishes new and sustainable revenue sources.

    “We are excited to move forward with an architectural partner with extensive experience in the design of new buildings and the restoration of existing facilities that will help us set the stage for an expansion that not only functions and looks great, but also compliments our history and community,” said Gary J. Rouleau, Riviera Theatre co-director.

  • Adrian, MI – Adrian’s Croswell Opera House gets $2.5 million gift

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    From NBC24.com: Michigan’s oldest theater, in Adrian, has received a hefty gift to help renovate the 150-year-old building.

    The city’s historic Croswell Opera House has been given a $2.5 milion gift from Adrian-native Julianne Argyros and her husband, George. It is the single largest donation in the organization’s history and will be used to bring new life to the one of the oldest continuously operating theaters in the United States.

    “The broad base of public support for this campaign is really what helped us demonstrate its viability,” said Croswell board president Emory Schmidt. “None of this could have happened without the incredible support we have received from our community.”

    The Croswell launched a $7.2 million capital campaign to raise money for renovations in 2015. Before Argyros' generous donation, the opera house had raised just short of $5.2 million. The new gift puts them over the top in its fundraising efforts.

  • June 14, 2016

    Elizabethton, TN – Bonnie Kate Theatre to be purchased by the city

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    From WCYB.com: An effort to save a historic theater is now one step closer to reality. The Elizabethton City council voted unanimously Thursday night to purchase the Bonnie Kate Theatre.

    The Elizabethton/Carter County Community Foundation gave the city $111,000 to make the purchase. Plans are to make it a performing arts center. They already have a tenet to place a bakery and restaurant in the theater as well.

    John Huber has been leading the fight for the theater.

    “It’s a diamond in the rough. I see such potential for it, and it just needs somebody to lead it to that potential,” Huber said.

    The purchase should be completed in a few days. Then, a business plan will be made, and the restoration process will begin.

    The city is also considering purchasing the gravel lot next door to the Bonnie Kate for approximately $20,000.