The latest movie theater news and updates
December 2, 2016
From QNS.com: Downtown Flushing will soon see a brand new movie theater after over 30 years without, according to reports.
The 1.2 million square foot mixed-use development called Tangram — formerly referred to as Two Fulton Street — includes plans for a 34,000 square-foot movie theater.
The massive commercial and residential project at 133-15 39th Ave. between College Point Boulevard and Prince Street is being co-developed by F&T Group and SCG America. Plans currently include four 15 or 16-story buildings which will feature a mix of condominium units, retail and office space, food hall and a three-level parking garage with 1,200 spaces.
The project’s co-developer F&T Group has been active in the Flushing area: the group is working on the huge Flushing Commons project and constructed the nearby One Fulton Square.
From the Ken-Ton Bee: In 1926, the Wurlitzer organ was the heartbeat of sound as a silent film played at the downtown theatre in North Tonawanda.
The theatre, which was first called — and spelled — the Twin Cities Rivera, held its opening night on Dec. 30 of that year.
“And with that opening came the installation of the Wurlitzer,” said Neil Lange, who has been on the board of directors since 1985. “In 1926, there were only silent films; there was no sound that came along with movies. “That didn’t happen ’til the following year. [In] 1927, “The Jazz Singer” was released, which had some talking in it.”
From WTOV-9: The Grand Theatre in downtown Steubenville has seen a massive amount of reconstruction during the past several years.
And a crucial piece of the historical building – it’s stage – was worked on Monday, free of charge, thanks to the folks at Byers Concrete.
“If this place can get rolling, the sky is the limit on what they can do with it,” said Jonathan Byers, owner of the concrete business.
Byers said when he came down and saw what it entailed, he immediately knew he was in.
“This is exciting to me,” he said. “Because the atmosphere walking into this building, the history behind it, and just walking in here, it kind of gives you a different, weird kind of energy."
The theatre has seen a number of volunteers and businesses donate in some fashion during the past 6 years.
“I think without that, we wouldn’t get it done,” said Scott Dressel, president, Grand Theatre Restoration Project. “Especially in a community that has been struggling as hard as Steubenville.”
“Anybody that is interested in putting up about 10,000 square foot of drywall on a ceiling that’s 5/8th thick, we need someone to do that,” Dressel said with a laugh.
Byers hopes, like has, that others will follow suit.
“There’s a lot of people that maybe don’t realize how big of a deal this is,” Byers said. “If this place could get kickin again, it might open up something big down here.
“Little positive things like this, hopefully it’ll boost something bigger, and then it’ll overcast all that negativity that goes on around this area."
If you would like to lend a hand and volunteer at the Grand Theatre, you can contact Dressel at 740-632-2899.
November 30, 2016
From The Providence Journal: The Rhode Island Division of Taxation has approved a $3.1 million in state historic preservation tax credits for the renovation of the Opera House Theater and Performing Arts Center at 19 Touro St. in Newport.
According to the agreement, the renovation is expected to cost $14.5 million and is scheduled for completion in 2018. The tax credits are awarded after work is completed.
The theater was built in 1867 and was originally a four-story building with a mansard roof, according to the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission. The fourth floor was removed in 1957 after a fire at the building next door.
From the Mail Tribune: Supporters of the restoration of the historic Holly Theatre in downtown Medford announced this week the project has received another $300,000 in donations.
Fundraising is continuing, with supporters hoping to bring in enough money to launch major construction in the months ahead.
“I’m excited, because if we’re able to raise about another $500,000 by the end of the year, we’ll be able to start construction in the first quarter of 2017,” said Randy McKay, executive director of Jefferson Live!, the organization in charge of the restoration. “And that means we’ll be able to be open in early 2018 so the community can come back and enjoy this beautiful place that’s been boarded up for the last 30 years.”
The cost of the restoration is estimated at $4.3 million, although updated bid figures are being sought, McKay said.
From The American Press: A restored marquee and a new paint job will soon greet visitors to the historic Strand Theater in downtown Jennings. Work has begun on a $75,000 face-lift project, which is expected to continue through the spring.
“The Strand Theater is our pride and joy on Main Street, and it just needed a face-lift,” said City Project Coordinator Dusty Chaisson.
The theater, built in 1939, still hosts plays, music shows, classic movies, pageants and other events, but was “looking rundown,” said manager Lin Fake.
“We want the public to be proud and see Main Street Jennings for what it was back in the day,” Chaisson said. “We are very proud to try to restore the pride and take care of a historical structure that offers service to the community that so many other cities do not have.”
Not many old historical buildings like the Strand Theater are still being used today, he said. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The old marquee has been removed and is being restored, cracks in the facade are being repaired and windows are being replaced. Crews are also working to repaint the exterior in the theater’s original colors, which were hidden under layers of paint.
“It is going to be a painted lady, like it originally was,” Fake said. The retro colors will include hues of violet, red and yellow.
The theater last underwent renovations just prior to the 1993 Hollywood-style premiere of John Sayles’ “Passion Fish,” which was filmed in the Jennings and Lake Arthur area.
From The Wrap: AMC Entertainment Inc., the parent of AMC Theatres, is now the biggest movie theater chain in the world, after the company announced that it has completed its acquisition of Europe’s Odeon & UCI Cinemas in a $1.2 billion deal.
With the addition of Odeon, Europe’s No. 1 exhibitor, AMC now operates 636 theatres with 7,623 screens across eight countries. AMC intends to rename the chain to Odeon Cinemas Group.
Odeon CEO Paul Donovan will be departing, with former chief financial officer Mark Way becoming president of AMC Europe and managing director of Odeon Cinemas Group. Ian Shepherd has been named executive vice president of AMC Europe and chief operating officer of Odeon Cinemas Group. Odeon will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of AMC, maintaining its headquarters in London.
China’s Dalian Wanda Group — whose founder and CEO Wang Jianlin is China’s richest man — bought AMC for $2.6 billion in 2012, and has continued to expand its theatrical holdings. Wanda operates 187 cinemas in China with 1,657 screens — including 117 Imax theaters. The company is IMAX’s biggest consumer worldwide.
Last month, shareholders of Carmike Cinemas, the U.S.’s fourth largest chain, approved a $1.2 billion offer by AMC to acquire the exhibitor, which would also have made it the world’s biggest even without Odeon & UCI. That deal is pending Justice Department approval.
Wanda’s Hollywood shopping spree has hardly been restricted to movie theaters. This year, the Chinese conglomerate acquired “Jurassic World” production company Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion and Dick Clark Productions for $1 billion.
November 29, 2016
From the Sonoma News: Sonoma filmgoers can look forward to sequels, spinoffs and retro classics for years to come at the Sebastiani Theatre on the Plaza. At the Sonoma City Council meeting on Nov. 21, the City of Sonoma and the foundation that operates the theater entered into a 25-year lease with the owners of the building, with an option for an additional 25 years.
The five-member Council approved the lease agreement unanimously.
“We’ve worked for five years on this,” said Darryl Bellach, president of the Sebastiani Theatre Foundation, adding the 50-year commitment “will allow the efforts of the Foundation, and the City, and all of those involved to shepherd the theater into the foreseeable future.”
Since 2011, the City has been renting the 84-year-old movie palace from Oakland-based Sebastiani Building Investors, then subleasing it at a lower price to the Sebastiani Theatre Foundation, which operates the facility.
Under that model the rent for the theater increased against the Consumer Price Index, a sometimes volatile measure that sent rental rates up to its current $5,426 per month. In 1986 when the City started leasing the building, the rate was $3,000 monthly. The new lease holds annual rent increases to a predictable 2 percent.
Longtime theater manager Roger Rhoten spoke at the Monday meeting about his 25 years at the Sebastiani. “We want to keep and maintain the theater for future generations,” said Rhoten, who described the lease as the start of a “new era.”
“We want to improve the theater top to bottom and bring new and exciting programming to the theater.”
The City was also granted the right of first refusal in the event of the theater being sold, an added assurance that Sonoma will maintain some degree of control over the fate and use of the historic building. The Art Deco structure dominates the Plaza on First Street East, and was the last theater designed by noted Bay Area architect James W. Reid, who with his brother, designed many of Northern California’s most luxurious movie theaters as well as hotels and other large buildings.
Key to the new agreement is the condition that the theater must be upgraded to Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliance, which pleased Jeanne Allen. “For 16 years I’ve been going to the Sebastiani for movies and events – and for 16 years I haven’t been able to use the bathroom,” said Allen, creator of the regional Incredible Accessible guides.
Allen added that it would take more than providing bathroom access to bring the theater into ADA compliance: a ramp or lift is needed to provide access to the stage, 1 percent of the seating must have companion seating, and another 1 percent must be aisle seats with no arm rests or, at least, folding armrests.
“It’s important that an active wheelchair user be involved in the design,” urged Allen, who volunteered to be that person.
Attaining ADA compliance has been a major stumbling block en route to getting a food and beverage license, as the model of serving wine or beer with movies has become increasingly popular in recent years. Such an upgrade is planned for the Sonoma Cinemas, at the recently-sold Fiesta Plaza on Sonoma Highway.
“It’s a big thing in movie theaters these days,” Rhoten has said. “If I could, I’d have done it a long time ago.”
From The Hololulu Civil Beat: The Queen Theater’s neon marquee has been dark for years, its double doors shuttered.
Some people would love to see the venerable Kaimuki venue reopen for live shows or classes and have even formed a Friends of Queen Theater organization.
But the theater’s reclusive owner, Narciso Yu Jr., is said to be reluctant to sell the space.
Once a neighborhood anchor at the corner of Waialae Avenue and Center Street, the Queen is now the quietest building on the lively block.
In bygone decades, it screened Disney cartoons, surf films and porn flicks, and its history is as quirky as Kaimuki’s business district.
From the Times-Tribune: The Iron Horse Movie Bistro won’t be open in time for the new “Star Wars” release Dec. 16, but the return of the downtown Scranton movie theater shouldn’t be too far away.
Phoenix Theatres Entertainment expects to reopen the former Marquee Cinemas 8 in the first quarter of 2017, said Joe Gibbons, a spokesman for Marketplace at Steamtown developer John Basalyga.
The timeline for the rebirth of the eight-theater complex into a luxury establishment with bistro-style food, alcohol and squishy red leather recliners moved back a few times from the original target of the first half of 2016 amid engineering and millwork manufacturing delays.
Carl Scartelli, superintendent for Eco Trade Construction overseeing the $4 million renovation, expected the remodeling work to wrap up in the second week of December.
Mr. Scartelli led The Times-Tribune on a brief tour of the building amid a flurry of activity as roughly 20 contractors painted walls, installed carpeting and tiles, worked on finishing ceilings and continued adding curtains and speakers.
Keph Construction crews, who specialize in movie theater projects all over the country, worked on setting up Theater 1, which Project Manager Charlie Harrison described as the facility’s prime auditorium with 22 speakers.
“This would be where their mega-blockbusters play,” Mr. Harrison said. “You’re going to have a much better experience with the surround sound. They’ll have upgraded seating. These are love seats. If you’re on a date, you can raise the arm rest and scoot your honey right next to you. The silver screen is a 3-D screen. Everything is upgraded. They’re making the theater experience like a ride in a theme park.”
Once construction is done, Phoenix Theatres will still need to set up the kitchen, hire staff and train the workers, which is why Mr. Gibbons said the opening of the theaters at the intersection of Penn and Lackawanna avenues will come early next year.
“This is exciting,” Mr. Gibbons said. “We see this as a corner that all of a sudden is going to have an incredible amount of life.”
Mr. Gibbons spoke about the movie complex in the context of Delta Medix and Luzerne County Community College occupying space in the mall, the planned opening of the Scranton Public Market in the near future and more retailers moving in.
Mr. Gibbons highlighted the recent return of eclectic gift boutique La Ti Da to the mall, along with Pink Shades by Kimberly, a women’s clothing store targeting 18- to 35-year-olds, scheduled to open Thursday.