The latest movie theater news and updates
May 19, 2017
From Curbed LA: Today marks the 90th anniversary of the day Hollywood impresario Sid Grauman opened his Chinese Theatre, which would become the most famous—and arguably the greatest—movie theater ever constructed.
As a recent LA Times profile explains, the extravagant theater was constructed at a hefty cost of $2.1 million on land that Grauman didn’t actually own. The showman, who also developed Downtown’s Million Dollar Theatre and the Egyptian Theatre just two blocks east of the Chinese, leased the land on which the iconic theater sits from silent film star Francis Xavier Bushman, who owned a mansion on the site.
The building was designed by architectural firm Meyer and Holler and represents an Art Deco-influenced (and shamelessly exoticized) reinterpretation of a Chinese temple. The theater’s facade is framed around a 90-foot tall pagoda topped with masks and flanked by imported artifacts from China, such as stone figures and temple bells, as LA Conservancy notes.
The theater’s most famous feature, the Forecourt of the Stars, is as old as the venue itself. Screen icons Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford were the first stars to preserve their handprints and footprints for posterity, according to the Times. Though the two actors wrote the theater’s opening date in the concrete, however, the prints were actually made a few weeks earlier in advance of the venue’s first big premiere (Cecil B. DeMille’s biblical epic King of Kings).
Now named after Chinese electronics manufacturer TCL, the theater recently underwent major renovations that equipped it for IMAX screenings. And 90 years after opening day, it’s still the place to beat for star-studded red carpet premieres. Here’s a look at the historic venue over the years.
From the Palm Beach Post: There was a time when going to the pictures in Palm Beach County had a special cachet.
Local theaters featured elaborate lobbies with smoking rooms and painted tropical murals. One theater bragged about its giant curved screen and “Ultravision” technology. Others advertised balcony seating and “all rocking chairs.”
May 9, 2017
La Puente, CA – La Puente’s Star Theatre could be headed for demolition. Here’s why activists are trying to save it.
From the San Gabriel Valley Tribune News: Every night, Danielle Gonzalez makes a point to drive by the Star Theatre.
The 27-year-old La Puente resident said she finds comfort in the fact that the theater, though infamous for showing pornographic movies from the 1970s to the 1990s, still stands.
Despite its seedy past, the 1940s-era building, a barrel-shaped structure stretching across the full length of its block at the edge of downtown La Puente, is historically and architecturally significant, Gonzalez said.
“It’s more of the visual aesthetic, ‘Hey this is La Puente,’” she said. “It may not be 100 percent perfect or beautiful, but it’s still our history.”
The city may soon lose that piece of history — the new owners of the theater at 145 N. 1st St. are working on a plan to demolish the building and develop condominiums on the site.
Linda Young, of Star Theatre LLC, which purchased the building from its previous owner in April 2016, said the building has fallen into disrepair and would need extensive work to bring it up to code.
“I want to keep it also, but there are so many problems there,” Young said by phone last week. “There’s no way we can keep it.”
Designed in the late 1940s by renowned theater architect S. Charles Lee, the Star is one of five theaters designed by Lee using a lamella roof form, a vaulted roof made up of crisscrossing arches. Lee’s La Puente theater is significant because it is the only one lacking a rectangular facade that conceals the barrel shape of the auditorium from the street, according to Marcello Vavala, a preservation associate at the Los Angeles Conservancy.
Vavala said the La Puente theater is an example of Lee experimenting with building types unusual for movie theaters.
“The lamella roof form is mostly used for industrial warehouses,” he said.
That’s why Gonzalez, a board member for the local nonprofit Arteologists, hopes to convince the city and the owner not to demolish the theater and instead renovate the building and repurpose it as a venue for community performances, art therapy and movie screenings.
“It’s not like it’s actually going to benefit the city to build more condos, especially not down there,” said Gonzalez, who plans to address the City Council during its regular meeting today.
May 2, 2017
From WYSO.org: Picture it – Bellefontaine, Ohio 1931. You’ve taken a seat inside the new Holland Theatre.
High upon the theatre walls around you is a 17th century Dutch cityscape – rows of nearly life-sized houses, their window boxes filled with tulips that wave in the breeze. Several large, slowly turning windmills are also there and above you, a bright blue sky; billowy clouds float by.
In front of you, the largest movie screen in the state fills the stage. And, as you’re watching the popular films of the day, your brain registers that things are changing all around you. The daytime-sky above falls into dusk, and then into a night-time sky filled with thousands of tiny, shining stars. Candlelit windows on the Dutch houses give the impression of life inside.
From the Miami New Times: Why go to dinner and a movie when you can do both at once? CMX, the newly opened dine-in movie theater at Brickell City Centre, offers full-service in-seat gourmet dining complete with “ninja” service — waiters who move silently throughout the cinema so as not to disturb viewers.
April 29, 2017
From the Herald and News: In Hollywood’s golden era, grand movie theaters sprung up in towns across the country to showcase the latest Charlie Chaplin, Abbott & Costello or Lewis & Martin laugh-fest. While the era of fluorescents, marquees and drive-ins have almost completely disappeared in favor of iMax and modern stadium theaters, a group in Lakeview are working to revive a forgotten time when the local theater was the centerpiece of small town social life.
Like most smaller communities, Lakeview once had multiple theaters and a drive-in offering the latest cartoons, newsreels, serials and double features of westerns and classic Hollywood glam. Today, none remain in operation in the area. The Marius Theater decades ago was converted into office space, and the drive-in is now a vacant lot. Yet the Alger Theater, constructed in 1940, still stands, unused except for the occasional special concert or film premiere. Its décor is reminiscent of the art-decco era with a 1940s Hollywood’s bygone sentimental era. A walk inside is a trip through time back to classic Hollywood instantly sparking nostalgic memories for those who lived it and others who have only heard the stories or seen it recreated in popular films like The Majestic.
From the Springfield News-Leader: Some neighbors and business owners near a south Springfield movie theater don’t want to see it turned into a church. They’re signing petitions in protest.
The Premiere Palace, located in Chesterfield Village, is under contract to be bought by Life360 Church, which is looking to relocate its nearby Park Crest campus to the 29,000-square-foot theater at 2220 W. Chesterfield St.
Deby McCurter, who has lived in Chesterfield Village for 15 years, said she’s worried that losing the movie theater will be a hit on property values and the tax base.
“(The theater) is just a great community hub. They’ve upgraded it. They’re doing first-run movies. They’re still the most reasonably priced anywhere. It’s just iconic,” McCurter said.
Leo Crosby, the executive pastor of Life360 Church, said representatives from the church have met with Chesterfield Village residents and organizations.
April 27, 2017
From Syracuse.com: The city of Auburn has declared the nostalgic Schine Theater unsafe and has ordered its non-profit owners to repair or demolish it.
The order is one of a series of orders the city send recently to owners of vacant property, said Edward Onori, chairman of the Cayuga County Arts Council, which owns the theater at 16 South Street.
Onori said the citation will have little effect on its work with the city to restore the old building. “This is just to get us to the table to do something there,” he said.
The arts council is applying for grants to restore the building, Onori said.
The city’s Code Enforcement Officer Lane Pausley told The Citizen that the Schine did not have any specific violations, but that the order was prompted by 25 to 30 years of “non use and disrepair.”
From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Small-town America may have been knocked down in recent decades, but don’t count it out. Private and public efforts have begun to breathe new life into abandoned main streets as people look for amenities closer to home.
One trend has been the restoration of historic theaters across the region.
“Western Pennsylvania has some really good examples of people who have pulled together to do something for their communities,” said Rick Fosbrink, executive director of the Theatre Historical Society of America, which recently moved to Pittsburgh from Chicago.
Philadelphia, PA – North Broad Investments, a Historic Preservation Taskforce and the Uptown Theater
From GoodMenProject.com: here’s been an attempt, in one form or another, to revitalize the Uptown Theater in North Philadelphia since the late 1980s, yet to no real avail, despite it being spacious, well-constructed and rich in historic value, black history in particular. If the now crumbling walls at 2240 N. Broad Street could talk, they’d tell stories of a magical 16th birthday party for Mr. Stevie Wonder; Mr. Earl Young, the drummer whose chops are heard on classic recordings, like ‘Disco Inferno,’ receiving informal tutorials on music theory; classic battles of the bands featuring super-groups like The Temptations and the Four Tops; and even an unconventional church who was displaced by a massive winter storm.