The latest movie theater news and updates

  • December 28, 2016

    Russell, KS – Keeping the dream alive at historic theater

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    From The Hays Daily News: Like a scene out of the 1950s, bikes and scooters leaned against the front of the Dream Theater in Russell, 629 N. Main, as children raced inside with friends to spend their afternoon eating popcorn and enjoying a picture show earlier this month.

    With the holidays in mind, the Russell Knights of Columbus Council No. 3034 was sponsoring a free Christmas movie that afternoon — “The Polar Express.”

    The theater originally opened in 1923 as Main Street Theater. In 1947, the theater burned down and was reopened in 1949 as Dream Theater. It was owned by the same family, the Danielsons, from prior to the fire to approximately 1982 or ’83.

    After that, the theater was sold to a chain in Missouri, and changed hands a few more times.

    The Russell Arts Council, which is a non-profit, 501©(3), took ownership of the theater in 2000.

    “It was reopened in 1949 after the fire, pretty much as you see it today,” said Steve Wells, president of the theater board and former board member of the Russell Arts Council for many years.

    The theater was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in March 2006.

    “It is operated totally by volunteers, 100 percent,” Wells said. “The only people that get paid are those that do the cleaning.”

    The volunteers include eight board members who commit to working — two members each Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday night — as well as community volunteers and civic organizations.

    Revenue comes mainly from the box office and concession sales.

    “You don’t make a lot of money on ticket sales,” Wells said. “Mainly from concessions and pre-show advertising. But we’re not trying to make money; we’re just trying to cover our costs.”

    The theater does take donations and has received memorials in the past.

    Recently, the Russell County Area Community Foundation provided funds to put in closed-captioning equipment and new handrails. It also helped pay for a portion of the new carpet.

    The new carpet that was installed in November is an exact recreation of the original 1949 carpet.

    “We went to Myers Furniture down the street and looked at some new options, and they just weren’t right for this art deco building,” Wells said.

    They sent a sample of the original carpet from the basement to a mill in Dalton, Ga., and they recreated the original style and color.

    All of the woodwork, light fixtures and ironwork are original. Even the original box office is used to sell tickets.

    Since 2000, other improvements include all new seats — 254 of them — including five luxury seats, new carpet, handrails, renovations to the marquee, new sound cloth on the walls of the theater and the theater upgraded to digital projection and 3D capabilities.

    “In fact, we went digital before Hays, Salina and Great Bend,” Wells said.

    They also built a stage so the theater could be used for other community events. The Russell Arts Council recently hosted a “Russell’s Got Talent” community talent show Dec. 1 at the theater.

    A non-denominational church, Olive Branch Chapel, is using the theater Wednesday nights and Sundays until they raise the funds to build their own worship space.

    The space even has been rented out for weddings.

    Scott and Jamie Schneider were married at the theater in May 2003.

    “There were a couple reasons we chose the theater,” Scott Schneider said. “We thought it would be a unique location, and we used the screen to play a slideshow of our children.”

    Schneider said the concession stand was open during the wedding, and guests were eating popcorn and slurping sodas as the Schneiders said their vows.

    A new movie usually comes in once a week that plays from Friday through Monday night, with additional special showings on some Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

    Wells said they look at what is showing well nationally when deciding which movies to get, and they also invite people to suggest movies through their website.

    Mondays are Senior Night, and seniors get a discounted admission price, while every Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. from Thanksgiving to the end of the year features a free children’s movie courtesy of About You Realty, Russell. One Sunday a month features a classic film.

    “I’ve always grown up knowing the theater, as has Traci (Wieger), the other co-owner,” said Kendra Trueblood, About You Realty. “It’s just a passion of the community to continue the theater and those efforts so the kids can enjoy it. People just really love it.”

    In fact, the motto of the theater is “Keep the Dream Alive.”

    “It’s very well-supported,” Wells said. “I think that has to do with our prices, but also community pride. We couldn’t do all the upgrades we’ve done without community support.”

    Wells stated the theater also belongs to the Kansas Historical Theater Association, which allows them to attend different venues every quarter to learn from and share information with other historic theaters.

    Dream Theater is not only well-supported by the local community, but it draws crowds from other towns as well.

    “Before Hays and Great Bend went digital, we were getting those people,” Wells said. “And we still do get those people just because no one can touch our concession prices.”

    Two large drinks and a large popcorn is only $8.

    Ticket prices are $6 for adults and $4 for children. It is only a dollar more for a 3D movie, where many theaters charge $3 more.

    For more information about Dream Theater and upcoming movies, find it on Facebook or visit dreamtheater.org.

    On Dec. 4, as families snuggled up in the historic theater enjoying “The Polar Express,” the magic of Christmas and the cinema came to life.

    The characters in the movie watched Santa’s sleigh, pulled by his reindeer, fly off into the starry sky to deliver presents to the children of the world.

    One of the children, her eyes full of wonder, whispered, “It’s everything I ever dreamed of.”

  • December 23, 2016

    Bloomington, MN – Mall of America to close movie theater this year

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    From KARE11.com: The Mall of America will close its movie theaters next week to make room for a new “entertainment experience,” according to mall officials.

    The 14-screen theater has been a fixture of the mall, which has owned the space for the last eight years, occupying a large portion of the fourth floor. Previous to the mall’s ownership, it was a General Cinema theater.

    Here’s the full statement released by the Mall of America on Thursday: Over the past 24 years Mall of America has continually transformed, evolved and refreshed itself. After a successful eight-year run, Theatres at Mall of America will close at the end of day on December 28, 2016 to make way for a new, first-to-market entertainment venue which will open in late 2017. All current theatre employees remain a valuable part of our team and have been offered positions within Mall of America. More information on the new venue will be released in early January. The Theatres at MOA also confirmed the news earlier this week, replying to fans on Twitter asking why the theater wasn’t showing the new “Star Wars: Rogue One.”

  • Sag Harbor, NY – UPDATE: In Sag Harbor, Spirit Trumps Fire As Recovery Gets Underway

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    From the East End Beacon: Now is the winter of Sag Harbor’s discontent made glorious by the spirit of its people.

    Amid the chunks of fire debris still swirling in puddles throughout this bayside village this weekend, there were signs, already, that the community was feeling stronger for having pulled together through last Friday’s devastating fire.

    Shoppers packed Main Street Sunday, bags brimming with Christmas gifts in hand, pausing briefly to gaze at the remains of the Sag Harbor Cinema, demolished over the weekend after its front wall began sagging toward the street, hugging each other tenderly and making plans for holiday celebrations.

    The iconic Sag Harbor Cinema sign, which the community had banded together to recreate about a decade ago, was delicately removed as the façade was demolished by a track excavator from Keith Grimes, Inc. Friday night. It has been stored for safekeeping by Twin Forks Moving & Storage.

  • Monon, IN – Renovations aimed at bringing Monon Theatre back to its original glory

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    From WLFI.com: A historical movie theater is being restored back to its original beauty.

    Standing for nearly eight decades, the Monon Theatre has served as a hub for local entertainment in the town. The theater was built in 1938, after both of the town’s movie theaters burned down.

    After closing its doors more than 10 years ago, the building has since started deteriorating. With hopes of restoring it back to its old glory, the Monon Civic Preservation Society purchased the building in 2013.

    “We are very excited, and enthusiastic and appreciative of all the support that we’ve had from former residents and locals and businesses,” preservation secretary Julie Gutwein said.

    The group has since raised more than $100,000 through fundraising, which helps pay for much needed upgrades and improvements.

    Gutwein said she hopes to see the theater bustling with business once again.

    “We have a lot going on in the community but there’s not an entertainment center – nothing for the young people,” said Gutwein.

    Recently, the Tippecanoe Arts Federation presented the group with a $42,500 grant to pay for a new exterior marquee, which will be placed at the theater’s entrance.

    Preservation president Dave Stimmel said he’s excited to see a piece of the town’s history slowly being brought back to life.

    “We hope to be having events here, centered around the theater,” said Stimmel. “We think we can get some live entertainment in since we’ve got a venue to do that with.”

    Stimmel said overall, the project will cost around $1.5 million.

    As far as a timeline, Stimmel said, “We’d hope in a couple more years, we should be able to be having an open house and open the doors. We’re hoping.”

    Stimmel said the marquee is currently being built in Delphi.

    If all goes as planned, the sign should be up by next spring.

  • Leawood, KS – Regulators: AMC Can Buy Smaller Movie-Theater Chain Carmike

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    From ABC News: Federal regulators gave conditional approval Tuesday to movie-theater chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.’s $1.2 billion buyout of smaller rival Carmike Cinemas Inc., making AMC the biggest U.S. movie theater operator.

    The U.S. Department of Justice said its approval hinges on Leawood, Kansas-based AMC selling theaters in 15 local markets in nine states where it competes with Carmike.

    AMC also has to divest most of its holdings in National CineMedia, a cinema advertising company, and transfer 24 theaters to a rival theater ad company, Screenvision LLC.

    The Justice Department said the deal, which requires court approval, would lead to higher prices for moviegoers without such conditions.

    AMC, which was bought by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group in 2012, called Tuesday’s action “the final regulatory hurdle” in its push for Carmike, adding in a statement that it expects to complete the transaction “expeditiously.” It did not elaborate.

    “Needless to say, we are in a good mood in Leawood, Kansas,” Adam Aron, AMC’s chief executive and president, said during a conference call Tuesday with reporters and analysts. “Today is a glorious day and another great day for AMC.”

    Aron said 15 to 20 theaters would be sold off, most all of them from the Carmike network.

    AMC, already the world’s biggest theater operator, operated roughly 388 theaters with a total of 5,295 screens in 33 states and the District of Columbia as of the end of September. Its U.S. box office revenues were about $1.9 billion last year.

    Carmike, based in Columbus, Georgia, has 271 theaters with a combined 2,917 screens in 41 states. Carmike’s 2015 U.S. box office revenues were roughly $490 million.

    The local markets where AMC must sell off theaters are in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

    The deal includes $585 million in cash and $250 million in AMC’s Class A common stock. AMC is also assuming about $367 million in debt in the deal.

    AMC shares rose 25 cents to $33.45 on Tuesday. Shares of Carmike closed at $33.40, up 15 cents.

  • December 22, 2016

    Atlanta, GA – Atlanta’s Fox Theatre to be subject of Georgia Public Broadcasting documentary

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    From the Atlanta Business Journal: The Fox Theatre is as entrenched in Atlanta history as The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) and “Gone with the Wind.”

    And on Dec. 25 at 7 p.m., the venue will be the subject of a documentary airing on Georgia Public Broadcasting in celebration of the 87th anniversary of the Fox’s 1929 sold-out Christmas Day opening for the premier of Disney’s first cartoon starring Mickey Mouse, “Steamboat Willie.”

  • December 20, 2016

    Meeker, CO – Personal recollections of a small-town movie theater

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    From the Rio Blanco Herald Times: Meeker’s first movie theater, the “Princess,” came to Meeker with the building of the Rio Theatre by Harlan Coulter in 1920. When Glen B. and Dixie Wittstruck purchased the theater in 1936, it was renamed the Rio Theatre, possibly reflecting the Spanish name for river, since the White River was an icon of the town and county.

  • Washington, NC – Carmike Cinema 7 in Washington now closed

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    From WITN.com: A movie theater in the east has closed its doors after 40 years in business.

    Carmike Cinema 7, located on Washington St. in Washington, announced on their facebook page today that they are closed.

    Officials with the theater say they were not allowed to advertise the closing and that it did come as a surprise to all who worked there.

    Cinema 7 officials say while a Carmike Theatre won’t return to Washington, they are in talks with an independent theatre company that they hope will take over.

    In the message Cinema 7 thanked everyone for their 40 years of patronage and have high hopes that they will reopen, in the meantime, the Carmike Cinema Theatre in Greenville remains open.

  • Johnson City, NY – Stage is Set for Revival of Johnson City’s Historic Goodwill Theatre Building

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    From TWCNEWS.com: The former Goodwill Theatre, a nearly century-old building in Johnson City that’s sat vacant for almost 50 years, is set to receive $500,000 from New York State’s latest Regional Economic Development Council awards, but before the theater can cash in, they need to raise enough money to match the award.

  • December 17, 2016

    Sag Harbor, NY – Historic Sag Harbor Cinema Burns, Facade Demolished

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    From Southampton Patch: Sag Harbor Fire: Historic Theater ‘Gutted,’ Community Vows to Rise From Ashes

    Fire swept through the heart of Sag Harbor Village in the icy pre-dawn hours Friday, damaging at least four shops and an iconic, historic movie theater on Main Street.

    Friday afternoon, firefighters continued to douse the rekindled ruins of the Sag Harbor Cinema, where all that remains is the four walls and the facade, fire officials said. “It’s gutted. It’s basically gone,” a fire department official told Patch.

    “The roof is completely gone. You can look from the front of the building right out through the back,” Sag Harbor Fire Department officials said.

    The fire is believed to have started on the back deck Friday morning; the fire is still under investigation by the fire marshal.

    Both buildings on either side of the movie theater were lost or severely damaged, as was the south side of the shopping mall, fire officials said.

    Flames and heavy smoke spread rapidly to at least five businesses on the street.

    Cars were still not allowed down Main Street in Sag Harbor Friday afternoon.

    According to the Sag Harbor Fire Department, the fire broke out at 6:14 a.m. near the Sag Harbor Cinema, with brutal winds and freezing temperatures posing challenges for firefighters who, covered in ice, battled the blaze.

    But despite the widespread devastation and damage to property, no one was injured, the Sag Harbor Fire Department said.

    Residents turned to social media to document the devastating scene they witnessed:

    “I can barely hold my phone. It’s 22 degrees out,” wrote resident Tanya Malott, who lives close to the fire, on Facebook early Friday morning. “I saw flames shooting 20 feet in the air. The streets are covered in ice. The wind is blowing hard and the entire East Hampton side of Sag Harbor is covered in smoke. This is such a tragedy for Sag Harbor.”

    She added, “I saw fireman covered in ice. The streets are covered in ice and salt. The guys who are fighting this are amazing.”

    Full story, photo gallery: http://patch.com/new-york/southampton/firefighters-battling-massive-blaze-near-sag-harbor-movie-theater