The latest movie theater news and updates
September 17, 2002
CHICAGO, IL — Rumors of the McClurg Court’s demise may have been premature as the aging Loews Cineplex movie house prepares to square off against a new 21-screen AMC megaplex opening nearby, according to a report in today’s Chicago Tribune.
A previously announced plan by another group to spend $5 million to convert the McClurg Court into a performing arts center seems to have fallen apart due to a lack of financing, and for the time being, the McClurg Court has remained open and still showing first-run movies.
According to the Tribune, Loews Cineplex currently has no immediate plans to shutter the 1970s theater which houses three auditoria including its popular 800-seat main screen.
AMC’s new complex has taken four years to bring to fruition, but the successful exhibitor, which weathered the exhibition collapse without filing for bankruptcy, has finally announced that November 1st will be the opening day of the new 21-screen AMC River East.
Let the games begin…
(Thanks to Bryan Krefft for the news!)
September 16, 2002
Another newly remastered version of David Lean’s epic film, “Lawrence of Arabia,” will debut at New York’s Ziegfeld Theatre and at the Cinerama Dome at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood on September 25th, and even earlier at Chicago’s Music Box on September 20th.
According to the New York Daily News, the film is being revamped again by Bob Harris, who originally restored the film in 1989 to great fanfare. The enormously succesful theatrical run of the remastered film in 1989 helped to fuel the burgeoning film preservation movement which continues in earnest today.
The new print, which will be shown next week, is a “digitally remastered and color-corrected version of the director’s 1962 masterpiece with 70 digital audio, rather than analog, with a magnetic stripe running down the edge of the film.”
According to Harris, “It’s state-of-the-art audio” with “each new 70-mm print of "Lawrence of Arabia” [weighing] about 1,000 pounds and [costing] $30,000."
The new theatrical run is in honor of the film’s 40th anniversary and will be shown for two weeks at the Music Box and 10 days each at both the Ziegfeld in midtown Manhattan and at the newly restored and reopened Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. If you can make it, this is an event not to be missed!
SALT LAKE CITY, UT — The Salt Lake Film Society, which currently operates the historic Tower Theatre, has signed a lease to begin operating the Tower’s main rival, the six-screen Broadway Film Centre beginning November 8, 2002.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the 3 ½ year-lease will enable the Tower’s operators to expand their operations, something the group had been looking to do for some time. The additional screens will expand the quantity and quality of independent and foreign films currently available in SLC under the film society’s guidance.
The new arrangement will follow the end of the one year lease signed last October by Starship Consolidated Theatres which took over the Broadway Film Centre following its closure by Loews Cineplex as part of that company’s bankruptcy reorganization.
Following a tepid attempt at showing commercial fare, the Broadway switched its schedule in June and is now being operated as an art house cinema by the Rocky Mountain Film Society. That group will now look for another venue to program.
What this means for the future of the Tower Theatre is now anyone’s guess and certainly depends on whether the Salt Lake Film Society re-signs their lease. Built in 1926, the Tower is the oldest operating movie theater in the city.
(Thanks to Grant Smith for the update.)
September 13, 2002
JERSEY CITY, NJ — If you missed the first film screenings at the reopened Loews Jersey Theatre in early 2002 (the first films showed since the theater closed in 1986), we have good news for you. The Loews Jersey has just announced a small part of its new fall schedule!
On Sunday, September 22nd at 3 p.m., “Danny Columbo” will be on stage with a 17 Piece Swing Orchestra, 6 Playboy Bunnies, Mike Gall, Steve Ames, and radio host and emcee Danny Stiles. Tickets will go on sale the day of the show.
To celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the palatial Loews Jersey, the theater will bring back the movies with “The Wizard of Oz” on Friday September 27th, at 7 p.m. and “North by Northwest” on Saturday September 28th, at 7 p.m. And coming soon, will be a Halloween film series!
Editors note: I was fortunate enough to attend a screening of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” on the theater’s new giant screen back in May, and it was a terrific experience. The Loews Jersey is still in need of a lot of work, but it is a beautiful movie palace and the efforts of the group and its volunteers are evident everywhere you turn.
In addition, the opportunity to see great films in a true movie palace are few and far between in the New York area. Please come and show your support for this theater which was the winner of the first annual Theodore Conrad Preservation Award in 2001.
CHICAGO, IL — The Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts is working tirelessly in its efforts to secure enough financing to purchase and begin restoring the palatial Uptown Theatre.
To promote the theater and continue bringing in much needed revenue, the group has announced the advanced sale of its 2003 Uptown Theatre calendar which will be in full color and available to be shipped in mid-October:
You marveled at, even framed, the beautiful B&W photos from the 2002 Uptown Theatre calendar. Our newest gem features 12 new equally beautiful photographs by Chicago photographer Loren Robare. It is our second and final calendar to showcase photos of the theatre in its current deteriorated state, and is sure to become a collector’s item.
To purchase copies of the calendar, log on to the group’s website and place an advanced order.
In other Uptown Theatre news, the UTCA has also won a political endorsement from Alderman Mary Ann Smith who writes in a letter dated September 5, 2002:
I am delighted to offer my full support for the plans currently being proposed for the Uptown Theatre with the development team you are putting in place. This building is a treasure which I, along with dozens of other neighborhood people and preservationists nationwide have fought for decades to protect.
It is imperative that this first best chance to restore the theatre to an active and vibrant life be the best it can possibly be … My support for the plan is based on the caliber of the firms and individuals you have brought on board, whose knowledge and experience will maximize the prospects for the success of this huge undertaking …
I, along with the rest of the 48th Ward community, look forward to working with you hand in hand to bring back the brilliance of the Uptown Theatre.
For more information on the Uptown Theatre read the recent UR Chicago article.
(Thanks to Michael Beyer for his tireless contributions on behalf of the Uptown.)
September 12, 2002
SAN PEDRO, CA — The Grand Vision Foundation will be holding a fund raiser this Saturday, September 14th at 7:30 p.m. with a screening of the movie “Like Water For Chocolate” followed by the Chocolate Fiesta at 9:30 p.m. All profits will benefit the Grand Vision Foundation’s Theatre Restoration’s Fund of the Warner Grand Theatre.
The opulent Warner Grand is located at 478 W. 6th Street in San Pedro. For more info please call Liz Schindler at (310) 833-4813, email her at , or visit the theater’s website. Ticket prices for the event are $7 and you will be helping to save one of the grandest theaters still operating in the Los Angeles area.
(Thanks to Debbie Marr whose beautiful watercolor of the Warner Grand can also be seen on the theater’s page on our website.)
NEW YORK, NY — The Apollo Theater Foundation, which currently operates the historic Harlem theater, has announced the resignation of Derek Q. Johnson, the foundation’s president and chief executive. The announcement follows a decision to scale back plans to increase the size and capability of the former movie house.
According to the New York Times, plans to expand the the Apollo into an adjacent lot and incorporate the nearby Victoria Theater have been cancelled due to economic concerns. The foundation will now focus on its current renovation of the Apollo only and may revisit the expansion effort in the future.
Johnson will step down on September 30th and will focus on other real estate development options. Meanwhile, the Apollo’s initial $12 million external renovation will be completed by early 2003 with a $38 million restoration of the interior to follow.
(Thanks to Dennis Huber for the update.)
NEW YORK, NY — Jean has sent in some new information on the St. George Theatre located in the New York City borough of Staten Island. Organizers are currently trying to save the beleaguered movie palace and need your help.
We are restoring, repairing and revitalizing one of New York’s most amazing performance spaces. Built in 1928, this 2,800 seat venue has seen a lot of changes over the years. In earlier days it was home to opera, vaudeville and film. The past few years have been less kind. Neglect and apathy nearly did in the St. George. We believe something this magnificent needs to be saved, needs to be restored, and needs to live again.
Every Saturday is volunteer day. It’s also tour day. Anyone who wants a tour of this beautiful old place can have one. Here’s where we need your help. We are seeking cheerful, bright and energetic people to meet and greet people as they wander into the St. George. We are also seeking donations of any size. We are a not-for-profit group and all donations go toward this restoration project. Your generousity is greatly appreciated and sorely needed.
Volunteer days every Saturday 9am to 6pm. We are located at 31 Hyatt Street, 1 block from the Staten Island Ferry. If you want to help clean and repair wear old clothes and bring gloves. If you want to be a tour guide wear more formal attire.
I have visited this theater and it is one of the grandest theaters still standing in the New York City area. Most of the interior is intact. Many of the old ads remain on the walls. The murals line the interior walls.
There are several fireplaces inside. Stained glass chandeliers hang from the ceilings and sconces adorn the walls. The theater just needs some TLC in order to bring it back to its former glory.
For more information on the theater, or to view a number of photos of its grand interior, please visit their website. And if you’re in the NY area, please consider visiting the St. George or helping to bring it back to life.
(Thanks to Jean for the update!)
September 11, 2002
All of us at Cinema Treasures would like to pause today and remember the victims and their families during the one-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
Being in New York on that day is a memory we’d all like to forget … but never will.
Our thoughts and prayers are now with the victims in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and here in New York, and their grieving families around the world.
— Cinema Treasures Staff
KENOSHA, WI — The Citizens Group for the Kenosha Theatre has planned an open house in the historic Kenosha Theatre for Saturday, September 14th from about 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The open house will concentrate on the restoration efforts so far, and a portion of the theater will be open for viewing.
“Unfortunately, with the theater’s current condition, we can’t open all of the building for tours right now, but we want to spark community interest and get citizens involved,” says Pete Christy, Secretary of the group. “That, and we will also have volunteers working on Saturday.”
The 2,200-seat Kenosha was built in 1927 and closed in 1963. This year’s open house will coincide with Kenosha’s first annual downtown “Maxwell Street Days” Festival.
The theater is located at 5915 6th Avenue, about 7 blocks south of Kenosha City Hall.
(Thanks to Pete Christy for the update!)