The latest movie theater news and updates
November 4, 2002
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.
FLUSHING, NY — Here’s a name from the past: the Keith’s Theatre, in Flushing, whose sad tale is legendary by now. After closing in 1986 as a tarnished, but still beautiful triplex, the Keith’s was purchased by Thomas Huang who subsequently demolished landmarked sections of the building.
The city of Flushing evoked his permits after discovering the violation, but the damage had been done.
According to the Daily News, Huang plead guilty in 1999 to two felony counts of “endangering the public health, safety and environment and presenting a false instrument for filing in connection with the old theater.”
The Daily News is now reporting that a new, unnamed developer has purchased the gutted and dilapidated theater from Huang. The sale is expected to close by November 12th and the new “community-minded developer” is expected to develop the site for commercial and residential use.
The Northern Blvd. landmark opened in 1927 as a 3,000-seat movie palace. It was one of the grandest theaters built in all of the New York city area and its loss is still fresh among outraged preservationists.
We’ll keep you posted…
October 28, 2002
HAYS, KS — The historic Fox Theatre has been temporarily reopened by Dickinson Theatres to take advantage of the busy holiday season at the box office. According to the Hays Daily News, the twinned movie house is still up for sale and listed for $325,000.
The Fox Theatre is one of the few movie houses left in the country with its original “crying room,” an 8-seater with reinforced glass to block out noise. The Fox originally opened in 1950 as a 1000-seat single screen theater.
GREENWOOD, OH — Clark Kimbrell, the owner of the Cinema Four Theater in Cleveland, will reopen Greenwood’s only movie house, the Cinema Three, by mid-November, according to the Greenwood Commonwealth.
Located in the Highland Park Shopping Center, Kimbrell plans to rename the triplex the “Joy Theater” after his grandfather’s first movie house.
The Greenwood theater originally opened in 1977 as a twin. A third screen was added a few years later. It closed last month when the Regal Entertainment Group decided not to renew its lease.
TACOMA, WA — One of three Tacoma theaters closed by Loews Cineplex during the past year is reopening (again) thanks to Galaxy Theatres. According to The News Tribune, the former 6-screen Tacoma Central was taken over in February by Entertainment Film Works, but ceased operations again in August.
The LA-based Galaxy Theatres, which plans to rename the multiplex venue, the “Galaxy 6 Tacoma Central”, will reopen the theater in early November. Galaxy hopes to get better bookings given its “excellent” relationships with distributors at the major studios.