The latest movie theater news and updates
February 25, 2017
From DNAinfo.com: It’s hard to tell just how intricately designed the Congress Theater’s facade is from the street.
So, with permission from the developer, urban archaeologist Eric Nordstrom climbed the historic theater’s scaffolding to get up close.
What he found was incredibly detailed Italian renaissance-style terra cotta, featuring faces with “unsettling frozen” expressions, eagles and symbols, all of which left him awestruck.
“My mind’s eye was in perpetual awe of the skillfully executed design elements packaged into each and every terra cotta panel contributing to the collection of richly ornamented assemblages found throughout the distinctive facade,” Nordstrom wrote on his blog.
February 24, 2017
From the Springfield News-Sun: The Upper Valley Mall Cinema 5’s screens went dark permanently Monday night after entertaining customers in Springfield for nearly five decades. The movie theater had fewer than a dozen employees, said Philip Chakeres, president and chief executive officer of Chakeres Theatres.
The decision to close the theater is the latest blow to the mall, which has been hit with a steady stream of bad news from national retailers leaving the aging shopping center.
From mcdowellnews.com: The Marion Event Center is no longer operating and a “for sale” sign is now in the front window of the old House Theater building.
In May of 2014, Mike Cinquanto and his mother and stepfather, Esther and Doug Williams, started working to restore the old theater at 90 E. Court St. and operate it as the Marion Event Center. They did extensive renovations to the interior and fixed up the restrooms. Over time, the family removed layers of Formica, plaster, chipped paint and mold from the structure. They restored the interior so it would resemble a nightclub from the 1950s, according to an article in June 2015.
“We would like to use it as a rental for weddings, anniversaries and class reunions,” said Cinquanto in June 2015. “We want to make it available for things like company Christmas parties and corporate parties. I’m hoping to get the Board of Realtors to come down here and use it for their Christmas party. We just want to get the community back in here.”
They had also planned to restore the exterior and have the marquee and neon sign restored to its former glory.
From the Kearney Hub: The historic Grand Theatre in downtown Norfolk is up for sale, bringing disappointment to many who tried to restore the landmark for the past 12 years.
The Norfolk Daily News reported that the property is listed for $200,000.
The former theater building was built in 1920. It became the Rialto in 1940. Then it became the smaller divided Cinema theaters in the 1970s before it eventually closed.
Businessman J. Paul McIntosh donated the property in 2005 to the Norfolk Community Theatre, which tried to obtain money to renovate the structure was but unable to raise the millions needed to make necessary improvements to the interior.
February 19, 2017
From delmarvanow.com: Cape Charles’ Palace Theatre is turning 75 and a birthday bash has been planned to mark the occasion.
The Palace, built to be a gem of the mid-Atlantic, began as a thriving endeavor in a booming railroad town but fell into disrepair and disuse in the mid-1960s when Bayshore Concrete completed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel project and the trucking industry overtook rail freight transport.
Today, amid swirling rumors of sales and foreclosures, the theater and the nonprofit housed within its walls serve as a testament to the changing times and the undeterred resilience of the town’s artistic soul and future potential.
The Palace Theatre, opened on March 18, 1942, was designed by Alfred Lublin, a Norfolk-based architect, for $75,000, and more than 30 architectural firms were involved in the construction. William Carroll Parsons, a local entrepreneur, footed the bill for the land and the building with the intention of owning the largest, most modern theater between Norfolk and Philadelphia.
From News9.com: The historic Tower Theatre on NW 23rd Street held its grand reopening Saturday after falling into years of disrepair. New owners now hope to capture the theater’s glory days. The beacon of NW 23rd Street is shining brightly once more, but while the iconic marquee reflects the rich history of the NW 23rd Street strip, the Tower Theatre has a whole new vibe.
Hip-hop beats reverberated through the near-century old entertainment hall Saturday.
The starting line-up of rappers was headlined by Oklahoma City-native Jabee, whose dream of seeing his name on Tower’s marquee started as a child.
“My mom brought me here to Sound Warehouse when I was 10 to buy a cassette tape, and the cassette tape was Jackson 5,“ he said. "On the way back home, I saw the (Tower) sign and I was asking her about it, and she was telling me it was a theater, and I was like man I’ve got to get in there.”
The Pivot Group bought the building two years ago, when the strip’s revitalization was just getting underway. The developers strived to recreate the essence of the original theater, adding era-influenced elements from floor to ceiling.
“They came back in and inlaid original floor to match the time period, that Art Deco feel,” described the facility operator Scott Marsh of Levelland Productions. “They had a custom fixture put in to match that. The ceiling on the theater itself is stair-stepped and is back to its original glory; things that we put in like a special velour curtain both for aesthetics and sound.”
“You walk in, you feel like you’re taking a step back into the 30s, 40s, 50s. You’re going to be able to expect a great room that changes, that molds itself to what the show is,” Marsh said.
From the Billings Gazette: With a March 15 deadline looming for the city of Billings to take over ownership of the Babcock Theater, an advisory committee has four recommendations for what can be done with the 110-year-old downtown landmark.
Meeting Monday, the Babcock Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee approved a report drafted by City Administrator Tina Volek that includes four possible courses the Billings City Council will hear during its Feb. 21 work session:
-Ask the committee, which includes four city council representatives, to continue exploring options for the use of the theater, which is at Second Avenue North and N. Broadway. -Ask the committee to negotiate with Kim Olsen, who currently manages the theater for Babcock LLC, to continue managing the theater for a year, while seeking a nonprofit organization to ultimately take over theater operations. -Instruct city staff to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for the sale of the theater. -Instruct city staff to issue an RFP for an outside organization to manage the facility for five or more years.
From The Hollywood Reporter: New technology is shaking up the entertainment business, but John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, argues that box office is thriving even as TV and home video take a hit and streaming services up their investments. “Three-fourths of (those) interviewed are spending more evenings at home now. Slightly more than half are going to the movies less often, although formerly they were confirmed and in most cases very heavy moviegoers.” — U.S. News & World Report
New technology has upended the movie theater industry, disrupting production and distribution; movie theaters are dying.
You’d be forgiven if you thought I was talking about today, the internet and movie streaming services like Netflix and Amazon. The report above actually is from 1955, the disruptive technology was television, and the disruption was real. There were other factors, such as the Paramount Consent Decrees, which forced studios to divest their movie theater properties, but the body blow to theaters that television represented was a complete revolution in the entertainment ecosystem. Theaters no longer held a monopoly on recorded audio-visual entertainment, and box-office revenue hit bottom at $875 million in 1962, down 48 percent from 1946, with admissions off 78.5 percent. The box office would not return to 1946 levels until 1974.
But what about today? Have the internet and movie streaming to the home caused a fresh disruption in the theater industry?
Despite a fairly constant drumbeat of impending doom and decline facing the cinema industry, the reality is otherwise. Since 2004 — following two rather anomalous years that peaked at over 1.5 billion admissions — movie admissions have moved up and down over a fairly narrow range, from 1.27 billion to 1.48 billion annually. Some of that fluctuation is a reflection of the movies in the marketplace, and some is surely because of increased competition from the home market.
From The Pueblo Chieftain: From Davy Crockett’s “Old Betsy” to temporary closures and war taxes, the historic Skyline Theater has withstood a roller coaster of ups and downs in its 100-year history.
In September 1917, L.A. Jones, proprietor of the Busy Corner Store announced that he intended to build a state-of-the-art theater in downtown Canon City, the likes of which would cost an estimated $20,000 investment, according to newspaper accounts of the time.
By December that year, the Canon City Daily Record was touting the soon-to-be-completed theater as a “new, modern moving picture theater” on which “a great deal of money is being spent to make this the finest cinema theater in any small town in the west.”
From NextPittsburgh.com: Cinephiles living in Pittsburgh can usually get their movie fix at one of the city’s many independent theaters, whether it’s at the historic Harris Theater Downtown or the Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville. But for those living outside the region, being able to enjoy the latest limited release or award-winning film may be too far out of reach. The new Tull Family Theater in Sewickley hopes to change that.
After five years in development, the Tull Family Theater officially opens this week in Sewickley, making it the first movie theater to operate there in more than three decades. The 12,000-square-foot venue includes two screening rooms—the 77-seat Huntington Bank screening room and a yet unnamed room that fits 166 people—as well as the Esmark and Bouchard Family Community Room performance and events space.
Tull Family Theater executive director Carolina Pais-Barreto Beyers says the nonprofit arthouse theater was created to strengthen cultural, educational and entertainment experiences in the region northwest of Pittsburgh.
“This is truly a grassroots effort that started with community leaders who looked around and realized that Pittsburgh’s cultural vibrancy did not extend beyond the city,” says Beyers.
The theater was made possible through efforts by the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development, the Allegheny County Regional Asset District (RAD) and the Borough of Sewickley, as well as a combined $1.5 million donated by 400 families. One of the largest contributors was Pittsburgh resident and former Legendary Entertainment head Thomas Tull, who gave $500,000 for naming rights to the theater, which was formerly called the Vanguard Theater.