The latest movie theater news and updates

  • January 24, 2017

    Springfield, MA – New Springfield RMV opens in former movie theater with technology upgrades, more space and parking

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    From MassLive: he new Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Office the agency opened Monday in the Springfield Plaza shopping center has more chairs than its predecessor.

    The RMV just hopes fewer people need to use them.

    “Our goal is to get people in and out,” said Mary Tibma, deputy registrar for external services.

  • Greenport, NY – Owner Sheds Light on How to Keep Greenport Movie Theater Open Year Round

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    From the North Fork Patch: The movie theater in Greenport could soon be open on weekends in the winter — and the cinema’s owner spoke to Patch this week to describe how the community can make the idea come to life.

    Recently, Greenport Village Mayor George Hubbard told a crowd at Peconic Landing that he’d spoken to the theater’s owner Josh Sapan about the possibility of keeping the doors open year-round, at least on weekends.

    Hubbard mentioned possible memberships sold to patrons.

    Sapan told Patch that he would love to keep the theater open year round. “As long as I can cover the expenses of heat, insurance, and management, I would be delighted,” he said.

    Sapan then reached out to describe how the idea could unfold.

    “I am very happy to provide the theatre rent free to the community for them to run it outside the summer,” Sapan said. “Our manager, projectionist and staff are hired for the summer, so the community would just need to cover expenses for insurance, heat and the like, and find people to manage the theatre, do the booking, projection and operate the concession,” he said.

    Sapan agreed with residents who have enthusiastically embraced the idea on social media, stating that they’d love to have a movie theater to enjoy year-round.

    “I have always dreamed of the theatre being open all year,” Sapan said. “The theatre is a passion of mine and I love providing the theatre at no cost to The Maritime Museum for their film showings, to the student film program at no charge for their film exhibition, and working with East End Arts,” he said. “We have an artist exhibit of their work each summer. There have been superb photography exhibitions.”

    Last year, for example, an exhibit by the “extraordinary photographer Andrea Tese who has a place on the North Fork,” was featured, he said.

  • Santa Fe, NM – DeVargas Center movie theater closing

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    From the Santa Fe New Mexican: The six-screen UA DeVargas movie theater will shut down this month, leaving a hole in both the north-side DeVargas Center mall and the Santa Fe cinema scene that mall management and theater operators say they hope to see filled quickly. The theater’s manager refused repeated requests for comment about the venue’s demise after four decades, referring all questions to Regal Entertainment Group corporate offices in Knoxville, Tenn., where multiple phone messages seeking comment this week went unreturned. But the mall’s property manager, Katy Fitzgerald, confirmed that the DeVargas Center and Regal will part ways soon. The theater’s final screenings, she said, will be Sunday. The DeVargas Center will redevelop the 14,700-square-foot space — which has housed a movie theater since 1977 — over the next six months as part of a larger overhaul intended to make the mall’s exterior facing North Guadalupe Street more pedestrian-friendly, Fitzgerald said. As important, she added, is how a new tenant — not necessarily a theater — will mesh with the mall’s interior, which has been livelier since a flock of local businesses began migrating from Sanbusco Market Center in late 2015 after the New Mexico School for the Arts purchased that complex next to the Railyard. “We loved our theater customers, and we’ll be sad to see that go,” Fitzgerald said, “but I’m not really that concerned as far as how that affects the direction we’ve been heading in with our Sanbusco tenants and with the inside of the mall.” UA DeVargas is the second long-term tenant to leave the DeVargas Center in recent months: Hastings, part of the entertainment-media and books retail chain, went out of business last fall. But the losses won’t stall the mall’s momentum, Fitzgerald said; rather, in her view, those spaces facing North Guadalupe Street are in dire need of rejuvenation. The aim, she said, is to make that area of the mall as “open and inviting and local” as the section that fronts Paseo de Peralta. In diagnosing the demise of the DeVargas theater, several in the local cinema scene identified Violet Crown as a factor. The 11-screen Railyard venue opened in May 2015 and offers a full restaurant menu as well as an extensive beer and wine list. Peter Grendle, general manager at Violet Crown, said his theater and UA DeVargas “split the field” of film options, operating in a middle ground between a major blockbuster atmosphere and one of art-house chic. But the stakes have been raised: Moviegoers now want and expect more from a night out at the movies than the movie itself, he said, and thriving theaters have taken steps to accommodate the changing appetites of their audience. “The rule used to be, ‘Stay home for dinner, go out for entertainment,’” Grendle said. “Now you go out for dinner, stay home for entertainment. … My goal here is to be a hospitality venue, to make the movie theater an experience.” Far from crowing about a competitor’s closure, Grendle nonetheless sounded an optimistic note. “I think it’s a good thing for the little guys, for sure,” Grendle said, referencing The Screen on the Santa Fe University of Art and Design campus where he booked films for nine years before moving to Violet Crown. “It opens the field a little bit. Pretend you have five boxers in a ring, and one gets taken out. Life will change after that. The question on my mind is what is [Regal’s] next step, if any.” The theater chain’s Regal Santa Fe Stadium 14 on the city’s south side is not far from the Santa Fe Place mall, where the company once operated a pair of theaters when that mall was known as Villa Linda. Recent signage there has advertised Regal as a new tenant. However, messages left for Santa Fe Place management asking about any plans to bring a theater back to the shopping center off Rodeo Road were not immediately returned. Grendle said he would dispute the notion that Santa Fe is oversaturated with movie screens. The City Different, he remembers one film distributor telling him, has one of the best box offices in the nation, a market where films that close in one week elsewhere might run for three. Grendle chalks it up to eclectic tastes of the local moviegoing crowd. Jason Silverman, director of Center for Contemporary Arts Cinematheque, agrees that the DeVargas closure is not indicative of the state of moviegoing in Santa Fe. The CCA Cinematheque, for instance, is entering its 35th year, he said, and this past year was its best ever. The DeVargas theater’s disappearance from the local scene won’t much affect that, he said. “We don’t really think about fighting for titles,” Silverman said. “We play the films that we love.” But, Silverman said, “each time there’s a change, each time a venue arrives or leaves, the algorithm changes a little bit.” Elias Gallegos, who works for George R.R. Martin, the local author and owner of the Jean Cocteau Cinema in the Railyard, said the DeVargas closing is “something that we’re all kind of sad to hear about, and, you know, we wonder what’s next for that space.” He went on, “Who knows? Maybe George will be interested in more screens here in town,” referencing Martin’s 2013 purchase and restoration of the single-screen Cocteau. “We never say never here.” Of the seven films screening at UA DeVargas on Tuesday, four (Collateral Beauty, Jackie, Nocturnal Animals and The Eagle Huntress) were available at no other theater in Santa Fe. Mary Peters, on her way into the theater Tuesday to see The Eagle Huntress, said she drives down from Española specifically for UA DeVargas. The selection of films at the Dreamcatcher 10 doesn’t quite do it for her. “Ah, that’s too bad,” she said of the impending closure. “I’m bummed.” After UA DeVargas is gone, she said, “Violet Crown will probably be the next choice.” Anne Steele, bound for The Eagle Huntress with her grandchildren, was crestfallen when asked about the theater’s closing: “Oh, no, I’m really upset.” The UA DeVargas and CCA are her go-to spots, and she doesn’t like the Regal 14 on the city’s south side because she finds the audio there is too loud. The UA DeVargas, she said, has always been a “more humane experience, as opposed to a sensational experience out there.” David Morrell, a Santa Fe author, said that since he and his wife moved to Santa Fe in 1992, they have frequented the DeVargas theater more than any other. “If there was a unique film that we really wanted to see, we knew it would be at DeVargas,” Morrell wrote in an email. “Sad to see it close.”

  • January 17, 2017

    Brighton, NY – Cinemark Movies 10 in Brighton is closing

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    From the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle: No word on how many employees will lose their jobs or if they will be offered work at another Cinemark property, the Tinseltown USA and IMAX in Gates.

    The Brighton movie complex stood out from other theaters that offered reserved adult tickets for $12.49, reclining seats and larger format screens. . Four tickets to an evening screening of the animated film Storks at Movies 10 went for about $17.50 last weekend.

  • Gooding, ID – Gooding nonprofit wants to see performances again and historic theatre

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    From KMVT.com: Charmy LeaVell and her husband bough the Schubert Theatre in Gooding in 2008.
    “We heard it was going to be turned into a racquetball court so we made an offer on the building,” LeaVell said.

    They held it until 2014, when they formed a nonprofit called Gooding Restoration for Entertainment, Arts and Theatre, or GREAT, Inc. and donated to the organization.

    They plan to restore the almost 100-year-old theatre which entered the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

    The theatre has seen better days and its age is certainly showing. Frozen water sits in corners, sunlight finds it’s way through cracks and holes and wires hang from the ceiling. This week the basement even flooded.

    Then there’s the damage that came from previous owners. When they tried to make the theatre into a place to watch feature films, previous management spray painted over much of the original decorations with black paint.

    “A lot of the beauty was covered and we do have to undo a lot of that, we have to undo a lot of damage,” said Diana Rowe, a volunteer with GREAT, Inc.

  • Annville, PA – 100-year-old theater building also has three apartments, office space: Cool Spaces

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    From Pennlive.com: The Allen Theatre has been known by many names in the 100 years that it’s been around in Annville.

    The theater at 35 Main St. was called the “Hippodrome” when it opened in 1917. It was a common name for such venues then, much like “Colonial” or “State,” according to co-owner Allen “Skip” Hicks. The theater was later known as “Astor” in 1930.

    That all came before 1993 when Skip, who grew up watching movies at similar venues in Lebanon, asked his mother Mary Jane Hicks for help purchasing the theater. She thought her son could do no wrong — “She thought everything I did was right,” he said — and bought and paid for a total renovation of the building.

    “My mother assumed that responsibility,” Skip said. “She gave me a theater. I’m essentially the luckiest guy in the world.”

    It’s how the venue became known as the Allen Theatre for the last 21 years. If you think Skip named it after himself, you’d be mistaken. The theater is named after his father, and the coffee shop MJ’s just inside its lobby is named after his mother.

  • USA – The Coolest Drive-In Theater in Each State

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    From Aceable.com: There’s nothing better than the nostalgia of a drive-in movie theater. What better place is there for a first date after finally getting your license? Or to have a girl’s night and watch your favorite chick flick with your besties? Not to mention, they usually have some great snacks and it’s a chance to get away from the fam for a few hours. Or hey, bring them with you. Do what you want. We’re not in charge here.

  • January 14, 2017

    Larchmont, NY – Petition Urges Regal Cinemas to Lift Restrictions on Larchmont Playhouse Purchase

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    From Larchmont Patch: An online petition trying to facilitate the reopening of the Larchmont Playhouse has been posted on change.org.

    According to a Larchmont resident, Ellen Zuckert, who has been leading the effort to save the movie house, Regal Cinemas can prevent future owners of the Playhouse from screening first-run films, making it nearly impossible to exist as a sustainable business, the Daily Voice said.

    Michael DiCosimo, a movie industry pro, signed a contract worth about $1.3 million last year to buy the iconic movie house on Palmer Avenue.

    In the petition, posted by Elizabeth Bradley of Larchmont, Regal became the owner of the Playhouse when it absorbed United Artists Cinema, and then sold it in 2015.

  • Staten Island, NY – UA movie theater and Toys R Us to close in Hylan Plaza

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    From SIlive.com: After more than 25 years in operation, the UA Hylan Plaza and Toys R Us/Babies R Us will be closing by Jan. 31 to make way for the new $150 million Boulevard shopping mall.

    Both stores are among several that have leases expiring this month, said Joshua Weinkranz, president, northeast region of Kimco Realty, the owner of the shopping center.

    Stores in Hylan Plaza will be closing as leases expire to make way for the summer construction start of the 356,000-square-foot shopping center that will house 60 retailers in a multi-level “Main Street” format.

    While both Toys R Us/Babies R Us and the movie theater have announced the closures, several retailers may opt for short-term leases until construction commences, said Weinkranz.

    “We are in the process of working out short-term extensions with them because we don’t have the entitlements yet. If some of these tenants want to stay for four or five months, we’ll work that out with them,” he said.

    TOYS R US CLOSURE

    Said Candace Disler, a Toys R Us spokeswoman: “We have enjoyed serving the Staten Island community and will continue to operate a number of stores in the area, throughout the state of New York, including a Toys R Us located at 2845 Richmond Ave. in Staten Island,”

    In addition, a Toys R Us outlets store will be opening in Empire Outlets, when New York City’s first outlet mall opens in St. George in November.

    Regal Entertainment didn’t respond to queries for comment regarding the movie theater closure.

    ALWAYS A MOVIE THEATER

    For most of Hylan Plaza’s existence since the mid-1960s, it has housed a movie theater. It was formerly Fox Plaza before Regal Entertainment opened the UA in the 1990s.

    And once the Boulevard is up and running, there will be a new movie theater.

    “The Boulevard will have a great theater, along with a fitness center, a great mix of other general merchandise retailers, restaurants and service tenants,” said Weinkranz.

    “Over the next several weeks and months we will be able to announce the tenants.”

    APPROVAL PROCESS

    After filing plans with the City Planning Department in 2015, Kimco Realty Corp. began the mandated Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) for the shopping mall in September.

    Part of that process is an Environmental Impact Statement, which will need to be certified before construction starts.

  • Brooklyn Heights, NY – Catching Up With Kenn Lowy: The Last Owner of Brooklyn Heights Cinemas

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    From Brooklyn Heights Blog: Brooklyn Heights Cinemas, at the end of its 42-year run, was the oldest independently-owned cinema in all of New York City. When the cinema shut off its projectors for good in 2014, the neighborhood collectively mourned the loss of yet another community sanctuary. A place where neighbors and visitors gathered for shared experiences. A place where you walked in and the owner and employees knew your name and what you liked without asking. If you were a regular customer, you probably miss the last owner, Kenn Lowy, as much as the cinema itself. When the neighborhood thinks of the old cinema, we think of Kenn, although he only owned it for its last three years. In the interview below, Kenn tells his story of his one-man mission to save the cinema, a labor of love that was life-altering in both good and bad ways.

    BHB: How did you become the last owner of Brooklyn Heights Cinemas?

    KL: I had been going to the cinema off and on since I was 17 years old. My family had moved from Philadelphia to Cobble Hill in the late 70’s and that was the only cinema around. I lived for a time in Brooklyn Heights, Vinegar Hill, and Park Slope, and then I moved away for a few years. And when I moved back 20 years ago, it became my cinema again. I used to go there all the time. Then, in late 2010, there was an article in one of the local papers about the owner being indicted for wire fraud. There had been several times before when the cinema almost went out of business. I wondered what was going to happen to the cinema. So I went and saw Amy, the Manager there. She knew me as someone who saw almost every movie they played. I asked her what was going to happen and she half-jokingly said, “Do you want to buy the place?” Like an idiot, I said, “Yeah, maybe.” She said, “I don’t know if he wants to sell it or not, but I’ll ask.” Literally, a week later, I was sitting down with the owner and we started talking about how I could buy the place. That’s what led to it. It would have gone under unless someone bought it. The cinema had been losing money for years. The owner had other cinemas, one that was making money and another one that was going nowhere. It took about six months of negotiating. I had no money, so I cashed in my IRA’s and maxed out my credit cards. And that’s how I bought the place.

    BHB: What led you to take such a risk?

    KL: {Laughs} I thought at the time that I could make it work. I didn’t think they were getting the best movies. They were getting good ones, but not the ones enough people wanted to see to make it viable. But I wanted to keep it as an independent cinema. I thought I could make it work. I never thought I would make money from it. But as long as I could break even, I was going to be happy, just to keep it going. Personally, it was an important place to me. It had been my local movie theater, like for many in Brooklyn Heights. This was our hometown movie theater.

    BHB: At the time, were you making a living with a day job?

    KL: Yes. I was a computer consultant, mostly Apple computer stuff. I had been doing that pretty much most of my life. Until my early 30’s, I was a journalist and a musician. I’m still a musician, but that’s how I used to make a living. Then the music industry changed and journalism changed, where I really couldn’t make a full time living at it. That’s when I got into computers and I’ve been doing that for the last 25 years.

    BHB: When you bought the cinema, did you think, “If I break even I’ll be okay because I could support myself with the computer consulting?”

    KL: No, when I said “break even,” I meant to be able to support myself, where maybe I wouldn’t be saving a lot, but I wouldn’t be losing money. I tried doing the consulting half the time and the cinema the other half, but that just wasn’t working. The first couple of months, I was at the cinema on the weekends and just hanging out. But after that, I was pretty much there full-time, along with my manager and the projectionist. After a few months, I wanted to be more hands-on and not being there didn’t make much sense.