The latest movie theater news and updates

  • October 30, 2016

    Richmond, IN: Indy architect firm buys Richmond’s Tivoli Theater site

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    From The Pal-Item: The historic Tivoli Theater building in downtown Richmond has been purchased by an Indianapolis-based architecture firm that hopes to turn the space into a regional office, Center City Development Corp. announced Thursday.

    R&B Architects closed on the 900 E. Main St. building on Oct. 21, after determining the site would suit its needs for a satellite office space, as well as other potential commercial development projects.

    Immediate plans for the building include a design studio office space and potentially a coffee bistro, R&B principal Brent Mather said.

  • Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY – A Eulogy for the Pavilion, the Worst Movie Theater Ever

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    From Screen Crush: My friends, thank you all for coming here today to say goodbye. The Pavilion is gone.

    The theater will be transformed into an arthouse by the owners of Williamsburg’s outstanding Nitehawk Cinema. Today was supposed to be its last day; as of lunchtime yesterday, the theater was still selling tickets for screenings on its website. Then, suddenly, all the screenings vanished. A moving truck showed up outside the theater. The building’s metal shutters were brought down. And just like that the Worst Theater Ever was no more. We never even got to say goodbye. (Or to tell them to correct the spelling of “MIDLLE SCHOOL.” [On both sides of the marquee.])

    It was an anticlimactic end for a movie theater, but a fitting one in this case, for this was the Pavilion, a theater that somehow turned gross and persistent incompetence into a functioning business model for well over a decade. Alexander Pope famously wrote “to err is human, to forgive divine.” If that is true, then the Pavilion was the most human movie theater that ever existed, and its customer base was borderline godly.

    A lot of you only knew the Pavilion after its health started failing. You should have seen it when it was younger. It was beautiful. It was born in 1996, the child of an old movie house, the Sanders, that lived and died on the same corner as the Pavilion, at 14th Street and Prospect Park West. In its youth, the Pavilion was a local favorite. Back then, no one in Park Slope had a bad thing to say about it.

    Things took a turn after the Pavilion’s radical surgery in the mid-2000s. It was diagnosed with a terminal disease of not enough screens, so its three auditoriums were split into nine of varying size. Looking back now, that was the beginning of the end. The Pavilion soldiered on, but it was never the same again. Ownership changed and the new people in charge took less and less interest in the Pavilion’s upkeep. By the late 2000s the place was a shell of its former self. The people who loved it will tell you it was hard to watch.

    There’s another old expression, this one not by Alexander Pope, that warns never to speak ill of the dead. And so it would be inappropriate of me to list some of the Pavilion’s many, many, many flaws, issues, and problems here. It would be wrong, for example, to go to the theater’s Yelp page, where it had the lowest rating of any theater in New York City, and pull excerpts from the hundreds (literally hundreds) of one-star reviews.

    I choose to focus on the good times and not the bad, like the occasion where a customer was told their debit card was declined, while the clerk repeatedly charged them for snacks they never received.

    That’s an honest mistake; it could happen to anyone. The same goes for the screens that were dirty, ripped, or broken, sometimes for years. A lot of movie theaters have screens that are cracked “as if someone punched it.”

    The Pavilion got forgetful later in life. This is just what happens when you get older. I sometimes forget where I left my keys. The Pavilion forgot when it was showing movies. Or it would advertise showings that didn’t exist, or blame the screw-ups on ticketing websites like Fandango.

    At the end it got so bad, the Pavilion even thought it had an IMAX screen. The poor thing was delusional.

    Those of you with seniors in their lives know how rough those last days can get. The Pavilion lived so long, its body literally began to fall apart.

    Temperature was always an issue. In the summer, it was too hot.

    In the winter, it was too cold.

    Or sometimes the heat worked, and no one bothered to turn it on.

    The customers weren’t the only ones who froze; the movies froze too. (I personally witnessed this happen during a screening of The Other Guys.)

    And when the popcorn machine worked, the water fountain didn’t.

    There were other water troubles. When it rained outside, it rained inside.

    At least we hoped that was rain:

    Of course, you probably heard the complaints about bed bugs. Rumors and supposed sightings of the critters plagued the Pavilion all through its later years. To be honest, I always thought these were overblown; a lot of hearsay with little evidence.

    There were definitely rats though.

    It’s not all the Pavilion’s fault. Sometimes the customers were just absurdly demanding!

    Just because you saw a rat (okay, two rats) you want your money back? You already watched 20 minutes of the movie! That’s almost a third! People can be such freeloaders.

    At the very end, the Pavilion even lost control of its bowels. It was just ugly.

    Euthanasia is illegal in this country. But I tell you this, my friends: Seeing what became of our Pavilion, I wished it wasn’t. Someone needed to put this poor suffering creature out of its misery.

    The Pavilion was finally put out of its misery yesterday. It will no longer have to endure customers and their ridiculous complaints about the lack of air conditioning or heat or toilet stall doors. It won’t have to hear people demand their money back just because their seat was broken, or the floor was sticky, or there were absolutely no lights on in the auditorium before the movie began, forcing them to fumble in the dark with their iPhone flashlights, or the film projector was so caked in dust it looked like it hadn’t been serviced since Thomas Edison was alive. It won’t have to call the cops on a diabetic who tried to bring fruit in to the theater. Fruit! Can you believe it? What a world.

    Yesterday, I wrote a consumer guide to good movie theater projection; what every theater should do to give their customers their money’s worth. It was 1500 words long, and included excerpts from a lengthy interview with an expert on theatrical presentation. If I wanted to save time, I could have just written “Look at the Pavilion, then do the opposite.” Back in 2012, I called it “the worst theater ever.” Some people thought I was being hyperbolic; surely, somewhere, they must be a worse movie theater than the Pavilion.

    There wasn’t. If there is a hell, the Pavilion is now serving customers there. They won’t even have to get the air conditioner serviced.

    Full story, with patron reviews: Remembering the Worst Movie Theater Ever | http://screencrush.com/rip-the-pavilion-the-worst-theater-ever/?trackback=tsmclip

  • October 27, 2016

    Oneonta, NY – Oneonta Theatre plans farewell bash, seeks new owner

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    From The Daily Star: A Halloween bash at the Oneonta Theatre on Friday will be the venue’s last event, at least for now, the owner said Wednesday.

    Thomas Cormier, who has owned the Chestnut St. property for seven years, said, despite his best efforts, he cannot afford to keep the historic building open.

    Living 45 minutes away from the venue and juggling a full-time job and a family, there’s not enough time and energy left over for all of the work that goes into operating and maintaining the theater on the side, booking shows and preparing for events, he said. And it’s expensive.

    “Temperatures are dropping,” said Cormier, of Burlington Flats, “and, once you turn the heat on in this building, you just can’t sell enough tickets or beer to keep up.”

    The 27,000-square-foot building is for sale for $925,000, but that price is flexible, Cormier said, and he’s encouraging area arts groups and nonprofits to contact him with ideas. The property is not listed with a real estate agency.

    “Nothing is off the table right now. I’m open to anything, a long-term lease or, if the right group came to me, split and donate. Any way this beautiful old venue can stay a part of this community,” Cormier said. “I’ve tried keeping it open so I could find a group to come in and take over. But it’s been a long time and I haven’t found that. This is my passion, I just can’t do it by myself anymore.”

    As the seller, Cormier has been approached by several interested groups. People “mean well, but nobody can really step up and take the reins,” he said.

    “I had an offer a year-and-a-half ago, but I turned it down,” Cormier said. “I didn’t want to see the building knocked down. My main concern is to find a future for it.”

    Phone messages left for the Friends of the Oneonta Theatre, a group formed in 2008 to preserve the historic site, were not returned by Wednesday night; Cormier said the group is defunct.

    GOING OUTWITH A BANG

    Cormier said the theater will go out the same way it came in under his management: with good, local entertainment.

    Electro-rock group Jimkata, a nationally touring band whose members are from Oneonta, is headlining the show, which will kick off at 7 p.m. and run until midnight. Tickets cost $12 in advance and $15 at the door.

    The band’s frontman, Evan Friedell, 30, told The Daily Star on Tuesday that he grew up visiting the venue with his mother, a makeup designer and actress. Friedell met bandmates Aaron Gorsch and Packy Lunn in middle school in Oneonta, he said.

    “I have vivid memories of walking around while she was working on shows and other things there, going backstage and that kind of thing,” Friedell said. “The first time we came back to play there, it was kind of a trip. That was an early indicator for us that, if we could get this kind of a reaction in Oneonta, I think we could do this everywhere. And now we have fans across the U.S. who come to our shows and know all the words and are wearing our T-shirts.”

    Friedell said he had no idea the theater was set to close, but it doesn’t surprise him.

    “It’s a big venue in a small town,” he said. “It was built for another time, and trying to put 700 people in seats now is tough. It definitely reflects what’s going on nationally. We see clubs come and go all the time, some places that we really like. The whole industry is struggling with this. …We’ve played probably between six and 10 shows there. Oneonta is our hometown, ultimately, so it always feels pretty good — like coming home.”

    A LOOK BACK

    Cormier bought the building in July 2009, and a year later, he opened it for business. He was shopping for commercial property in Oneonta, and saw potential in the complex, he said.

    After-purchase improvements included removing mold, fixing water problems, upgrading plumbing and electrical systems and bringing the building up to code, he said.

    “A lot of treasure, blood, sweat and tears went into this,” Cormier said. “It still needs more restoration, but it’s safe now. It has all the proper fire safety.”

    According to Otsego County Real Property Service, the property’s assessed value is $375,000.

    The Oneonta Theatre was built in 1897 and hosted vaudeville acts, movies and other performances. The walls are decorated with curtain murals. The property is listed on the state and national registers of historic places.

    For years, the theater screened first-run movies on a regular schedule, was the stage for Orpheus Theatre shows and more recently has presented musicians, holiday movies and film series. Decades ago, graduation ceremonies were held inside the cavernous venue.

    The theater has presented hundreds of concerts and other performances, according to Cormier. Some of his favorite memories have been of Steve Earle, Jerry Jeff Walker, Blue Öyster Cult, Kansas, Little Feat, and The Radiators, he said.

    The old building has seen “tons of icons,” Cormier said.

    “Blue Öyster Cult in 2011 was a fantastic show. It did well all-around,” he said. “My personal favorite was Little Feat. And we’ve had many, many memorable plays, as well. ‘Always … Patsy Cline’ and ‘Frankenstein.’ Even just some of the local talent that’s gotten up there on the stages. … I’ve met thousands and thousands of people and watched them walk out of the place smiling. That has been very gratifying.”

  • Lewisville, TX – New Drive-In Movie Theater Opens in Lewisville Friday

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    From dmagazine.com: If recent trends in new theater openings in North Texas can tell us anything, it may be that people really enjoy eating and drinking while watching a movie, simplifying the classic “dinner and a movie” combination. We’ve also seen the rise of zero tolerance policies for cell phones, extra-cinematic programming, and the promise of “luxury” seating as theater attendance continues to decline.

    A more traditional experience hasn’t completely lost its sway with moviegoers, however. It’s too early to call it a comeback, but a new drive-in theater opening Friday in Lewisville could qualify as at least a tentative revival of a throwback American night out.

    It’s the third such venture from Coyote Drive-In Theaters and Canteen, which opened its first outpost in Fort Worth in 2013 and expanded to Leeds, Alabama earlier this year. (The two Coyotes join the Galaxy Drive-In in Ennis and the Brazos in Granbury on North Texas’ lineup of drive-in theaters.)

    The theater, at 1901 Midway Rd. off the 121 Tollway, will have five screens digitally projecting double features of first-run movies seven nights a week, according to a press release. Most of the screens — there are plans for a sixth — stand about 55 feet tall and 75 feet wide. The complex can fit about 1,500 cars.

    There are, of course, plenty of modern amenities added to this nostalgia trip. Audiences in the drive-in heyday of the ’50s never knew the unique, late capitalism joys of “Pepsi Spire 5.0 drink systems,” for example. Per the press release from Coyote:

    In the center of the grounds stands a Canteen – a restaurant and bar pavilion with indoor and outdoor covered seating for 300 guests, fitted with ten high-definition big-screen TVs – perfect for football, baseball and soccer game days.

    Within the Canteen area, patrons can enjoy hand-crafted pizza, burgers, wings and tenders from the full-service kitchen in one hand and the traditional concessions like giant pretzels, churros, popcorn, candy in the other. Coyote Drive-In comes complete with a Beer & Wine bar, featuring many craft beer favorites and frozen wineritas. Coyote also prepares Sno-Cones and Cotton Candy on site and has a Merchandise Shop. And to top it off, the theater is one of the first in Texas to carry Pepsi Spire 5.0 drink systems, a state-of-the-art refreshment dispenser with over one hundred Pepsi flavor combinations to choose from.

    Some people will try to tell you America used to be greater than it is now, but in what other era could you choose from 100 Pepsi flavor combinations?

    Tickets to the Coyote Drive-In are $7 for adults, $5 for kids between the ages of 5 and 11, and free for children younger than 4. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and showtimes begin just after sunset.

  • Oregon, IL – New popcorn business could lead to theater re-opening in Oregon

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    From The Ogle County Life: Ryan Hopper knows popcorn.

    Hopper, who recently opened Hopper’s Poppers in Oregon, said his family has been in the movie theater and popcorn business for decades. And he brought his successful popcorn formulas from Sycamore to Oregon to give locals a taste.

    And judging by opening day – Sept. 31 – he has another hit on his hands.

    “We had a line out the door waiting for us to open,” he said. “The building inspector was still in here inspecting.”

    That opening weekend – the weekend of Autumn on Parade – Hopper said they went through 150 pounds of popcorn.

    “Our supplier was surprised,” he said. “I was surprised.”

    Hopper has not only opened a new business in Oregon – selling popcorn, candy and other treats – he has purchased the building at 104 N. 4th St., which is next to the closed movie theater that currently houses an appliance repair shop, moved his family to town and is looking at the possibility of renovating and opening the theater. (see sidebar story).

    “I really see Oregon as being one of those up-and-coming towns,” he said “That is one of the reasons why we chose to move to Oregon.”

    Hopper started his business in Sycamore in 2012. His family has owned the Sycamore State Theater since 2000, and he started his business selling popcorn at the theater. From there he started selling at area farmer’s markets and business boomed.

    “It got so popular, I had to upgrade all of my equipment there, to larger equipment,” he said.

    Hopper said the secret to his success is how he makes and keeps his product.

    “We use high quality food,” he said. “We use coconut oil for our oil. I made my own recipe for the popcorn, so it’s not just generic run of the mill popcorn.”

    And once the popcorn is ready, it is held in crispers to keep it fresh. He said it won’t dry out and it won’t get too soft.

    And then there are the flavors. There are nine flavors on hand, but different flavors come in and out of the menu all the time. Hopper said he will always have cheddar, carmel, chocolate and cake popcorn. There is also kettle corn and a wide variety of cheese popcorn.

    The best seller?

    “Carmel is always the best, by far,” he said. “Everyone comes in to try the cake, though. Not everyone has cake popcorn.”

    To keep up on what is available, follow Hopper’s Poppers on Facebook.

  • October 26, 2016

    New York, NY – The haunted history of Broadway’s Palace Theatre

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    From Curbed NY: The sightings of spirits, ghosts, and ghouls are a common occurrence in New York City buildings, and one such haunted spot is Times Square’s Palace Theatre. It’s said to be home to a variety of ghosts—both friendly and frightening—many of whom once graced its legendary stage.

    Located at Broadway at West 47th Street, the theater was built in 1913 by the Milwaukee-based architecture firm of Kirchoff & Rose. They were somewhat limited in their design potential, thanks to the fact that the theater was located within a ten-story office building and surrounded by existing buildings on each side. They designed a three-level auditorium with 16 parquet-style boxes arranged along the walls toward the stage, “under a graceful arch forming a stylized sunburst above them on either side.” Designed in the Neo-Classical style, the building featured “moldings of such as fruit festoons and bead-and-reel to outline the panels into which the walls and ceiling were divided.”

  • Lockport, IL – Historic Lockport theater may undergo renovations

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    From The Chicago Tribune: An historic downtown Lockport theater could soon be getting a face-lift to help restore it to its former glory.

    City officials recently discussed awarding a $10,000 grant to the owner of the Roxy Theatre building to pay for some of the renovations.

    “I know we’re all excited to see it happen,” Mayor Steve Streit said during Wednesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

    The grant would go toward helping with a facade improvement project costing more than $50,000. The project would include a new marquee sign with a design that had to be approved by the Heritage and Architecture Commission because the building is in the historic district.

  • Bridgeport, CT – New management keeps Bridgeport’s Bijou Theatre open

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    From The Connecticut Post: The Bijou Theatre has not seen its final curtain call after all.

    In July, Christine Brown, president of the nonprofit that operated the theater, said it would close its doors on Aug. 7 because it didn’t work financially.

    “We’re really, really proud of what we’ve accomplished, but the economics have made it impossible for us to keep going,” Brown said at the time.

    But, according to developer Phil Kuchma, whose company owns the building, no one has taken any final bows. “It’s just under a new tenant,” he said.

    Kuchma said he never planned to close the theater, but potential visitors might have had a hard time learning this. Though the Bijou has a new website and Facebook page, the original site, the thebijoutheatre.com, still comes up in web searches and as of Monday featured a farewell message.

    “The Bijou Theatre thanks the people of Bridgeport, the local theater community and all of its past patrons for the privilege of serving them,” the message states.

    The theater’s former Facebook page comes up as unavailable.

  • October 25, 2016

    Kansas City, MO – AMC Issues $1.4 Billion in Debt to Pay for Carmike, Odeon Acquisitions

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    From The Wrap: AMC Entertainment Holdings, the parent company of cinema chain AMC Theatres, announced in a Thursday filing that it would issue $1.4 billion in new debt to finance two billion-dollar acquisitions it has agreed on this year.

    In July, AMC — which is owned by Chinese entertainment giant Dalian Wanda Group — agreed to buy British theater chain Odeon & UCI in a deal valued at $1.2 billion. That same month, the board of Carmike Cinemas, the U.S.’ fourth-largest exhibitor, agreed to accept AMC’s second and sweetened offer for $1.2 billion.

    The Carmike acquisition would make AMC the country’s biggest theatrical exhibitor, passing current No. 1 Regal Cinemas. Combined, Odeon and Carmike control more than 5,000 screens, and completing both deals would make AMC parent Wanda — which also owns China’s biggest theater chain — the first exhibitor to manage more than 10,000 screens worldwide.

  • Bedford, NY – Bedford Playhouse Nears Fundraising Goal To Begin Construction

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    From The Daily Voice: The folks trying to turn the Bedford Playhouse, one of northern Westchester’s oldest cultural institutions, into a nonprofit arts cinema and community center, are marking a fundraising milestone.

    Thanks to several recent large donations, the campaign has now raised $4.6 million of its $5.2 million needed to begin construction. Additional fundraising will ensure the Playhouse is operational in 2017.

    In the past six weeks alone, the effort has raked in $800,000. About $600,000 more is needed to begin construction.

    They also announced that a series of videos, touting different aspects of the project, have been, or will be, released on the theater’s website, www.BedfordPlayhouse.org.

    They hope the six short promos, which were created by Jamie Edgar of Hound Dog Media, will rally their “final stretch” effort.

    Each video includes commentary by Bedford Playhouse president John Farr.

    The first two videos were posted earlier this month.

    In 2014, the playhouse was facing extinction after its previous tenant, Bow Tie Cinemas, decided not to renew its lease.

    Now there are plans for three state-of-the-art theaters, including a flex-use space for community events such as guest speakers and concerts, and an all-day café.

    A fundraiser and celebration of the movies and performing arts was held recently at the Harvey School’s Walker Center for the Arts in Katonah.

    The event featured a cocktail reception and show that included performances by Westchester residents Glenn Close and Paul Shaffer, Jeffrey Tambor, Chazz Palminteri, Terre Blair (Marvin Hamlisch’s widow), Marissa McGowan and Robert Klein.

    Bedford resident Chevy Chase had been scheduled to appear by had to bow out because of a professional commitment.