Comments from HowardBHaas

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HowardBHaas commented about Rialto Theatre on Aug 15, 2007 at 4:39 pm

I won’t speak for others but in the USA, it would be a great THEATER for plays, spelled that way as a noun. However, as a name, we can call it the Rialto Theatre if we like.

HowardBHaas commented about Rialto Theatre on Aug 13, 2007 at 10:18 am

here’s the text of the LA Times article:
Dire projections for South Pasadena’s Rialto
The South Pasadena institution, eclipsed by multiplexes, will close soon, though a revival is possible.
By Roger Vincent
August 10, 2007

The jazz-age Rialto Theater in South Pasadena, one of the few remaining single-screen cinemas in Southern California, will roll its last film Aug. 19. The operator, Landmark Theatres, has run out of patience with the money-losing movie palace built in the 1920s.

But plans are in the works for a major real estate project surrounding the theater on Fair Oaks Avenue, and the theater may come back to life as part of the new development. For the foreseeable future, however, it’s curtains for the Rialto.

“It’s too expensive to operate,” said Ted Mundorff of Landmark Theatres. “It can’t compete against the new modern theaters that people prefer.”

The stately, 1,200-seat theater that opened with the Universal release “What Happened to Jones?” in 1925 will close with “The Simpsons Movie.” It also hosted the cult favorite “Rocky Horror Picture Show” as a midnight feature for three decades.

“We love the theater. We love South Pasadena,” said Mundorff, chief operating officer of the Los Angeles-based Landmark theater chain. “The economics just don’t work.”

Mundorff declined to disclose box office or concession counter revenues but said the Rialto was rarely more than half full. Although Landmark installed a new sound system last year, it would cost at least $1 million more to properly restore the theater, Mundorff said.

The seats are in particular need of repair, but the carpets are also frayed, paint is chipped and the place sometimes has a musty odor. In short, the Rialto is the kind of weary aging moviehouse that many people remember fondly but few think to patronize on a night out.

“Very few old theaters can make it,” said Jim Rosenfield, owner of the single-screen Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, which dates to 1938. American Cinematheque operates the Aero primarily as a revival house.

“I get calls all the time from people who want to save their neighborhood theaters,” said Rosenfield, who restored the Aero in 2005. “Unless they have someone behind them who is a patron of the arts or an angel landlord,” the theaters usually can’t be saved, he said.

Modern multiplexes have several advantages for moviegoers over traditional single-screen venues, including more choices of movies, more screening times and stadium-style seating offering better sightlines. Like many other old theaters, the Rialto doesn’t have a parking lot.

Landmark controls the theater under a long-term lease. Eventually it will revert to a trust held by the Jebbia family, which has owned it since the 1930s, said trustee Philip Jebbia, who has an investment business in South Pasadena.

In the meantime, Landmark would need a white knight to help pay for restoration.

“If we can develop an economically viable plan to restore the theater, that would be our preference,” said Bill Banowsky, chief executive of Landmark. “If we are unable to do so we will make the space available for other uses that are compatible with the neighborhood.”

One potential suitor is Decoma Developers Inc. Decoma is working on a revitalization project intended to create a more pedestrian-friendly retail, residential and leisure district in the core of South Pasadena, including blocks around the Rialto.

“The theater is a treasure and we are all working on the possibility of keeping the Rialto a single-screen theater,” said Marinel Robinson, principal of Torrance-based Decoma. “One day the theater will be renovated. Everybody needs to be patient.”

If Decoma’s project is approved by the city, it would start work next summer and complete the development in three years, Robinson said. “We will work with whoever ends up controlling the theater.”

The Rialto was one of the great luxurious theaters of its day, built to feature both movies and live performances. It had 10 dressing rooms, a green room, an orchestra pit and a deep stage for vaudeville performances.

A backstage fire damaged the theater in 1938, about the time the vaudeville era ended. Another fire in 1969 burned the organ loft, though the large Wurlitzer that once was used to accompany silent films was saved and later sold.

Plans to raze the theater to make way for a parking lot in 1977 were successfully resisted by local residents and Landmark backed off a proposal to divide the theater into a multiplex in the 1990s.

It has been featured in many films and commercials, most notably Robert Altman’s “The Player” and more recently “Scream 2,” Landmark said.

“Its a very special theater for our town,” said nearby merchant Lucia Wiltrout. “It’s got lots of good memories.”

HowardBHaas commented about Rialto Theatre to close August 20th on Aug 10, 2007 at 2:58 pm

On vacation, I searched for historic movie palaces in the LA area and enjoyed the Rialto! Its beautiful interior shouldn’t be gutted. It appears in the book “The Last Remaining Seats” for good reason. It has 1920s Golden Age Hollywood glamour!

South Pasadena can follow the example of the restored Warner in San Pedro and restore the Rialto for live entertainment, cultural performances, AND a film series.

HowardBHaas commented about Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Hollywood on Aug 9, 2007 at 6:41 pm

Are you talking about a Cinerama screen still in New York? Where? or maybe you are talking 20 or more years ago?

HowardBHaas commented about Rialto Theatre on Aug 9, 2007 at 6:40 pm

On vacation in 2000, I found the Rialto to be a perfect historic movie house to enjoy Sunset Boulevard and Citizen Kane.

More INTERIOR PHOTOS, please, before it closes!

and, yes, let’s hope it reopens with a restoration and continues to show films.

HowardBHaas commented about Arcadia Theatre on Aug 8, 2007 at 12:57 pm

The Philadelphia City Archives has produced copies of historic photos for exhibit and for sale this month at the WCAU building at 16th & Chestnut:
View link

Movie theater photos that are on display (and sale) are both theaters on the 1500 block of Chestnut Street, the Arcadia (the photo mentioned above as being from 1935) and the Trans-luxe /theaters/9143/

HowardBHaas commented about Eric's Place Theatre on Aug 8, 2007 at 12:55 pm

The Philadelphia City Archives has produced copies of historic photos for exhibit and for sale this month at the WCAU building at 16th & Chestnut:
View link

The Trans-luxe and the Arcadia /theaters/3955/
also on same block of Chestnut, are included.

HowardBHaas commented about Varsity Theater on Aug 6, 2007 at 1:05 pm

Hidden behind Gap store:
View link

HowardBHaas commented about Fox Oakland Theater on Aug 1, 2007 at 5:20 pm

Link to long article:
View link

HowardBHaas commented about Paramount Theatre on Aug 1, 2007 at 5:19 pm

Link to article:
View link

HowardBHaas commented about Devon Theater for the Performing Arts on Jul 29, 2007 at 8:02 am

A photo showing a nice looking new marquee appeared with the print article in the NE Times.

HowardBHaas commented about Fine Arts Theatre on Jul 28, 2007 at 9:55 pm

Just so we set a proper example, it is spelled Proscenium, which framed the screen. In historic theaters, behind it was the stage and stagehouse. The KB Fine Arts evidently didn’t have a stagehouse. What it did have was great projection and sound.

Steve, so what I was looking at was a blue light lit screen? That’s what you mean by “screen wash”? then blue house lights went off the screen, blue lights went off, and presentation began?

HowardBHaas commented about Fine Arts Theatre on Jul 28, 2007 at 9:47 pm

Yes, I remember it was a downstairs theater. I read the “procenium-less screen” comment and realize its possible ramification. I remember how handsomely blue the auditorium was. I just don’t recall it not having a curtain. You must be right.

If only you, Steve, had photographed theaters you worked in. You could’ve posted some photos on the film tech website like the others do.

Several years, I was looking in D.C. for what it became, and I think a nightclub or something, if I found the right spot. Maybe somebody can verify that?

HowardBHaas commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Jul 27, 2007 at 10:47 pm

View link (2 photos at this link)

Other than a few architectural fragments, nothing of the Art-Deco landmark “Ziegfeld Theater” was believed to have been saved from it’s tragic demolition in 1966. That was until recently, when an immense mural called “The Joy of Life”, designed by the architect Joseph Urban for the theater, was discovered by New York City antiques dealer John Bermingham.

New York, NY (PRWEB) January 24, 2007 — In 1927, the Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld opened the Ziegfeld Theater on 6th Avenue and 54th Street and changed the face of theater for decades after. Home of the famed “Ziegfeld Follies”, the theater was an Art-Deco masterpiece created by Joseph Urban, an architect known for his fanciful and imaginative design and décor. Situated well out of the theater district and featuring a unique “egg-shaped” auditorium, the Ziegfeld Theater was a landmark unto itself.

Despite public outcry at the time, the Ziegfeld Theater was demolished in 1966 to make way for an office tower that now occupies the spot. It was believed that other than a few architectural fragments, nothing remained of this lost landmark. That is, until now.

It’s a part of New York City history, theater history and design history, and it deserves to be seen and appreciated.
A rare piece of this lost American treasure has recently re-surfaced in the form of an immense section of the original painted mural “The Joy of Life” which somehow escaped the wrecking ball all those years back. The mural was painted in 1926 by Lillian Gaertner under the direction of Joseph Urban, who provided the original sketches and personally oversaw the work. Madame Gaertner had studied under the renowned Bauhaus designer Joseph Hoffman and worked with Urban on many of his theatrical projects. The recently re-discovered canvas, which originally graced the walls and ceiling of the main auditorium, measures 24 feet wide by 14 feet high and features fanciful and brightly colored depictions of characters from literature, history and mythology.

The mural is currently owned by Manhattan antiques dealer John Bermingham who located it in November 2006. Bermingham states that his interest in the work stemmed from his love for New York City history and the theater in particular. “It is a tragedy that a landmark such as the Ziegfeld Theater was allowed to be destroyed back then, before the awareness of the value of historical architecture and design. Today, thankfully, such a thing would never happen”. Bermingham added, “It is remarkable, however, that such a unique and important artifact as this mural has managed to survive and we should at least be grateful for that”. The outcry over the demolition of the Ziegfeld Theater and the original Penn Station are credited with prompting the landmark preservation movement championed by Jacqueline Onassis.

The mural will be on display at the New York Design Fair at the Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street from February 8th through the 10th. “The biggest challenge we will face will be finding it an appropriate home, considering its size,” says Bermingham. “It would be great if it could remain intact, perhaps as part of a museum collection, or featured on the wall of some fantastic New York restaurant like the Picasso mural on display at the Four Seasons.” Bermingham adds, “It’s a part of New York City history, theater history and design history, and it deserves to be seen and appreciated.”


HowardBHaas commented about Eventim Apollo Hammersmith on Jul 27, 2007 at 5:21 pm

My link didn’t work. Try

HowardBHaas commented about Eventim Apollo Hammersmith on Jul 27, 2007 at 11:35 am

I understand that former owneres Clear Channel turned Live Nation sold this theater to The MAMA Group www.mamagroup.www.m
for thirteen million pounds.

HowardBHaas commented about Classic Movies in Theaters? on Jul 27, 2007 at 11:28 am

here’s links to a couple of those:
Castro in San Francisco:

Michigan theater in Ann Arbor:

HowardBHaas commented about Classic Movies in Theaters? on Jul 27, 2007 at 11:15 am

MANY MANY MANY movies are available in 35 mm including many that you mention.

movie chain Clearview’s Chelsea 9 in New York City shows mainstream & arthouse films,
and was recently rated by a magazine as New York City’s best movie theater! (and that’s without stadium seating) Classics:
View link

The Colonial in Phoenixville, PA, is a nonprofit single screener that shows arthouse films, has a Sunday afternoon classic program, and an annual Blob festival (as the Blob was filmed there in that town):
directly to the theater’s website

Nonprofit 3 screener that specializes in arthouse films, AFI Silver Spring, Maryland, /theaters/456/
with many classic films:

HowardBHaas commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Jul 26, 2007 at 8:32 pm

William, I hope you’ve seen that your very much appreciated architectural & design info has been incorporated into the text at the Ziegfeld description. Again, good research!

HowardBHaas commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Jul 25, 2007 at 7:09 pm

The Ziegfeld is splendid enough to be easily worth $11. I resent paying prices like that for small auditoriums with small screens in megaplexes, but not for the Ziegfeld! And, the Ziegfeld staff including those taking the tickets, try extra hard to welcome you.

As to the curtain, sounds like the main one is broken, but I’d guess it will be repaired no later than the next film premiere.

When I go to LA, I want to see movies in the flagship screens like the Cinerama Dome so I haven’t seen a movie in one of the smaller auditoriums in that megaplex. I hear the quality is very, very good. When I poked my head in a few for a few seconds, they looked like any other megaplex auditorium- not like the main Dome auditorium which is huge and special.

Warren, thanks for the very interesting information as to the Ziegfeld’s origins! I would also bet Clearview is leasing, not owning.

HowardBHaas commented about Cineworld Cinema - Leicester Square on Jul 25, 2007 at 10:18 am

I posted something on the Odeon West End page some time ago. I’ve read on the Internet that Odeon West End to be demolished for a hotel. Cinema preservationists suggested they’d like to keep the facade, but I haven’t read that has been determined yet.

HowardBHaas commented about Cineworld Cinema - Leicester Square on Jul 25, 2007 at 9:16 am

Thanks for finding that wonderful photo of the dazzling marquee (your first ecoustics link above).
As to utube, I hope more people can film (and post on utube or somewhere) vintage movie theater auditoriums while they are still here. The Odeon West End is slated for replacement, and I’d love to see a short film of the 2 auditoriums & the foyer section with the photos of people throughout the years who have visited.

HowardBHaas commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Jul 24, 2007 at 10:48 am

I found in the past, sometimes there’s a substitute projectionist who doesn’t use curtain. I would anticipate that the management might respect the curtain, because they would use it for movie premieres & they know regular audience attends because they like the Ziegfeld as a flagship house. For sure, they got plenty of feedback regarding the classics.

HowardBHaas commented about Chicago Theatre on Jul 24, 2007 at 10:14 am

I recall when visiting with Theatre Historical Society of America in 2003, being told that it was used for film festivals. I’m not sure if 35 mm projectors are in the booth, or need be rented.

HowardBHaas commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Jul 24, 2007 at 10:05 am

when Ziegfeld doesn’t have an exclusive, they don’t seem to have crowds, at least not during weekend afternoons, and they sure don’t sell out! they need all the audience they can get.