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IMAX now at theater near you
Times of Trenton 9/27/08
HAMILTON — The future is here. In fact, you can practically be surrounded by it.
Central New Jersey has its first IMAX theater at the AMC Hamilton 24 on Sloan Avenue.
The theater, known for its giant, curved screen and surround-sound system that gives the viewer the feeling of being in the middle of the action, marked its turf with a splash yesterday with the opening of the high-tech, high-octane thriller “Eagle Eye.”
The IMAX theater in Hamilton is part of a partnership between the nation’s second-largest movie theater chain and IMAX Corp. to install digital IMAX systems in 33 markets nationwide through 2010. It was installed over the summer along with IMAX systems at AMC multiscreen theaters in Neshaminy Mall in Bucks County, Pa., and in Cherry Hill.
“We looked at some of the top-performing theaters across the country and made the selections based on where we thought the auditoriums would be a good fit,” said AMC spokesman Justin Scott, who would not disclose further box-office details.
The digital system differs from the earlier-generation IMAX, which utilizes multiple reels that need changing; the new system has no reels.
The IMAX theater at the Hamilton complex can accommodate 375 people.
Each IMAX screen and digital sound system is customized to the theater in which it will be placed, according to Scott.
The screen at AMC Hamilton is 58 feet wide by 33 feet high, whereas the screen at Neshaminy is approximately 59 feet by 27 feet, he said. “What generally happens is the screen is about 25 percent bigger than in regular auditoriums,” Scott said.
Part of what is driving this explosion of IMAX screens around the nation is content.
“IMAX is putting out more first-round Hollywood movies in the IMAX format,” Scott said.
Future digital IMAX offerings will include the animated “Madagascar 2: Escape to Africa” in November; “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in December; “Night at the Museum 2” in May; and the next installment of the Harry Potter movie series in July.
Moviegoers who get motion sickness from the “you are there” sensation of IMAX can opt to view the same movie in a regular theater of the complex, Scott said.
Tickets for the IMAX version cost $3 more than regular prices, which range from $5 to $9.75.
The presence of an IMAX system can be an attraction for theaters, especially in a year when attendance has declined.
According to the California-based box-office tracking service Media By Numbers, attendance for the lucrative summer season — from the first weekend in May to Labor Day weekend — was down 3.5 percent from last year, with 586.8 million tickets sold compared with 608.1 million last year. For the year to date, attendance is down approximately 5 percent from 2007.
However, in terms of pure dollars, this summer season was the best ever, with films such as “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight” helping the industry pull in $4.2 billion compared with $4.18 billion last summer, a minimal increase.
The economic downturn is part of the reason attendance is down, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers.
“It’s definitely taking a hit on attendance right now,” he said. “Typically, we believe the movie industry is recession-proof. … In these times people are not hesitating to spend $10 on ‘Dark Knight,’ but they might become a little more selective with how they spend money on films in general.
“When people are worried about their mortgage payments,” he said, “they may not see as many movies as before.”
But although regular theaters may be putting fewer people in the seats, the IMAX theaters are still doing well.
“They have so distanced themselves from that notion that they are just about documentaries,” Dergarabedian said.
“Regardless of the overall market, their attendance is up,” he said. “The kinds of film in IMAX, they will pay a premium for those kinds of event movies,” he said of moviegoers.
“It’s that giant-screen experience.”
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For those of you not familiar with the area, this is what happens to this theater all to often when it rains real hard:
Friday, August 15, 2008
From staff reports
VINELAND – The redevelopers of the Landis Theater have been awarded a $8,000,000 “new market” tax credit from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
The tax credit will provide more than $2,000,000 in direct equity toward the renovation of the historic center city theater, according to Hans Lampart, president of Eastern Pacific Development, the redevelopment company heading the project.
“This is the driving piece of the financial package necessary to complete our plan for a dynamic, fully renovated performing arts theater for downtown Vineland,” said Lampart in a released statement.
The City of Vineland and Eastern Pacific Development have undertaken a four corners redevelopment plan at the East and Landis avenues intersection. That arrangement specified that the theater project should proceed as the first of the four corners to be completed.
Additional funding pieces for the Theater renovation project include:
N.J. Preservation grant: $750,000
Historic Tax Credit equity: $1,650,000
Urban Enterprise Loan: $3,000,000
UEZ Faade Loan/Grant: $500,000
According to Lampart, the EDA tax credit allocation brings the total funding package to $7,900,000, the amount budgeted by Eastern Pacific to successfully transform the dilapidated theater structure into a new community performing arts center. The New Market and Historic equity is being funded by US Bank.
Partial demolition and preparation for new construction at the theater site is ongoing. It is projected that the complex would be completed by October of 2009.
Lampart was unavailable Wednesday for questions or comments.
My photos from 7/3/06:
My photos from 6/7/08:
My photos from 3/9/06:
my photo from 7/3/06:
My photo from 4/19/08:
My photos from 4/19/08:
Opened in 1993 near the epicenter of the infamous 1967 riots. This theater could be closing soon.
Great photo in today’s Star Ledger. Still on track for a fall opening. Some acts have already been booked.
Old interior photos:
Not too much history at this link:
old postcard 1920s:
1924 program cover: