The latest movie theater news and updates
March 3, 2004
TORONTO, CANADA — Canadian exhibitor Nat Taylor, credited with creating the first multiplex theater in 1948 (Elgin and Little Elgin in Ottawa) and introducing movie theaters to shopping malls (Yorkdale Theatre and Cinema), passed away on Tuesday at the age of 98, according to the Toronto Star.
Some of Taylor’s innovations include:
• One of the earliest multi-screen movie theaters (when he added a second screen to Ottawa’s Elgin Theatre)
• First triplex theater
• First quad theater
• First quintuplex theater (the Uptown)
• First theater in a shopping mall (the Yorkdale Plaza/Silver City)
• First 18-screen theater (a precursor of today’s megaplex)
• Coined the term “cineplex”
March 2, 2004
BALTIMORE, MD — Ed Dobbins sent in some great shots of the recently reopened Hippodrome Theatre, along with this note:
“I went to a public open house at the Hippodrome last Saturday morning. I got some really nice pictures you can have. You can see in the daylight picture that the new complex takes up the whole block, this place is fantastic! Finally something got done right. Also from what I hear the Town Theater around the corner on Fayette street is being renovated, not sure for what purpose, movies/plays or both. I’ll have to check it out soon.”
HUMBERSIDE, ENGLAND — Demolition of the former Regal/Cannon which should have been completed by now has been delayed because of bad weather.
Much of the interior has now been gutted — the photograph above was taken last December and shows the scaffolding in Screen 1 used to remove asbestos from the ceiling. Demolition of the rest of the theater commenced on Monday and the structure should be finally laid to rest within days.
March 1, 2004
HUNTINGTON, WV — Huntington’s Keith-Albee could meet the wrecker’s ball due to federal and state subsidizing of a competing 14-screen stadium multiplex one block away.
The Transit Authority, which is administering the federal portion of the project, claims it has complied with all historic and environmental laws. However, the TTA director claims that the Keith is not on the Federal Register.
MILWAUKEE, WI — Prospects for saving Milwaukee’s last surviving atmospheric theatre, the Avalon Theater, brightened on Wednesday when a Milwaukee City Council sub-committee voted to recommend landmark status for the theater, according to this report in the Milwaukee Journal.
If the full council adopts the recommendation, the Avalon’s current owner, Craig Ellsworth, would be unable to make any renovations to the theater’s exterior without the approval of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, nor would he be able to demolish the structure without prior approval.
That said, should landmark status be granted, Ellsworth would still be able to proceed with his plans to convert the Avalon’s interior into office space.
WACO, TX — I recently went to the Waco city hall and did an open records request concerning the 25th Street Theatre. Apparently, the building was red tagged on October 10, 2003 and is now slated for demolition, although no definite date was provided, so maybe there is still time to save it.
I viewed pictures taken by a Waco building inspector and the place is a disaster. Amazingly enough, though, the mural of the Chariots on the theater’s south wall is still intact, but badly water damaged.
February 27, 2004
FLUSHING, NY — Boymelgreen Developers, who bought the RKO Keith’s in 2002 from developer Tommy Huang, will demolish the theater and build a 19-story mixed-use tower on the site called RKO Plaza.
WICHITA, KS — A radio sales manager suffered an apparent heart attack during the final scene of The Passion of the Christ, during the first showing at the Wichita’s East Warren Theatre on Wednesday, February 25.
For all of us whom own theaters, I sincerely hope that this is just an isolated occurrence and not something that this film stirs “that” kind of emotion in. Reportedly the woman, 57, was described by co-workers as not suffering from any health-related problems prior to the incident.
ELMHURST, IL — Classic Cinema’s York Theatre is opening two more screens in April, bringing the theater’s total number of screens to seven.