The latest movie theater news and updates

  • October 5, 2016

    Hollywood, CA – Followup: Vendor Carts Removed From Front of Historic TCL Chinese Theatre Following Social Media Controversy


    From The Hollywood Reporter: A rep for TCL declines to comment, but known Los Angeles documentarian Alison Martino celebrates a victory for Hollywood preservationists: “Power to the people. Social media is an incredible force.”

    A slew of souvenir carts and kiosks have been removed from the sidewalk in front of Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre, where the structures were blocking access to historic handprints, footprints and signatures of beloved stars such as Jean Harlow, Bette Davis and Lana Turner.

    The removal comes after a dust-up on social media kick-started by noted Hollywood documentarian Alison Martino and her Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page, which posted a photo on Sept. 30 taken by Brian Donnelly. The image showed a retail structure selling inexpensive hats and T-shirts while covering iconic cement blocks lining Hollywood Boulevard in front of the theater. “How incredibly disrespectful,” the post reads, as seen below. “If Lucy and Ethel were to try and steal John Wayne’s footprints today, they couldn’t even find it! This is not a pretty sight TCL Chinese Theatres!”

    The post generated more than 750 comments and 530 shares and was enough to launch a petition requesting the removal of the vendor carts from the forecourt, as well as a news story on Curbed Los Angeles. The petition, signed by more than 2,600 supporters as of Monday afternoon, called for the removal of the carts out of respect for Hollywood history and the millions of tourists who flock to the block each year.

    “Capsules of Hollywood history, the cement blocks are precious to film enthusiasts all around the globe, many of whom travel a great distance to visit the forecourt and have the opportunity to see their favorites’ blocks,” the petition reads. “The current situation of the vending carts directly on top of the blocks reduces all citizens’ enjoyment of the forecourt, and does not even allow many visitors to see some of the blocks, being entirely covered by carts.… Please don’t allow commerciality to overshadow the history contained there.”

    While it can be assumed that TCL opted to move the retail structures following the controversy, it’s not confirmed, because a rep for TCL Chinese Theatre declined to comment. It remains unclear where the vendor carts will go, though a source indicated they may be relocated to the nearby Hollywood & Highland mall.

    Martino offered to talk, telling The Hollywood Reporter that she drove to the block on Monday once she heard that the carts were no longer in place. “It’s unbelievable — power to the people,” she said, crediting Donnelly with the original image and Elena Parker for launching the petition. “I’ve been operating the Vintage Los Angeles page for five years and I’ve never seen a reaction like this. The outcry and outrage grew really fast. My VLA community really took it to heart. It was their passion and perseverance that drove this. Social media is an incredible force.”

  • Abingdon, VA – New owner brings new life for Moonlite Drive-In


    From the Bristol Herald Courier:
    Local residents will soon be able to enjoy movies under the stars once again, courtesy of the historic Moonlite Drive-in.

    After seeing it idle for three years, new owner Kyle Blevins is breathing life back into the Moonlite, which is off Lee Highway between Abingdon and Bristol.

    Blevins, a UPS driver from Bristol, Tennessee, went to the Moonlite for more than 40 years before it closed. He said he’s always wanted to own the theater and recently he came to an agreement with William Booker, who has been trying to sell the property. Under the agreement, Blevins said he is owner and president while Booker remains a co-owner.

    “I never dreamed that I would be able to do it,” Blevins said.

    He declined to give the cost of the sale. In March 2015, the asking price was $1.75 million.

    The drive-in opened in 1949 and closed in 2013 after many studios made the switch to digital, making many new release movies incompatible with the old projector.

    The Moonlite was included on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, and is one of only three drive-ins in the nation to be there, according to Blevins.

    Its long history is one of the things that makes Blevins happy to revive it. He plans to restore the property to its original 1950s style.

    “It’s not just coming to watch a movie. You’re going to be transformed into a different time,” said Blevins, who added that he also plans to alter the decor to fully immerse customers in the movie experience.

    The upcoming changes were brought to the attention of many who pass by when the number 16 showed up Sept. 15 on the marquee and the Facebook page. He wanted to spark interest so he decided to conduct a countdown until his announcement of the reopening today.

    But even he admits he was shocked at the attention he got.

    The real motivation to reopening is the way people in the community still talk about it, Blevins said.

    “It’s got a lot of history that comes from everybody in the community. A lot of people have a story about it,” he said.

    Blevins hopes to get support from the community, both in preparing for the reopening and keeping the theater open. Abingdon-based CPA firm Hicok, Fern & Company has agreed to assist Blevins in overseeing financial contributions and expenditures.

    “The needs are extensive and community involvement is going to be crucial to meeting those needs,” he said in a news release.

    Blevins has scheduled a community work day for Saturday, Oct. 8, beginning at 8 a.m. He invites anyone who’s willing to help with the start of the renovation.

    His plan is to try to get the drive-in ready for at least one show around the middle of October, but there’s a lot to be done before that can happen. An official reopening is planned for next spring.

    Blevins is ready to do what it takes to get the drive-in up and running, but notes that it isn’t just for himself or his family.

    “It doesn’t belong to me,” he said. “It belongs to the community. It belongs to everybody. I just happen to be lucky enough to be able to do it.”

  • Sayre, PA – Historic Sayre Theater Installs New Marquee


    From The long wait has finally come to an end for members of the Sayre community. Their local theater received its new marquee after raising nearly 200,000 dollars from the community.

    “We’ve had many many different donations from lumber companies and hardware stores and all over,” Board Member of the Bradford County Regional Arts Council, Jeff Paul said. “I mean, it’s just a very big thank you to everybody to get us to where we are today.”

    What began as an old opera house built during world war one, has evolved into a hot spot for movie enthusiasts.

    “We see about $300,000 of revenue from the movies with the concession included,” Executive Director of the Bradford County Regional Arts Council, Elaine Poost said. “I would say around about 70,000 people see a movie each year here at the Sayre.”

    “It is a hot spot,” Paul said. “It’s incredible. When I look at the numbers every month of how many people come here to the Sayre Theater and watch movies or the different shows that we have, it’s important because we are right across from the hospital and many times people will be visiting and they may come over just to watch a movie in between time.”

    The Arts Council also feels that its new marquee and other future renovations could bring more people to the area.

    “I’m hoping that it’ll bring more and more people in,” Paul said. “I mean, we do really well, I’m impressed at the attendance all the time but, I’m hoping that with all of this being done, that maybe we will bring in some people from other communities will show up.”

    Even though the new marquee is a step in the right direction for the theater, there is still a lot of renovating work to be done.

    “We had actually had it in the queue, re pointing of the building but, when this reared its little head we said ‘ok you can go first,’” Poost said. “So, now we are going to have this beautiful marquee but we still have $200,000 to raise for re pointing an old, historic building.”

    The Bradford County Regional Arts Council will hold a grand lighting ceremony on Saturday, October 29th, from 6p.m. – 7:30p.m.

  • October 3, 2016

    Hollywood, CA – Famous handprints at TCL Chinese Theatre covered up by souvenir stalls


    From Curbed LA: Visitors to Hollywood hoping for a classic photo-op pressing their hands into the prints of one of their favorite Hollywood luminaries may be a bit disappointed to discover that many of the iconic, concrete-preserved prints and celebrity signatures in the TCL Chinese Theatre courtyard have been covered over by another well-known Hollywood attraction: cheap souvenirs.

    On Friday, the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook group posted a photo showing a rack of hats and t-shirts taking up a good-sized chunk of real estate next to Bette Davis’s handprints in the famous courtyard. As the post notes, the souvenir cart appears to be covering up the signatures of both Jean Harlow and Lana Turner.

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina – This 100 year old movie theatre was transformed into a breathtaking bookstore


    From Whether you’re an avid bookworm, moderate reader or anywhere in between, there’s no doubt that glancing at this display of books will absolutely take your breath away.

    The setup at El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires, Argentina makes you want to simultaneously run through the aisles singing yet stand back in awe.

  • Robbinsdale, MN – Crews demolish historic movie theater in Minnesota


    From The Des Moines Register: Crews have demolished a historic movie theater in Robbinsdale after preservationists lost a fight to save it.

    Demolition resumed Friday on the Terrace Theatre in the northwest Minneapolis suburb. A bulldozer knocked down most of the old building Saturday.

    Two groups trying to stop the demolition could not come up with the $6 million needed to save it by a Friday deadline. Preservationists had won a temporary reprieve from a Hennepin County judge, but he also required them to post a bond.

    KSTP-TV reports crews say the building should be completely knocked down early this week. Iowa-based Hy-Vee had planned a 91,500-square-foot grocery where the theater stood, but put those plans on hold after a push to save the Terrace.

    The Terrace opened in 1951 and closed in 1999.

  • San Jose, CA – Historic Century 21 theater’s future uncertain


    From The Mercury News: The future of the Century 21 dome is as unclear as ever, with the San Jose City Council deciding not to shut the door on the possibility of stripping the city landmark down to its steel structure.

    That idea, you’ll recall, was part of Federal Realty’s proposal for Santana West, a commercial and office development that is planned for the site of the dome movie theaters on Winchester Boulevard. The bones of the theater would become part of an open space area on the privately-held property.

    When the council certified the development’s environmental impact report, it included a statement overriding city staff’s recommendation and allowing consideration of modifications to the theater — including those that would eliminate the historic characteristics that qualified the theater for the National Register of Historic Places.

    Any modifications would still have to come back to the city council for approval, but given that Councilmen Don Rocha and Ash Kalra were the only ones defending the theater, it’s hard to imagine Mayor Sam Liccardo and the others not backing Federal Realty’s plans in the absence of a good alternative.

  • October 2, 2016

    Cleveland, OH – Capitol Improvements: Theatre Enthusiasts Face Grim Realities with Courage and Grace


    From Representatives from the Detroit-Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) and Cleveland Cinemas assembled a multi-generational bushel of Capitol Theatre enthusiasts Tuesday evening to discuss the west side movie theater’s financial challenges and explore options for enhanced marketing and publicity.

    Last week, Cleveland City Council voted to restructure a loan made by the city to Detroit-Shoreway for the Capitol’s extensive renovations in 2009. The theater, which is owned by DSCDO and operated by Cleveland Cinemas, now has two more years of breathing room before it must begin making payments on the principal of the $1.5 million loan. Until September, 2018, the theater will only be required to make monthly “good will” payments of $100.

    But the city is also asking that the theater develop concrete marketing plans to increase its business. Currently, the Capitol attracts 50,000 visitors per year. That’s less by half than initial projections, based on community surveys.

    Jenny Spencer, DSCDO’s Managing Director, who led the meeting Tuesday, said that 50,000 visitors per year is enough to “keep the lights on,” but certainly not enough to pay back the loan, and not enough to make capital improvements — pun, this time, unintended — which are becoming necessary, even though the theater is only seven years old. Pricey new digital projection equipment, spot treatment for the theater’s old plaster, and cosmetic updates like new carpeting are all on the wish list, (in that order).

    On the fundraising front, Spencer announced an inaugural benefit event, a gala-type big-ticket shindig scheduled for April 21, 2017, about which there are as yet few public details.

    On the customer-attraction front, DSCDO is enlisting the neighbors. The meeting Tuesday, with gratis popcorn and veggie plates on the Capitol’s second-floor mezzanine, was positioned as a re-establishment of the “Friends of the Capitol Theatre” group. Given that movie theaters attract the highest percentage of their customers from the immediate neighborhood — the Cedar Lee being the region’s notable exception, due to its unique programming — Detroit-Shoreway wants community members to be the theater’s biggest champions.

    And they are. The meeting’s attendees told stories of their personal outreach and marketing among social networks. Many of them said they forward Capitol emails to contacts who they think might enjoy certain films, for instance. Others said they regularly organize “dinner and a movie” outings with friends.

    But those efforts aren’t quite enough, in the long-term — at least not without a critical mass of such efforts — and Cleveland Cinemas' wider publicity tactics have been frustratingly hit-or-miss, said Dave Huffman, the local theater chain’s director of marketing.

    Though special events continue to do very well — the upcoming Seventh annual 12 Hours of Terror all-night movie marathon (October 15-16) is expected to be the biggest yet, collecting in a single night what most movies collect in a full one-month run, Huffman said — other efforts have fallen far short.

    Films in the summer “Capitol Selects” series, for instance, were largely very poorly attended. And attempts to market the Capitol to Spanish-speaking audiences have failed dramatically.

    “We’ve talked to every Spanish-speaking organization in town, and they all are incredibly enthusiastic,” Huffman said, “but people aren’t showing up for the movies.”

    After pleading with a studio to get the mainstream Spanish-language film No Manches Frida, Huffman said, the Capitol posted the second-lowest gross in the country for that film. Box-office performances like that jeopardize the theater’s ability to get additional titles from the studio.

    Therein lies the biggest challenge and Catch-22 for the Capitol, said Huffman. The theater hasn’t attracted enough business to convince studios to grant them certain films — they wanted to show Snowden at the Capitol, for example, but the studio said no — but they can’t attract the business they’d like without titles that people are interested in.

    That said, marketing efforts continue apace. Screened at the Tuesday meeting was a new 30-second clip that will soon precede all films at the Capitol, a trailer explaining the Capitol’s renovations and its importance in the community. Additionally, the Capitol on Tuesday began its fall documentary series, and October will be saturated with cult horror classics in honor of the season.

    Also encouraging are the neighborhood advocates — young professionals, mid-career types, seniors, and even a high-schooler, attending with his dad — who helped brainstorm additional special events and grassroots strategies long after the meeting had officially run its course.

  • Hot Springs, AR – Maxwell Blade ready to restore Malco Theater


    From Another example of the restoration of Historic Hot Springs is in the pipeline, and this one literally involves magic.

    Magician and entertainer Maxwell Blade has taken control of the Malco Theater on Central Ave. It will mark a return to the site for the illusionist who has been working in the Spa City for more than 20 years.

    “This will soon be a brand new state of the art theater,” said Blade as he toured the now-gutted building, finding dusty cards left behind from his previous stint in the theater a decade ago. “It will have 350 seats and a brand new lobby area. So, we’re looking forward to the future.”

    The Malco site once hosted Vaudeville shows as Hot Springs developed in the late 1800s. As motion pictures arrived, the current theater opened with an art deco design in the 1940s. It faded in recent decades but remained host of the Hot Springs Film Festival until the last few years. That’s when Blade saw a chance to return, and he plans a grand restoration.

    Neon lights will be restored. Architechture saved while new showbiz technologies are added in.

    And it will all be designed around Blade’s long-running show, which he says he will update once the new space is ready. He expects a full house thanks to a growing tourist economy in Hot Springs.

    “Tourists are coming like never before, and in my 20 years here I think the growth is more so than I’ve ever seen,” he said.

    An elaborate magic show will be another piece to the evolution of the city into an adult playground with the racetrack and casino up the street and new hotel developments throughout downtown.

    “People ask me all the time ‘why aren’t you in Vegas?’ Well, I want to be in Hot Springs,” Blade says. “I have my children here. They were raised here. But yet, instead of me being in Vegas, I’m going in some sense bring it to you.”

    The flashy neon signs out front should bring glitz back to Central Ave. The only magical spirit Blade fears could be arousing the ghosts who legend says still haunt the place.

    “I heard a seat creek and then something walked in front of that light like a shadow,” he said of a particularly chilling night in the auditorium. “Scared me to death. I just got out of here. I was like nope. Maybe my imagination, I don’t know it was odd.”

    Blade will host his 4th annual Festival of Magic beginning September 30. The Malco isn’t ready for that, but shows and seminars involving other top magicians will take place in his current location as well as the Hot Springs Convention Center.

  • Holly Springs, NC – Holly Springs’ first movie theater to open Oct. 5


    From The News & Observer: Ovation Cinema Grill 9, a long-awaited movie theater off the N.C. 55 Bypass, is set to open for preview days starting Wednesday, Oct. 5, Carmike Cinemas announced Thursday.

    The nine-screen Carmike Cinemas movie theater will open at 320 Grand Hill Place in the northeastern portion of the Holly Springs Towne Center. The grand opening day showing first-run features will be Thursday, Oct. 13.

    The preview days, which are Wednesday, Oct. 5, through Tuesday, Oct. 11, will feature recently released films, including “X-Men: Apocalypse,” “The Conjuring 2” and “Star Trek: Beyond.” The movies on these days are $3 with proceeds benefiting local schools, the Holly Springs Food Cupboard and Meg’s Smile Foundation, a nonprofit that provides special days out or gifts to North Carolina children affected by serious illnesses.

    The venue has full-service dining, where moviegoers can order food and drinks, such as grilled shrimp tacos and a barbeque chicken flatbread, while seated in electric, luxury recliners that allow them to request service at their seats. The theater has an outdoor patio, as well as a cocktail lounge in the lobby with a full service bar. The bar will serve craft beers from three Triangle breweries: Carolina Brewing Company in Holly Springs, Aviator Brewing Company in Fuquay-Varina and Bull City Ciderworks in Durham.

    “We are pleased to offer this exciting cinema dining experience in Holly Springs, said David Passman, president and CEO of Carmike Cinemas, in a news release. “The Holly Springs location is our first cinema dining facility built from the ground up, and we are thrilled to give the community a new way to experience the movies.”

    This new theater will serve more than just Holly Springs, but the large swath of southwestern Wake County. The closest theaters are in nearby Cary, Morrisville and Apex, but the closest two theaters – Regal Beaver Creek Stadium 12 in Apex and CineBistro in Cary – are each 15 minutes away from the new site.

    This is the third theater to open in western Wake County that has full-service dining. In addition to CineBistro in Cary’s Waverly Place, Frank Theatres opened a CineBowl & Grille in Parkside Town Commons, a mixed-use development on N.C. 55 near N.C. 540.

    The Holly Springs theater is part of the second phase of development of Holly Springs Towne Center. Indianapolis-based Kite Realty Group is the owner and developer of the project, which began construction in 2012.

    Since then, about 40 restaurants and stores, including Target, Michaels and Marshalls, have opened, and the shopping center continues to grow.

    “It’s kind of put Holly Springs on the map,” said Moss Withers, chairman of the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

    Construction of the second phase of the project, which includes more spaces for shops and restaurants, began last summer. Mattress Firm, Bed Bath & Beyond, DSW, Pure Barre, Kirkland’s, The Joint Chiropractic and Freddy’s Steakburgers already have opened, said Joseph Hughes, an associate asset manager with Kite Realty Group.

    Several other businesses will open later this year. Those tenants are Blaze Pizza, Mi Cancun Mexican restaurant and a nail salon. Hughes said Texas Roadhouse recently signed a lease and would open next year.

    “There should be more announcements coming soon,” he said.

    Over the years, the town has sought to offer enough amenities that residents won’t have to leave for shopping or entertainment, and a movie theater is another step toward meeting that goal, Withers said.

    But Withers added there aren’t many big businesses in town, meaning that residents still have to go to Cary, Raleigh or Research Triangle Park for work.

    “We’ve got the retail now, which is great, but we’re not there yet,” he said. “Little steps like this movie theater are good steps in having the amenities and conveniences to bring businesses to the market.”

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