The latest movie theater news and updates

  • November 7, 2016

    Patchogue, NY – Patchogue Theatre: Past, Present and Future


    From Ward & Glynee’s Patchogue Theatre opened on Main Street in May 1923. For the next three decades, Patchogue was a major source of employment in the textile, tourism, shipbuilding, and fishing industries. In fact, the village was called “The Queen of the South Shore” during this time.

    The theater attracted celebrities, first-run feature films, Broadway productions, vaudeville, and even burlesque. Later, in the 1970s and ’80s, Patchogue Theatre operated as a triplex movie theater. According to board member Chris Capobianco, “everyone has a story from those times.” But the triplex was closed in the mid-80s, and the theater lay empty for 10 years. Capobianco believes that 1997 was a key year, not just for the theater, but for the village’s restoration as a whole. The BrickHouse Brewery and Restaurant had just opened, and thanks to the help of some local business people, it was announced that the Patchogue Theatre would be saved from the wrecking ball. The then-owners wanted to sell the venue so that it might be demolished to build an office building.

    A lot has happened since the theater reopened in 1998. Last season, Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts achieved a record annual attendance of over 150,000. Capobianco remembers the first show after the theater was restored to its original grandeur—Gateway Playhouse presented The Nutcracker on Ice from Russia. The performing arts center closed once again this year, but only from January to March for interior renovations. “The $1.5 million renovations to the interior have greatly improved the ‘Patchogue Theatre Experience’ for our patrons,” says Bernie Fabig, Public Relations & Marketing Manager. “Our new seats are not only wider and more comfortable, but the Village had seating experts come in to make sure that the sight-lines were improved, so that you are never sitting directly behind someone.”

  • Washington, MO – Calvin Theater Owners Remove Old Marquee


    The marquee at the Calvin Theater was removed this weekend by the owners of the building.

    The city of Washington contacted the property owner’s, Douglas and Gregory Strothkamp, in early October about property maintenance code violations at the old theater on 311 Elm St.

    In a letter to the Strothkamps, the city outlined numerous problems with the building.

    The letter said the property was in violation of Sections 106 and 107 of the city’s property maintenance code and the owners have 30 days to address the problems. The letter is dated Oct. 4, 2016.

    City Administrator Jim Briggs said the letter did not call for the marquee’s removal, but did address several issues with the sign.

    Briggs said a resident complained about the condition of the marquee and pointed out potential safety hazards.

    “We got a complaint that it was in horrible shape,” Briggs said. “He said he thought it could cause dangerous harm.”

  • Centralia, WA – Nostalgic Fox Theatre Brings the Golden Days Back to Downtown Centralia


    From Thurston Talk: There is something magical about the glow of a Marquee sign. It brings fond memories of soda fountains and the golden age of Hollywood. If you grew up in the area, you may remember when the historic Fox Theatre lit up South Tower Avenue in Centralia. Nestled in amidst the old shops, it was a hub of activity when it opened in 1930 as part of the Fox West Coast Theatre chain. At the time, it was a 1,200 seat art-deco theatre that ran as a movie theater until 1999. But then the films stopped. The marquee went out, darkening the entire street. It was a stark reminder against the skyline that the city had seen better days.

    Almost a decade later, in 2008, Scott White moved back home to Centralia with one goal in mind: to do something about the darkened theater. He founded the non-profit Historic Fox Theatre Restorations and has been the President of the Board of Directors ever since. This is a 100-percent volunteer position for him.

    “After spending 20 years working in the entertainment industry, I hoped to use some of the experience I gathered along the way to make the project a success,” Scott says. “Having grown up in Centralia, the Fox Theatre was a very important part of my childhood and was the beginning of a lifelong love of theater and movies.”

    The group’s ultimate goal is a complete restoration of the building, inside and out, to its former 1930s glory. But, Scott, says, this doesn’t mean it won’t be able to handle today’s needs when it comes to technology.

  • Buffalo, NY – Shea’s Seneca Theatre destined for revival


    From The Buffalo News: A historic commercial building that was once part of Shea’s Seneca Theatre in South Buffalo is now destined for reuse, with developer Jake Schneider planning a mix of apartments, a theatre and performance art space in the 88-year-old structure.

    Schneider Development on Monday said it wants to spend $9 million to renovate the vacant and underused property at 2178 Seneca St., restoring its original architecture and bringing the building back to life as part of the latest adaptive reuse project in the city, and particularly along Seneca Street.

    “We’re very excited about the neighborhood. It’s a well-established and proud community with great assets to build upon,” he said. “It is our hope that this project will serve as a catalyst for the revitalization of the Seneca Street commercial corridor.”

    Located at the intersection of Seneca and Cazenovia streets, near Cazenovia Park, the historic two-story brick building was originally constructed in 1929 by well-known regional cinema icon Michael Shea, who built Shea’s Buffalo downtown, the North Park Theatre in North Buffalo, and several other iconic movie and entertainment houses that have since been demolished. With 2,500 seats, Shea’s Seneca was once said to be the largest community theater in the city, and grandly featured a colored marble lobby, ornamental plaster and arched windows. It also had a Wurlitzer theater organ, which was played on opening night in 1930 during the showing of The Mighty.

  • November 3, 2016

    Lakeview, LA – New movie theater heading to the old home of the Robert E. Lee?


    From The film projector at the old Robert E. Lee Theater went dark on Sept. 9, 1990, with a final showing of the Kiefer Sutherland and Julia Roberts movie “Flatliners.”

    After that, the once-popular Lakeview theater fell into a state of neglect, despite at least one effort to reopen it, and met the wrecking ball in 2009.

    The site has been a vacant lot since, but now a local developer hopes to build a four-screen theater there, bucking a trend in recent decades that saw large chain theaters in the suburbs replace neighborhood theaters.

    Dubbed the Nola Movie House, the family-friendly theater would include four screens in smaller, more intimate auditoriums than those of multiplexes, and include food and drink service. A screen is also planned for the roof.

    Documents filed with the city indicated there would be no more than 190 seats in the entire building.

    Architects have applied for minor zoning variances, including one that would allow a marquee to be placed atop the front of the theater, similar to the Robert E. Lee name perched atop the former building. The exterior design of the new theater closely resembles the old theater, which opened in 1965.

    A recent meeting between the architects and neighbors included questions about whether liquor would be served, if lighting from the marquee would disturb neighbors and if traffic would increase.

    According to records of that meeting, representatives said alcohol would be served but only during movies and the theater would not operate as a bar; lighting would not bleed into the surrounding neighborhood; and they do not expect any impact from additional cars since a large parking lot exists at the shopping center where the theater would be built.

    Ellen Johnson is a local movie buff who cherished the theater so much she bought the bold red letters from the rooftop marquee.

    “This was definitely an iconic theater in our very storied city, and I hated to just see it go away,” she said, adding that the return of a theater to Lakeview would be a welcome addition. “It will be another place for families to go and movie buffs like me. I don’t have to drive across town.”

    Benji Azar, the man behind plans for new theater, has memories of the old Robert E. Lee theater, which led him to plan a replacement.

    “My wife and I grew up going to movies at the Robert E. Lee Theater, and we both have memories of our experiences there,” Azar said in an email.

    He said the space will be designed for those who remember the old theater and those who are used to a more modern movie-going experience.

    “What we’ve put together, at least I hope, is a space that reminds people of what was once there and at the same time, creates something fun and cool enough that people will want to come back to over and over again,” he said.

    The Robert E. Lee was built by theater mogul Joy Houck and considered the “shining new star” in his chain, Jack Stewart, a local preservationist and historian, and Rene Brunet Jr., owner of The Prytania theater, wrote in their book “There’s One in Your Neighborhood: The Lost Movie Theaters of New Orleans.”

    Errol Laborde, a historian and editor of New Orleans Magazine, remembered it as the first big theater in the lakefront area and its unique interior, done in a riverboat motif, and something else that was equally unique for its time.

    “It also had a lot of interesting concessions as I recall,” Laborde said. “I think you could buy alcohol there which was sort of revolutionary for the time.”

    After the theater closed, Brunet made an unsuccessful effort to lease it, and though it only took on a few inches of water during Hurricane Katrina, the owner, M&O Realty, considered the building dated and thought it would cost too much to retrofit, Stewart and Brunet wrote.

    While the Nola Movie House would be a neighborhood theater, it would be a far cry from the neighborhood theaters of days gone by and a something of a rarity. Until recently, The Prytania in Uptown was the only theater left in the city, but it retains an older feel with one screen, a larger auditorium and traditional concessions.

    The model of smaller auditoriums with plush seating and food and drink service first appeared on the local scene when the Theatres at Canal Place opened in 2010, bringing a movie theater to the French Quarter and Central Business District.

    Since then, local theater operator George Solomon opened a similar “movie tavern” in Covington, and The Broad Theater opened in Mid-City at North Broad Street, near Orleans Avenue, opened earlier this year.

    The Broad is another four-screen theater that shows independent films along with more mainstream films from major Hollywood studios.

    “You know, that’s what New Orleans is all about, the old style theaters. We have Canal Place now redone, the Prytania Theater is still in action,” said Brendan Gonzalez, who lives in New Orleans. “I think it’s time for Lakeview to get an old-school boutique theater back up and running.”

  • November 1, 2016

    New York, NY – Harlem’s protracted Victoria Theater redevelopment may move forward


    From Curbed NY: The long-stalled Victoria Theater redevelopment project in Harlem may finally be making some progress, the New York Post reports. Their reporter spotted a notice relating to “earthwork” at the site, which was posted there last month.

    The plan has undergone so many changes since it was announced over a decade, so it’s hard to keep track of what’s actually going on at the site right now. While this latest notice hasn’t yet appeared on the city’s Department of Buildings website, the most recent iteration of the plans call for a 26-story tower at the site with 200 rentals, half of which will be affordable, and a Renaissance by Marriott hotel.

    Plans call for the historic theater to be restored and incorporated into the tower. The most recent version of the plans were filed by developer Lam Group in October 2014, and demolition work at the site got underway in the summer of 2015. The progress since then however has been excruciatingly slow.

    This latest notice may be a sign of things moving forward, but no word yet on when the Aufgang Architects-designed building will actually be completed.

    Designed in 1917 by noted architect Thomas W. Lamb, the theater opened as the Loew’s Victoria Theater and could seat nearly 2,400 people. In the late 1980s the large auditorium was converted into multiple theaters, and it wasn’t until 2005 that redevelopment proposals were submitted for the site.

  • Irwin, PA – Irwin’s Lamp Theatre plans to buy digital projector to screen newer movies


    From The renovated Lamp Theatre in Irwin is showing movies again — classic flicks for now via an old film projector — but operators hope to entertain audiences with recent releases once a new digital movie projector is purchased.

    The theater’s operators hope to have the new projector by the Christmas holiday season, said John Gdula, president of the Lamp Theatre board of directors. The organization is making the financial arrangements to buy a projector for about $38,000, he said.

    A digital projector is needed to show first-run movies “primarily because the movie studios are stopping production of movies on film,” said Patrick Corcoran, vice president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group.

    Corcoran said the studios have moved to digital production as a way of reducing costs.

    “It’s much less expensive for them to distribute the movies on hard drives — about $60 — than on film, which costs about $1,200 per movie,” Corcoran said.

    The quality of the digital picture is the same as film but does not develop flaws with age, Corcoran said.

    With a digital projector, the Lamp Theatre would be able to screen new movies. Whether the movies would be first-run or available after making a run at the multiplex cinemas in the region likely would be determined by the rules governing distribution rights of the movie, Gdula said.

    The revenue generated by ticket sales and the profit from concessions should cover the cost of the digital projector, Gdula said.

    The Lamp’s operators will have to consider when to show movies as an increasingly busy production schedule includes live entertainment and the showing of older, classic movies.

    “It’s a nice problem to have,” Gdula said.

    The efforts to restore the Lamp Theatre over the past several years have been recognized by the Westmoreland County Historical Society, which recently gave the Lamp board an Arthur St. Clair Historical Preservation Award “for bringing a property back to life,” Gdula said.

  • Lafayette, CA – New life for downtown movie theater?


    From The East Bay Times: A group of residents is hoping to transform a long-closed movie theater into a center for cinema, music and art.

    Cathy and Frederick Abbott and business partner Alex McDonald want to purchase the 75-year-old Park Theater on Golden Gate Way and convert it to a performance and rehearsal space and venue for art house films.

    The acquisition, according to Cathy Abbott, is a last-ditch effort to preserve the theater as a place for cinema and community gatherings. “It seemed like a now or never moment, realizing that once the theater is demolished, there’s no bringing it back,” Abbott wrote in a statement to the City Council.

  • Grand Junction, CO – New movie theater opening in Grand Junction


    From KKCO TV-11: Renovations are underway at a closed movie theater in Grand Junction.

    The movie theater company Picture Show is moving into the former Carmike Cinemas and opening a new budget friendly movie theater.

    “I think it’s really exciting, it gives more of a variety of places we can go,” said Lux Miller, a Grand Valley movie lover.

    “It’s great to have other options, and something that will hopefully make these a little more competitive on the other side,” said Grand Junction resident Jeff Green.

    Picture Show bought the 23-year-old building, and the owners are working hard on upgrades.

    “I think that Carmike needed to improve,” said the new owner, Jeff Stedman.

    It’s the inside where picture show is adding all new equipment and upgrades like reclining seats, hoping to make the movie viewing experience more comfortable.

    “We took a facility that was not being used, and would have been closed otherwise and invested $2 million in the community,” said Stedman. “We’re going to employ 25-30 people and we’re going to have value pricing for our customers.”

  • October 30, 2016

    Highland, IN – State providing $50,000 to restore Highland’s Town Theatre


    The state of Indiana is kicking in $50,000 to help pay for restoration of the historic Town Theatre in Highland.

    The lieutenant governor’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs and Office of Tourism Development announced Thursday they are providing the money as part of a matching grant program that promotes quality of place improvements across the state.

    “The intent of this fund is to reward creativity and resourcefulness,” said Mark Newman, state tourism director. “The impact to quality of life and ultimately tourism will be great.”