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Great story! If I lived in one of those small towns I would be one of the most enthusiastic volunteers. It’s so nice to know that some small town (mostly single screen I suspect) theatres survive! Can they afford to scrap 35mm film and go digital in the not so distant future though?
Re-releases generally do not do well in today’s market! With rare exceptions (and this MIGHT be one of them) once it’s out on DVD films have limited appeal to today’s young audiences who are only interested in seeing the latest blockbusters, the ones that they have been bombarded with hype and TV advertising for! Even with IMAX and 3-D I don’t think this re-release will be around very long. Of course I also could be wrong!
OOOH! 8 whole more minutes of action and sfx scenes! I can hardly wait…NOT! Are they going to add an extra $3.50 surcharge for those 8 minutes on top of the 3D and IMAX surcharges? Call me when there is another re-release of “Lawrence of Arabia” in 70mm or better yet “How the West Was Won” in three strip Cinerama!
The Pantages they are talking about here at 5th & Market closed way back in the mid 1920’s. The Pantages name was transferred up to what is now the Orpheum at 8th & Market. It’s just the multi-story commercial building that exists now. For years the lower floor was a Kress’s store which I remember fondly from my younger days.
The St. Francis was a quite nice movie palace in it’s day. I was always hoping for a restoration a la the Golden Gate, Warfield and Orpheum but alas that is obviously not to be. That section of Market St. is in dire need of redevelopment though (what a dump!) and this retail project may be what’s needed, at least as a start, to make it more hospitable. So little new parking in an already congested area is a mistake I think.
Wow! Wouldn’t it be great to see the United Artists lit up again like the Orpheum? I toured it a few years ago on an LA Conservancy theatre tour and it’s in GREAT shape! Lots of vacant office space there (the whole building?) but maybe some or all of that could be converted to condos like so much other downtown LA real estate.
Nice to see the Tower showing films again! Since they are dealing with Warners it sounds like they are showing 35mm prints too and that’s a good thing! I have fond memories of attending the Tower when I lived in nearby Folsom 1962-1965. I’ll be moving back to the area in the fall (Roseville itself in fact) and look forward to visiting one of my old movie going haunts from over 50 years ago. Good luck to these two young movie theatre entrepreneurs!!
From the article:
“We were in the movie, almost all the way through, and we said, ‘It smelled like smoke,’ and we thought it was just part of the movie.”
Oh no! Please don’t tell me that they are bringing back “Smell-o-vision”? Anybody old enough to remember “The Scent of Mystery? What a stinker that was (in more ways than one!)
Reopening (finally!) is May 14, 2010. Here’s an article from the St. Helena star:
Too bad there aren’t plans for films, at least occasionally. It would be a great venue for a WIne Country film festival. I really like it when these renovated theatres make films a part of their programming. Nothing like catching a flick (preferably a classic) with a large audience at an former movie palace such as at Oakland’s Paramount or San Jose’s California or Antioch’s El Campani to name three greater Bay Area examples.
Fond memories for me of seeing movies at the single screen Uptown when I lived in the Napa Valley 1959-1964. By the time it was converted to a four screens it was pretty much ruined. I look forward to seeing the restored Uptown in the near future.
Come to think of it maybe it’s better the multiplexes don’t have intermissions. They probably would put on that damn 20 minute parade of commercials masquerading as entertainment (the pre-show video) again!
As far as what Terry Wade said above, couldn’t there just be an “Intermission” tag followed by 10 or 15 minutes of black film) with automation system programmed to turn on and off the house lights? That wouldn’t involve any more of that expensive projection room labor (popcorn seller rate plus 25 cents an hour?). That probably isn’t going to happen as long as the film distributors have the theatre operators by the you-know-what! Get ‘em in and move 'em out! Rawhide!
As we become older and the kidneys become weaker intermissions in 3 hour plus movies become a necessity! Even when I was a young pup, I liked them as a chance to get up and stretch my legs. What I didn’t like back in those days was intermissions in films that didn’t have them built in. For example I’m thinking of an intermission that wasn’t supposed to be there in Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” at the UA Theatre in RIchmond CA, it’s purpose obviously just to sell some additional concessions. Our local drive in had policy of placing an intermission in the middle of any film that had a running time over 2 hours. They didn’t look for a good place to put the intermission either. If the film was on 6 reels, it would come at the end of reel 3, if on 7 reels at the end of reel 4. It didn’t matter if the reel ended in the middle of a conversation, they just spliced on an “Intermission” tag. You should have heard the honking horns, at least from the people who were actually watching the movie!
I hate to see it go. That program along with other well written print film criticism has saved me lots of money by avoiding turkeys and led me to some real gems I would have otherwise missed. True it’s never been the same since Siskel died and Ebert left though. Roeper was and is a lightweight critic and so were the two Bens. I think it was back on the right track with the New York Times A.O. Scott and the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips though. Nowadays young people in particular don’t read and don’t care what critics think. It’s just what blockbuster has been hyped the most and what everybody else is going to see this weekend! “Hey dude I saw Avatar yesterday! It was hecka good!” That’s film criticism in the 21st century!
Oops on the above post I was referring to the Hayward Theatre, not the Ritz. The Ritz didn’t have a balcony of any kind! Those were the two downtown movie theatres in Hayward, mainstream Hollywood until the mid 1970’s when both went the porno.. The Hayward caught fire one night and was later demolished for a parking lot. The Ritz (a Mitchell Brothers Theatre in it’s porno days) became a Goodwill Store for several years before being demolished.
Yes people DO complain about the ever increasing cost of everything connected with sporting events and live concert events too…as indeed they should! A ripoff is a ripoff no matter who is doing the ripping off!
The $10 movie is rapidly going the way of the under $5 small popcorn, at least at the theatres in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live. Our local Regal multiplex is charging $11.50 for non matinee ($8.75) showings. Add $4 for 3-D and $5 for Imax. Combine that with Regal’s higher than average concession prices and it doesn’t seem like such an entertainment value to me…especially considering some of the crap Hollywood is putting out nowadays! Don’t even get me started on mediocre or worse film presentation, that marathon of pre show commercials masquerading as entertainment and audiences full of talking, texting idiots!
Agreed that people shouldn’t sneak food into theatres if that’s the policy (and of course at most locations it is!). Theatres just like every other business have a perfect right to make and enforce the policies of their business.
As a veteran of the porno theatre experience in my younger days (hey some of those XXX flicks in 35mm widescreen color weren’t too bad and to this day I’ll take a sex movie over a slasher movie!) I will agree that audiences were extremely well behaved for the most part. Of course it helped that most patrons were men by themselves and the age of the cell phone and texting had not arrived.
I remember one time at the Ritz Hayward (CA) the projectionist got the wrong reel on and there wasn’t even any commotion from the audience. Yeah I know with a porno flick it can be normally difficult to tell even if the wrong reel is on but it this case the feature being shown was a compilation of old black and white stag films (Alex deRenzy’s “History of the Blue Movie”) and the co-feature was a much more contemporary color feature, deRenzy’s “Fantasy Girls” if I remember correctly. It was quite obvious to me that the wrong reel from the wrong feature was on but it was dead silence from the audience. The Ritz had a stadium balcony which I was sitting in so I went over, banged on the projectionist door and informed the sleepy looking projectionist of the situation. A minute later and the projector ground to a halt. Still dead silence from the gents in the audience as the right reel was threaded up and the show then continued. Yeah those were some well mannered dudes in those porno movie theatres back then!
The golden age of legal hardcore porn in theatres was short lived though. Home video understandably brought the era to a rather abrupt end. Most of the today’s porn is pathetic and I can’t imagine how bad it looks blown up from VHS or DVD. Judging from this story about this Baltimore theatre it sounds like one rather solitary activity by some of the patrons is still taking place. On the hottest day of the year you would see guys coming in with jackets to put over their laps. Apparently now as back then you had to watch out for an occasional sticky floor! To put it as delicately as I can…uh it might not be Coke! Aside from that infrequent rude and certainly illegal activity I sort of miss those movie going days. Maybe you had to be there to appreciate it!
One of the nice things about single features is that you can just skip the $5-6 small drinks and small popcorns. Well at least I can! I have no objection at all to paying a premium price for concessions in a movie theater. I don’t expect 7-11 or McDonald’s prices and know that’s how the theatres make their profit and stay in business. However when prices get to the point of being highway robbery it’s time to boycott the concession stand and just get something to eat before or after the movie. Young people (yeah some older people too!) apparently feel differently and continue to walk away with giant tubs of popcorn and half gallon cups of Coke with nachos and hot dogs on the side so I guess the sky is the limit as far as how high prices will go.
RickWolfe it sounds like you run a first class operation and I’m talking much more than having fair concession prices. I don’t blame you at all for enforcing your no food brought in policy. I wish their was a theatre like yours near us!
Wow! Quite a change in Korean cinema since I was there during my U.S. Army tour of duty 1959-1960. Where I was stationed up in the boondocks the theatre in the local village didn’t even have a screen. They just waited until a fat lady came in and showed the movie on her back. (Oh not really! I heard that joke on an old Jack Benny radio program 55 years ago and have been waiting to repeat it ever since!)
It continues to amaze me how slowly Cinerama spread across the country. I grew up in the Bay Area so I saw all of the three strip travelogs at the San Francisco Orpheum during the period 1952-1959. In 1959 I joined the Army. While stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas in 1961-1962 I saw the whole travelog cycle start all over again at El Paso’s Capri Theatre. After being discharged from the Army in 1962 I settled in Sacramento and a year later, as noted above, once again the cycle started at the Esquire with “This Is Cinerama” opening 11 years after it had opened in San Francisco, only 80 miles down the road.
I have a fuzzy memory of an official announcement that the Tower would become Sacramento’s second Cinerama theater (single strip 70mm only by this time of course) but I guess the format was loosing steam big time by then (how low can you go after “Krakatoa, East of Java”?) so those plans were scrapped. I vaguely remember a big wide curved screen but don’t recall anything in 70mm ever projected on it.
Amazing and interesting series Michael! Thanks for your hard work in compiling it!
A parade of commercials for movies and TV shows that you wouldn’t watch if they were free masquerading as “entertainment”! What a laugh! At least with the slides and music you could pretty much ignore them and talk to your companion before the show. It’s pretty hard to ignore this crap (thank you booming surround sound system!). The regular trailers (if there aren’t too many of them!) are okay but that pre show entertainment is just another reason for me to stay home and watch movies on hi-def satellite or blu ray DVD which frankly looks much better than the mediocre to poor presentation in most multiplexes nowadays! Ah for the days when it was an enjoyable experience going to the movies! Don’t get me started on those cell phones and texting!
Modern young audiences don’t seem to care about quality film presentation. As long as there is some sort of image (in focus or not!) up there and the sound is deafening they are happy. As far as drive ins go, if you are in the back seat doing…uh other things…well the darker the better!
Hurrah for that theatre management! Those damn cell phones and the idiots who use them in theaters are the main reason that with rare exception I don’t go to the movies anymore, and I say that as a life long movie fan who loves (or used to love) the big screen movie going experience. Thank God for DVD, Blu-ray, HD satellite TV and wide screen HDTV sets! That technology came along just when we needed it most! You can now have a home theater experience that beats the presentation in many of the multiplexes and enjoy it without an audience of self indulgent jerks. That is a good thing!
This young woman in the article who got kicked out couldn’t understand why she shouldn’t check her bank balance (and I bet it only took TWO SECONDS!) in the middle of the movie huh? More proof that we are becoming a nation of morons!
Note that only “This is Cinerama” and “How the West Was Won” are 3 strip Cinerama. These are the restored prints that have played the Dome several times before and they are excellent. “The Golden Head” and “Holiday in Spain” are 70mm with severe color fading and frankly not very good films. It indeed is a rare chance to see them though. The two three strip Cinerama films are definitely worth the trip to Hollywood, wish I could be there myself! Here’s a little more info since the Arclight website has yet to be updated:
If it’s one of those pathetic General Cinema theatres with that crazy “shadow box” screens (or whatever that thing was called!)…good riddance! What a disappointment those things were when they opened in the San Francisco Bay Area (Hayward, Hillsdale, Walnut Creek) in the 1960’s. Things got even worse when they started dividing the auditoriums into even smaller shoe boxes. Poorly managed, horrible film presentation! Thank God they are gone!
Now if the Arclight would only give us another chance to see some three strip Cinerama films. A week long revival of “How the West Was Won” would suit me just just fine. Maybe add a couple of showings of “This is Cinerama” during that week or even better have a three strip Cinerama Festival which was rumored to be in the works a couple of years ago. This is one of only about three theatres in the world equipped to play three strip Cinerama I believe. It’s a shame they don’t have more frequent showings in that format.
As for “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” there are those who love the film and those who hate it. I’m somewhere in between. I love seeing all those stars in cameo roles, it’s entertaining most of the time but I just have never thought it was all that funny, certainly nowhere near the greatest comedy ever made which I think it tried to be. And yet if I lived anywhere near Hollywood I’d be at the Arclight that night to see it on that big curved screen in 70mm.
Texting and cell phone use in general, including lighting up the aisle and the auditorium to just check the damn things to see if you have any messages, is a situation which is only getting worse, not helped at all by those larger and brighter displays on newer cellphones.
That and other movie going annoyances such as talkers, extravagant admission and concession prices, incompetent projection, pre-show video commercial marathons masquerading as entertainment are really making me question whether it’s worth it to go to the movies anymore. I say this as a film buff who has attended movie theaters for over 50 years.
The economy is definitely one factor in the DVD sales slump. I think another factor is that the novelty of movie collecting has sort of worn off for a lot of people, myself included. I mean why are why buying all of these DVDs and only looking at them once or twice? Wouldn’t it make more sense to just rent them on Netflix, check them out at our local library or Blockbuster? I say all this as a life long film collector (8mm, 16mm, 35mm, Beta, VHS, Laserdisc, DVD…and now Blu-ray!) and the owner of roughly 1500 DVDs…but with nothing on order right now. Hey I’m also running out of shelf space!
Cable and satellite and now even broadband internet delivery of movies has also had it’s impact, especially when the films (including some of the classics on Cinemax, HDNet and MGM HD) are presented commercial free in high definition. Once you’ve seen “My Fair Lady” and “Lawrence of Arabia” in HD it’s pretty hard to get thrilled about your old standard definition DVDs of those titles. Yeah I know there is Blu-ray but that’s a minority format so far and those titles I mentioned aren’t even available on that format yet. Everything even the black and white oldies looks better in high definition! You can of course see all the recent blockbusters on pay-per-view in HD with 5.1 digital surround sound not long after their DVD release.
Personally I think the glory days of DVD are gone for good and the studios are going to have to adjust for that!