The latest movie theater news and updates
September 30, 2002
BEVERLEY, ENGLAND — England’s oldest cinema, The Picture Playhouse, has just suspended programming of its “pictures” due to increasingly difficult competition from a newly-built UGC multiplex in nearby Hull.
According to the Hull Daily Mail, the 91-year-old theater will continue on as a venue for live music and festivals, but movies, which have being exhibited at the theater since 1911, will be suspended.
Fewer and fewer patrons have been coming to the Playhouse since the UGC at Kingswood Leisure Park opened and the theater is now reviewing its operations with the possibility of bringing films back two nights a week in December.
The aging theater is also awaiting news on a 67,000 pound bid to the National Lottery for an 87,000 pound refurbishment scheme. Theater management has said that if movies do return, they will only remain if audiences turn out to support them.
We’ll keep you posted…
BROOKLYN, NY — The Brooklyn Academy of Music has just embarked on a two-year, $8.6 million restoration of the performing arts center’s facade which will be executed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. In addition to live performances, BAM also houses the BAM Rose Cinemas, a four-screen movie house showcasing art, independent, and repertory programming.
SALINA, KS — The former Fox Theatre was reopened briefly on Saturday morning as the public was allowed in for a “sneak peek” to the old movie house midway through its restoration and renovation project. According to the Salina Journal, the “restoration work began in February, and the opening is planned for the spring”.
When it reopens, the former Fox Watson Theatre will be known as the Stiefel Center for Performing Arts, and will seat roughly 1,350 patrons. The newly restored theater will house the Salina Symphony, as well as a number of other live performances.
(Thanks to Joel Weide for the update.)
September 27, 2002
Nottingham, England — The world’s smallest movie theater, The Screen Room, opened today for only 21 patrons. Smaller than its Australian counterpart, the Terrace Theatre, by only one movie theater seat, The Screen Room will debut with the documentary, “Lost in La Mancha”.
According to www.icsouthlondon.co.uk, the tiny movie house has been constructed out of an old jeweler’s workshop and plans to show a mix of art house and second-run commercial programming.
CHICAGO, IL — The Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts is working at breakneck speed to gather enough funds to purchase the palatial Uptown Theatre by October 4th. UTCA officials will be all over the radio in the coming days getting the word out to the public on:
- WUSN-FM 99.5 FM, on Sunday, 9-29-02 between 6-7 AM
- WNND-FM 100.3 FM on Sunday, 9-29-02 from 7:30 AM – 8:00 AM
- WLUW-FM 88.7 FM, on Friday, 10-04-02 at 2:30 PM.
- WBEZ-FM 91.5 FM, will air a report on or about 10-04-02
The group is also seeking any donations and recently sent in the following message:
The time to donate is now. We have only [ONE WEEK] left to raise the remaining funds to take ownership and begin restoration of this national treasure.
Your donations are secured in a bank account we opened solely for the purchase of the Uptown Theatre: “Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts – Building Purchase Account.” If we do not close on the building, all monies will be refunded.
There are a number of ways to give:
- Online donations: www.uptowntheatrechicago.com (click on DONATE to the left and fill in the form)
- Mail checks to our office: Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts, 4707 N. Broadway, Suite 315, Chicago, IL 60640
- Wire money into our deposit-only account, named “Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts Building Purchase Account”: Harris Trust and Savings Bank, 111 W. Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60603, Phone # (312)461-2121, Routing #071025661, Account #2960228589.
Time is of the essence. Be a part of the 2nd chapter of the Uptown Theatre and help “Bring Back the Brilliance!”
September 26, 2002
BOSTON, MA — In another victory for local preservationists, the Boston Landmarks Commission voted on Tuesday to block the demolition of the Modern/Mayflower Theatre paving the way for its renaissance alongside the Opera House and the Paramount Theatre.
According to the Boston Globe, the Boston Redevelopment Authority is now working to purchase the theater from the Levin family or take it by eminent domain. Work on the theater is estimated to cost $5 million and could bring the theater back to life as a mixed use venue for movies and live performances.
Meanwhile, the $15 million restoration of the Paramount’s interior is about to get underway, and the Opera House, which won its court case this week, should soon begin a $30 million expansion, renovation, and restoration project.
BALTIMORE, MD — Through a series of strategic legal and financial moves, the Senator Theatre will soon be leased and operated by a non-profit entity, the Senator Theatre Foundation, which will also assume operation of the long-shuttered Rotunda twin theater nearby.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the moves will help keep the Senator Theatre afloat and will give its operator, Thomas Kiefaber, a move-over house in the newly renamed, Rotunda Cinematheque. When the system is in place, the Foundation plans to show first-run films in the Senator and then move them over to the Rotunda.
The plan has been in place for nearly a year pending funding which is now coming in the form of a bank loan, half of which has been secured through the city of Baltimore. The theaters will be run by the newly formed foundation which is currently pending IRS approval. With the Rotunda, the Senator should be able to book more first-run movies by giving them a longer life with both theaters in operation.
The Rotunda closed last year as part of Loews Cineplex' bankrupcty reorganization. The Senator, meanwhile, is one of the best presentation movie houses in the country and has a cult-like following amongst its celebrity and everyday patrons. These moves should help future generations enjoy this Art Deco movie house treasure.
September 25, 2002
HONOLULU, HI — The Hawaii Theatre has finally posted a profit in its sixth year of operation after reopening in 1996 following a seven year restoration effort. According to the Pacific Business News, the theater ended the fiscal year with a net profit of $178,000 and has reduced its outstanding debt to $1.5 million.
The theater’s $10.5 million capital campaign recently received a $500,000 Kresge Foundation grant and $1 million from the state and is now within $2 million of completion. With the funds, the theater hopes to first pay down the remaining debt and then restore the exterior of the former movie palace and install a new “movie marquee”.
The Hawaii Theatre was originally opened in 1922 by Consolidated Amusements which operated the theater until 1984 when it was finally shuttered. Saved from the wrecking ball, the theater was carefully restored and then reopened as a performing arts center.
BOSTON, MA — The final legal hurdle has been removed in Clear Channel Entertainment’s battle to restore and reopen the aging Opera House/Keith’s Memorial in Downtown Crossing thanks to a Superior Court judge who ruled in favor of the city and against a condominium complex which had sought to block the theater’s expansion efforts.
According to the Boston Globe, with the ruling, Clear Channel now plans to spend $30 million to redevelop, renovate, and restore the 2,500-seat palace into a venue for touring Broadway productions. The theater has been closed for over a decade and is need of substantial repair.
The early Thomas Lamb theater was built as a memorial to B.F. Keith and was a popular vaudeville venue for years. The theater later switched to movies as part of the RKO circuit and was the jewel of the Sack Theatres empire when it was known as the Savoy.
It was taken over by Sarah Caldwell in 1991 as a venue for opera, but the project ran out of money and the theater has changed hands and arrangements several times over the last decade. It appears, thankfully, that the Opera House will be back and better than ever.
Mayor Thomas Menino, who helped spearhead its revival, is proving to be one of the best friends a movie palace could have in goverment office and is now moving ahead with more plans to “revive” the Paramount and Modern theaters which are just a few doors down from the Opera House.
If all three of these theaters go back in operation and the Wang Center, Orpheum and Majestic are still delighting patrons, Boston would become a must-see destination for historic theater fans. When was the last time you could say that?
September 24, 2002
MARIETTA, GA — Plans are underway to renovate and reopen the historic Strand Theatre in downtown Marietta as a mixed use venue for “films and other peformances”, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.
A press release from Don Shafer, who also operates the 3-screen Marietta Star Cinema, says that the 800-seat Strand is also “in the process of securing exclusive rights to an advanced digital system of delivery and presentation that is just being made available to theaters in the USA. This could be available to the Strand as an exclusive area venue.”
The Strand may have some competition in the future as the Downtown Marietta Development Authority has just agreed to issue up to $80 million in bonds to erect a new performing arts center.
(Thanks to Don Shafer for the update.)
CHEHALIS, WA — Lund Theaters, which owns and operates the historic Chehalis Theater, has taken over operation of the old Yard Birds Mall triplex in North Chehalis.
According to the Chronicle, the theater, which had been operated by the Regal Entertainment Group until last Thursday, is already being run by Lund who had planned to take over the theater at the end of the year. Regal now operates only one theater in all of Washington state, the Regal Capital Mall 4 in Olympia.
Daryl Lund, owner of Lund Theaters, plans to install new seats, curtains, a new sound system, and alter the auditoriums for stadium seating. He also plans to add five screens to the Yard Birds.
Despite these plans, Lund will continue operating the old Chehalis (former Pix) Theater which was erected in 1938 and still turns a tidy profit. Lund resurrected that theater in 1994 after it had been closed for a decade.