The latest movie theater news and updates

  • August 1, 2016

    Bridgeport, CT – Supporters rally to save historic Bridgeport theater set to close

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    From News12CT.com: Staff and supporters of a historic Bridgeport theater held a rally Sunday in an effort to keep the venue from shutting its doors for good next week.

    The owners of the Bijou Theater on Fairfield Avenue say they can’t afford to keep the theater up and running.

    Members of the group rallying say they are all deeply invested in the nonprofit community theater and are trying to raise $100,000…

  • Colorado City, TX – Colorado City movie theater flickering back to life

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    From the Abilene Reporter-News: There’s three things every teen wants. Big towns or small, they all want a place to eat, a street to cruise and a movie to watch.

    But most Big Country towns don’t have a movie theater. In Colorado City, they did have one for a time, but like Rule’s Tower Drive-In, it’s become a victim of progress.

    “I guess within the last five years they’ve been talking about us converting to digital because they were going to stop making film,” said Marcus Monroe. He and his wife, Beatrice, own the Palace Theater, which is attached to the Baker Hotel downtown.

    As movie cameras have gone digital, so too have movie studios when it comes to the distribution of finished movies on physical motion picture film.

    “We’ve gotten to that point where it’s rare that we can get a film,” Marcus said. “We open whenever we can get one, but it’s not that consistent or easy to get a film.”

    The couple bought the Palace in 2007, reopening it after nearly two decades. Both are from Colorado City and recalled being in middle school when the theater closed.

    “Oh, I was upset, I remember that feeling,” Beatrice said. “I was disappointed, we thought, ‘What are we going to do now?’”

    Marcus felt the same way, but even in eighth grade he had an idea of what to do about it.

    “When it shut down, everyone was upset and I told everybody I was going to reopen it when got older,” he said, a smile on his face. “And I did.”

    The closest movie theaters are in Big Spring or Snyder. One-way, that’s a 40- or 25-mile drive, respectively.

    “The reason that I support this is because I remember when my little sister was in high school,” Beatrice said. “Her group of friends went to Snyder to watch a movie, and one of them had an accident. She passed away; it was awful and it shook the whole town.”

    That wintertime tragedy brought home to her the need to have a cinema in Colorado City, but it wasn’t the only reason.

  • Indiana, PA – Palace Gardens Drive-In reopens with digital projector

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    From the Indiana Gazette: Equipped with an added piece of expensive technology, the Palace Gardens Drive-in Theater finally opened for the summer Friday evening.

    But the technological upgrade wasn’t made just for the sake of becoming more modern. To the contrary, theater owners Clarine Beatty and husband Mike Hudzick made a significant financial investment in Palace Gardens to help preserve much of the 66-year-old drive-in’s tradition and nostalgia.

    Making its debut at dusk Friday at the drive-in along Indian Springs Road in White Township was a 2007 model Christie digital movie projector. The addition of a digital projector means Palace Gardens will be able to continue showing new-release movies. About three years ago, movie studios started phasing out 35 mm film prints and began a switch to an all-digital distribution system. Theater owners who choose not to change with the times and acquire a digital projector will eventually be forced to screen only old movies that exist on celluloid.

    The change to an all-digital distribution format left the future of Palace Gardens uncertain for the past few years. Beatty said the cost of a new digital projector approaches six figures — a hefty outlay for a business that only operates on weekends during the summer.

    Because of the unavailability of movies on 35 mm film, Palace Gardens did not open this Memorial Day weekend as it has for decades. Beatty announced then that the drive-in might open later in the summer if she and Hudzick could “find a digital projection option that works for us.”

    “This has been quite an endeavor,” Beatty said this week while preparing for opening night. She started early in 2016 — making a lot of phone calls, contacting other drive-in theater owners and her other movie business contacts — trying to locate a suitable projector.

    “We’re a two-person business. … This is not the only thing we do,” Beatty said. She is a schoolteacher and Hudzick’s day job is as a contractor.

    The search was complicated by the fact that Beatty and Hudzick not only needed a used projector, but a big one that could cast an image large enough to fill all of Palace Garden’s 92-foot-wide screen, one of the larger screens in the drive-in industry.

  • Traverse City, MI – Traverse City’s State Theatre Turns 100

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    From MyNorth.com: One of our favorite Northern Michigan small town movie theaters is celebrating its centennial! Traverse City’s State Theatre turns 100 this summer, making it an even 100 years of providing unparalleled Northern Michigan events, film, and fun.

    Imagine paying 15¢ for a movie ticket. When the Lyric Theatre opened on July 4, 1916, with the silent film The Iron Strain, that’s all adult tickets cost. Since then, the theater has survived two fires, several renovations, numerous owners, and a name change to the State Theatre in 1949.

    With constant passion to honor the art of filmmaking over the years, and state-of-the-art picture and sound quality, it’s little surprise the Motion Picture Association of America named the historic State Theatre the No. 1 movie theater in the world in 2013.

    More than just “going to the movies,” here at the State, every film is a special event. This year, we celebrate the centennial of the State Theatre in downtown Traverse City. Happy 100th birthday, State Theatre! May we request an encore for another 100?!

  • Columbus, NE – Losing a piece of downtown

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    From The Columbus Telegram: Onlookers gathered along 13th Street Wednesday as they watched a part of downtown Columbus disappear.

    The old Columbus Theater marquee suffered significant damage in recent storms that neighboring business owners said left it sagging.

    The theater that closed in the early 1990s has been a cornerstone in the downtown district and residents’ memories. It was hard for some to watch as the triangular, yellow sign with blue and red lettering was taken down and loaded onto a trailer.

    “It’s been there forever,” said Bryan Rockford as he watched the removal. “I remember going to the movies there. It’s just part of my life and my younger years. It saddens me to see it come down instead of restored.”

    Rockford, who lives in an apartment above a downtown shop, said he’s been watching downtown slowly fade away. A move like this makes the transformation even worse, he said.

    “I think this is the attraction downtown needs,” he said, lobbying for a restoration of the theater. “It needs it because I think downtown is drying up and this is just one more thing. The only thing missing is a tumbleweed blowing down the road.

    Mayor Mike Moser, who owns Columbus Music a few doors down from the old theater, said he was sad to see the marquee go because he has childhood memories associated with the building. But he understood the reasoning since it was damaged.

    “The renovation of the theater has been a popular topic for about 20 years,” Moser said. “There has been a lot of people who talk about it and dream about it. It was my understanding that (Mac) Hull was trying to get it together but it just never happened.”

  • San Clemente, CA – San Clemente eyes new plan to renovate historic Miramar Theater

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    From the Orange County Register: A plan is in the works to bring San Clemente’s landmark Miramar Theater back to life as a performing arts center, paired with a one-time bowling alley next door that would be reborn as a collection of small specialty restaurants in a courtyard setting.

    The once-stately theater, built in 1938, has been shuttered for more than two decades.

    A succession of plans to resuscitate it never gained traction. Now Mark Spizzirri, part of a partnership that owns the property at 1701 N. El Camino Real, is preparing to submit a new plan to the city. It is different from prior plans in two respects:

    – It proposes to stay within the same basic footprint as what is there now.

    – It has the help and support of two influential San Clemente professionals, determined to see it succeed where others failed.

    Wayne Eggleston, a former mayor and councilman, played a major role in turning the former home of San Clemente founder Ole Hanson into Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens. After several meetings with Spizzirri, he has taken a personal interest in the Miramar project and is working with Spizzirri as a volunteer to help navigate the permit process.

    Jim Holloway, who retired from City Hall in 2015 after 28 years as San Clemente’s community development director, likewise met repeatedly with Spizzirri and took a personal interest in the plan. Holloway said he started out as a volunteer, but the project’s consultants began to solicit his technical expertise to such an extent that they finally retained his services.

    “It got to be a lot of work,” the retired city official said. He said he is able to use his knowledge of the permit process, North Beach’s community plan, the area’s projected parking needs and how parking waivers have played into other nearby revivals like Casino San Clemente, enabling him to help craft a plan he feels the city and the Coastal Commission can embrace. It is a plan that, just two years ago, he would have been on the other end of processing.

    Spizzirri, who owns a classic car business in San Juan Capistrano, purchased the Miramar and bowling alley buildings in 2007 with the idea of restoring them and putting them to new use. Before he could do anything, the economy took a dive.

    Spizzirri was said to be traveling this week and could not be reached for comment about the project..

    The site has little space to park cars but the city code allows the city to waive required parking spaces for renovations of designated historic buildings like the Casino and the Miramar. In 2009 the City Council waived 64 required parking spaces to help make a revival of the Casino viable.

    Holloway said he is convinced this Miramar plan could be the one that finally succeeds. It is designed to be in harmony with a design study that the city commissioned in 2012 to identify possible solutions for the long-vacant former cinema.

    The city used a $20,000 grant from the California Office of Historic Preservation to hire a design firm that specialized in saving old movie houses. The firm inspected the premises and suggested viable uses that included movies, stage events, weddings, arts celebrations, conferences and special events, while retail and restaurant use could complement the venue in the bowling-alley portion.

    A 2013 ownership dispute put that into limbo, with title eventually awarded to Spizzirri’s partnership.

  • July 28, 2016

    Tucson, AZ – Get to know Tucson’s historic Rialto Theatre

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    From the Daily Wildcat: Vaudeville, furniture sales, pornography and Español. Much like your attention-seeking little sister, The Rialto Theatre has gone through many distinct phases.

    The iconic theater originally opened in 1920. Built in conjunction with its neighbor Hotel Congress (which opened a year earlier), had acts the likes of Ginger Rogers and the original black minstrel band to grace its stage.

    The Rialto went through several reiterations, including a stint as a pornographic theater that showed the original screening of “Deep Throat.” The 1970s really epitomized the “Dirty T” for Tucson — contrary to present day, downtown was not the place to be.

    The Rialto had a bad reputation and the theater was on the verge of being torn down to become a surface parking lot. Ironically, it took a boiler fire explosion to save the theater from being repurposed.

  • Morristown, NJ – MPAC Named Outstanding Historic Theatre 2016 by League of Historic American Theatres

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    From BroadwayWorld.com: Mayo Performing Arts Center has been named 2016 Outstanding Historic Theatre by The League of Historic American Theatres (LHAT).

    Allison Larena, President and CEO, and Ed Kirchdoerffer, General Manager, accepted the award at LHAT’s annual conference on Sunday, July 17 in Chicago. The conference is the largest gathering of historic theatre professionals in North America.

    “It is an honor to be recognized by a distinguished group of peers who work to make historic theatres vital economic engines, community gathering places, and arts and educational centers in the towns we serve,” Ms Larena said.

    LHAT’s Awards Program inspires excellence by recognizing theatres and individuals for their significant accomplishments or distinguished service. The Outstanding Historic Theatre Award recognizes a theatre that demonstrates excellence through its community impact, quality of programs and services, and quality of the restoration or rehabilitation of its historic structure. An award-winning theatre will have demonstrated excellence through significant achievement, the impact of its services and breadth of populations served, and the length of time and/or intensity of its activities. Each year, one theatre and one individual are honored by LHAT at its annual conference. Former winners include the Fabulous Fox in Atlanta, New York City Center and Playhouse Square in Cleveland.

    “Mayo Performing Arts Center beat out an impressive list of nominees to claim this award this year,” said Ken Stein, LHAT President and CEO. “There are a great number of historic theatres doing great work across the country. The community of Morristown should be very proud of MPAC’s accomplishments.”

    “We share this honor with the thousands of community members who worked tirelessly, and continue to work tirelessly, to build, support and improve this venue that has brought so much joy to countless individuals for the past 80 years,” Ms Larena added. “We know that our work today will continue to inspire future generations to sustain MPAC as a vital performing arts center and the cultural center of our community.”

    MPAC, built in 1937 as The Community Theatre by Walter Reade, is recognized for its impact and leadership in the New Jersey arts community in scope and diversity of programming, community outreach and arts education. The rich history of Morristown revolves around community organizations, in which the Theatre has been central as a longstanding community gathering place since it first opened its doors. MPAC presents over 200 events annually, with over 200,000 patrons, has a robust education program that touches the lives of over 40,000 children and their families, and creates an economic impact of over $15 million in the economy (Americans for the Arts Economic Prosperity Calculator).

  • Rutherford, NJ – Williams Center re-opens this Friday with ‘Bad Moms,’ ‘Jason Bourne’

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    From NorthJersey.com:
    “The Secret Life of Pets,” “Bad Moms,” and “Jason Bourne” will be the first digital movies to be shown at the Williams Center. The movie theaters will re-open this Friday, July 29, equipped with new digital projectors courtesy of a community fundraiser.

    The reopening of the cinemas to first-run movies comes just over a year after the center stopped showing new movies. Community members and Board of Trustee members launched an effort to purchase digital projection equipment necessary to bring new titles back to the Rutherford theater, as trustees said obtaining first-run movies on its outdated technology was cost-prohibitive.

    The Williams Center is operated by a non-profit board of trustees and the building is owned by Bergen County.

    The concession stand and common areas have been revamped by volunteers and professionals, said Board Vice President Evelyn Spath-Mercado. Rug cleaning, painters and other touches are being done to make the cinemas “look fresh.”

    “Of course we had the professional installers put in all three digital projectors, they are up and running,” Spath-Mercado. “It’s going to look pretty darn good.”

    Over the past year, volunteers have kept the Williams Center active – hosting classic and second-run movie nights, a comic convention and other events – all with the goal of raising money to fund the digital upgrade. Can collections, a GoFundMe page, fundraising events held at the center, t-shirt sales, a municipal donation and donation by BCB Bank were some of the ways the community pitched in.

    “Everyone who contributed from just a quarter, up to the big donation [from BCB Bank], are involved in the opening,” said Spath-Mercado. “Just the cans alone raised $1,100. It truly was a community effort.”

    Center officials crossed the $22,500 threshold needed to make a first payment on the three, previously-owned projectors last month. Spath-Mercado said she is confident that the funds needed for the next $22,500 payment will be made, given the new revenue source.

    Ticket prices will be $10 for adults and $8 for senior citizens and children. Weekend matinees will also be $8.

  • July 27, 2016

    Nashville, TN – Belcourt Theater’s Dramatic Remodel Expands Cultural Reach — And Accessibility

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    From Nashville Public Radio: Six months after temporarily shutting its doors, the Belcourt Theatre reopened last week, showing off both new updates and meticulous preservations.

    The cinema has restored the designs of its two original theaters, built in 1925 and 1966. But the entrance to the 91-year-old building is modern, sleek and sunny with floor-to-ceiling windows. The seats are more comfortable, says executive director Stephanie Silverman, and the air conditioning now works consistently.

    After the ribbon-cutting, Silverman acknowledged there are big changes throughout – while proudly showing off the new women’s six-stall bathroom.

    Silverman says she’s especially excited about the bathrooms: They not only serve three times as many patrons as before, but they also are now fully accessible, as is the entire theater. Before the renovation, patrons in wheelchairs had to go to another building to use the restroom.

    “It’s hard to change things people love, and they really forgave us for a lot of sins,” she said. “But I hope that now it’s a place that is as supportive of the audience as the audience is of us.”

    The Belcourt, the first home of the Grand Ole Opry, has also expanded to a second floor that includes a third small screening room and an education space.