The latest movie theater news and updates

  • July 12, 2016

    London, UK – AMC Entertainment to Buy Europe’s Biggest Theater Chain for $1.2 Billion

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    From The Wrap:
    AMC Theatres announced deal to acquire London-based Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group

    China-controlled AMC Entertainment continues its global expansion, announcing plans on Tuesday to acquire Europe’s largest movie theater chain for $1.2 billion.

    London-based Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group has been in the hands of Guy Hands’ Terra Firma private equity outfit.

    AMC, which is also finalizing its acquisition of Georgia-based U.S. exhibitor Carmike, announced it would pay 75 percent in cash and 25 percent in stock for Odeon. The companies expect to complete the deal by the end of the year. Odeon & UCI oversee 242 theaters and 2,236 screens, selling 90 million tickets annually, according to MarketWatch.

    With the acquisitions, AMC’s holdings would include 627 theaters and 7,600-plus screens in eight countries.

    “While we acknowledge that there are some uncertainties related to Brexit, we are encouraged that current currency rates are highly favorable to AMC with the pound falling to a three decade low versus the dollar,” AMC CEO Adam Aron said in a statement.

  • Schroon Lake, NY – AFS celebrates new digital projection at Strand Theatre

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    From The Sun: In celebration of the Strand Theatre’s recent acquisition of digital film-projection equipment, the Adirondack Film Society (AFS), which was the nonprofit conduit for New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) grant funding of the upgrade, is presenting a series of special screening programs in partnership with the Strand.

    First up Saturday, July 16—in digital cinema package (DCP) format—is the madcap comedy, “A Night at the Opera,” starring the inimitable Marx Brothers in one of their funniest movies and one of the truly great comic movies of all time. Then on July 17, the AFS will screen one of the greatest films ever made—the Depression-era comedy-drama classic, “Sullivan’s Travels,” written and directed by Hollywood wunderkind Preston Sturges, which itself is a love letter to the art of movie-making and which served as a partial inspiration for the Coen Brothers’ 2000s classic, “O Brother, Where Art Thou.”

    Saturday, Aug. 13 and Aug. 14, brings an entirely different flavor to the Strand’s big (and brand-new) screen with the world premiere of “The Night We Met,” an independent feature directed and co-written by Albany-area-based filmmaker Jon Russell Cring and shot in and around Schroon Lake—about the kind of unforgettable night shared by two young lovers that we’ve all had or wished we had at least once in our youth.

    Meet the Author and the Filmmakers

    Introducing North Country filmgoers to filmmakers and other industry professionals—typically, in small, intimate, up-close-and-personal settings—is one of the chief calling cards of the Adirondack Film Society, the people who have brought area movie buffs the highly celebrated Lake Placid Film Forum on an annual basis most years since 2000. The “AFS Easy Screening Series at the Strand” is no different.

    In August, director Cring will be on hand at the Strand, along with his wife Tracy Cring—who served as the film’s co-writer, director of photography and editor—to introduce their film and answer questions about the thrills and travails of indy filmmaking in the Adirondack North Country after each screening. And serving as emcee for the premier collaboration between the movie theater and the AFS in July is author and lecturer John DiLeo, whose books include “And You Thought You Knew Classic Movies” and “100 Great Film Performances You Should Remember But Probably Don’t.” Mr. DiLeo will introduce each film and lead a Q&A session following each screening. As an added bonus, on each evening of the weekend prior to the film screening that night, Mr. DiLeo will present an informal 45-to-50-minute program of memorable film clips and movie-lore tidbits on a theme.

    On July 16, “Bloopers, Secrets, and Surprises from Hollywood’s Golden Age,” which will set the stage for the hilarity to come with Groucho, Chico and Harpo in “A Night at the Opera.” On Sunday the 17th, John DiLeo shifts the focus from outtakes to outstanding but underappreciated screen appearances by some of Hollywood’s shiniest starts with “Great Film Performances You Should Remember But Probably Don’t,” adapted from his book of the same name.

    The festivities begin each evening at 6:15 p.m., with a reception, followed by Mr. DiLeo’s movie clips-and-anecdotes program at 7 p.m., and the film at 8 p.m., capped off by the Q&A. Admission to each evening’s program is $10 per person; tickets are available for advance purchase during the day at the Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce and in the evening at the Strand, as well as at the door on the evening of each screening. For more information, call the AFS at 588-7275 or visit adirondackfilmsociety.org.

  • Bluefield, WV – Work to restore Granada Theater to its original glory continues

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    From The Bluefield Daily Telegraph: For countless people, many fond memories are associated with the Granada Theater on Commerce Street in Bluefield.

    If all goes as planned, countless more people will have the opportunity to create memories there.

    That’s because a group of area residents interested in restoring the historic theater to its original glory, as well as preserving other structures in downtown Bluefield, made the effort to form an organization and get to work.

    “It all got started with the decline of all the buildings downtown, and more specifically the Granada Theater,” said Bluefield Preservation Society (BPS) member Julie Hurley.

    After the Colonial Theater was lost, she said, it became apparent to some of those who had those great memories of the downtown theaters that an initiative should start to save the Granada and other structures.

    Interested residents came together, including Hurley, Debrah Ammar, Doris Kantor, Gail Satterfield, Skip Crane and Hal Gusler, among others.

    “We formed in 2012 and began working with an architect to assess the building’s (Granada Theater) structural integrity,” Hurley said.

    Bill Huber of Marion was the architect because he has extensive experience in renovating historic theaters, she said.

    Achieving charitable organization status (501 3-C) status that same year, the group also started the process of applying for state and federal tax credits and for grants related to the work at the Granada.

    The Development Authority of Greater Bluefield had purchased the theater at auction.

    “The reason that the board purchased the building was to make sure that it is preserved,” authority member Charlie Cole said at that time. “We would like to see it preserved and become functional. The authority would like to see it become a functioning part of downtown.”

    The BPS was ready to roll.

    Fundraising efforts began to tackle the project, which will cost about $2.1 million.

    Hurley said the group has sold more than 4,000 jars of organic blueberry jam to raise money.

    Members also opened the Blue Moon Cafe just down the street from the theater to start raising money, with volunteers running the upscale, organic-based restaurant.

    Crane said many may not know that the Granada, which opened in the early 1920s, was built for stage performances as well.

    “It was built for vaudeville,” he said. “These were live productions and Bluefield was on that circuit.”

    Kantor said that in its heyday, some famous people visited Bluefield, including Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Greer Garson.

    That history fits in well with plans for the theater, which at one time seated 1,106.

    Hurley said the original slope a the back of the theater will be rebuilt for seating and the stage will be set up for both screening movies and staging performances.

    A state-of-the-art sound system will be included.

    In the balcony area, in what is basically the second and third floors, tables will be set up with a kitchen and restrooms.

    “People can come to a dinner theater production and just sit in the balcony where they have eaten and watch or go to seats on the first floor,” Crane said, adding that the main floor will seat about 480 people.

    But the upper two levels will remain in the architectural design of the theater everyone remembers, Hurley said, which is a strict requirement going through government channels for grants and tax credits when preserving historic structures.

    The main level will look the same as it once did, she added.

    Kantor said it will be a multi-use facility, providing a venue for performances and movie screenings as well as other functions that should attract people to the downtown area.

    “We can’t bring back what was here (in the downtown area) 50 years ago,” she said. “But we can bring it back as a destination.”

    The idea is, in the long run, to make the facility self-sustaining.

    One of the ways to do that will be using the 5,000-sq.-ft. basement for kiosks.

    “Plans are in the works to do that,” Hurley said, explaining that it will be set up where vendors can simply leave their products there and tagged. Someone will man the floor, collect the money, which will be shared with the vendor and facility, much like some antique and collectible kiosk-based businesses operate.

    Two side rooms on the first floor at the entrance on each side of what was once the concession area can also be utilized and could include a museum.

    Hurley said this project is moving along, and some may think no progress is being made because it is not yet obvious from the outside.

    But grant and tax credit processes are long, and replacing the roof was time-consuming because the way it was built required the work to be done a certain way. The historic rehabilitation process with the state took time, and creating the construction documents did as well.

    “You may not see it yet, but progress is being made,” she said.

    “The process we have to go through behind the scenes is a lot of work,” Ammar, who is BPS president, said. “There is only so much we can do without the proper approval.”

    Not only will the theater be restored, it will also have an original piece of the decor and ambiance – a Wurlitzer Style EX, Opus 1790, theater organ.

    The organ left the Granada years ago and was taken to the Evans Theater in Indiana, and from there it was transferred to Huntington and installed at the Keith Albee Theater.

    A mutual friend of Crane and Thomas Lester of Bluewell, former Bramwell resident Bob Edmunds, discovered the organ while teaching at Marshall University in Huntington. It became available when the Keith Albee’s original organ was found.

  • July 8, 2016

    Flint, MI – Renovation work begins on Capitol Theatre, grand re-opening set for fall 2017

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    From MLive.com: Officials are ready to kick off renovations at The Capitol Theatre building with today’s announcement that Uptown Reinvestment Corp. and The Whiting have officially acquired the building.

    The revamped theater is slated to reopen in Fall 2017.

    The project, which will include complete modernization of the entire building and restoring historically significant elements of the facility, is expected to take 14 to 16 months to complete. With the updates comes all-new, state-of-the-art theatrical and production equipment, according to a Tuesday, July 5, news release from The Whiting and Uptown Reinvestment Corp.

    Officials said previously that the project was expected to cost $21 million and includes renovations of 25,000 square feet of attached office and retail space.

    “We are thrilled to be at this point and to begin field work on the restoration of this iconic arts and entertainment venue in Flint. More exciting still are the opportunities a reactivated, modernized Capitol Theatre will create for our entire community,” said Jarret Haynes, executive director for The Whiting.

    Uptown Reinvestment Corp. will handle the redevelopment and restoration while The Whiting and its governing body, the Flint Cultural Center Corp., will manage operations, programming and marketing.

    “The unique and complementary partnership between URC and the Flint Cultural Center, through The Whiting, demonstrates the broad support and commitment for this project, and bodes well for its ultimate and long term success, both artistically and in terms of economic benefits for Flint and the entire region,” said Tim Herman, president of Uptown Reinvestment Corp.

    The theater will seat about 1,600, Haynes said previously. Built in Italian Renaissance style, one ceiling was designed after the outer vestibule of St. Peter’s cathedral in Rome, according to Flint Journal files, and interior walls recreate views of buildings that evoke old Italy.

    The building also hosted a mishmash of live concert performances, including AC/DC, Ray Charles, John Mellencamp and Mel Tillis from the late 1970s until the theater portion of the building closed about 20 years ago.

  • Muskegon, MI – Harbor Cinema to reopen after short closure; will show first-run films

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    From MLive.com: Harbor Cinema is back open for business.

    Less than two months after the charming movie theater in Muskegon’s Lakeside District announced it would be closing its doors, owner Dan Taylor-Tubergen has made the decision to reopen. He said it was a change in policy by one of the film industry’s leaders that provoked the change of heart.

    “We decided to reopen because (21st Century) Fox has dropped the issue of clearances which is what was stopping us from showing their first run films along with the Carousel before,” Taylor-Tubergen said. “So now we will be able to show some first run movies.”

    The Harbor Cinema, 1937 Lakeshore Drive, has had a long up-and-down history in Muskegon. It has operated under several owners and names over the years. The theater had been closed since May 8 with owners citing “unwelcomed theater competition in the community by another corporate theater chain.”

  • July 7, 2016

    Newberg, OR – 99W Drive-In still a hot ticket on a summer night

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    From Oregonlive.com: Drive-in movie theaters are fading fast. They’re a novelty, a relic, a quaint reminder of postwar Americana. They can’t compete with multiplex cinemas or independent theaters. Their days are numbered. They’re history.

    Only, somebody forgot to tell the 99W Drive-In in Newberg, which is still very much alive and kicking.

    The 99W is one of four remaining drive-in movie theaters in Oregon, and among just more than 300 in the United States. When most drive-ins shut down for good, the Newberg business kept going, and now stands to not just survive but flourish in the 21st century.

    “There are some times when I desperately want people to know about the drive-in and some times when I don’t want anybody to know about the drive-in,” owner Brian Francis said. “The fact that we have cars lined up down the highway, we’re real sensitive to that.”

    For decades, it’s been conventional wisdom that drive-ins can’t compete with multi-screen indoor movie theaters. They still can’t – Francis willingly admits that ­– but something is happening culturally that is drawing more people back to the outdoor movie theater. Maybe it’s social media, maybe it’s a growing population or a renewed sense of community; whatever the case, 99W is reaping the benefits.

    One weekend last month, all four nights of the double feature of “Finding Dory” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass” sold out. That hasn’t been unusual. People showed up in droves for “Purple Rain.” Even “X-Men: Apocalypse” sold out two days. Last year, interest in “Jurassic World” was so high that people who couldn’t get in parked illegally on a hill across the street just to watch.

    Adding a feather to its cap, the 99W Drive-In was recently voted the number one drive-in theater in the country, in a poll conducted by USA Today this spring.

    “It was a nice little honor,” Francis said of the award.

    He’s modest about the theater’s success, and reserved about the future. He’s been in the industry long enough to have seen the ups and downs.

  • San Francisco, CA – Classic S.F. theater reborn as dinner-and-a-movie site

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    From The Sacramento Bee: Chicken-liver mousse pairs well with Colonial American horror, it turns out.

    The recently opened, five-screen Alamo Drafthouse New Mission Theater in San Francisco’s Mission District offers a food menu consisting mostly of easy-to-eat-in-the-dark items common to dine-in theaters, such as pizza and sandwiches. But we started our meal, consumed while watching the low-budget, 17th-century New England-set film “The Witch,” with the menu’s most gourmet offering.

    Fanciness seemed in keeping with a 1916 theater that had just undergone a $10 million, four-year-long rehab to restore it to its former grandeur, after some inglorious years spent as a mattress storage facility. The New Mission marks the first foray into California by Alamo Drafthouse, the Texas theater chain that popularized the idea of in-theater drink and meal service.

    The mousse went down smoothly, its sharpness cut by the huckleberry jam accompanying it. It remained palatable even during more disturbing moments of “The Witch,” in which bonnet-ruffling forces of evil beset a Puritan family.

    Part of the ease with which our party of two consumed the mousse, along with a Brussels-sprouts salad, Nashville “hot chicken” sandwich, plus a Coke and a Knee Deep Citra Extra Pale Ale (the theater chain that put “draft” in its name offers 28 beers on tap, including this offering from Auburn), can be attributed to vast experience with movie-theater eating.

    We’ve shoveled in popcorn, candy, nachos and reheated pizza while watching horror films since the 1980s. Made-to-order food prepared in a real kitchen, led by a real chef (Ronnie New, formerly of San Francisco’s Comstock Saloon), and served to us at the table between our seats felt less like a foreign concept than a luxurious extension of past experiences (though neither the $16 sandwich nor $12 salad tasted near as good as the $11 mousse).

  • July 6, 2016

    Stone Harbor, NJ – New shore cinema arises from 1940s movie house

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    From the Press of Atlantic City: The marquee was hoisted atop the borough’s 1940s-era movie theater this week, as its new owners plan a mid-July reopening and a business model reflected at more cinemas across the country.

    Nearly $1 million in renovations at the Harbor Square Theatre on 96th Street include widening chairs and aisles and cutting the number of seats, co-owner Clint Bunting said.

    The movie house also includes third-party tenant Harbor Burger Bar, a restaurant that offers food and alcohol that can be consumed inside the theater.

    And the theater will be open year-round, Bunting said. Its predecessor, Frank Theatres Harbor 5, was opened seasonally last year.

    In the past five years, online streaming platforms such as Netflix have drawn moviegoers from theaters, according to research firm IBISWorld.

  • July 5, 2016

    Sioux City, IA – Riviera 4 theater ends run in Sioux City

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    From the Sioux City Journal:
    Sioux City’s financially troubled second-run movie theater ended a 12-year run Thursday.

    Riviera 4 Theater owner Eric Hilsabeck announced the closing in a letter posted on the theater’s Facebook page. As a show of appreciation to its customers, movie-goers were admitted free on the final day to its films, which included “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Kung Fu Panda 3.”

    Hilsabeck cited shortened release times between first-run movie theaters and video-on-demand services as a primary reason for the Riviera 4 closing.

    “Previous to this change, we were guaranteed that our distribution window would be free from any other form of competitive distribution,” he said in the statement. “However, over the last two years, our release window has dissolved almost completely.”

    The Rivera was the last second-run theater operating in Iowa, he said. The shortening of the distribution window, he predicted, would force the closure of all remaining such theaters worldwide.

    Earlier this year, Hilsabeck told the Journal that the Rivera 4 was looking for new options with the property facing foreclosure.

    In the Facebook page statement, Hilsabeck said options are still being sought for the building, but nothing would prevent the theater’s closing.

    In the statement, Hilsabeck thanked and recommended Security National Bank for “their receptiveness to small business owners in Sioux City.”

    Security National Bank had earlier asked for a judgment of foreclosure and sale of the property at 714 Fourth St. to repay nearly $400,000 in loans the bank said Hilsabeck and Beck Theatres had defaulted on.

    The city of Sioux City and a Delaware company also had taken legal action to recover money loaned to Hilsabeck.

    The Riviera closed as a first-run movie theater in the 1990s. Hilsabeck reopened the Riviera as a second-run theater in 2004 after the building had briefly housed a night club.

  • June 30, 2016

    Larchmont, NY – Larchmont Residents Rush to Save Theater

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    From The Wall Street Journal: Strolling to the Larchmont Playhouse to watch the latest films has been a tradition in Vicki Rosenstreich’s family for more than 30 years.

    Now she and other fans of the 83-year-old theater want future generations to have that same opportunity.

    The owner of the Larchmont Playhouse has put it up for sale, asking $1.5 million. Residents in Larchmont, a Westchester County village 13 miles northeast of Manhattan, fear the theater could close.

    A group of admirers are hoping to raise enough money to buy the theater and operate it as a nonprofit organization or form a partnership with another group interested in keeping the space as a movie house.

    “What we are hoping for is a stay of execution,” said Ms. Rosenstreich, 72 years old, a Larchmont resident of 36 years.