The latest movie theater news and updates
July 23, 2002
BARRINGTON, IL — According to a report in the Daily Herald, the historic Catlow Theatre’s fortunes have turned slightly thanks to an unlikely hit, the indie film “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, which has been packing crowds into the 1927 movie house.
The film’s success this summer has given the struggling single screen cinema its best financial success in over two years and has helped keep the theater off the real estate market.
As the theater waits for the village of Barrington to commit to a plan to save the Catlow, and possibly turn it into a performing arts center, the theater’s owners are encouraged by all of the new and returning faces who continue to line up outside the theater.
(Thanks to Bryan Krefft for the news!)
BRISTOL, ENGLAND — According to a post by “GStaples”, plans to install a health club inside the old ABC Whiteladies Road cinemas “were unnaminously and robustly rejected by the council’s planning committee. The new owner intends to appeal. So first battle of the war won, but sadly the building remains boarded up!”
MARSHALLTOWN, IA — The Orpheum Centre Inc.’s offer on the Orpheum Theatre has been accepted by the R.L. Fridley Theatres Corporation of Des Moines.
According to their press release, “TOC’s 501©3 non-profit status enabled us to offer Fridley’s a substantial tax credit on the purchase. The Orpheum property consists of the theatre, former coffee shop building and a small parcel (parking lot) just East of Starla’s Classic Cuts.
“TOC will have 90 days to raise the monies necessary to complete the sale. Additional funding will be required to do the restoration and enhancement of the facility as we convert the Orpheum into a multi-purpose community centre we can all be be proud to have in Marshalltown.
“Fund raising will kick off Monday and be under the direction of Mary Curley & Sheila Brown. All donations are tax deductible and a pledge plan will be in place to allow for convenient payments. TOC also accepts Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Questions, ideas, criticisms, or to contribute, please call 641-751-7900. Please check our new and enhanced webpage.”
July 22, 2002
Among today’s terrific new batch of photos are several withering, but extant, Bridgeport, Connecticut movie houses as photographed by Cinema Treasures volunteer and local theater expert Roger Katz.
Other highlights include several English cinemas from our UK theater guru, Ian Grundy, and photos from William French, Michael Raney, David Jones, Ron Pierce, and Cinema Treasures' Canadian guide, Chad Irish.
July 19, 2002
MILWAUKEE, WI — The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has written an extensive article about the Oriental Theatre in honor of its 75th anniversary. The East Indian-style movie palace is still in glorious condition and showing movies today, operated as a triplex by Landmark Theatres.
The article includes numerous photos of the theater as well as quotes from Larry Widen, author of the book, Milwaukee Movie Palaces, and Cinema Treasures' friend and contributor, Jim Rankin. The Journal Sentinel article also mentions the Cinema Treasures/USA Today listing of the Oriental as one of the top ten places to see movies in a classic cinema.
DELAWARE, OH — Ohio Wesleyan University has purchased the Strand Theatre with plans to turn it into a film and performing arts center which would benefit the university and the community at large. The theater had been for sale since last year.
The theater will now be managed by Kara McVay, a long-time employee at the Strand who will direct the theater’s operations under Ohio Wesleyan’s ownership. In addition to movies and OWU’s film series, McVay also hopes to include ballets, community plays, and musical events at the Strand.
CALHOUN, GA — A new non-profit organization, the Friends of the Gem (FOG), has formed to renovate and restore the old Gem(/Martin) Theater and reopen it as a mixed use venue for film and the performing arts.
According to the Calhoun Times, the Gem opened in 1920 as a furniture warehouse and was converted into a 718-seat movie house in 1936. The Gem was the only movie house in town for 37 years and has been closed for two decades and used as a clothing store.
July 18, 2002
PHILADELPHIA, PA — The The Committee To Save The Sameric has launched a new website and online petition which will be sent to the Philadelphia City Council in order to drum up local support for saving the Art Deco movie palace.
Dennis Wilhelm, co-author of the book Popcorn Palaces, writes “The Boyd Theatre (now Sameric), a wonderful, elegant, French-style Art Deco Movie Palace in center city Philadelphia, is in danger of demolition. In researching Popcorn Palaces, Mike Kinerk and I found that it is one of the earliest US movie places designed in the French-style.
“It opened in 1928 three years after the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts D
SILVERTON, OR — The Palace Theatre closed last week after its deteriorating roof and ceiling began endangering the safety of theater patrons, according to the Statesman Journal.
Contractors will spend the next few weeks repairing the theater with plans to reopen the movie house later in August. New carpeting and new seats is also in the works, but may not be completed during this current phase of renovations.
The 400-seat Palace opened in 1935 and is still a first-run, single-screen movie theater.
July 17, 2002
DENVER, CO — The lease to the Paramount Theatre has been sold to Kroenke Sports in a transaction that includes not only the Art Deco movie palace, but also an adjacent building which houses the offices of the Historic Paramount Foundation and the House of Blues Concerts which books the 1970-seat theater.
According to reports in the Denver Business Journal and the Rocky Mountain News, Kroenke Sports, which also owns the Colorado Avalanche hockey and Denver Nuggets basketball franchises, as well as the the Pepsi Center arena, will now commence a “decade-long renovation effort.” Kroenke Sports was established by Wal-Mart’s Stan Kroenke who may seek to purchase the building outright in the future.
The restoration and renovation project will include repairs to the theater’s silk tapestries, the Paramount marquee, and the theater’s roof, as well as the installation of a new air conditioning system.
The Kroenke Sports lease will last until at least 2026 — four years prior to the Paramount’s 100-year anniversary.
July 16, 2002
BURNHAM-ON-SEA, ENGLAND — The Ritz, Burnham-on-Sea’s last movie house, has closed after 70 years of operation. According to ThisIsBristol.com, the theater had been operated since September 2000 by Starlight Cinemas which has now decided to close the twin because of the “lack of support”.
The Ritz opened as a movie house in the 1930s with a balcony and was split several years ago. Prior to Starlight Cinemas, it was used by the Ritz Social Club, which still occupies the ground floor of the building.
The liquidators have descended upon the Ritz as it has faded to black…
CULVER CITY, CA — The Center Theatre Group has been forced to scrap its plans for an additional 100-seat auditorium to be built inside the old Culver Theater balcony because it could not be lowered enough, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
The former movie house will reopen in 2004 as a performing arts center named the Kirk Douglas Theatre after the legendary actor who has pledged $2.5 million to its restoration campaign. Costs for the project have increased from an estimated $8 million to $10.9 million with $7 million already in the bank.
The theater will now house a 320-seat auditotium and a mixed rehearsal space/classroom in the converted balcony area.
ONEONTA, NY — The Oneonta Theatre has been sold to former employee Terry Mattison who plans to convert the twinned 105-year-old movie house into a live theater venue in the future. According to the Daily Star, Mattison has worked at the movie house since 1974.
The Oneonta, which opened as a single auditorium theater in 1897 and is on the National and State Register of Historic Places, may now return to its roots to accomodate live performances. Mattison may also make other modifications including repairing the theater’s roof and other touch-ups.