The latest movie theater news and updates

  • October 11, 2016

    Tupelo, MS – Something strange in your neighborhood: Tupelo’s Lyric Theatre

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    From djournal.com: There are some things in this world that go way beyond human understanding – things that cannot be explained – things some people don’t even want to know about. You hear something go bump in the night. You see something out of the corner of your eye. You feel something on the nape of your neck.

    Most unexplained events can be easily dismissed: The wind blew something over or faulty wiring made that bulb flicker, ominously. But, sometimes, you’re in a place with a history behind it. And whether those stories have been passed down over generations or are still actively discussed today, they haunt those areas as much as the ghosts in the stories.

    Over the next four Fridays, the Daily Journal will be spotlighting four separate locations in Northeast Mississippi that share a common bond: ghosts and the legends that surround them.

    The Lyric Theatre

    What is now the home of Tupelo Community Theatre has undergone many changes since its inception in 1912.

    At that time, R. F. Goodlett sought out financial backers to construct a vaudeville theater called The Comus. The structure remained a home for live theater until 1931, when it was purchased by the M.A. Lightman Company chain and turned into a movie theater. It was at that time the facility received its now iconic marquee and art deco appearance. From 1931 to 1984, lots of tales came out of the movie house, like Elvis Presley’s first kiss in the balcony during a Saturday matinee, but it was the 1936 tornado that decimated Tupelo, killing an untold number in its path, that gave credence – and still does – to the greatest story out of the Lyric Theatre.

    “‘Antoine,’” said Tupelo Community Theatre executive director Tom Booth, chuckling. “Where did that name even come from? Nobody knows. I can’t for the life of me tell you where his name came from.”

    “Antoine” is the name given to the Lyric’s local haunt, a presence that many have felt but few can put into words. Some see him as a glowing light, while others hear a childlike giggle in the darkness of the historic structure. TCT inherited the spirit, and his story, when they acquired the theater in the mid-’80s.

    There are two separate stories of Antoine that have followed the theater to this day, and many off-shoots of the main legends.

    One is that Antoine was a caretaker of the theater who worked under the stage, shoveling coal. It’s believed he may have even had an apartment in the facility he looked after.

    The more popular legend is that Antoine was a small child killed during the twister of ’36. Whether he was killed and taken to the theater – which was used as a makeshift hospital and morgue in the aftermath of the tornado – or was taken there to be treated and died later remains a mystery, much like Antoine himself.

    Still, strange things happen daily in the landmark, but Booth usually just chalks that up to it being a “big, old building.” That’s not to say he hasn’t had his own run-ins with Antoine.

  • October 10, 2016

    New York, NY – Lin-Manuel Miranda to Launch Movie Series at United Palace Theatre (Loew’s 175th St.)

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    From DNA Info: If you missed him in “Hamilton,” now’s your chance to catch the award-winning actor, playwright and Inwood native Lin-Manuel Miranda on a different stage — hosting a screening of the original “Mary Poppins” movie at the United Palace Theatre.

    The screening, which will take place Sunday, Oct. 16 in the historic theater on Broadway and 175th St., will launch Miranda’s “Reawaken Wonder at a Timeless Movie Palace” campaign to raise an additional $300,000 to upgrade the theater’s audio system.

    Miranda, who donated $100,000 for a projection system that will debut with the film screening, tweeted out the screening details Tuesday morning, causing United Palace Theatre’s site to crash.

  • Newport Beach, CA – Newport council to weigh $1 million sale of Balboa Theater for renovation

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    From The Los Angeles Times: The Balboa Theater, a longtime community fixture on the Balboa Peninsula, would be sold to a Costa Mesa developer for $1 million under a proposal the Newport Beach City Council will consider Tuesday night.

    The council voted in April to enter a nine-month exclusive negotiating agreement to work with Lab Holding LLC, the company behind The Lab and The Camp in Costa Mesa, on a proposal to rejuvenate the 88-year-old theater building, which has been vacant for years.

    The agreement was intended to give the city and Lab Holding time to finalize a plan and negotiate a sale of the city-owned property to Lab, which proposes to update the Balboa Boulevard venue and maintain it as a theater.

    Lab Holding is proposing to restore the theater’s original architecture, including the marquee, which likely would reflect the 1920s wrought-iron style. The venue is proposed to have a cafe that would open to the street, a small stage for live music and a second stage for private events. The live-music stage would have an indoor pub but no seating. The theater likely would not show films, according to preliminary plans.

    “We are excited by the opportunity to resurrect this community amenity for Balboa Village,” Lab Holding founder Shaheen Sadeghi wrote in his proposal to the city.

  • Lakeland, FL – Palm Cinema 3 screens go dark after 3 decades

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    From The Ledger: The Carmike Palm Cinema 3 meant much to the personal life of Brice Holley — his first job, a place to see friends and catch the latest movie, and where he met a cute employee who would eventually become his wife.

    But it’s the end of an era for a place of diversion that was a big part of Holley’s life and the lives of thousands of other Polk County residents seeking a two-hour-or-more escape from reality. The Palm Cinema 3 staff has turned off the theaters' projectors for good, ending an 30-plus-year run that began when “Ghostbusters,” “Indiana Jones” and “Beverly Hills Cop” were just-released blockbusters. According to the website Flikr, the Palm Cinema 3 was opened by Floyd Theaters April 18, 1986, built on the site of the former Lakeland Drive-In.

    Until its closing, it was second-oldest Polk County theater, after the Polk Theatre, which is still in operation.

    “My wife, myself and a few friends still keep in touch and we all worked there back in the ‘80s. We had a reunion of sorts about four years ago. Seeing it in its current state is sad; when we were there it was still shiny and new,” said Holley, 46. who worked as a projectionist and usher from 1986 to 1989.

    The Palm Cinema 3 was divided into three theaters: The Arts, which showed specialty films; The Variety, which showed discount-priced, second-run films; and Mugs and Movies, where beer and pub food were available.

    Holley said the Mugs theater’s roof was giving way due to leaks and he was told it shut down Oct. 1.

    According to its website, Carmike Cinemas, Inc., which is based in Columbus, Ga., is one of the United States' largest motion picture exhibitors, with 276 theaters and 2,954 screens in 41 states, with a focus on mid-sized communities.

    The news of Palm Cinema 3’s closing was also bittersweet for another Lakeland family.

  • October 6, 2016

    Birmingham, AL – Alabama Theatre announces 2016 Christmas movie schedule

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    From AL.com: Halloween is still more than three weeks away, but it’s not too early to start making your Christmas plans at the Alabama Theatre.

    Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. today, Oct., 6, for the Alabama’s 2016 Holiday Film Series, and if you want to make sure to get tickets to see some of your favorite Christmas movies, you might want to go ahead and buy your tickets now.

    Last Christmas season, a record 29,281 people attended the Holiday Film Series, and 12 of the 18 screenings were sold out, according to Brant Beene, executive director of Birmingham Landmarks, which owns and operates the Alabama Theatre.

    “These are so popular,” Beene said. “People even plan their holidays around them.”

    Tickets to this year’s movies are $8, with the exception of the two screenings of “The Polar Express.” Those tickets are $12, with proceeds benefiting Kid One Transport.

    Order tickets online at Ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000. There is an additional charge for online purchases.

    Here is the 2016 Holiday Film Series schedule:

    Dec. 9, Friday, 7 p.m. — “White Christmas.”

    Dec. 10, Saturday, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. — “The Polar Express.”

    Dec. 10, Saturday, 7 p.m. — “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

    Dec. 11, Sunday, 2 p.m. — “Miracle on 34th Street.”

    Dec. 11, Sunday, 7 p.m. — “Elf.”

    Dec. 12, Monday, 7 p.m. — “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

    Dec. 13, Tuesday, 7 p.m. — “Home Alone.”

    Dec. 14, Wednesday, 7 p.m. — “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

    Dec. 15, Thursday, 7 p.m. — “Elf.”

    Dec. 16, Friday, 7 p.m. — “A Christmas Story.”

    Dec. 17, Saturday, 2 p.m. — Christmas Cartoon Matinee: “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

    Dec. 17, Saturday, 7 p.m. — “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

    Dec. 18, Sunday, 2 p.m. — “White Christmas.”

    Dec. 18, Sunday, 7 p.m. — “Home Alone.”

    Dec. 19, Monday, 2 p.m. — “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

    Dec. 19, Monday, 7 p.m. — “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

    Dec. 20, Tuesday, 2 p.m. — “White Christmas.”

    Dec. 20, Tuesday, 7 p.m. — “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

    Dec. 21, Wednesday, 2 p.m. — “A Christmas Story.”

    Dec. 21, Wednesday, 7 p.m. — “Elf.”

    Dec. 22, Thursday, 2 p.m. — Christmas Cartoon Matinee: “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

    Dec. 22, Thursday, 7 p.m. — “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

    The Alabama Theatre is at 1817 Third Ave. North in downtown Birmingham.

  • New York, NY – This luxe dine-in movie theater serves only quiet food

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    From the New York Post: New Yorkers who get their first look at — and taste of — the city’s first iPic cinema complex at the South Street Seaport on Friday might be awed if they’ve never been to one of iPic Entertainment’s 14 other destinations around the US.

    Realty Check got a sneak peek at iPic in the landmark Fulton Market Building, which boasts eight screens and 501 seats. It opens to the public on Oct. 7 with showings of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” “The Birth of a Nation” and the much-anticipated “The Girl on the Train.”

    Plush, reclining seats similar to those in a first-class airline cabin and food prepared by an award-winning chef that’s served as you watch a film, are far more upscale than even the fanciest of other cinemas in New York.

    Via iPic.com and a dedicated app, customers can easily book showings — not only the movie and time but also exactly which seats. There are two seating options, Premium and Premium Plus. The former includes regular or chaise lounge seats; customers can bring food from an iPic Express counter to the seats.

    Premium Plus means reclining leather seats built into pods with pillows, blankets and “unlimited free popcorn.” They’re arrayed in pairs separated by aisles, so customers can have pre-ordered meals and cocktails delivered to seats by “Ninja” servers who don’t block anyone’s view of the screen.

    Membership programs both free and paid entitle users to various discounts, priority reservations and other benefits. Seats cost $14 to $29 depending on which level of service is chosen, as well as the day and time; weekends are more expensive.

  • Waterbury, CT – Tour given of historic Waterbury theater

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    From TownTimesNews.com:
    Friday, October 15, is a chance to learn some of what makes the magic happen behind the curtain along with the history and lore steeped in 95 years as an entertainment venue during the Waterbury Palace Theater’s upcoming monthly tour from 11a.m. to 12:30p.m.

    For information, visit www.palacetheaterct.org, call 203-346-2000, or in person at the Box Office, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury. Groups larger than 10 people are asked to contact the Box Office to book their reservations in advance.

    During the tour, attendees are led through nine decades of the theater viewing and hearing facts and lore, about the stunning architecture and backstage magic related to the Palace’s rich history. In addition to exploring the many spaces within the theater, patrons also have the opportunity to visit hidden areas not seen by the general public, like the green room, wig room and star dressing rooms, you can even stop to take a selfie at the stage door. Tour takers will also be able to experience the thrill of walking across the stage and viewing the venue’s hidden backstage murals featuring show motifs painted and signed by past performers and Broadway touring company cast members. Guests will also browse a collection of the theater’s pre-restoration photos, in addition to viewing elements from the Palace’s Tenth Anniversary History Exhibit, which include a visual timeline of historic milestones dating back to 1922, as well as original theater seats from the 1920s.

    Each tour is approximately 90 minutes and is led by a team of engaging volunteers well-versed in the theater’s rich history, architectural design and entertaining anecdotal information. The walking tour covers five floors of history and architecture, including grand staircases from the 1920s. While elevator access is available, guests with walking disabilities or health concerns are asked to inform the Box Office ahead of time, so that the tour guides can make accommodations in advance to insure a pleasurable experience for all.  

    For general information about the venue, visit www.palacetheaterct.org.

  • October 5, 2016

    St. Paul, MN – Take a look inside St. Paul’s Palace Theatre overhaul, soon to be a major concert destination

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    From the Star Tribune: The Palace Theatre in downtown St. Paul looks to be in ruins right now. And that’s a good thing.

    After three years of financial and governmental wrangling, renovations on the 100-year-old former vaudeville and movie house are well underway — 32 years after its marquee went dark over what’s now the 7th Place walking plaza between Wabasha and St. Peter streets.

  • Hollywood, CA – Followup: Vendor Carts Removed From Front of Historic TCL Chinese Theatre Following Social Media Controversy

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    From The Hollywood Reporter: A rep for TCL declines to comment, but known Los Angeles documentarian Alison Martino celebrates a victory for Hollywood preservationists: “Power to the people. Social media is an incredible force.”

    A slew of souvenir carts and kiosks have been removed from the sidewalk in front of Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre, where the structures were blocking access to historic handprints, footprints and signatures of beloved stars such as Jean Harlow, Bette Davis and Lana Turner.

    The removal comes after a dust-up on social media kick-started by noted Hollywood documentarian Alison Martino and her Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page, which posted a photo on Sept. 30 taken by Brian Donnelly. The image showed a retail structure selling inexpensive hats and T-shirts while covering iconic cement blocks lining Hollywood Boulevard in front of the theater. “How incredibly disrespectful,” the post reads, as seen below. “If Lucy and Ethel were to try and steal John Wayne’s footprints today, they couldn’t even find it! This is not a pretty sight TCL Chinese Theatres!”

    The post generated more than 750 comments and 530 shares and was enough to launch a Change.org petition requesting the removal of the vendor carts from the forecourt, as well as a news story on Curbed Los Angeles. The petition, signed by more than 2,600 supporters as of Monday afternoon, called for the removal of the carts out of respect for Hollywood history and the millions of tourists who flock to the block each year.

    “Capsules of Hollywood history, the cement blocks are precious to film enthusiasts all around the globe, many of whom travel a great distance to visit the forecourt and have the opportunity to see their favorites’ blocks,” the petition reads. “The current situation of the vending carts directly on top of the blocks reduces all citizens’ enjoyment of the forecourt, and does not even allow many visitors to see some of the blocks, being entirely covered by carts.… Please don’t allow commerciality to overshadow the history contained there.”

    While it can be assumed that TCL opted to move the retail structures following the controversy, it’s not confirmed, because a rep for TCL Chinese Theatre declined to comment. It remains unclear where the vendor carts will go, though a source indicated they may be relocated to the nearby Hollywood & Highland mall.

    Martino offered to talk, telling The Hollywood Reporter that she drove to the block on Monday once she heard that the carts were no longer in place. “It’s unbelievable — power to the people,” she said, crediting Donnelly with the original image and Elena Parker for launching the petition. “I’ve been operating the Vintage Los Angeles page for five years and I’ve never seen a reaction like this. The outcry and outrage grew really fast. My VLA community really took it to heart. It was their passion and perseverance that drove this. Social media is an incredible force.”

  • Abingdon, VA – New owner brings new life for Moonlite Drive-In

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    From the Bristol Herald Courier:
    Local residents will soon be able to enjoy movies under the stars once again, courtesy of the historic Moonlite Drive-in.

    After seeing it idle for three years, new owner Kyle Blevins is breathing life back into the Moonlite, which is off Lee Highway between Abingdon and Bristol.

    Blevins, a UPS driver from Bristol, Tennessee, went to the Moonlite for more than 40 years before it closed. He said he’s always wanted to own the theater and recently he came to an agreement with William Booker, who has been trying to sell the property. Under the agreement, Blevins said he is owner and president while Booker remains a co-owner.

    “I never dreamed that I would be able to do it,” Blevins said.

    He declined to give the cost of the sale. In March 2015, the asking price was $1.75 million.

    The drive-in opened in 1949 and closed in 2013 after many studios made the switch to digital, making many new release movies incompatible with the old projector.

    The Moonlite was included on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, and is one of only three drive-ins in the nation to be there, according to Blevins.

    Its long history is one of the things that makes Blevins happy to revive it. He plans to restore the property to its original 1950s style.

    “It’s not just coming to watch a movie. You’re going to be transformed into a different time,” said Blevins, who added that he also plans to alter the decor to fully immerse customers in the movie experience.

    The upcoming changes were brought to the attention of many who pass by when the number 16 showed up Sept. 15 on the marquee and the Facebook page. He wanted to spark interest so he decided to conduct a countdown until his announcement of the reopening today.

    But even he admits he was shocked at the attention he got.

    The real motivation to reopening is the way people in the community still talk about it, Blevins said.

    “It’s got a lot of history that comes from everybody in the community. A lot of people have a story about it,” he said.

    Blevins hopes to get support from the community, both in preparing for the reopening and keeping the theater open. Abingdon-based CPA firm Hicok, Fern & Company has agreed to assist Blevins in overseeing financial contributions and expenditures.

    “The needs are extensive and community involvement is going to be crucial to meeting those needs,” he said in a news release.

    Blevins has scheduled a community work day for Saturday, Oct. 8, beginning at 8 a.m. He invites anyone who’s willing to help with the start of the renovation.

    His plan is to try to get the drive-in ready for at least one show around the middle of October, but there’s a lot to be done before that can happen. An official reopening is planned for next spring.

    Blevins is ready to do what it takes to get the drive-in up and running, but notes that it isn’t just for himself or his family.

    “It doesn’t belong to me,” he said. “It belongs to the community. It belongs to everybody. I just happen to be lucky enough to be able to do it.”