The latest movie theater news and updates
April 13, 2017
From the Oakland Press: When patrons attended vaudeville shows at what is now the Birmingham 8 movie theater in the 1920s, it’s unlikely they imagined that in the future, audiences would put their feet up and relax while they watched a movie.
The historic theater in downtown Birmingham is joining the chain movie houses by adding reclining seats, which are being installed in phases. The theater’s owners hope to secure a liquor license from the state by the summer, also following the lead of many of the area corporate theaters that serve beer and cocktails, such as MJR and Emagine.
April 10, 2017
From The Connecticut Post: The city has chosen a bidder to revive the old Poli Palace and Majestic Theater complex and the mayor could announce the winning bid in his speech before the business community on Monday. Mayor Joseph Ganim, who gave a tour of the Main Street site when he campaigned to win back his old seat in 2015, has said bringing the theaters, which are in the same building, back online would be a priority for his administration. The city several months ago issued a request for proposals for redevelopment of the building on the edge of the downtown, which is also home to the former Savoy Hotel. The city also recently placed a faux marquee-style sign in front of the structure that reads “Majestic” across the front and has the words “Coming soon” on the side. In the fall, before the request was issued, Thomas Gill, the city’s economic development director, told Hearst Connecticut Media the city would be looking for mixed uses at the site and a plan to bring back at least one of the theaters. “I don’t think anybody believes it could go back to two theaters,” Gill said at the time. The two theaters have a total of 5,500 seats, with the Palace the larger of the two. They were opened in 1922 and closed in the 1970s. Any proposals submitted to the city would likely preserve as much of the historic elements of the buildings as possible.
From The New York Times: Adam Aron, the chief executive of AMC Theaters, the largest multiplex chain in the world, sat in a hotel suite here last month and sang the praises of a new menu item he called “the Bavarian Beast.”
It’s a pound-and-a-half salted pretzel the size of a steering wheel. “There’s also a new jalapeño-flavored Southwestern dog that’s to die for,” he said. But Mr. Aron was most effusive about another new AMC offering, a juicy chicken sandwich with waffles as buns.
“Sounds fattening just to hear it described,” he said with a smile, “let alone when you eat it.”
Popcorn, candy and soda? How quaint. The concession counter at your local AMC is about to turn into a full-fledged fast-food restaurant.
It’s part of a strategy to attract younger audiences and stay relevant in the streaming age of HBO Go, Netflix and Amazon Prime. While small theater companies like the 25-location Alamo Drafthouse have been offering full-restaurant cinemas for years — AMC itself already operates a 60-location chainlet of Dine-In Theaters — this effort will bring greatly expanded menus to more than 400 theaters in the United States.
From Fox News: Despite the offerings of streaming networks and video-on-demand, movie theaters are seeing tremendous audiences this year.
Ticket sales and domestic grosses haven’t been this high since 2004, and with the current revenue for the first three months of 2017, so far the box office totals are on track to beat last year’s record $11 billion, according to Box Office Mojo.
And a study conducted by the National Association of Theater Owners found that more people are going to the theater than all professional sporting events combined.
One reason is that the studios, taking a page from premium cable and streaming channels such as Netflix, are doling out their films on an ongoing basis, not just waiting for the traditional summertime or award-season release times, says Leslie Combemale, a film critic at Cinema Siren.
“Studios are releasing films throughout the year, and people are getting excited about that,” she said. “And there are so many platforms available, and movie theaters and studios are watching that.”
“King Kong,” was released in early March, an extremely unusual time in the year for a big budget film, and it’s currently one of the top grossing films of 2017.
Also, many of this year’s blockbuster films were released in IMAX and 3D, where ticket prices are higher, she said, citing “Captin America: Civil War,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Logan” as examples.
Disney, which includes LucasFilm, Pixar and Marvel, is laying out a slate of movies and choosing its release dates three or four years ahead of time, forcing other studios to work around them by distributing their films throughout the year, said Patrick Corcoran, vice president and chief communications officer of The National Association of Theater Owners.
From MySanAntonio.com: San Antonio-based movie theater exhibitor Santikos Entertainment will hand over operations of its two Houston theaters to national chain Regal Entertainment Group, Santikos announced Monday. Regal — based in Knoxville, Tennessee — will sign long-term leases for Santikos’ Silverado IMAX and Palladium AVX theaters in the Houston area, operate the two theaters and develop an additional Houston property, according to a news release. Santikos will use funds from the deal, an undisclosed sum, to finance its “philanthropic mission” in San Antonio, the release said. The theater chain changed its name from Santikos Theatres to Santikos Entertainment last year and became a division of Santikos Enterprises LLC. Santikos Enterprises manages the theaters along with the Santikos family’s real estate holdings and investments.
April 7, 2017
From the Calaveras Enterprise: The Angels Camp Theatre opened its doors Feb. 9, 1924, as the Mother Lode Theater, with a miniature revue accompanied by a five-piece band. Since then, the theater has seen many changes, yet has always been an integral part of the community.
“It’s magical,” said Jeff Olson, the manager since 1999, of playing movies in the city. “I get to watch kids grow up and share in that magic.”
Olson believes movies are not just for entertainment; they make memories.
From The State News: This June will be the 30th anniversary of the closing of East Lansing’s last movie theater, the Campus Theatre, whose lobby once sat at the Grand River Avenue location that is now the textbook section of the Student Book Store.
Student Book Store assistant manager Mike Wylie grew up in the Lansing area, and he fondly remembered seeing movies like “Thunderball” at the Campus Theatre as a child.
“I (grew up) in a neighborhood with a lot of kids,” Wylie said. “You rode your bicycle down here and went to a movie.”
It has been nearly three decades, though, since anyone has ridden their bike to a movie on Grand River Avenue.
Until the 1980s, downtown East Lansing had two movie theaters: the Campus Theatre and The State Theatre, which hosted films and sometimes live performances. When MSU alumnus and Curious Book Shop owner Ray Walsh was at MSU in the 1960s and ‘70s, he said he saw films at both theaters.
April 4, 2017
From tpr.org: As early as next year, the City of San Antonio could begin a major renovation of the historic Alameda Theater located downtown.
The Alameda, built in 1949, was once the largest theater for Spanish-language performing arts in the United States. It has been mostly vacant for several decades but was purchased by the city in 1994. City plans call for reopening the Alameda as a Latino-focused performing arts venue.
Assistant City Manager Lori Houston told council members that the renovation includes construction of a large stage and up to 1,500 seats.
“The way performances are done today is a little bit different, so we’ve talked about doing a thrust stage where audiences can have a more intimate setting when they’re watching a performance. The theater has great bones. We really need to focus on that finish out to include also improving the stage, doing better seating, and also restoring the art amenities that are already in there.”
From the Lansing State Journal: Known to most as The Michigan Theatre and Arcade, one of the grandest theaters in the state opened as The Strand Theatre in 1921 on South Washington Avenue.
Originally intended for vaudeville and live events, it was designed with a long arcade that included two levels of shops. The cost was a then-outrageous $500,000.
The theater started showing films in the 1920s. Ravaged by fire in the 1930s and partly razed in 1983, it’s now known as The Atrium Office Center. What’s left of the tiered balcony is still visible on the building’s east side.
Other Lansing theaters included The Gladmer Theatre, The Bijou Theater, The Capitol Theatre, Colonial Theater, Empress Theater, Garden Theater, Orpheum Theater, Plaza Theater, Avenue Theater and the Theatorium.
East Lansing’s State Theatre, at 215 Abbott Road, came along in 1927 and had 800 seats. The Campus Theatre, at 407 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing was built in 1950 and seated 1,500.
March 28, 2017
From The Joplin Globe: When the 66 Drive-In Theatre — one of the few today with roots on the route — opens Friday, it will be in the care of new owners for the first time in more than three decades.
Tourists who today come from around the world to experience America’s Route 66 history are joined at the theater by locals, many of whom have early memories of the drive-ins that once dotted the region.
As a girl, Amanda Pearish-Rinehart spent weekends going to drive-in theaters with her family, and she said supporting the Carthage theater seems like the right thing to do.
Plus, it’s fun.
“I spend about half of what I spend to take them to a regular theater, and we have a much better time,” she said.
Nathan McDonald didn’t grow up around drive-in theaters, but he said they got into his bloodstream during his 10 years of working at the 66 Drive-In as a security guard.