The latest movie theater news and updates

  • October 3, 2016

    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.”

    Read more here:

  • New York, NY – Revamped Broadway theater may gain national historic recognition


    From Curbed NY: The New York State Board of Historic Preservation has recommended that 22 “properties, resources, and districts” be added to the State and National Registers of Historic Places. New York City itself doesn’t have much of a presence on this particular list, but one building made the cut: The Hudson Theatre, a Broadway house in Manhattan’s Theater District (surprise!).

    And the place does indeed have quite a history. Constructed in 1902-1903 for Henry B. Harris, a big-name Broadway producer who later died on the Titanic, the Beaux-Arts theater opened with a production of Cousin Kate, starring Ethel Barrymore. (She was Kate.)

    Among the many stars to have graced the Hudson stage: Douglas Fairbanks, William Holden, Barbara Stanwyck, and Judith Anderson. In 1954, the theater became home to the first incarnation of The Tonight Show, hosted by Steve Allen. It was later converted into a movie house, and in 1980, the theater reopened as the short-lived Savoy Rock Club.

    After a few sad decades as a conference space and sometime-comedy venue for the Millennium Broadway Hotel, the space was returned to its theatrical roots. In 2015, Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) announced they’d be reopening the Hudson. The new era will begin with a revival of Lanford Wilson’s Burn This, starring none other than Jake Gyllenhaal. Both the production and the revamped theater are set to open in March 2017. It was already designated a New York City landmark in 1987.

    Other recommendations to the registry include Buffalo Public School #24, the first school in the area to offer special education programs; John W. Jones Court, a public housing project in Elmira named for the Underground Railroad activist; and the Moss Street Cemetery in Kingsbury, which has graves dating back to the 1780s.

  • Newport, RI – Behind the Scenes: Newport Opera House Theater Restoration


    From While the Opera House Theater presents Lost Newport tonight at its partner venue, Jane Pickens Theater, the nearby doors of the opera house remain closed as renovations continue in advance of its December 2017 opening. The revitalization of Rhode Island’s oldest surviving theater building began in spring of this year and involves major structural work as well as finely detailed artistry required to restore the interior’s decorative elements. Wonder what it looks like inside? To find out, we stopped by the Opera House for a behind-the-scenes tour. One of the first things we noticed when looking at old pictures of the Opera House was the mansard roof, an architectural element not there today. “The roof was lost in a fire in 1950s,” explained Ivan S. Colon, the Opera Houses’s head of Business Development. “We are adding back the top floor.” In addition to the mansard roof’s restoration, the addition of the 4th level will include a rooftop garden and atrium.

  • September 29, 2016

    Coral Gables, FL – Luxury movie theater opening soon at Merrick Park but is it needed?


    From Curbed Miami: The Landmark at Merrick Park, a 25,000-square-foot luxury movie theater, will open at the Shops at Merrick Park in December, the chain announced today, according to the Miami Herald.

    It will be on the third floor next to Neiman Marcus, with leather chairs, stadium seating, laser projection, a full bar and lounge, and, most importantly, online reserved seating.

    The Landmark project was approved by the Coral Gables City Commission after agreeing not to compete with the Coral Gables Art Cinema for movies. Both theaters are located on city-owned land and will be able to show the same films. Landmark will also make a $10,000 donation to the non-profit Gables Cinema for five years, starting in December. In today’s world of excellent home-viewing options on massive and affordable televisions the question is whether this fills a need with several options already in the area and a couple more in the pipeline.

    There’s AMC Sunset Place about three miles to the south and a Cinépolis just over a mile away in Coconut Grove.

    And they likely won’t draw folks form the heart of Miami, as there is a theater coming to Brickell City Centre and another opening just over the bridge.

  • Skowhegan, ME – Reddish glow at Skowhegan Drive-In Theater a good sign


    From The reddish glow in the evening sky on U.S. Route 201 east of downtown Skowhegan is a signal.

    It’s a sign.

    It’s the Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre, which moved into the future this past summer when it converted to digital projection.

    This week, theater owner Don Brown stepped back from the future and into the past with the installation of a replica neon sign that looks just like the original sign did when the drive-in opened in 1954, mounted on a red 35-foot pole.

    “They took the old sign that had been lying on the ground and they made a pattern from that and they duplicated it,” Brown said Wednesday as he turned on the sign with its bright red neon arrow pointing to the refurbished ticket booth at the entrance to the drive-in.

    Sign Services Inc., of Stetson, did all the work, paid for with just over $8,000 from the Skowhegan facade grant program. The white sign with blue lettering spells out “Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre,” with “theater” spelled the old-fashioned way.

    “It was the last piece of the original theater that we had not rehabilitated,” said Brown, 53. “It had been there for so many years and so many people have asked us, ‘Are you every going to do anything with the sign?’ that when the opportunity to apply for the facade grant came up, we did.”

    Jeffrey Hewett, the town’s director of economic and community development, said it’s nice having the red glow of the neon arrow illuminating the evening sky along U.S. 201, also called Waterville Road.

    Hewett said the sign is real neon with “glass set-asides” that hold the neon and copper wire that keeps it all in place.

    “It brings back a lot of memories for me,” Hewett said. “In the daytime it doesn’t really grab you as much; it’s the nighttime and that kind of reddish glow that comes off that gets you. I don’t think that there are very many of the neon signs that are left anymore.”

    Brown, who lives in Felton, Delaware, during the winter, bought the drive-in theater in May 2012 from Doug Corson’s Encore Skowhegan Drive-In.

    The drive-in has a capacity of 340 to 350 cars, set old-fashioned-style in semicircles with a standing pipe that once held the audio speakers. Sound for the movies now comes over the car’s FM radio at 88.3 on the dial.

    There are now five drive-in movie theaters in Maine, including Skowhegan’s, according to the website

    Two years ago, an estimated 357 drive-in movie theaters remained in the United States, a steep decline from the 4,000 or 5,000 that gave drive-in theaters entertainment status in the late 1950s and ’60s. Generations of families have packed station wagons with coolers, lawn chairs and kids in pajamas, and young lovers went out for a night of cinema under the stars.

    Brown said he wants to continue that tradition while polishing up some of the nostalgia of the experience along the way.

    “We went right through the building when we came here in 2012. Everything has been reproduced to be of the original design. It’s just been modified on occasion here and there for more contemporary standards,” he said.

    Everything, including the concession stand, looks “pretty much the same” as it did in the 1950s, Brown said. He said two of the movies that ran this past summer were on the old 35 mm film, but the rest — a new feature every week — were projected using the new digital equipment.

    “I think what we’ve done with the drive-in combines the best aspects of the present yet preserves certain vital elements from the past that made the drive-in appealing,” he said.

    He said bringing the drive-in into the digital age was necessary for the business to survive; it was either digital or die. Hollywood studios were phasing out 35 mm film and switching production to modern digital. The sign, on the other hand, combines the element of nostalgia with the contemporary projection.

    Two years ago, on the 60th anniversary of the opening of the drive-in, Brown was facing a $40,000 investment in new equipment and modifications or he would be forced to close. With donations from the community, including a Stephen King marathon of scary movies and a lot of his own savings, Brown finally took delivery of the new projector.

    “It’s neon, and there used to be a neon sign out there,” Randy Gray, Skowhegan’s code enforcement officer, said Wednesday. “So good for him for doing it.”

    Brown said the drive-in is closed for the season, but he’ll leave the sign’s light on for a while Friday and Saturday night as a signal that he’ll be back in the spring for another summer of movies under the stars.

    “The drive-in is unique because it combines elements of the past, such as the sign, with today’s modern technology, such as the projectors,” he said. “That’s been the constant over the years, over the generations, that the drive-in’s been around. The technology used has always been changing, but the experience has always been the same.”

  • Aspen, CO -Metropolitan Theatres renovates Aspen’s historic Isis Theatre


    From Film Journal: Metropolitan Theatres announces renovation plans for the Isis Theatre located at 406 E. Hopkins Ave. in Aspen, Colorado. Named after the Egyptian goddess, the theatre was last renovated in the late 1990s, expanding the existing structure to allow for increased movie screens, state-of-the-art sound systems, soundproofing and stadium seating.

    Recent renovations concentrated on the completed construction of a craft beer and wine bar now in operation. Upgraded luxury reserved seating, new flooring, digital menu displays, and an expanded menu are all components of the overall renovation plans. In celebration of the new offerings, the Isis will run a promotion for the month of October offering a free popcorn with a purchase of wine or beer. The offer is valid for one transaction per guest, per movie.

    Phase one of the remodel established a new theatre bar located on the downstairs level. The bar offers a varied selection of both wine and craft beer, including two options from the local Aspen Brewing Company. Phase two includes installation of luxury seating with plush rockers and spacious recliners, as well as new carpeting and tile. Reserved seating will also roll out in phase two for all auditoriums. Completion of phase two is targeted for mid-December. The Isis remains open during the remodel as portions of the facility are converted.

    Dale Davison, senior VP of operations and development, stated, “The renovations that we have completed and set in motion at Aspen’s Isis will provide a more comfortable and enhanced entertaining moviegoing experience. The theatre’s expanded menu and bar addition, along with the luxury seating forthcoming, create an ideal atmosphere for enjoying movies in a more luxurious fashion.”

    The original 1892 H. Webber Building received Historic Landmark designation in 1995.