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That happened about 10 years ago in Boston too. The Paris theater in the Back Bay was stripped to its steel I-beams and turned into a CVS! I guess there’s something about the high ceilings and big open space of theaters that they’re drawn to.
Hey, how about some stories about your experiences? What are some of the problems you have to deal with? How did the theaters differ in what you had to do? Did you get involved in booking films, and what was some of the problems there? Let us know.
I don’t know of any articles per se, but from reading newspaper articles over the years, I know that the typical cinderblock multiplex is basically a big box, and you can turn it into a mini mall, restaurant complex, warehouse, paintball or indoor golf facility, shooting range, legitimate theater, entertainment complex of clubs and bars, and so on. You can usually build a level floor over the sloping concrete one in the auditoriums, or level the floor by pouring additional concrete. Cinderblock is usually pretty strong, so you can knock through the walls for doorways without worrying about bringing the ceiling down.
Some examples I know of personally are the Copley Square Cinemas in the Copley Mall in Boston were turned into the upscale department store Barney’s, and the Essex St. Theater was turned into a multifloor bookstore and then office space for an Internet company. The 57 was turned into a legitimate theater on one side and a indoor golfing facility on the other side.
So a closed theater can give you plenty of options for new life.
Yeah, Sumner Redstone bought the CBS TV network and Viacom, which owns Paramount Studios and cable TV networks. He believes the future is in production rather than exhibition, but ironically, the theaters are making money while the networks and studio are losing money, and he needs to sell off National Amusements to pay the interest on his loan. This will leave his daughter with hardly nothing to manage.
Yeah, that’s what I thought too at first. It’s not a marathon, it’s just that they’re running the film overnight.
But we need some pictures. It’s strange the Website has no pictures of the theater, just clip art. I’d like to see what it looks like both inside and outside.
WARNING!! The above URL address does not go to the theater’s website. It goes to some kid’s site called E-Baum’s World. Don’t go there if you have epilepsy because of a rapid flashing color display.
I hope he doesn’t lose his shirt. Last year I reported on theater after theater where this scenario took place: nice guy buys theater, sinks tens of thousands of dollars into it, then closes anywhere from 11 to 20 months later. Michigan is experiencing a severe economic downturn. There’s obviously a good reason the original owners closed up shop in 2007. I hope he figures out a way to make it work.
All of the projection equipment necessary for a film festival like this can be rented, so it’s not necessary that a theater still have its original projectors. For example, in Boston, we have Boston Light and Sound that rents lenses, projectors, etc. When the Wang/Citi Theater does a film premiere, Boston Light and Sound brings in the necessary equipment. Even a curved screen can be rented from somewhere. All you need is a theater and someone motivated enough to organize it. It sounds like in Germany, there’s people motivated enough to hold such a festival.
The point of this story is that revenue was only up a little over 1% while attendance dropped 2.5%. Average ticket prices increased by about 30 cents. It shows a direct correlation that when you raise ticket prices, you lower admissions. And if it was not for The Dark Knight’s stellar $500 million take, both admissions and revenue would have been down for the year.
This is one of the worst years for the Oscars. Except for a couple of technical nods to Iron Man, Wanted, Dark Knight, and Wall-E, the Motion Picture Academy nominated the same films over and over again: Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader, Revolutionary Road, The Changeling, Doubt and Slumloard Millionaire. Other than Benjamin Button, I haven’t wanted to see any of those films!! You can bet on the ratings for the telecast to be the lowest in history!
They’re beautiful!! A lot of classic films in that batch! All major releases!
I just wanted to note that there were other conditions surrounding the theater’s closing. The owner said that the studios dictated the ticket price, so he couldn’t offer cheap seats. And although energy costs are down from earlier this year, they’re on a par with last year, which makes it very expensive to heat the theater during the winter months. It all boils down to whether you can make money there or not. That’s why theaters were twinned in the first place. If you run pictures that only attract 20 people per showing, it’s better to have two pictures that attract 40 people. The only model that seems to save these old theaters in small towns is to go the non-profit route.
I’m with AlAlvarez, but not all comic book movies are bad. When they’re well made, they can be good. Sin City and 300 sent chills up my spine! But The Dark Knight was sloppily made. The chase scenes made no sense. There were continuity errors all over the place. Heath Ledger was the only outstanding thing in an otherwise mediocre movie.
Well, keep in mind that total attendance was still down about 3%. Less people go to the movies every year. The only reason there was a 2% increase in grosses was that ticket prices were jacked up almost 5%. If Warner hadn’t released Dark Knight, it would have really been a loss for the year.
As for the past, in 1948, there were 4.6 billion paid admissions (the first year it was counted) and in 2008 there were 1.36 paid admissions, despite the fact there are about 50% more people in this country.
And when those 50" and 60" TVs and Blu-Ray players come down in price, you might see a real decline in audiences.
That’s great news!! The best way to share pictures is to open a Flickr.com or Photobucket.com account. You just need to get them online somewhere so we can see them and then send us a link. Of course, if you sell them through Heritage Auctions, they’ll put the pictures online there.
That’s awesome!! Good luck!!
Well, there’s plenty of information about silk movie banners on the Internet. They’re quite collectible. Here’s a description from Heritage Auctions.
“Banner: Posters which come in a variety of sizes ranging from 24” to 30" by 84" to 120.“ Studios began producing banners in the 1920s and they were painted using gorgeous, full-color silk screen art on canvas or bookbinder’s cloth with grommets spaced along the edges. Beginning in the late 1930s the studios began to transition to a card stock material but still silk screening in a mono-tone color scheme and adding a photograph pasted to the banner. Today’s banners are printed on vinyl and come in a vast variety of sizes.”
Heritage lists a Pinocchio silk banner which had some condition problems that sold for $836.50. Another version sold for $567.63
“A Bill of Divorcement” banner (1932) went for $167.30 and a “Test Pilot” (1938) went for $203.15.
You can see them here. You might have to sign up for a free account to see the prices.
E-Bay seems to have some from time to time. Currently someone is trying to sell a “Seven Sinners” (1940) banner for a “buy it” price of $1299.
I would say you have quite a valuable cache here!!! The folks at Heritage Auctions could probably help you with estimates of value since they have a very large movie department.
If you watch Antiques Roadshow, you’ve probably seen Rudy Franchi there assessing various collections. He’s at Heritage and you can e-mail him directly at
Have you also e-mailed the folks at Hollywood Banners? They have an online form for asking questions, and they may be able to help with any specific questions you have about how they were made.
Good luck and tell us what happens!!!
The theater has closed.
CHEHALIS, WA — Two months after the 10-screen Midway Cinemas opened outside of town, the single-screen Chehalis Theater was forced to close last month due to poor business and its inability to obtain new films.
“I didn’t have any movies to show, because the new theater took them all,” said the owner. The city’s mayor noted “It’ll leave a big hole in the downtown.”
The current owner purchased the building in 1994 and leased it out as a video store. In 1997, the video store owner converted it back into a theater and operated it for a year before closing in 1998. The landlord then re-opened the theater and kept it operating until last December.
He said that movie company restrictions limited what he could do with the theater.
“You can’t do dollar nights and family nights. The movie companies say you have to charge this much and be open this long.”
The owner said he refuses to sell the theater and is looking at trying to tap a niche market, perhaps by offering English movies dubbed into Spanish for the Latino community.
“Who knows, I might start showing X-rated movies,” he joked.
Here’s an article and a chart of building costs in various cities around the US. For example, in Boston, it would cost $162 per square foot. The least expensive is Winston-Salem at $110 per square foot. So in Winston-Salem it would cost you $2.75 million to build the building in addition to equipment costs.
The sad part is that NA is profitable. Sumner is raiding it because he owes a lot of money from buying Viacom and CBS. He says the theater business is all washed up, but movies have survived several major upheavals while CBS’s viewership has been declining for decades. It’s too bad that Sumner seems to control NA’s board of directors. He’s going to be selling off theaters when those theaters are at their lowest values. The only upside is that other theater chains may be able to pick up these properties at a bargain price.
I think he’s referring to the Boston Ballet shows. There’s always shows at the Colonial and the Wang. Unfortunately, the Shubert is very under-utilized. There hasn’t been a show there in a year, and the next show is scheduled for July 2009!
Just as a side note: When Clear Channel spun off Live Nation in 2005, Live Nation lost interest in doing anything but concerts. Clear Channel had bought the Boyd Theater in Philadelphia and was planning a $31 million restoration for it, just as it had done for the Opera House, so Broadway-style shows could be performed there. Luckily, a developer bought the theater from Live Nation a few months ago and promises to renovate it, while building a hotel over it. But we were very lucky to have had Clear Channel beautifully restore the Opera House.
Just a postscript: Chris Reeve didn’t direct Superman 4, but he did help write the screenplay. Veteran director Sidney J. Furie directed the film with a paltry $17 million budget.
I’m afraid Superman 1 was a happy accident and it took two more decades before superheroes in the movies got some respect. You can hear the whole story in the director’s commentaries of Superman 1 and the restored version of Superman 2. Basically, the producers of the movie were French and everyone laughed when they paid DC Comics $20 million for the movie rights to Superman for 20 years. But because they were French, they really had little idea of who Superman was, but they knew they wanted to make an American-style movie and break into the American movie business. Hiring Mario Puzo was a stunt to get publicity and to capitalize on The Godfather craze of the mid-‘70s. Ditto for hiring Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman. The real shooting script was written by David & Leslie Newman and Robert Benton, which was done in a comedic tone, much like the old Batman TV series. The producers went down the list of directors who directed movies that made more than $100 million, starting with Coppola and Lucas, and ended up with Richard Donner who had just directed The Omen. Donner, quite shrewdly, took over the entire production, having writing partner Tom Mankiewicz redo the script and pushing the producers out of the way. Warner Bros. officially took over the film about 2/3 through when the production ran out of money. The producers repaid Donner by locking him out of the second movie, even though he had shot about 2/3 of the second movie simultaneously with the first. Comedy director Richard Lester was brought in to finish things up. Superman 3 was developed from scratch reflecting the comedic atmosphere the producers originally wanted, as Superman had to fight Robert Vaughan and Richard Pryor! Christopher Reeve agreed to do Superman 4 only if he could direct, and although 4 is much truer to the Superman comic in form and substance, its low budget cheapened the series. Superman Returns is basically a hideous remake of the first Superman movie, destroying the character of Superman in an attempt to modernize him. The rumor is Warner Bros. is considering rebooting the reboot by ignoring Superman Returns.
Superman 1 certainly helped change the perception that the only way a comic book movie could work was to make it like the Batman TV show. But it did take quite a bit of time for Hollywood to discover how to make GOOD comic book movies.
Yes, he has $1.5 billion in debt, and he’s trying to sell off everything he can, even though his own daughter is head of the company!
The Courant has an article saying the property has been bought by a developer and the cinema will be demolished.
You can read it here.