The latest movie theater news and updates

  • July 15, 2016

    Cuyahoga Falls, OH – Theater rehab project in Cuyahoga Falls receives historic state tax credit

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    From the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press: The Falls Theater rehabilitation project is getting state assistance.

    On June 26, the Ohio Development Services Agency awarded $27.8 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits to 26 applicants to rehabilitate 39 historic buildings, including the Falls Theater. Together, the projects are expected to leverage approximately $261.4 million in private investments in 14 communities.

    “Preserving these historic buildings will help revitalize neighborhoods and downtowns,” said David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency. “Historic rehabilitation transforms underutilized properties into assets for communities.”

    The Falls Theater, at 2218-2220 Front St., was approved for a $249,999 tax credit. The total estimated cost of the project is $1.27 million.

    The historic Falls Theater space has two storefronts and four apartments on the second floor that have been empty for more than a decade, according to a news release from the Ohio Development Services Agency. Tax credits will help transform the theater space into a microbrewery and restaurant. The commercial and apartment spaces will be renewed for their original intent. The project is part of a newly revitalized Front Street.

  • July 14, 2016

    Albany, NY – Albany’s Palace Theatre plans $65 million expansion

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    From the Times Union: The Palace Theatre is poised to undergo a $65 million transformation that if fully realized would include a new, smaller theater along North Pearl Street, an expansion of the historic original theater’s lobby and stage house, and a state-of-the-art video post-production facility. The vision for the project was introduced Wednesday at a news conference with theater, city and county officials. They lauded it as yet another major upgrade to the attractions in downtown Albany, alongside $16 million in improvements to the atrium of the Times Union Center and the new, $78 million Albany Capital Center convention facility due to open next year. Information about funding for the project was not provided, nor were details about prospective new programming. “This project is undoubtedly the most transformative arts and culture redevelopment venture in Albany in recent memory and will further invigorate the downtown area, spur economic development, create jobs and provide a more sustainable future for the arts in the Capital Region,” said Alan Goldberg, chairman of the board of directors for the Palace Performing Arts Center. The nonprofit entity operates the Palace Theatre and would, pending approval by the Albany Common Council, take over ownership of the building from the city. It previously had leased the venue. According to estimates supplied by the Palace, the project is expected to have a $125 million economic impact on the community and produce an estimated 225 full-time jobs during a three-year construction period. The downtown Albany area would see the Palace’s annual economic impact more than double, to $10 million, after the project’s completion. Estimates are for annual attendance of more than 500,000 annually, up from current audiences totaling 175,000 per year. “I think this is wonderful for Albany,” said Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill, producing artistic director of nearby Capital Repertory Theatre. “This kind of facility would be a huge draw. We’re a capital city that deserves a beautiful space that would attract people from across the region.” Philip Morris, the Proctors CEO who guided its expansion starting in 2003, said he was unaware of the scope of the Palace project which in cost eclipses the $42 million in renovations and expansion at Proctors in Schenectady that were completed nine years ago.

  • Hillsboro, OH – Council hears hotel plan, talks Colony’s fate

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    From The Times-Gazette: A potential hotel development in uptown Hillsboro and the likely demolition of the Colony Theatre were discussed at Hillsboro City Council’s meeting Monday night.

    Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings told council that a feasibility study commissioned on a potential hotel in the uptown area came back with positive results, indicating “a huge win-win” for the city.

    Hastings said a hotel would be along the lines of a 50-room Hampton Inn providing a middle to upper-scale facility, a $4 million development that would provide 31 construction jobs, 28-30 jobs outside the hotel, and have a ripple effect amounting to $5.5 million a year for the city’s economy.

  • Inman, SC – Couple restores old Inman Theatre

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    From GoUpstate.com:
    In its heyday, Elvis came to Inman. So did Godzilla.

    That was over a half-century ago, when the old Inman Theatre was alive and buzzing weeknights and Saturday afternoons, showing second-run films such as “Jailhouse Rock,” westerns and monster flicks like “Godzilla.” Tickets cost a quarter, popcorn and Coke were 10 cents each, and candy bars were a nickel.

    Those days are gone, but the theater isn’t.

    Today, the 275-seat Inman Theatre is alive and well again, thanks to a three-year restoration effort by its owners, Inman native Buren Martin and his wife Dorothy.

    The Martins operate a theatrical troupe called Baillie Players, and are hosing summer drama camps for elementary-age students capped with performances on Friday nights.

    “Alice and Wonderland” was the first production, and “Beauty and the Beast” is next.

    “This is an amazing opportunity that has been waiting and coming together for a long time,” said Inman Mayor Cornelius Huff. “We are just excited to be a part of this new venture, to be able to assist this. It has exceeded my expectations.”

    Huff is also excited that the Martins have opened the roomy theater’s doors at 41 Mill St. to City Council, which plans to hold monthly meetings there instead of at its cramped City Hall on Main Street.

    “It’s going to open the door for a whole lot of things,” Huff said of future community events.

  • July 13, 2016

    New Orleans, LA – The Former Gem Theater in Central City is Being Converted Into a Brewery

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    From Curbed New Orleans: Wayward Owl Brewing announced last year they were taking over the old Gem Theater at 3940 Thalia St. in Central City, and now things are moving on the project. Canal Street Beat says the owner has filed plans for the renovation with the city.

  • Knoxville, TN – Knoxville’s iconic downtown theaters basking in newfound success

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    From the Knoxville News Sentinel: The Tennessee Theatre had its best attendance month ever in April, drawing more than 25,000 patrons. And right now it is on track to recording its most successful year in history. Not to be outdone, the Bijou Theatre across the road has experienced its first profitable period in its modern history.

    Much of the theaters' success is attributed to AC Entertainment’s unique management style. AC Entertainment started working with the Tennessee Theatre 20 years ago and partnered with the Bijou Theatre 10 years ago.

    “April was an amazing month for both the Tennessee and the Bijou,” said Ashley Capps, who founded AC Entertainment 25 years ago. “The Tennessee had its most successful month ever, by any metric. ‘The Book of Mormon’ drove that along with a number of sellout shows.”

    This is no overnight success. “I would love to say that we had this impulse to revive the theater and that we knew what we were doing,” he said. “But we were making it up as we went along.”

    Capps started promoting shows at the Bijou back in 1980 — “just for the fun of it.” Then he started promoting shows at the Tennessee Theatre about 1982 and continued to do so throughout the 1980s.

    In 1996, James Dick, the owner of the Tennessee Theatre, gave AC the opportunity to take over the day-to-day operations and management. “When we took the reins at the Tennessee Theatre we had one primary objective — we didn’t want to see it close, its future looked a bit shaky,” he explained.

    “In the late 1990s, the theaters were in rough shape,” Capps said. “The bones of the Tennessee were in good shape but there were no amenities for touring personnel and the dressing rooms were fairly frightening. The tractor-trailer trucks had to pull up on Gay Street and roll everything in through the lobby onto the stage, all of these heavy cases with sound and lights and band instruments were not good for the lobby.”

    AC leveraged its extensive network of venues and festivals and industry experience to bring top acts to Knoxville. AC are co-producers of the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival with Superfly Productions and the producers of Big Ears Festival and other events in Ontario, Kentucky, Alabama and North Carolina.

    “We were young and aggressive,” Capps admitted. “We just rolled the dice and worked it really hard. We were able to bring some amazing acts.” Capps recalls Chet Atkins performing his last concert and Johnny Cash performing his last full concert, and Bob Dylan and Santana all taking to the Tennessee Theatre stage in the late 1990s.

    At the time, The Tomato Head was the only restaurant open downtown at night. “Most of Gay Street was boarded up, buildings were empty,” he said. “I remember a visitor driving downtown, rolling down his window — I thought he was going to ask for directions, but he asked what had happened there? It was like a ghost town.”

    At the same time AC had to overcome the fact the Tennessee Theatre was designed as a movie house, not a modern concert venue. “I’m a Knoxville native, my first memories are going there as a little kid,” Capps said. “We would go to see all of the first run movies, I would see Disney and John Wayne movies when I was 5 years old.”

    In a sense it has all become easier, according to Capps. “The big challenge is that there is a lot more of it. The challenge is not so much booking it but managing it. With all of this volume, still delivering the highest experience that we can. Being committed to crafting an experience for both the artist and the fans.

    “For the theaters, we are the staff, that’s the simplest way of looking at it,” Capps said. “We take care of all of the day-to-day operations, manage the theater and the calendar.” AC also works closely with the Knoxville Symphony and Knoxville Opera as well other groups that want to use the theaters.

    With just 1,600 seats, the Tennessee is considered a secondary venue making it financially challenging for many promoters. Capps said that they make it easier for those outside promoters to use the theater effectively.

    “They are definitely different,” Capps said of the two Gay Street theaters. “The philosophy is similar. (However) because of its size and amenities you could never do a real touring Broadway production in the Bijou. It is a little scrappier, it requires a lot more from our team in some ways — they are super hands-on with every aspect of the show.”

    AC Entertainment is not resting on its laurels. “We are always looking for ways to further develop programming for everything that we do, I’m very excited and proud of what we have accomplished up until this point,” Capps said.

    The Bijou is primed for a whole new phase of its existence, according to Capps. “We are excited to be working with the Bijou, crafting the vision for the next 10 years and really exploring the other facets of what the Tennessee Theatre can be in the future.”

    Although the theater has been active for almost 88 years, Becky Hancock, Executive Director of the Tennessee Theatre, said the real turning point was when it was restored and renovated in 2005 so that it could function in the 21st century.

    “But a crucial component was making sure that the theater could book and secure great entertainment,” she said. “We are fortunate to have AC Entertainment in town. Their management and bookings have played a great role. They have great contacts with artists, agents and producers, they know the market well and they know the venue well, they have been an integral part.

    “April is the top of the heap, we have been doing very, very well,” said Hancock of the theater’s success. “For the rest of the year things look good. We don’t book too far out in advance, Ashley would be the first to tell anyone that it is a volatile industry, it’s affected by many factors. In some ways we hedge our bets, but I feel that the formula we have will work well.”

  • July 12, 2016

    New York, NY – Bjarke Ingels’s Tetrahedron Will Get a Landmark Movie Theater At Its Base

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    From Curbed New York: Bjarke Ingels’s so-called “courtscraper” on Manhattan’s far west side—recently named the best tall building in the Americas—is getting a big addition: The Durst Organization, the developer of the ballyhooed building, announced today that Landmark Theatres will bring an eight-screen theater to the development. It’s expected to open early next year.

    It’ll be more than just a screening room, though—the new theater will apparently have a private bar where Q&A’s and special events can be held, along with “unique design elements” like a video wall and a special light display. As is de rigueur for movie theaters these days, the theaters themselves will be equipped with plush leather recliners, plenty of concessions, and laser projection screens. Fancy!

    Landmark’s only other New York City theater is the Sunshine Cinema on Houston Street on the Lower East Side. As of last year, that particular cinema was possibly being marketed for sale, though it’s still operating as of now.

  • London, UK – AMC Entertainment to Buy Europe’s Biggest Theater Chain for $1.2 Billion

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    From The Wrap:
    AMC Theatres announced deal to acquire London-based Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group

    China-controlled AMC Entertainment continues its global expansion, announcing plans on Tuesday to acquire Europe’s largest movie theater chain for $1.2 billion.

    London-based Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group has been in the hands of Guy Hands’ Terra Firma private equity outfit.

    AMC, which is also finalizing its acquisition of Georgia-based U.S. exhibitor Carmike, announced it would pay 75 percent in cash and 25 percent in stock for Odeon. The companies expect to complete the deal by the end of the year. Odeon & UCI oversee 242 theaters and 2,236 screens, selling 90 million tickets annually, according to MarketWatch.

    With the acquisitions, AMC’s holdings would include 627 theaters and 7,600-plus screens in eight countries.

    “While we acknowledge that there are some uncertainties related to Brexit, we are encouraged that current currency rates are highly favorable to AMC with the pound falling to a three decade low versus the dollar,” AMC CEO Adam Aron said in a statement.

  • Schroon Lake, NY – AFS celebrates new digital projection at Strand Theatre

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    From The Sun: In celebration of the Strand Theatre’s recent acquisition of digital film-projection equipment, the Adirondack Film Society (AFS), which was the nonprofit conduit for New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) grant funding of the upgrade, is presenting a series of special screening programs in partnership with the Strand.

    First up Saturday, July 16—in digital cinema package (DCP) format—is the madcap comedy, “A Night at the Opera,” starring the inimitable Marx Brothers in one of their funniest movies and one of the truly great comic movies of all time. Then on July 17, the AFS will screen one of the greatest films ever made—the Depression-era comedy-drama classic, “Sullivan’s Travels,” written and directed by Hollywood wunderkind Preston Sturges, which itself is a love letter to the art of movie-making and which served as a partial inspiration for the Coen Brothers’ 2000s classic, “O Brother, Where Art Thou.”

    Saturday, Aug. 13 and Aug. 14, brings an entirely different flavor to the Strand’s big (and brand-new) screen with the world premiere of “The Night We Met,” an independent feature directed and co-written by Albany-area-based filmmaker Jon Russell Cring and shot in and around Schroon Lake—about the kind of unforgettable night shared by two young lovers that we’ve all had or wished we had at least once in our youth.

    Meet the Author and the Filmmakers

    Introducing North Country filmgoers to filmmakers and other industry professionals—typically, in small, intimate, up-close-and-personal settings—is one of the chief calling cards of the Adirondack Film Society, the people who have brought area movie buffs the highly celebrated Lake Placid Film Forum on an annual basis most years since 2000. The “AFS Easy Screening Series at the Strand” is no different.

    In August, director Cring will be on hand at the Strand, along with his wife Tracy Cring—who served as the film’s co-writer, director of photography and editor—to introduce their film and answer questions about the thrills and travails of indy filmmaking in the Adirondack North Country after each screening. And serving as emcee for the premier collaboration between the movie theater and the AFS in July is author and lecturer John DiLeo, whose books include “And You Thought You Knew Classic Movies” and “100 Great Film Performances You Should Remember But Probably Don’t.” Mr. DiLeo will introduce each film and lead a Q&A session following each screening. As an added bonus, on each evening of the weekend prior to the film screening that night, Mr. DiLeo will present an informal 45-to-50-minute program of memorable film clips and movie-lore tidbits on a theme.

    On July 16, “Bloopers, Secrets, and Surprises from Hollywood’s Golden Age,” which will set the stage for the hilarity to come with Groucho, Chico and Harpo in “A Night at the Opera.” On Sunday the 17th, John DiLeo shifts the focus from outtakes to outstanding but underappreciated screen appearances by some of Hollywood’s shiniest starts with “Great Film Performances You Should Remember But Probably Don’t,” adapted from his book of the same name.

    The festivities begin each evening at 6:15 p.m., with a reception, followed by Mr. DiLeo’s movie clips-and-anecdotes program at 7 p.m., and the film at 8 p.m., capped off by the Q&A. Admission to each evening’s program is $10 per person; tickets are available for advance purchase during the day at the Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce and in the evening at the Strand, as well as at the door on the evening of each screening. For more information, call the AFS at 588-7275 or visit adirondackfilmsociety.org.

  • Bluefield, WV – Work to restore Granada Theater to its original glory continues

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    From The Bluefield Daily Telegraph: For countless people, many fond memories are associated with the Granada Theater on Commerce Street in Bluefield.

    If all goes as planned, countless more people will have the opportunity to create memories there.

    That’s because a group of area residents interested in restoring the historic theater to its original glory, as well as preserving other structures in downtown Bluefield, made the effort to form an organization and get to work.

    “It all got started with the decline of all the buildings downtown, and more specifically the Granada Theater,” said Bluefield Preservation Society (BPS) member Julie Hurley.

    After the Colonial Theater was lost, she said, it became apparent to some of those who had those great memories of the downtown theaters that an initiative should start to save the Granada and other structures.

    Interested residents came together, including Hurley, Debrah Ammar, Doris Kantor, Gail Satterfield, Skip Crane and Hal Gusler, among others.

    “We formed in 2012 and began working with an architect to assess the building’s (Granada Theater) structural integrity,” Hurley said.

    Bill Huber of Marion was the architect because he has extensive experience in renovating historic theaters, she said.

    Achieving charitable organization status (501 3-C) status that same year, the group also started the process of applying for state and federal tax credits and for grants related to the work at the Granada.

    The Development Authority of Greater Bluefield had purchased the theater at auction.

    “The reason that the board purchased the building was to make sure that it is preserved,” authority member Charlie Cole said at that time. “We would like to see it preserved and become functional. The authority would like to see it become a functioning part of downtown.”

    The BPS was ready to roll.

    Fundraising efforts began to tackle the project, which will cost about $2.1 million.

    Hurley said the group has sold more than 4,000 jars of organic blueberry jam to raise money.

    Members also opened the Blue Moon Cafe just down the street from the theater to start raising money, with volunteers running the upscale, organic-based restaurant.

    Crane said many may not know that the Granada, which opened in the early 1920s, was built for stage performances as well.

    “It was built for vaudeville,” he said. “These were live productions and Bluefield was on that circuit.”

    Kantor said that in its heyday, some famous people visited Bluefield, including Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Greer Garson.

    That history fits in well with plans for the theater, which at one time seated 1,106.

    Hurley said the original slope a the back of the theater will be rebuilt for seating and the stage will be set up for both screening movies and staging performances.

    A state-of-the-art sound system will be included.

    In the balcony area, in what is basically the second and third floors, tables will be set up with a kitchen and restrooms.

    “People can come to a dinner theater production and just sit in the balcony where they have eaten and watch or go to seats on the first floor,” Crane said, adding that the main floor will seat about 480 people.

    But the upper two levels will remain in the architectural design of the theater everyone remembers, Hurley said, which is a strict requirement going through government channels for grants and tax credits when preserving historic structures.

    The main level will look the same as it once did, she added.

    Kantor said it will be a multi-use facility, providing a venue for performances and movie screenings as well as other functions that should attract people to the downtown area.

    “We can’t bring back what was here (in the downtown area) 50 years ago,” she said. “But we can bring it back as a destination.”

    The idea is, in the long run, to make the facility self-sustaining.

    One of the ways to do that will be using the 5,000-sq.-ft. basement for kiosks.

    “Plans are in the works to do that,” Hurley said, explaining that it will be set up where vendors can simply leave their products there and tagged. Someone will man the floor, collect the money, which will be shared with the vendor and facility, much like some antique and collectible kiosk-based businesses operate.

    Two side rooms on the first floor at the entrance on each side of what was once the concession area can also be utilized and could include a museum.

    Hurley said this project is moving along, and some may think no progress is being made because it is not yet obvious from the outside.

    But grant and tax credit processes are long, and replacing the roof was time-consuming because the way it was built required the work to be done a certain way. The historic rehabilitation process with the state took time, and creating the construction documents did as well.

    “You may not see it yet, but progress is being made,” she said.

    “The process we have to go through behind the scenes is a lot of work,” Ammar, who is BPS president, said. “There is only so much we can do without the proper approval.”

    Not only will the theater be restored, it will also have an original piece of the decor and ambiance – a Wurlitzer Style EX, Opus 1790, theater organ.

    The organ left the Granada years ago and was taken to the Evans Theater in Indiana, and from there it was transferred to Huntington and installed at the Keith Albee Theater.

    A mutual friend of Crane and Thomas Lester of Bluewell, former Bramwell resident Bob Edmunds, discovered the organ while teaching at Marshall University in Huntington. It became available when the Keith Albee’s original organ was found.