The latest movie theater news and updates

  • September 6, 2016

    Greensburg, PA – Greensburg’s Palace Theatre marks 90th anniversary


    From TribLive: Terry Reese remembers setting off a burglar alarm as he stepped into the empty Palace Theatre in 1990.

    “It wasn’t an auspicious beginning,” he recalls, laughing. Reese was on the board of the Greensburg Garden and Civic Center, which had just bought the former vaudeville and movie house.

    A lot has changed since then. The Garden and Civic Center became the Westmoreland Cultural Trust, and Reese is chairman of its board. And on Friday, the Palace celebrated its 90th birthday.

    Twelve local lawmakers and officials spoke at the theater to mark the occasion.

    “The Palace Theatre is a beautiful cultural treasure in Westmoreland County that is absolutely worth celebrating,” said Erin Molchany, director of Gov. Tom Wolf’s southwestern regional office and a former state representative. “In a world of technology, texting and Twitter, the Palace Theatre serves as a reminder that art and music bring us together in a deep and valuable way.”

    The theater opened in 1926 as the Manos Theatre. Its name was changed in 1977.

    The cultural trust recently completed a $750,000 renovation to fix cracking plaster, replace the awning, restore the box offices and update the electrical work and plumbing.

    Among its finest architectural and artistic features are the beautifully restored murals of fairy tales painted by acclaimed Chicago artist Louis Grell; a Vermont marble staircase that leads to the theater’s second floor, which boasts golden Grecian marble; classic black-and-white checkerboard floors; and Spanish inlaid tiles.

    “I love this place. It brings so much into this community,” said state Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield.

    The theater received a congressional citation, a citation from the state House of Representatives, proclamations from the city and county and a plaque from the Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

    “If Greensburg is the cultural hub of Westmoreland County, which I think it is, then I think it’s fair to say that this is the key spoke in that hub,” county Commissioner Ted Kopas said.

    Commission Chairwoman Gina Cerilli recalled her connection to the theater from growing up in Greensburg.

    “Growing up, coming to the Palace or being on the stage felt like Broadway to me,” she said.

    A recent study by Mullin and Lonergan Associates of Pittsburgh shows the Palace boosts the Greensburg economy by about $9 million annually.

    “The economic impact that the Palace and the cultural trust have is measurable. Those (numbers) are significant, but what is immeasurable is the impact it has on our memories,” said Chad Amond, president of the Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce.

    The Palace will keep renovating and expanding its reach as it approaches its centennial, Westmoreland Cultural Trust President Mike Langer said.

    “We think that we will have the opportunity to continue to grow, both in the number of shows and the quality of shows,” he said.

    In terms of physical improvements, the trust wants to rehabilitate the apartments on the upper floors that once housed performers at the theater, Langer said. These would be rented out to permanent tenants. The trust wants to create a community room in the theater, though that is likely a few years away, he said.

    On that first day in 1990, the Palace’s new owners faced an uphill battle, Reese recalls.

    “The theater was totally decrepit,” he said. “Now, we’ve got a lot to do still, but the old girl’s in pretty good shape.”

  • September 3, 2016

    Derby, CT – Inside an Abandoned Connecticut Opera House With a Jail Beneath its Stage


    From Atlas Obscura: Discovering an abandoned, beautifully preserved opera house from the 19th century is thrilling enough. But imagine finding an old opera house that, for some mysterious reason, has abandoned prison cells hidden underneath the stage.

    One such curious and beguiling building can be found in Connecticut. It completed its last production in 1945 and has been closed ever since.

    Derby is officially the smallest city in Connecticut (at least, according to its own town leaders, who took that superlative as the town motto). Quaint, pleasant and friendly, and covering an area of just over five square miles of New Haven County, Derby has a current population of just over 12,000. The first mystery is why the smallest city in the state even had an opera house in the first place.

    The answer is the the Industrial Revolution. Found at the intersection of the Housatonic and Naugatuck rivers, Derby was ideally situated for the new water powered gristmills that saw companies flock to the area, manufacturing everything from hoop skirts and corsets to brass items and pianos.

    As Derby became more prosperous in the latter half of the 19th century, it did was many other self-respecting boom towns did in the U.S.; it built itself a grand, ornate opera house. Civic pride was tied to this kind of patronage. In Iowa alone, over 1,500 opera houses were built following the Civil War, almost all of which today, have been closed down and repurposed, torn down, or lost to fire.

    And with so many opera houses being built, competition between neighboring cities was fierce, with local rivalries demanding that their new opera house had more gilt, crushed velvet and chandeliers. One such rivalry centered around this part of Connecticut. Just a few miles north of Derby is the town of Ansonia. Flush with money from its prospering copper industry, Ansonia, then a borough of Derby, built an opera house in 1870, despite having a population of just over 3,000. Not to be outdone, the officials of Derby (population also just over 3,000) sought to build one of their own. In a classic case of one upmanship, Derby hired the prestigious architect Henry Edwards Ficken, one of the creators of Manhattan’s illustrious Carnegie Hall, and the architect of Coney Island’s steel pier and the Bronx’s Woodlawn Cemetery.

    Ficken designed the building in the Baroque Italianate style, complete with striking terra cotta exteriors and a stained glass cupola towering over the small town’s square. The building is so striking it was the first building in all of Connecticut to be added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1968.

    Walking into the abandoned opera house today, the interior is a striking as the Florentine exterior is beautiful. A ground floor and two sweeping balconies, decorated with intricate wrought iron work, slope down to the old orchestra pit, with the 60-foot stage framed by a grand proscenium archway. The interior has remained surprisingly pristine in the cool dry air, just covered in a layer of dust that has gathered since the local fire marshall closed the doors for good in 1945. The opera house was named for local piano manufacturer, Charles Sterling. Evening entertainment in the Victorian home usually involved a home upright piano, and those found in parlors throughout America more often that not were made by Sterling in Derby. The Sterling Opera House opened its opulent doors in 1889, marking the occasion with a presumably less than cheery performance of James A. Herne’s play Drifting Apart, a temperance driven melodrama about the evils of drink.

    That the first production in the opera house wasn’t actually an opera was not unusual. Indeed, in the countless of opera houses that sprang up all over the U.S., operas were generally rare. The entertainment offered was more commonly popular theatre, old time variety shows, vaudeville shows and public lectures, acts that traveled the country by the new prospering railroads that themselves fueled the boom towns.

    The Sterling Opera House proved a roaring success, hosting performers of like Harry Houdini, Lionel Barrymore, John Phillips Sousa, and Amelia Earhart who gave a lecture there at the invitation of the local Woman’s Club in 1936. When pioneering director D.W.Griffith premiered his groundbreaking (and horrifyingly racist) film The Birth of a Nation, it was shown at the Sterling, much to the delight of Derby and presumably to the chagrin of Ansonia. (The rivalry between Derby and Ansonia was so intense that a petition was circulated in Ansonia to vote to become a separate town, a status it was granted the year Sterling Opera opened.)

  • September 1, 2016

    Cleveland, OH – Great Lakes Science Center closing OMNIMAX Theater, opening new ‘Dome Theater’


    From Fox 8 Cleveland: The iconic giant dome movie theater at the Great Lakes Science Center is about to get a makeover.

    According to a press release, the Science Center’s Cleveland Clinic Foundation OMNIMAX Theater will close after the last movie of the day Sept. 5.

    It will remain closed until mid-October, when it will reopen as the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Dome Theater, featuring the world’s first giant dome cinema laser system.

    The renovations will include all new seats and carpeting.

    The new three-projector, laser-illuminated projection system will replace the current projector that has been in place since the Science Center opened in 1996.

    The name of the theater is changing to reflect the end of the usage of the film-based OMNIMAX system. The naming rights are being retained by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

  • Norwalk, CT – Aquarium visitors fear potential closing of IMAX Theater


    From The Hour: Standing outside the entrance to the IMAX Theater on Monday afternoon, the Rivas family of Warwick, N.Y., viewed display boards showing marine life in Long Island Sound and beyond.

    Victor M. Rivas described the theater as part of the educational experience when visiting The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

    “We do like the theater. It’s because it’s attached to the Aquarium and because of what they’re showing,” Rivas said. “The theater always has something to offer, something interesting — not to mention my daughter is really interested in ocean life.”

    A source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Hearst Connecticut Media that the state Department of Transportation is in negotiations to take the IMAX Theater to facilitate replacement of the bridge.

    Rivas expressed surprised upon learning about the possibility.

    “It doesn’t make any sense if it’s a staging area,” Rivas said. “The staging area could be moved. It could be put somewhere else if that’s the case.”

    The 120-year-old railway bridge bisects the Aquarium, separating the animal exhibits from the theater. The bridge has failed to open and close properly on numerous occasions over the last two years. The DOT is moving forward to replace the bridge. Preliminary work, such as test borings, are already underway for the estimated $1 billion project that is slated to begin in mid-2018.

    The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk/IMAX Theater is Norwalk’s biggest tourist attraction. Since opening in 1988, the Aquarium now draws up to 500,000 visitors annually to its 34 exhibits with 1,200 marine animals.

    Visitors come from Norwalk and throughout the region. A number of out-of-town visitors said Monday that they were unaware of the upcoming bridge replacement even as trains rumbled across the bridge outside.

    To get from the Aquarium exhibits to the IMAX Theater, visitors must walk through a short tunnel. Along the tunnel walls are posters advertising a selection of movies that have played in the theater over the years.

    Margie Basil, a New Jersey resident, waited with her granddaughter Mackenzie McGonigle of Norwalk to enter the 310-seat theater. Offerings included “National Parks Adventures,” “Born To Be Wild,” “Flight of the Butterflies,” “A Beautiful Planet” and “Humpback Whales.”

    “I’m taking her here today to see ‘A Beautiful Planet’ at the IMAX and to go through the Aquarium,” Basil said. “We’re very surprised to find out that there might be some type of interruption because of the bridge. I am very annoyed about the whole situation.”

    DOT spokesman Judd Everhart said Friday that the department is in discussions about the impacts of the bridge replacement on the Aquarium and the IMAX Theater. He reminded that both attractions are located on property owned by the city of Norwalk.

    “I can’t say today when a decision will be made,” Everhart said when asked about the fate of the theater.

    In an effort to keep the public informed about the Walk Bridge replacement, the DOT has created a website ( and held public information meetings. An open house was held Aug. 16 in the lobby of the IMAX Theater. The department has placed at the entrance to the theater a standing sign with small display board explaining the project.

    Sigworth said the Aquarium is preparing for how the bridge replacement will impact the animal exhibits and theater. For now, it’s business as usual for visitors. He said the Aquarium is following it normal practices. As such, the Aquarium has booked movies for the theater through June 2017 and continues to market the Aquarium to school districts through the region, he said.

    “If they want to start planning their field trips for next April, they know what movies are going to be playing,” Sigworth said. “You have to sign contracts with these movie distributors so we know what we’re showing into next summer.”

    Sigworth estimated that about a thousands visitors walked through the doors of the Aquarium on Monday, including many children who stepped into the “Giant Walk-In Whale” or the ‘Flutter Zone’ walk-through butterfly exhibit. Both run through Labor Day.

    A good number of visitors also made their way to the IMAX Theater. The Aquarium offers a package deal. For $22.95, adults can visit both the Aquarium and IMAX Theater. The cost is $20.95 for teenagers and senior citizens and $15.95 for children aged three to 12.

    “You get an IMAX movie with your admission ticket,” Sigworth said. “So you just basically come in and just pick which movie you want to see. Most everyone takes advantage of it.”

  • Babylon, NY – New theater to open in Babylon


    From Long Island Business News: A father and son are purchasing a movie theater in the heart of Babylon village and converting it into a performing arts and education space.

    Mark Perlman and his son Dylan Perlman, through their company Main Street LLC, are investing more than $1.6 million to refurbish the existing abandoned building on West Main Street, whose first floor is 7,727 square feet and second floor is 5,801 square feet. The building most recently housed a Bow Tie Cinemas. The new space will be converted in an indoor entertainment venue to include comedy shows, productions, concerts and more.

    The building, which officials say sat vacant for nearly two years, will also house a tuition-based education program. This program includes training for actors and stagehands and for those wanting to study sound engineering, theater lighting, production and more. Mark Perlman comes from an education background, while Dylan is a working actor.

    Originally a single theater, the building was later altered to have three screening rooms. Upcoming renovations will include a new stage and improved acoustics. The Perlmans also plan to tear down walls and increase the seating from 549 to 700. Possible additions include drop-in screen for movie nights, and a bar – the company is applying for a liquor license.

    Babylon Industrial Development Agency CEO Matthew McDonough said his organization has worked with Main Street LLC for about a year, with involvement in planning, zoning, and architecture boards, as well as in working with the town, county and village government.

    The project is appealing in both an “economic development and community development” sense, McDonough said.

    “The South Shore downtowns – Bay Shore, Patchogue – a large part of their success is because they have a theater,” he pointed out.

    “A packed show,” he added “would mean people would be in the streets, visiting local restaurants.”

    The venue would bring 15 to 18 full time jobs, and additional part-time jobs.

    In working with the IDA, the company would receive property tax abatement of $234,250 over the course of 12 years. The company would get $16,800 in mortgage tax recording exemptions, and a maximum of $86,000 in sales tax savings.

  • Indianapolis, IN – Historic Hilbert Circle Theatre celebrates 100th birthday


    From WTTV-TV: Tuesday marked the 100th birthday of the historic Hilbert Circle Theatre on Monument Circle.

    The Neo-Classical theatre was built in 1916, where a livery stable used to stand. It cost nearly $225,000 to complete, which amounts to roughly $5 million in today’s dollars.

    The first movie with sound ever shown in Indianapolis, “The Jazz Singer,” premiered at the theatre in 1928.

    We’re told the seats and projection room used to extend into what is now the lobby.

  • August 30, 2016

    Columbia, MO – After 100 years of rich history, Hall Theatre’s future waits in the wings


    From The Missourian:
    In 1916, finding entertainment in Columbia was difficult. With only a few small theaters and the advent of modern entertainment still decades away, Columbia offered little in the way of diversion.

    On Aug. 28, all of that changed. The Hall Theatre, a large, ornate playhouse on Ninth Street, opened, and for 35 cents, everyone in Columbia could see a motion picture, catch a vaudeville act and listen to one of the state’s best orchestras.

    Not only did the Hall Theatre bring a new place for entertainment to Columbia, it invigorated the downtown culture by bringing fresh talent to town.

    One hundred years later, the Hall Theatre remains standing, but only as a relic of its former self. Empty and unused since 2013, the theater hasn’t presented a show in 45 years.

  • Newton, NJ – Newton Theatre To Celebrate 5th Anniversary On September 9


    From New Jersey Stage: The Newton Theatre will be celebrating its fifth year as a live performance venue on September 9, 2016. A party will take place at 7:00pm prior to the hit show, The Hit Men, which starts at 8:00 pm. The party is open to everyone who has a ticket for The Hit Men. Cake and champagne will be served. The Newton Theatre will have their signature drink, The Blue Newt, available at the bar. There will some surprises, as well.

    The management and the staff of The Newton Theatre are excited to reach this milestone. A lot of work went into the restoration of the historic theatre and re-imaging of the former movie theatre into a performance venue.

    On September 9, 2011 The Newton Theatre opened its doors with a sold out show by Todd Rundgren. Since then the historic theatre has hosted such iconic artists such as Judy Collins, Lyle Lovett, Arlo Guthrie, Jon Anderson, and The Glenn Miller Orchestra. Rockers like Kansas, Blue Oyster Cult, The Outlaws, Los Lonely Boys, Tom Keifer, and The Bacon Brothers have all rocked the stage. Audiences have laughed with comedians Paula Poundstone, Ralphie May, Jim Brewer, and Vic DiBitetto. Other performers who have graced the stage include Richard Marx, David Cassidy, Rick Springfield, Tommy Emmanuel and many others. Movies have also returned to the historic theatre.

    The Newton Theatre has brought a new vitality to Spring Street, Newton and the Skylands Region of New Jersey. Visitors come from a wide radius to see the acclaimed artists.

    The night of the anniversary, The Hit Men show will be a treat for fans of legendary artists of the 60s, 70s and 80s. A group of world class performers, superb musicians and vocalists, creative composers and arrangers, The Hit Men are consummate hit-makers who have performed and recorded with Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, Sting, Elton John, Three Dog Night, Jim Croce, Cat Stevens, Carly Simon, Carole King, Tommy James and the Shondells and more.

    This brotherhood of musicians relive the magic they created on world stages and in recording studios years ago, bringing audiences a multi-media night of hit after hit, including platinum award winning Four Seasons songs like Oh What a Night, Who Loves You, Big Girls Don’t Cry and Rag Doll, made even more famous by Broadway’s Jersey Boys. They also perform many other huge hits they helped make famous, including Joy To The World, Every Breath You Take, Peace Train, Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, You’re So Vain, Good Lovin’, I Think We’re Alone Now, and Mony, Mony.

    During the performance, The Hit Men also share never before heard stories and anecdotes from their days in recording studios and on the concert circuit! The show also features video clips from TV shows and live performances depicting the members of The Hit Men performing with the bands from their rich music careers. Audiences all over America are on their feet, dancing in the aisles with the guys that lived and breathed rock & roll history, The Hit Men!

    Tickets for The Hit Men range from $39.00 to $54.00. Purchase tickets by visiting or contact the Box Office at 973-383-3700.

    The historic Newton Theatre, located at 234 Spring Street in Newton, NJ, was founded in 1924. Revitalized and fully renovated, Sussex County’s premier entertainment venue reopened in 2011 as a 605 seat capacity live performing arts center. With it’s rich history and diverse programming The Newton Theatre is essential to the buoyancy of New Jersey’s Skylands region.

  • Los Angeles, CA – Broadway’s Globe Theatre will get a facelift and housing


    From Curbed Los Angeles: Just about a year ago, Broadway’s Globe Theatre reopened after a $5 million renovation that began in 2011. Now, the 1913 Beaux-Arts building that houses the theatre will get a makeover of its own. Developer 740 South Broadway Associates, LLC submitted plans to the city Wednesday calling for facade improvements and a zoning change for the structure that would allow its conversion to residential use.

    Yes, the historic theatre, which now operates primarily as a night club and swanky event space, will be getting some new upstairs neighbors. Kate Bartolo, who is consulting with the developer on the project, tells Curbed that the building’s 10 upper floors—unoccupied since the 1980s—will be converted into 47 units of live-work housing. The project will also include the addition of two small street-level bars, a rooftop deck, and an amenities lounge within a small penthouse unit that has evidently been a popular spot for taggers over the years. The building’s lobby, long occupied by retailers, will be fixed up and converted back to its original use.

    The developer is working with a restoration company and historic preservation consultant to refurbish the building’s facade. This includes the restoration of prism glass transom windows above the ground level, the removal of non-historic storefronts and sliding metal grates along Broadway, and the repair of brick and terra cotta features on the building’s upper levels.

    Bartolo hints that the Morgan, Walls & Morgan-designed structure could also get its own rooftop sign somewhere down the road—in keeping with so many other historic buildings in the Downtown area. That sign would probably read “Garland,” which is the building’s official name. According to Downtown News, that’s after William Garland, the original developer of the property.

    Mostly, Bartolo says, she’s excited to see decades of grit and grime erased from the stately facade. “It’s really gonna pop now,” she says.

  • Baltimore, MD – Major work planned to preserve historic Mayfair Theater’s facade


    From A nonprofit agency in Baltimore is working to save a piece of the past along Howard Street for future generations.

    The Baltimore Development Corporation, a nonprofit economic development agency in the city, has been working on the area around the former Mayfair Theater at the edge of the Mt. Vernon neighborhood.