The latest movie theater news and updates
February 25, 2005
CHICO, CA – Eric Hart, the new owner of Chico’s El Rey Theater, has disclosed plans to convert the century-old building to an office, retail and parking complex. The building will be gutted and the interior completely reconstructed.
This historic house opened in 1905 as the Majestic Theater. Operating first as a vaudeville house, it soon began showing movies, becoming Chico’s first cinema. In 1925, it was remodeled by the architectural firm of Stark and Flanders, and was renamed the National Theater. Closed briefly in 1939 for another remodeling, it re-opened as the American Theater. The final re-naming came in 1946, when the building was reconstructed after being gutted by a fire. In recent decades, the El Rey has been operated as a first-run house by United Artists and Regal Cinemas. It is one of the last large single-screen houses in Northern California.
Hart, who owns and has partly renovated the nearby Senator Theater, said that he would like to save the El Rey as a theater, but that the financial prospects for a large single screen cinema in this market were too poor. (Two older multiplex cinemas in Chico have recently closed, leaving the town with only Cinemark’s 14 screen Tinseltown complex and the small art film-oriented Pageant Theater downtown.)
LANSDALE, PA — A flim & photo exhibition of Lansdale’s Old Movie Houses (including the Lansdale Theater will be featured at the Lansdale Historical Society’s next meeting to be held on March 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lansdale Parks and Recreation Building.
It is past the deadline to submit material for the exhibit. Please call Steve Moyer at 215.855.1872 for more information.
February 24, 2005
LOS ANGELES, CA — The Tower Theatre on Broadway, which has been closed since 1988, will host a free lecture by Hollywood film historian Marc Wanamaker called “How West Coast Movie Production Began Downtown” on February 26th.
The S. Charles Lee-designed Tower is not included on the Los Angeles Conservancy’s theater district tour and is rarely open to the public.
It is mainly used for film shoots, according to Jon Olivan, the theater’s manager, who is currently trying to gain public attention of the Tower to convert it into a multi-purpose entertainment venue, like the Orpheum.
February 23, 2005
The Robins Theater in Warren has played a key role in my family for three generations. My grandmother’s brother, Daniel Robins, who was a pioneer in the movie industry, opened the Robins Theater in 1921 or 1922. In 1902 Dan had opened the first theater in New Castle, PA, with Abe Warner, one of the Warner Brothers. One of the Warners married my grandmother’s sister, Anna.
Dan’s obituaries detail his life and the chain of theaters he operated. After pioneering the first theaters in Youngstown, Ohio, Dan purchased the Warner Theater in Youngstown from Sam Warner, the father of the Warner Brothers.
I have a lot of memorabilia involving Dan and his brothers, Harry and Ben, who partnered in the theater business with him. My grandfather, I.J. Goldston, was the architect for the Robins Theater (and the Trianon Ballroom on Euclid Ave. in Cleveland). My mother at age 3 ½ presented the mayor of Warren with a big gold key to the theater at its grand opening. All 1500 seats were filled.
There were two operating companies: The Robins Theater Company and the Robins Amusement Company. The first ran the movies; the second ran the popcorn and candy stands. The theaters never made any money; the real profits came from the popcorn, candy, and pop. Dan’s nephew, Eli Goldston, used to argue that the customers should be admitted to the movies free, just so that they could buy the popcorn!
There is a project to renovate the Robins. The State and the City have supported the effort, and a formal architectural budge estimate is still underway.
February 22, 2005
BROOKLYN, NY — Unless Long Island University’s men’s basketball team finishes in the top four of the conference, and end up hosting the Northeast Conference Tournament, the Blackbirds' final game in the former Brooklyn Paramount Theatre will be Thursday, February 24th, according to this report from Newsday.
In eight months, LIU will open its new 2500-seat, $40 million arena next to the Paramount. The 1928 Brooklyn Paramount, at Flatbush and DeKalb Avenues, once sat over 4000, and was designed in extravagant French Baroque style by the Chicago firm of Rapp & Rapp.
The movie and vaudeville theater is perhaps best known for its rock and roll shows of the 50s, hosted by Alan Freed, where such stars as Little Richard, “Fats” Domino, Richie Valens, and Chuck Berry performed live.
February 21, 2005
CHICAGO, IL — Friends of the Uptown volunteers will host brief, monthly socials to talk casually about the history of the Uptown Theatre and other historic venues. The socials are no-frills get-togethers where the dress is casual and the talk is informal.
Come as you are at 6:30 p.m. promptly on the first Monday of each month to the first floor conference room of the Bridgeview Bank building, 4753 N. Broadway, in Uptown. Seating is limited and available only on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Snacks and drinks to share with friends would be appreciated (go ahead and bring them!). We will also pitch in to help share the cost of the room rental.
Friends have scheduled March 7, April 4, and May 2 talks. Future dates may be planned contingent on time, interest and inclination. Any change to the first Monday schedule will be announced only via Uptown Adviser, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/uptownadviser/
February 18, 2005
“My name is Steven Rood. I am a Los Angeles based fine art photographer. My work is well collected. Pieces now hang in many private and corporate collections.
I am a year into my current project entitled Picture House. An homage to classic and vintage movie theaters. A retrospective that started locally and is quickly gathering steam to become a nationwide project. Currently, over 50 theaters have been shot. 27 of these are now represented online, with many more to be added soon. These images are receiving a lot of attention from the entertainment community, the photographic community and theater preservationist groups.
And that is why I in turn bring them to your attention. America’s classic and vintage movie theaters are vanishing at an alarming rate. Structures that represent a more innocent time in
our country. And as they fade, so do our memories of a time before urban and spiritual decay.
Does anyone recall the name of the small movie theater in “downtown” Highlands, New Jersey. Not Atlantic Highlands….Highlands. I don’t see it listed but have vivid memories vacationing there in the early 60s. Thanks. Jerry Kovar 42nd Street Memories