The latest movie theater news and updates
November 5, 2002
SANTA BARBARA, CA — Metropolitan Theatres' briefly reopened the downstairs, main auditorium of the Granada Theater this past weekend for a three-day engagement of “The Santa Clause 2”. Santa Barbara’s oldest movie house, which was previously converted into a triplex, is currently being renovated and restored.
BRIDGEPORT, CT — The city of Bridgeport hastily began removing the Palace and Majestic theaters' marquees because of fears that they might crash to the ground. The marquees will be stripped and stored in the hopes of rebuilding them if and when the city can restore and reopen the shuttered, adjacent movie palaces.
According to the Connecticut Post, “City officials hope that construction of a state courthouse at the corner of Congress and Main streets will spark a revitalization of northern downtown, including rehabilitating the now run-down theaters.”
MINNEAPOLIS, MN — The Pantages Theatre will reopen this Friday after an extensive renovation effort. According to the Skyway News, the Minneapolis Community Development Agency, which bought the theater in 1999, has replicated the style in which the theater was originally built and upgraded and modernized its capabilites.
The Pantages opens with a three-day engagement by pianist Jim Brickman and will continue to offer “off-broadway performances and concerts.”
The Pantages was built as a vaudeville theater in 1916 and switched to movies in the 1920s. RKO remodeled the theater in 1946 renaming it the RKO Pan. It was bought by Ted Mann in 1960 and remodeled into a 70mm roadshow house, opening in March 1961 with “Spartacus.”
The former Mann theater closed in 1984 and has sat vacant ever since.
November 4, 2002
SEATTLE, WA — Redevelopment of portions of the Northgate Mall in Seattle may, once again, impact the historic Northgate Theatre. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a redevelopment proposal would “likely include the mall’s northwest corner” which is where the former Loews Cineplex movie house is located, along with adjacent office space.
The Northgate Theater, which is cited as the first shopping center theater ever built, has recently been converted into a concert venue, the Northgate Music Theater. The operators currently have a one year lease.
The Northgate opened in 1950 and once seated 1,500 patrons during its heyday. As the Northgate Music Theater, most of the seats have been removed and the venue can now fit 2,400 patrons with only 375 seats on the floor.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN — The opening of the new 15-screen Crown Theatre in downtown Minneapolis is great news for moviegoers, but will add hardships to the single screen Parkway Theater.
According to the Star Tribune, Parkway owner Bill Irvine has seen his property tax bill nearly double this year due to a “reassessment” of the value of the building. That value is partially based on the development of and around the new Crown Theatre.
Irvine says he will now need to sell an additional 10,000 tickets this year to make up for the increased taxes at a theater that seats only 400 and charges $6 per ticket, 25 cents for a small popcorn, and a dollar for soda.
VIENNA, AUSTRIA — According to ScreenDaily.com, “The city of Vienna has agreed to subsidise the operation of two historic art house cinemas that were threatened with closure after they ran into financial difficulties.”
The Vienna International Film Festival will take over the 736-seat Gartenbau cinema, while the Austrian Film Archive will operate the “historic and architecturally important” Metro Cinema.
The city will also help finance the future of these two movie houses which were put in jeopardy after the opening of nearby multiplexes.
November 1, 2002
CHICAGO, IL — According to an email sent by the Friends of the Uptown, the historic Riviera Theatre went up for sale on Wednesday for $4.5 million — a figure which includes the attached commericial space. G.B. Property Management is handling the sale of the 1918 former Balaban & Katz movie house.
According to the Friends, the 2,500-seat Riviera was the second B&K “presentation house”, after the Central Park, and was built by Rapp & Rapp, who would continue a long and fruitful relationship with Balaban and Katz.
After closing in the early 1980s, it first became a nightclub, and by the end of the decade, transformed into one of Chicago’s most popular concert venues. It continued to host concerts into 2002.
(Thanks to the Friends of the Uptown for the news.)
ANN ARBOR, MI — The Wagner Electric Sign Company has just installed a new vertical sign on the Michigan Theater.
According to Gary Flinn, the Michigan removed the original and much larger vertical sign in 1956. Flinn also reports that the lighting of the new sign is scheduled for tonight.
For more information or to see another terrific job from Wagner, visit their Michigan Theater project page.
(Thanks to Paul Drury for the update!)
We’ve just added over 30 new theaters including a new batch of Brooklyn movie houses thanks to Philip Goldberg, more Puerto Rico cinemas from Jose Mendez, a large number of Michigan and Illinois Cinema Treasures from Bryan Krefft, a new group of Connecticut theaters from Roger Katz, and more from Ron Pierce, Rogelio Tse, Steve Anderson, and Jean.
Thanks everyone and keep ‘em coming!
October 31, 2002
AKRON, OH — The Akron Civic Theatre will reopen on November 5, 2002 following a $22.6 million restoration effort at the former Loew’s movie palace.
According to the Beacon Journal, in addition to making the venue completely accesssible to the handicapped, the Civic also added a bigger stage, a new roof, new dressing rooms, a new north wing with elevators and restrooms, a bigger stage, and numerous other technical and aesthetic upgrades.
PASADENA, CA — Thanks to their supporters, the Friends of the Raymond Theatre were able to pay their latest legal bill and are continuing to fight against the gutting of the old town Pasadena movie house.
In order to raise $7,000 for the next round, the Friends are extending their raffle to November 30, 2002. To donate money or buy a raffle ticket, visit their website.
October 30, 2002
SALINAS, CA — The old Crystal Theater will be demolished today, along with three other surrounding buildings, to make way for a new 14-screen, 2,916-seat Maya Cinemas megaplex. According to the Californian, a ceremony will be held today at 4 p.m. at Monterey and Market streets.
Tom Delay dates the Crystal to 1916 when it was originally known as Brown’s Opera House. It was briefly renamed the T & D Theatre when it became part of the T & D circuit, before that moniker was given as the original name of the current Fox California Theatre.
The 86-year-old movie house has been known as the Crystal ever since 1921. It closed in 1972 with Gary Parks noting its last uses as a Spanish-language movie house and boxing venue.
Parks, commenting on Cinema Treasures on June 15, 2002 about the redevelopment project, noted that despite the demolition:
The Crystal’s facade, vertical sign and marquee are shown in the rendering [of the new megaplex] as being preserved.
The rest of the complex will be in a sort of Mediterranean motif. Aside from preservation considerations, the Crystal’s facade and signage are being kept because they are grandfathered-in under the sign ordinance of Downtown Salinas, which no longer allows any new overhanging signage. This way, the new theatre will have both a monumental sign and eye-catching marquee.
No official word yet on whether this is confirmed.
(Thanks to Charles Parker for the update.)
NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND — November 26, 2002 will be the final day of the 71-year-old Odeon, according to The Journal.
The now four-screen theater, which has a historic link with the James Bond series, will host a gala charity event and screening of the new Bond film, “Die Another Day” on November 19th — just one week before its final end. (Tickets are still available for 7.50.)
According to the Journal, “The charity premiere of the latest Bond film which stars Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry, is in aid of the Cinema & Television Benevolent Fund.” Peter Talbot, who has served as the general manager of the Odeon Newcastle since 1976, is on the board of the Fund.
The closing of the old theater on November 26th will take place one day before the grand opening of a new 12-screen Odeon cinema in Newcastle named The Gate.
According to Ian Grundy, the Odeon Newcastle originally opened on September 7, 1931 as the Paramount and was built by the US-based theater circuit. It bears a strong aesthetic similarity to the Paramount in Aurora, IL.
In 1939, Paramount sold the Newcastle palace, along with the rest of its UK theaters, to Odeon Cinemas. In the 1970s, the theater was converted to a triplex and then in 1980, a fourth screen was converted out of the former stage area.
Grundy writes, “In 1999, the Odeon was grade 2 listed with English Hertitage stating ‘[It is] the best surviving Paramount cinema in Britain, with well composed facade and rich interior with Lalique glass fittings.’
The future of the theater is now uncertain.
October 29, 2002
LA JOLLA, CA — Another post-war movie house may soon meet its end as the Cove Theatre, the venerable, single screen art house cinema, has been sold to HPA Properties. According to the Union Tribune, Landmark Theatres, which has operated the Cove since 1983, has until January 16th to vacate the property.
Following that date, the owners “‘are looking at the chance of converting it to a multi-theater property or to retail use.’” Despite the news, Landmark is still hoping to negotiate with HPA to remain at the theater.
Landmark CEO, Paul Richardson is also quoted in the article saying, “‘The Cove would be difficult to 'multiplex.’ It’s long and narrow. It doesn’t have a balcony, which in many old theaters allows room for installing extra screens. We would consider running it with more than one screen, but that has to be done well.‘”
The 650-seat Cove opened in 1948.