Comments from HowardBHaas

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HowardBHaas commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Sep 27, 2007 at 4:05 am

What time last night was it over?
Did they use the 4 track sound?

HowardBHaas commented about Petition To Save NYC's Playpen Theater, Oldest Vaudeville House on Sep 26, 2007 at 5:31 pm

So, signed. Good luck, Michael.

HowardBHaas commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Sep 26, 2007 at 12:03 pm

The restored Spartacus was in 1991 with Cineplex Odeon as operator. I’ve seen many great classics especially at the Uptown in DC, but I missed this one there & at Ziegfeld. I caught up with it at the Cineplex Odeon Worldwide, in one of the large auditoriums with 40 feet wide scope screen, and a perfect presentation of Spartacus in 70 mm restored version, with proper use of the curtain. Whereas C.O. opened the main curtain 1st at Ziegfeld, and on a featured movie’s title/opening, opened the see thru white curtain, current operators open both curtains together.

HowardBHaas commented about Hollywood Theatre on Sep 25, 2007 at 5:23 pm

It is easy to visit the Internet site from Philadelphia. I’ve never been to Oregon or Washington, but eventually….

HowardBHaas commented about Hollywood Theatre on Sep 25, 2007 at 4:24 pm

It would appear balcony was split up:

The website says:
The Hollywood Theatre became a mecca for film-goers in the early 1960s when it became the only Cinerama theater in Oregon. Portions of the building – especially the frame of the massive curved screen in the downstairs auditorium – are a testament to that time.

and also says:

The main floor auditorium seats 460 (35mm/16mm/DLP/live performance).
The upstairs west auditorium seats 171 (35mm/16mm/DLP/live performance).
The upstairs east auditorium seats 219 (35mm only)
The Mezzanine lobby can accommodate up to 125 comfortably for a reception(depending on table set-up)

HowardBHaas commented about Drexel Theatre on Sep 25, 2007 at 4:19 pm

NY Times article-
In this pleasant Ohio place called Bexley, in this Midwest place close to neither New York nor Los Angeles, a boy named Rupert calls his grandfather George. His grandfather’s name is Jeff.

Rupert, who is 2 years old, bears no blame for this mistake because his grandfather introduced himself as George before the boy could form words, and has insisted on being called George ever since. The man has his reasons.

In Bexley, a leafy old suburb of the sprawling capital city of Columbus, everyone plays a role. Maybe you answer questions at the Bexley Public Library. Maybe you tend bar at the Bexley Monk. Maybe you fill prescriptions at the Bexley CVS, paying close attention to details.

George, whose full name is Jeff Frank, runs the old movie theater in town, the Drexel, and has done so for 26 years. He is 56 now, bald and bespectacled, settled and successful. Still, he cannot help but wonder what might have been had he not been seduced long ago by the Drexel’s red-neon call: those bright lights dazzling the East Main Street sidewalk; that Art Deco sleekness; the faint echoes of here’s looking at you, kid.

What might have been had he not shrugged one day and thought: “Well, I love the movies. Why not run a movie theater?”

The day the Drexel opened on Christmas 1937, certain Columbus lights winked with the promise of cheap escape. Come stand beside the “Stage Door,” or find momentary serenity in “Lost Horizon,” all at neighborhood places that were not as grand as, say, that downtown palace, the Ohio, but were still magical portals to someplace else.

Eddie Cantor, that apostle of pep, was mugging it up in “Ali Baba Goes to Town” down at the Thurmania; the theater is now an art gallery and gift shop. Jimmy Savo was bounding about in “Merry-Go-Round of 1938” at the Main; it is now a cavernous medical center, absent of anyone who might remember the little clown named Jimmy.

Warner Baxter, a box-office draw at the very beginning of his career’s decline, was leading the cast of “Vogues of 1938” at the Hollywood; it now houses three empty stores whose awnings say Jihad’s Gifts, African Heritage Shop, and Zawadi Children’s Books, Jewelry, Oils, Etc. The owner of the mini-mart next door says his place used to be a bar, as if to suggest things change, so what.

And Shirley Temple, whose hair featured exactly 56 curls, was melting a cranky grandfather’s heart in “Heidi” at the tiny Wilmar. Marc Eller, the property’s owner, says he had the theater torn down 20 years ago for a parking lot.

“I curse that now,” he says, as he presents old photos of the theater that he keeps in a plastic bag. “It had the little hexagonal tiles, and the projection booth…”

The Drexel, though, survived. It opened that Depression Christmas with Sally Blane, Loretta Young’s sister, in “One Mile from Heaven,” and kept its screen flickering through the decades. By 1981 it had lost much of its luster, and was showing bargain movies just to survive, but it always managed to catch the eye of a young man with plans named Jeff Frank.

Mr. Frank had grown up not far from here, giving his Saturdays and more than a few of his high school days to the cool darkness of his neighborhood movie theater, the now-gone vessel by which he traveled to the moon, to the Old West, to places far from Columbus. After graduating from a university only an hour away, he returned with a degree in film studies and a plan to leave as soon as possible.

“Go to Hollywood! Go to New York!” he says. “Be involved in the film industry. Be a part of it.”

Mr. Frank never left Columbus. He worked in an art museum, where he met his future wife, Kathy Wooley; her favorite western is “Red River,” his the “The Searchers.” He then became the assistant director at the restored Ohio Theatre, with a daily commute that took him past the Drexel.

One day the Franks rolled the dice of life and bought the Drexel. They closed it down for 30 days of restoration, removed the hundreds of plastic flowers that hid its Art Deco grandeur, and reopened with a screening of “Top Hat” that included a personal appearance by Herself, Ginger Rogers. Movie history was made â€" at least in Columbus.

Over the years, at the Drexel and a handful of theaters, the Franks became masters of promotion, purveyors of escape, always with an emphasis on art films and the classics. They provided free passes to those who wore red shoes to “The Red Shoes,” offered Shirley Temple movies for children on summer Saturdays, invited people to dress up for “Casablanca” and sing when the band at Rick’s strikes up “La Marseillaise.”

As Mr. Frank became the local Mr. Movie, he came to think of himself as a sort of George Bailey, who never fulfills his dream of leaving Bedford Falls, yet comes to realize that remaining in his hometown is his passage to a wonderful life. So Rupert calls his grandfather George.

Now and then Mr. Frank travels to a film festival, but mostly he stays here, fully aware of his role as an escort into the imagination. “For a short time,” he says, “you take people someplace they’ve never been to before.”

Another night has fallen on the quiet streets of Bexley. The lights of the Drexel beckon. And a man called George is selling tickets for the 3:10 to Yuma.

HowardBHaas commented about AMC Shirlington 7 on Sep 24, 2007 at 3:40 pm

The Shirlington Cinema 7 opened December 18, 1987 at cost of $2 million, by Circle Theatres. Circle was bought by Cineplex Odeon, which eventually merged into Loews, and Loews merged into AMC.

The auditoriums are separated by 11-inch-thick sound-proof walls.

HowardBHaas commented about AMC Shirlington 7 on Sep 24, 2007 at 3:30 pm

From Washington Post online:
Editorial Review
The small lobby in the Cineplex Odeon Shirlington misrepresents the clean, comfortable and large-screen theaters inside. Three of its seven screens are curved, and seating capacity ranges from 165 to 350. Thus, it’s well equipped to handle any flick, whether it be an action-packed blockbuster, an independent or an unrated foreign film. But you probably won’t see the latest Disney release here. The movie choices generally target an adult audience. You can buy a cup of coffee; you won’t find a video game. The restrooms are inconveniently upstairs, and like the lobby, small. The theater towers over the nearby Village of Shirlington, and offers a pleasant art deco style reminiscent of a different place and time. Street lamps illuminate the village, which has various restaurants and small shops. From the village, you can easily spot the neon lights of the theater marquee. A large lot behind the theater provides free parking.

— Shesha Pancholi

HowardBHaas commented about Dupont Circle 5 on Sep 24, 2007 at 1:35 pm

Piddy says Shirlington may close /theaters/15213
It has such a nice looking exterior, judging from the photo.

HowardBHaas commented about AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 with IMAX on Sep 24, 2007 at 12:04 pm

when built, the screen in the main auditorium, the Loews, was huge, 65 feet wide, 26 feet high. The curtain rose & lowered. They should use the curtain.

HowardBHaas commented about Cinema Metropole on Sep 24, 2007 at 10:38 am

I stayed at the hotel in 2001, knowing that it had formerly this huge movie palace. The facade doesn’t look anymore like a former theater. I’d love to see vintage photos of exterior and especially interior!

HowardBHaas commented about Dupont Circle 5 to close in Jan '08 on Sep 24, 2007 at 10:19 am

here’s the link to the page on the former Embassy theater, mentioned above:

HowardBHaas commented about AED Globe Theatre on Sep 24, 2007 at 8:35 am

The April 3, 2000 Washington Post report that this theater reopened in 2000 as the Visions Cinema Bistro Lounge, under an independent operator, after being renovated into one auditorium of 210 seats plus a 32 seat balcony, and a second screening room with 115 seats.

Closed as JodarMovieFan reported above.

In its original configuration as the Embassy, it was never one of DC’s grand moviehouses, but in the age of dwindling single screen movie theaters, I liked it!

HowardBHaas commented about AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 with IMAX on Sep 24, 2007 at 8:22 am

The photo linked above on May 14 is of the premiere auditorium mentioned in the intro.

HowardBHaas commented about Boyd Theatre on Sep 24, 2007 at 8:14 am

Here’s today’s Weekly Update:(1) After last week’s update, we were asked why the Boyd owner ceased renovation. The Boyd and other theaters nationwide are for sale because the new company Live Nation chose to focus on Rock n'Roll rather than the mix of entertainment uses that Clear Channel intended for the Boyd when they purchased it. Friends of the Boyd have asked Live Nation to sell the Boyd to another company that wishes to program it broadly. We will help obtain sufficient funding for the renovation.

(2) Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer discusses the $1.3 billion dollar impact, and 40,000 jobs that arts and culture has on the Philadelphia area. View link
Arts and culture will have an even bigger impact on Philadelphia when the BOYD reopens as a major showplace theater! We have told you that the Econsult report summarized here shows that a reopened Boyd Theatre would generate $120 million a year including related expenditures, and when including those related expenses, a total of 520 jobs.

As the Inquirer states, the arts do not receive enough public funding in Philadelphia. The Boyd will not need annual support as the shows will run in the black, but may need onetime public support to assist with the physical rehabilitation so it can reopen. Most movie palaces nationwide received funding from cities and states, for restoration and updating, so they could again serve their communities.

(3) This Weekly Update has frequently mentioned the Philadelphia region’s historic cinemas, most of which now show arthouse films. Since the Boyd then named the Sameric closed in 2002, Philadelphia residents see mainstream movies in multiplexes. encourages moviegoers to comment on those theaters, and record the history of those theaters. Philadelphia multiplexes showing mainstream movies include the BRIDGE /theaters/10911/ the PEARL /theaters/17993/ and the RIVERVIEW /theaters/20973/ also profiles historic movie palaces. All the movie palaces featured in downtown Philadelphia are history, except one -the Boyd. We must not allow the Boyd to be enjoyed only on cyberspace! The Boyd must be restored and reopened. Thanks to Patrick Crawley and Ross Melnick for inventing cinematreasures in 2000, as volunteers, and thanks to them and to YOU for your continued support of the Boyd.

Howard B. Haas

HowardBHaas commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Sep 24, 2007 at 8:12 am

Bill, thanks most kindly, I am aware of that overpriced ticket. But, catching that train depends upon the movie starting exactly on time, and Penn Station is a little hike to walk or depend upon the frequency at that time of subway or cab. “Conceivably” isn’t good enough when I could miss the last transport home. Fortunately, most new movies and classics at the Ziegfeld do have weekend showings.

HowardBHaas commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Sep 24, 2007 at 6:48 am

I understand why they wouldn’t allow for more than a few shows, but I wish there was a Saturday afternoon show. There are no trains back from New York to Philadelphia on weekday evenings, so I can’t attend.

Perhaps a moviegoer well versed on traditional Roadshow presentation can ask the Ziegfeld staff to keep the curtain closed, …..for the music until the picture starts.

HowardBHaas commented about Radio City Music Hall on Sep 23, 2007 at 5:09 pm

Thanks. Years ago, before I received the photocopy with the lounge photos, I took the tour. Now, I need to take the tour again.

HowardBHaas commented about AMC North Broadstreet 7 on Sep 23, 2007 at 1:57 pm

I saw another movie today. Film projection and digital surround sound are excellent. There was no pre-show.

HowardBHaas commented about Cinema on Sep 23, 2007 at 6:51 am

Yes, that is sad. This theater seems to have had its 9 lives, but finally ran out.

HowardBHaas commented about Regal Gallery Place Stadium 14 on Sep 23, 2007 at 6:47 am

Here’s my December 2006 photo of the large ticket booth:
View link

HowardBHaas commented about Phoenix Theatres Union Station 9 on Sep 23, 2007 at 5:17 am

from Washington Post:
Editorial Review
Although it’s basically like a multiplex in a mall, the AMC Union Station is not your cookie-cutter theater. The place has character. Built inside catacombs that were once used for storage, its ceilings are two-stories high. Each house has a different name taken from a long-gone Washington movie palace, which is displayed on an old-fashioned facade. This theater on Capitol Hill is the prime movie stop for most people in Northeast, Southeast and even Southwest Washington. And with shops, restaurants, a parking garage, the Metro and MARC trains right here, it’s easy to see why. The largest theater is the Avenue Grand with 364 seats, a large screen and DTS sound, which led to THX certification. All nine are equipped with SDDS. Two other theaters have big screens, two more have medium-size screens, and the rest have small ones. The capacity of the smallest house is 148.

— Matt Slovick
Theater Office: 202-842-3757
Modified for Hearing Impaired: Yes
Disabled Access: All theaters and restrooms are wheelchair-accessible.

HowardBHaas commented about Dupont Circle 5 on Sep 23, 2007 at 5:12 am

Above is the Washington DC Post article itself, not the comments to the article. Here’s another review:

AOL City Guide:
It’s a shame that the theaters that show the most interesting movies in the DC area are also generally the shabbiest and most uncomfortable. The Dupont 5 always has fascinating foreign and independent movies, but it’s cramped and dingy. Its largest theater holds just 139 people; its smallest has 59 seats. The seats are uncomfortable and not especially clean. The screens are small and the sound is sometimes scratchy. The lobby and restrooms are too small to accommodate even a moderate crowd. But Dupont 5 is often the only place in town to see certain movies, and with such small theaters, a popular movie can sell out quickly. You have to wait in line outside not only to buy the tickets, but also to enter the theater if you’re too early. Of course, since it’s in Dupont Circle, there are plenty of places to go if you’re really, really early. This theater has the standard concessions, plus some gourmet fare and coffee. Ticket prices are $7.75, $5.00 for children 12 and younger and seniors 62 and older, and $5.25 for shows before 6:00 p.m. Parking in the Dupont Circle area is a nightmare, and the garage across the street from the theater closes at 10:00 p.m. and is pretty expensive besides. You’re better off with the metro. The South exit of the Dupont Circle station on the Red Line lets you out a few yards from the theater — just go straight when you get off the escalator. The last train for Glenmont leaves at midnight; for Shady Grove at 12:10 a.m. -MS

HowardBHaas commented about Dupont Circle 5 on Sep 23, 2007 at 5:06 am

View link
The Last Show In Dupont Circle
Mulitplexes Rise; Small Cinemas Go Dark

By Alejandro Lazo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 21, 2007; Page D01

The last movie theater standing in Dupont Circle, a neighborhood once known for its small, funky, foreign and art-house film offerings, will close in January after struggling to compete with the area’s bigger and newer multiplexes.

AMC Loews Dupont 5 will screen its last shows Jan. 13 and leave at the end of that month when its 20-year lease expires, spokeswoman Melanie Bell said. A retail store, whose name was not disclosed by the building’s owner, is expected to take the theater’s place once the interior is gutted and remodeled.

Buy This Photo

Dupont 5, the last of the small, foreign and art-house cinemas in a neighborhood once filled with them, is closing in January. (By Bill O'leary — The Washington Post)

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The demise of the Dupont 5 reflects the increased difficulty for smaller, neighborhood theaters competing with megaplex venues. Those behemoths, after conquering the suburbs with their stadium seating and surround-sound offerings, have steadily gained a foothold in urban markets. It is also a sign of the continuing change underway in one of the most distinctive neighborhoods in Washington, one brought on by increasing rents for commercial real estate.

“It was a small theater that played small movies,” Rob Halligan, president of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association, said. “The point is we are losing the funkiness of Dupont.”

Opened in June 1987 by Dupont Circle Theatres, the movie house changed ownership several times as the industry consolidated. In its heyday in the 1990s and 2000s, it often showed the same films as the venerable Key Theatre in Georgetown and what is now the AMC Loews Shirlington 7 in Arlington.

The cramped, five-auditorium, 725-seat theater occupies the ground floor of a 12-story building at 1350 Connecticut Ave. NW built in 1927. Its neighbors include a Krispy Kreme Donuts, the restaurant Cosi and a Ben & Jerry’s as well as the clothing stores Green and Blue and Proper Topper.

“I used to go there for art films all the time, though I am not a great fan of the screens,” said Aviva Kempner, a District-based independent filmmaker who has watched the number of small theaters dwindle in the District over the past decade. “And what’s great about the Dupont theater was its specialization in gay cinema and its specialization in art movies. It knew what its constituency was, and now I am worried that some of those art movies will not even play anymore.”

Dupont 5 has shown more blockbusters in recent years and has struggled to define itself and compete with the art houses opened by Landmark Theatres at Bethesda Row in 2002 and E Street in 2004, said Andrew Mencher, director of programming at the Avalon Theatre on Connecticut Avenue in Northwest Washington.

With the addition of megaplexes at AMC Loews Georgetown 14 and Regal Cinema’s Gallery Place Stadium 14, the demand for mainstream movies has been diverted as well, leaving the Dupont 5 in a sort of theatrical twilight zone.

“No doubt a movie theater could be highly successful in Dupont Circle,” Mencher said. But, “these days people want a nice facility, good projection and stadium seating.”

Nationally, AMC Loews has been making the shift from small movie houses and consolidating into megaplexes when and where it can. The average theater operated by AMC Loews in the United States and Canada has about 14 screens.

“What they want to do is get out of those leases and put all those movies in one theater,” said Bradford Brown, president of Brown Entertainment Group, based in Los Angeles. “There is a lot of efficiency in a multiplex.”

Smaller theaters of two and four screens were extremely profitable before the rise of the big theaters saw customers traveling farther to see films, said Dennis McAlpine, an independent researcher and movie industry analyst based in Pawleys Island, S.C.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, several movie theater companies went out of business, consolidated or purged their portfolios of smaller, less profitable theaters. The box office in general is still hurting from the rise of other forms of entertainment such as video games, the Internet and the DVD, but overall the industry has recovered, McAlpine said.

“Until probably about two years ago, you went through a period of consolidation,” McAlpine said. “You are back to a golden area, to an extent, because the portfolio trimming has taken place, you got all the losses out of the way and started making money on the new stuff.”

In Washington, while there are numerous examples of small theaters closing, the number of screens has increased in the past decade, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners.

Nevertheless, the closing of those theaters has often been met with expressions of loss — of character, time and place.

In June 1996, the Biograph in Georgetown closed after a nearly 30-year run as an independently owned, single-screen art house that was “the closest thing to a true underground cinema the D.C. area has ever seen,” according to an article in The Post.

The next year, Palisades residents protested the closing of a theater by the predecessor to AMC Loews, Cineplex Odeon. It became a CVS Pharmacy.

In June 2002, the Janus 3 in Dupont Circle, which once had its own film club and midnight showings of experimental films, closed.

In May 2000, the Embassy was resurrected as Visions Bar Noir, a two-screen venue at the crossroads of the Dupont Circle, Kalorama and Adams Morgan neighborhoods, in an attempt to reclaim the small art-house style. Encumbered by debt, it closed in 2004.

“The corporate movie industry has completely changed how we in Washington go to the movies,” Kempner said. “We can no longer just go to dinner and go to the movies,” in a neighborhood.

Staff researcher Richard Drezen contributed to this report.