The latest movie theater news and updates
March 24, 2017
From KSDK.com: A long-abandoned movie theater in the Metro East may soon be facing the wrecking ball.
Alton Cine, a 300-seat cinema located off of Homers Adam Parkway in Alton, Ill., closed its doors for good in 1998. But despite the 19-year closure, city leaders hope to tear down what locals consider to be an eyesore.
The announcement was initially made during a mayoral candidate forum earlier this month.
According to Alton Mayor Brant Walker, a private owner has maintained the property that has sat in disrepair for nearly two decades. The cinema has remained in poor conditions both inside and out, including the roof reportedly falling in on itself.
Mayor Walker said the city plans to assess the building for asbestos. Once the asbestos is removed, the building reportedly won’t take long to level out. He did not give an exact date for demolition.
Mayor Walker said he believed ‘Titanic’ was the last showing at Alton Cine.
From the Star-Telegram:
The last outpost of downtown Fort Worth’s movie house “Show Row” may yet make a comeback.
But the new owners of the Hollywood Theater, closed 40 years, are not yet ready to say much about plans to lease the space for potential restoration to its 1930s showbiz glory.
Another hint of the Hollywood’s possible return appeared this week, when the unsigned social media account Urban Fort Worth posted photos of the theater’s dusty remnants.
The theater is next door to the Historic Electric Building Apartments on West Seventh Street. The lobby and facade were converted to retail space in 1979, and the lower floor was paved for apartment parking.
But the top half of the theater remains: two upper balconies, the upper concourse and most of the decorated screen.
The new Houston-based owner, Tradewind Properties, is advertising the space for lease. Property manager Amber Frisbie said Thursday that the idea is “very preliminary” and Tradewind President James Rastello isn’t ready to discuss it.
From Live5News.com: One of James Island’s oldest movie theaters is closed to the public for good, according to the Assistant Manager of the theater.
Carmike James Island 8 located off Central Park Road showed its last films to movie goers Thursday night.
“We got the info that yesterday was our last day,” said the assistant manager who identified himself as Charles.
According to the Carmike theater website, which is a subsidy of AMC theaters, there are no show times listed for the theater this weekend. Show times on Fandango are not listed either.
“There was a lot of background chaos that went on,” Charles said.
City of Charleston documents show the property was sold to a developer to build a multi-family apartment complex.
At a Design Review Board meeting earlier this month, the renderings were denied based on comments from the board regarding building placement and setback from Central Park Road and Up on the Hill Road.
Messages for comment from AMC Theaters management was not immediately returned.
March 20, 2017
From Wicked Local Yarmouth: The Cape Cinema in Dennis Village has a big, loyal following of patrons who come often to the movies, the live showings of the Metropolitan Opera, the National theater, and Bolshoi Ballet, as well as concerts and community events. They also love the nostalgic ambience of the historical 1930 building, the old movie posters, the popcorn popping in the lobby, and the dancing figures on the Rockwell Kent ceiling mural, but when it comes to sitting down for the show – oh, those chairs.
The faded red armchairs with starched white covers may look appealing at first, but underneath, the original upholstered seats from 1930 are splitting and held together with big strips of duct tape. The wood in the chair backs is splitting as well, making them uncomfortable for many patrons.
From MLive.com: Whether it’s to a magical kingdom or a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Saline’s new Emagine Entertainment theater is prepared to take visitors where they want to go.
The 54,000-square-foot movie theater is celebrating its grand opening Saturday, March 18 at 1335 E. Michigan Ave. in the Commons at Saux Trail retail complex. Movie showings this weekend on its nine screens include Disney’s live-action “Beauty and the Beast,” “Logan” and “Kong: Skull Island.”
But not before a party to commemorate Emagine Entertainment’s 10th movie theater in Michigan. A VIP event was scheduled Friday with sneak previews of the theater, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and movie showings to benefit the Foundation of Saline Area Schools and Saline Area Social Service.
It took nearly seven months to turn the former Country Market grocery store into an Emagine Entertainment movie theater.
“We had competitors tell us it couldn’t be done,” CEO Paul Glantz said, noting it is the third grocery store-conversion for the company.
There was an eight-figure capital investment, validated by a trade analysis showing a need in Saline and significant growth in nearby Pittsfield Township, Glantz said.
Staff were already busy, vacuuming carpets and washing windows, preparing for the first round of moviegoers to be ushered into a lobby filled with sofas and a gas fireplace. A bar has Michigan breweries on tap and an assortment of liquor bottles lined up neatly on the counter.
Iconic movie posters, like “Rocky” and “Citizen Kane” line the hallways, and the concessions stand is neatly packed with candy and a variety of popcorn and beverages.
The location’s nine theaters are decked out with state-of-the-art sound and projection systems and contain nearly 1,000 leather recliners that stretch 7 feet. Emagine made a point not to put seats too close to the screen, Glantz added.
From CBS St. Louis: The renovation of a more than 100-year-old theater in western Illinois is getting rave reviews.
The Register-Mail reports improvements to the Orpheum Theatre in Galesburg have so far included a new sound system, stage curtains and a repaired roof.
Executive Director Kevin Maynard says he expects the rest of the repairs funded by a nearly $1 million capital campaign to be completed by next year, barring unexpected delays.
The vaudeville theater first opened in 1916.
Last year the Orpheum raised $920,000 through a capital campaign, exceeding its $850,000 goal. As of this week about $400,000 has been spent.
Maynard says many people are coming in and seeing the changes. He says they’re saying the renovations are “breathing new life into the building.”
From the Fairfield Citizen: The First Selectman tried, unsuccessfully, a few years ago to nudge the owner of the Fairfield Community Theatre to make a deal with a developer, so the shuttered movie house could be reopened. Now, Keith Rhodes, a member of the Economic Development Commission, has started an online petition, seeking to put pressure on owner David Pollack. In just a matter of hours Monday, Rhodes’ change.org petition had surpassed the initial 500 signature goal. As of Thursday that goal is now at 5,000 and over 3,300 people have signed the petition. “As evidenced by the groundswell of support, I am very confident that David Pollack and the Pollack Family Trust will do the right thing here and allow the town of Fairfield to finally broker a deal with the many interested property developers and other groups,” Rhodes said. “It is my understanding that all attempts of town diplomacy have failed, even at the highest levels.” The theater, and its marquee is an iconic part of the downtown. It was run as a non-profit foundation for about 10 years, but the group’s founder, Leo Redgate, was hesitant to raise the money needed to make needed repairs, without a long-term lease or purchase agreement. “The truth is that the entire Fairfield community is tired of the sad sight of the once vibrant Fairfield Community Theatre in the center of our proud town,” Rhodes said. “There is so much potential, and as a long-time town resident, father of two and a member of the town’s Economic Development Commission, I wanted to do something about it.” Community and Economic Development Director Mark Barnhart said the town shares the same goal in seeing the theater restored and re-opened. “The petition shows, that even after being closed for more than five years, there is a strong affinity for the Community Theater and frustration with the apparent lack of progress,” Barnhart said. “I have seen some hopeful signs as of late, as David has stated a willingness to sell the property, though, clearly, things are not moving as quickly as anyone would like.” Barnhart said he remains in touch with Pollack, and his broker, and will continue to provide whatever assistance he can to facilitate the sale of the property. Calls to Pollack were not returned. “The town’s goal is to create a beautiful, multipurpose performing arts center for children, students and parents alike,” Rhodes said. “To date, David Pollack has refused to sell the property, and the theater just sits there in disrepair.” The 100-year-old theater is about 8,000 square feet and seats 700.
From WUFT.org: The Ocala Drive-In Theatre in Belleview brings the Americana experience of old drive-in theaters to a new generation.
Though the drive-in first opened in 1948, it has closed, reopened and changed hands several times since then. It’s also had many updates since it first opened, including new projectors, projector bulbs, screen paint and sound systems.
“Nostalgia. A lot of nostalgia here,” said Nancy Bigi, a cashier who currently works at the drive-in and who worked there in the ’70s and ’80s. “It brings back old memories, [for me] and the new generation,” Bigi said.
Like a drive-thru restaurant, you pay at the first window and then pull forward. The inside of the theater is a field with two screens on opposing ends with a projector booth and concession building in the center.
Typically, the drive-in shows two movies in one session for $6 per adult. A refurbished concession building offers the Ms. Pac-Man arcade game and snacks for movie-goers. The concession building also has several painted murals on each wall to enhance the retro aesthetic.
The large grassy area and a larger arcade present opportunities for fun for the whole family. When the drive-in isn’t showing movies, it hosts flea markets in its 20-acre field.
March 17, 2017
From the Post-Gazette: Several historic facades in the Garden Theater block on the North Side could end up becoming casualties in the battle over a proposed apartment building at the site.
Bill Gatti, CEO of Trek Development, said Thursday that tearing down the facades is an option now that state Commonwealth Court has upheld a lower court ruling denying a zoning variance to the firm for the construction of an eight-story apartment building at the site.
Trek had planned to spend $2.7 million to save and restore the facades, which date to the 1890s, to maintain the historical character of the block.
But if they are removed, it could allow the developer to build a smaller building at the site in an effort to comply with the current zoning, which limits the height to 45 feet.
“It’s unfortunate that it’s come to this. Historic preservation is a core value of Trek. But we’re bumping up against harsh economic realities that is causing us to consider something that we wouldn’t naturally consider,” he said. “We’re open to demolition if that’s what it takes.”
Mr. Gatti said it is unlikely that Trek will appeal the Commonwealth Court decision to the state Supreme Court, but instead will set out to find another solution.
As tough as it would be to lose the historic facades next to the Garden Theater, some URA board members said it should be considered given the court ruling.
“I’ll tell you at this point, from the residents I’ve heard from, they say just tear it down. They’d rather see some development happen,” said URA board member R. Daniel Lavelle, a city councilman.
Board member Cheryl Hall-Russell said she has also heard that, adding the “level of frustration is so high right now” among residents who supported the project.
In 2015, the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment approved variances for Trek to build to 97 feet behind the facades, one of which is 70 feet tall, nearly double the 45-foot limit.
The argument was that the old building already exceeded the current height restriction. But Commonwealth Court ruled that Trek “failed to meet its burden to prove that it was entitled to the variances.”
Interestingly enough, attorneys for the appellate, Stephen Pascal, argued that the facades weren’t necessary and the money budgeted for their restoration could be used to build a smaller building.
From the Shawnee Dispatch: A Shawnee couple’s dream to renovate the former Aztec Theatre has been put on hold.
But plans for reviving the historic movie theater may still be in the works; it might just be with a different owner.
At the Shawnee Fine Arts board meeting last Wednesday evening, Liam and Marie Tripp announced to a stunned crowd they were unable to finalize their purchase of the little downtown theater.
Property owner Wade Williams told them in an email last week, he is in the process of selling the venue to another party.
The news comes two months after the Tripps announced to the Shawnee community they had bought the theater, currently called the Fine Arts Theatre, and they were waiting on legal documents to be drafted.
Williams confirmed to the Dispatch he offered the property to the couple, given they had “earnest money,” or, in other words, funds to finalize a contract. A sales agreement had not been drawn up at the time the couple went public with the news, however.
In early February, the couple organized and held a public meeting at the Shawnee Library to formally announce themselves as the new owners and to reveal their renovation plans for the movie theater, which sits near the corner of Johnson Drive and Nieman Road. The meeting drew around 100 people, including city officials.
To develop fundraising plans for the theater’s renovation, and make it a community effort, the Tripps created a nonprofit organization, the Shawnee Fine Arts Foundation, and established a board for it which currently has 15 members.
But Williams told the Dispatch soon after the Tripps publicly announced themselves as the new owners he started to question the couple’s financial ability to purchase the venue. Since there was no final contract, he began looking at other offers.
Meanwhile, the Tripps continued to rally the community with their quest to reopen the beloved theater.
Last month, Williams toured the vacant theater with the Tripps and a group of Shawnee Fine Arts board members.
This month, he officially announced his intent to sell the theater to another party instead.
He wouldn’t reveal the names of the potential new owners to the Dispatch, saying it was up to the buyers to reveal themselves when the time was ready.
And although the Tripps may not be the new owners after all, hopes for the theater’s restoration haven’t changed.
“I can confirm I have a sales agreement and hope the theater sells because the buyers are substantial and will restore the property back to a classic movie theater,” Williams said.
When Liam announced the news at the Shawnee Fine Arts board meeting last week, the reaction was solemn.
“I’m sorry if I disappointed you people,” he told the board members. “That was the last thing I wanted to do.”
Despite Williams’ announcement of his intent to sell the theater to another party, Liam insisted he still wants to help the potential new owners make the former Aztec Theatre an asset to the community.
He hopes all the work he and his wife spent rallying the community will benefit the theater and any new owners in the long run.
“I lit the fire, but I don’t have to carry the torch,” he said.
The board members agreed it would only be in the city’s best interest to work with the new owners.
After all, they said, the goal of having the theater reopened hasn’t changed.
Shawnee Fine Arts chairman Joe Bolander said it’s important for the community to remain optimistic.
“If he (Williams) now has a contract with someone else, we can’t do anything except show our support,” he said. “I’ll be very disappointed if the new owner doesn’t open it as a theater.”
Bolander, along with many of the other board members, joined forces with the Tripps to reopen the theater because they all want to see its former glory restored.
They hope that dream is kept alive.
“I drive by this theater on my way to church every Sunday and I always used to look to see if it was going to open,” Bolander said. “To have such a beautiful old theater in my backyard is amazing and history will be brought back to life if it reopens. It’s about nostalgia.”