The latest movie theater news and updates
February 20, 2003
SALT LAKE CITY, UT — We’ve received a number of emails over the past 24 hours about the Villa and we are very excited to bring you some good news:
This came in from Grant Smith last night:
According to a news story on Fox 13 on 19 February 2003, Harmons, a local grocery store chain, bought the Villa Theatre in order to block a possible purchase by Wal-Mart, which may have wanted to demolish the theater and build a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market.
Harmons currently operates a grocery store at the Brickyard Plaza, very near the Villa property, and has expressed a desire to work with the Utah Heritage Foundation on possible reuse plans for the theater. Apparently Harmons offered to let Carmike Cinemas continue to operate the Villa, but Carmike declined and closed the theater.
Reid Sondrup adds that KSL also ran that story and adds:
… the Harmon group purchased it as an investment and is open to discussion of future use of the property. Kirk Huffaker of the Utah Heritage Foundation will discuss any part the Villa might play in future development. It was stated that demolition is not imminent.
Sean Means, who has been covering the developments for the Salt Lake Tribune published this story today:
Salt Lake Tribune article
And finally, Kirk Huffaker, Assistant Director of the Utah Heritage Foundation, released this statement via email yesterday:
I am pleased to report the following information obtained and confirmed today. You may see it in various news reports also.
The new owner of the property, which we believe was recorded today, is the corporation that owns Harmon’s grocery stores. They bought the property as an investment property. The new owner offered Carmike Cinemas the opportunity to continue to operate the theater but they declined.
The theater is not in immediate danger of being demolished by the new owner. In our conversation today, they have expressed willingness to discuss possibilities for the theater with Utah Heritage Foundation.
Thank you to all our supporters near and far for their lobbying and rallying efforts.
We’d like to thank everyone who contributed to this effort in getting the word out about the Villa and its closure. Special thanks go to Grant Smith, Reid Sondrup, Howard Haas, Bryan Krefft, Sean Means, and everyone else who notified us about these developments.
Of course, a special thanks goes to the Utah Heritage Foundation and, of course, Harmon’s Grocery Stores. Let’s hope this has a happy ending.
(See below for more of today’s news and events.)
Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts to Hold Benefit Gala
CHICAGO, IL — This just in from the UTCA:
The Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts (UTCA) is pleased to announce “Bring Back the Brilliance,” a gala benefit, Friday, March 21, at 7 pm at Thorne Auditorium. Proceeds from the event will support programming and operational expenses during the year.
For more information, visit the UTCA website and go to ‘events’.
See “Glory” at the Lafayette Theatre This Weekend!
SUFFERN, NY — “Glory” (1989), the civil war epic starring Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, and Denzel Washington, will be shown this Saturday, February 22nd, at 12 noon at the Lafayette Theatre as part of the Big Screen Classics series. Tickets are $6.00.
Doors open at 11:30 with Jeff Barker playing the Ben Hall Memorial Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ before the film starts!
For more information, visit the Big Screen Classics website.
Thanks to Pete Apruzzese of Galaxy Theatres for the update!
Help Wanted at the St. George Theatre
STATEN ISLAND, NY — With renovations continuing at the St. George Theatre, Stephanie Gilmore, who is helping to restore the 75-year-old, 2,800 seat movie palace, is looking for photos and blueprints. Gilmore is looking for interior and exterior images to enable workers to more accurately and quickly restore the St. George.
More information on the theater
Email Stephanie Gilmore at
Thanks to Jean Siegel for the continued St. George Theatre updates!
February 19, 2003
Pre-Movie Ads Rip Off Theatergoers, Suits Claim
Theater’s Silver Screen Gives Way to Live Stage
MOREHEAD CITY, NC — Read the Jacksonville Daily News article
Lawsuit Could Impact Closure of Loews Century Plaza
LOS ANGELES, CA — Read the Los Angeles Independent story
New Owner of the Crest Pulling Out All Stops to Pack the House
LOS ANGELES, CA — Read the Los Angeles Independent coverage
Meyer Theatre Opening ‘Poetic'
GREEN BAY, WI — Read the Green Bay News-Chronicle article
‘Gods and Generals’ Premiere Nets $94K for Theaters
JACKSON, MI — Read the Jackson Citizen-Patriot story
Theater Owner Says Letters Led to Closing
CHAMPAIGN, IL — Read the News-Gazette article
February 18, 2003
For more information on the closing of the historic Salt Lake City movie house, please see Grant Smith’s Villa Theater site, which contains a number of new stories.
Over the weekend a protest was held to save the theater and efforts are underway to try and convince the new owner to save the Villa.
Thank you to Grant Smith for keeping up the vigil.
Children’s Museum to Move Into Grand Theatre
HOLLAND, MI — Read the Holland Sentinel story
Strand Could Be Ready By Fall
PONTIAC, MI — Read the Oakland Press article
Thanks to Bryan Krefft for these two stories!
Buy A Seat For The State
MODESTO, CA — Read the Modesto Bee article
Thanks to Gregg Anderson for the news.
Potential Buyer Puts Fox Theater Center Stage
FULLERTON, CA — Read the Orange County Register article
Thanks to Ron Pierce for the update.
February 17, 2003
Cinema Treasures is closed for the American President’s Day holiday, but we’ll return tomorrow with more movie theater news.
February 14, 2003
Prytania Operator Eludes Eviction
NEW ORLEANS, LA — Read the Times-Picayne article
Indigo, Theater Dispute Puts Downtown Revival at Risk
HONOLULU, HI — Read the Honolulu Advertiser article
Sky Hi Theatres To Update
GILETTE, WY — Read the Gillette News Record article
Peshawar Cinemas Screening World Cup to Bring Back the Crowds
Students, Trades Group to Work at Capitol
CHAMBERSBURG, PA — Read the Gazette News article
Historic Preservation Tax Credits Threatened by Ehrlich, Legislators
BALTIMORE, MD — Read the Baltimore Sun story
February 13, 2003
Lots of Chicago-area news:
Preservation Alert Elgin Activists Make Last-Minute Plea to Save Theater
ELGIN, IL —– Read the Daily Herald article
Thanks to Bryan Krefft for the alert.
Catlow Theater Negotiations Moving Along
BARRINGTON, IL — Read the Daily Herald article
Chicago Loews Theater Becomes Equinox Fitness Club
CHICAGO, IL — Read the Crain’s Chicago Business story
Was Peafowl Popular Neighborhood Theater in Cinema’s Early Days?
NASHVILLE, TN —
Proctor’s To Announce Renovations
SCHENECTADY, NY — Read the Capital News 9 story
February 12, 2003
SALT LAKE CITY, UT — The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News have confirmed KSL-TV’s story of the imminent demise of the 54-year-old Villa Theatre.
We’d like to implore the new owners of the Villa to consider preserving this theater, wholly or at least its signature facade, marquee, and sign, for the city of Salt Lake. Preserving cultural landmarks is a tremendous goodwill gesture and a hallmark of community service.
The Villa, which has delighted area audiences for over five decades, is a part of the city. Please make it part of the city’s future as well.
Thanks to Grant Smith and Bryan Krefft for the updates.
February 11, 2003
SALT LAKE CITY, UT — This shocking and sad news is just in from Grant Smith, our dedicated Utah theaters expert and volunteer:
The Villa Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah will close after showings on February 18th, according to a news story on KSL last night. The theater has been sold and the new owner will not continue to operate the building as a theater. No one knows at this point who the buyer is or what fate awaits the building, but the news story indicated that the theater might be demolished.
For more information on the closing of the Villa, please visit Grant Smith’s incredible website.
Grant is interviewed extensively in the KSL broadcast that all but confirms the imminent demolition of this 1949 movie house, which still has one of the largest screens in America.
As you may recall, Cinema Treasures worked with USA Today in late 2001 to publish a list of the 10 greatest classic cinemas to watch movies in. The Villa was certainly one of those. Its loss would be immeasurable.
If you were outraged over the loss of the Indian Hills Theater, then contact the Utah Heritage Foundation and these organizations immediately, courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Thanks to Stephen Ruffus who also alerted us to the Villa story.