Classic Movies in Theaters?

posted by lunard136 on July 27, 2007 at 7:50 am


I’m working in a Odeon Theater in Quebec City, Canada, and my boss told us we have to get noticed by the big managers in Toronto or else they’ll close us in two years because we are a small non-upgraded-to-cineplex with regular clientele.

We had the idea of presenting old movies (1984, Clockwork Orange, Casablanca, The Blob (first one), Wayne’s World, Hitchcock’s movies, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, to name only the ones on top of my head) two or three time a week, after the usual movies.

The boss thinks it’s a good idea. We just can’t find a site about a theater that’s doing that (screening old movies), to get more information. What’s more, we can’t find a way to know which (and how many) movies are still available in 35 mm reels. We don’t want to write to the studios just yet as we don’t even have Toronto’s approval, but we would like to know if it’s doable.

So if anyone here have the site or phone number of a theater showing old movies or has the list of movies available in 35 mm lying at home for some reason, if you could help me, it would be really appreciated. We are small, we need renovation (big time!), but we want to keep it alive.


Comments (20)

HowardBHaas on July 27, 2007 at 8:15 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:

Twistr54 on July 27, 2007 at 8:17 am

Check out the Castro Theatre in SF, the Michigan theatre in Ann Arbor MI, the State in Ann Arbor, and the Redford in Detroit, they all have a great schedule of classic and non mainstream films. Good Luck !!

HowardBHaas on July 27, 2007 at 8:28 am

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

Michigan theater in Ann Arbor:

Jonesy on July 27, 2007 at 9:12 am

My blog links to almost every theatre in the US that shows older movies. Check out the “Back on the Big Screen” links on the lower right. Hopefully you can get in touch with someone who can help you out.


warrendewey on July 27, 2007 at 9:27 am

The Golden State Theatre in Monterey CA shows classic double features as well as 2 or 3 live events per month. Most old movies are relatively easy to book, some are difficult or impossible! Since you are part of a chain, your company’s bookers probably have the contacts that you need for the distributors' classics departments.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on July 27, 2007 at 10:32 am

The great David Packard (of Hewlett-Packard fame)restored the magnificent STANFORD THEATRE in Palo Alto, California complete with a beautiful Wurlitzer organ. Mr. P personally supervises the operation of his dream theater!

Their “classic” film screenings are to die for. They get vault prints because of their Union projectionist who takes great care of the films and runs them on reel-to-reel twin projectors -non of this lazy platter system!

Why not start an e-mail list of patrons interested in your great idea to keep the cinema running instead of closing! Sorry, I don’t have any website info but GOOD LUCK

wurlitzer7 on July 27, 2007 at 10:43 am

Check out The Music Box Theatre in Chicago. They have been doing classics at the matinee slot on weekends for 25 years. That audience is totally different from the art house audience they get for other programming which is totally different from the midnight audience they get on weekends. Something for everyone!

KJB2012 on July 27, 2007 at 10:48 am

Some ideas that have worked out here in Minneapolis. One of our indie houses, the Riverview, has presented both “Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter” marathons. They would screen all the Potter films in one day or the Rings in one day.
They have also screened local sporting events live on their screen such the University play offs or Wild hockey. They don’t charge admish but sell the popcorn and gain community good will.Usually they get a mention in the local press.
Recently they have done midnight sing-ago shows based on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.
Any way the Riverview is a single screen but seems to know how to fill the seats.
Since you are in Quebec City, do you screen films in French? If so, maybe you could use the language issue against the Anglos in Toronto.
Well just some crazy ideas.
Best of Luck!

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on July 27, 2007 at 11:43 am

Talk to the folks at the Brattle Theatre and Harvard Film Archive, both in Cambridge, MA. They’ve been doing this kind of programming for decades.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on July 27, 2007 at 11:46 am

And while you’re at it, get in touch with CAPA, who run the Ohio Theatre in Columbus, Ohio. They run films only during the summer, but look at this year’s list.

rivest266 on July 27, 2007 at 3:33 pm

what about Cinema Cartier or Le clap in Ste Foy.
Its a shame that a third of the screens disappered this year in the QC area.

Are you working at Place Charest 8?

Mike Rivest

Ron Carlson
Ron Carlson on July 27, 2007 at 8:30 pm

The Lynwood on Bainbridge Island in Washington is an art house that shows a classic film once a month. Many of these are on 35mm. You can view the past titles on our web site. The theatre is also listed here on Cinema Treasures. We get the films thru our regular booking agent, we just tell them what we want to show and they check to see if it’s available.

JimC on July 28, 2007 at 7:12 am

I work at a theater that has run many classic film shows. I’ve also been projectionist at several very well known film festivals. To obtain the really best vault prints you MUST have a two projector changeover type system or some of the archival distributers won’t even talk to you. I take some exception to Mr Overton’s comments about the necessisity of a union projectionist. A union card does not guarantee competence. I was in a union that had dozens of incompetent operators. (or perhaps I just mistunderstood what he was saying, and I apologize if I did). As a former union member and a long time projectionist I’ve found that in the present enviornment my personal reputation counts more than my union affilliation(or lack of it)when getting projection work. -JimC-

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on July 28, 2007 at 9:14 am

Yes “JimC,” you are correct in commenting about the varied competence of projectionists. When I went through my apprenticeship training with ABC; Associated British Cinemas in 1955, I wore white cotton gloves to handle any film while being thoroughly supervised by a very strict chief operator. We inspected every foot of film before screening it for sloppy splicing and curtain queue marks!

And, as you said, JimC, cinemas will need twin or more projectors especially for film festivals due to short subjects and/or types of film.
Regarding the greedy film distributors… they hate their stock being spliced for platter systems. Furthermore, they DO inspect every can of film for botched-up returns and WILL place you on their list of bad projectionists if the case is so.
I’ve even heard of fines imposed or vault print rentals costing much more than old copies with a zillion scratchy lines and spots everywhere.
And don’t forget the high cost of reliable shipping BOTH ways -ugh!

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on July 29, 2007 at 7:57 am

It is basically a good idea, however, there are problems that we have in Canada regarding print availability. Very few classic movies are still in stock in this country and the ones that are, are often unplayable. I used to run a rep house in Toronto from the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s and screened everything from classic films to recent releases. I can hardly begin to describe the rotten condition of the older films. This included bad scratches, missing frames, splices everywhere and in a worst case scenario – badly faded color movies that looked like B&W film projected through a pink filter. Audiences were often enraged and I had to hand out passes for future use. The film exchanges never apologized or lowered the rent for these fiascos. Then there was the time that I had a school group rent the cinema for a showing of Ben-Hur. I asked for the complete version and a Technicolor dye transfer print with magnetic stereo tracks. The distributor insisted that they didn’t have a short version and not to worry. Well, the film that arriced was much shorter than the original, and the slightly faded Eastman color print wasn’t up to standard. On the other hand, it was in stereo sound. The school was furious. Did the distrib care? No. Beware, that’s all I have to say. And do your homework before you plunge into anything.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on July 29, 2007 at 10:42 am

How true, Jon, how true. It’s always best to order your film well in advance and, after delivery, pre-screen it for any problems.

baraf on July 29, 2007 at 5:30 pm

The best rep theatre in the U.S. is the Film Forum in New York. Right now they are running a festival of film noir films set in New York City. Four or five times a year they run different and inventive festivals where double and triple features play for one or two days over a minimum of five weeks. Many of the prints are new 35mm made for the purpose of screening at the festival. Sometimes they run 16mm prints when there are no other prints available. Sometimes they use prints from collectors when the studio prints are unavailable or in bad shape. The URL for this theatre is: However, it is a not for profit corporation and the operating expenses of the theatre are subsidized by member contributions and by corporate sponsorships.

lunard136 on September 4, 2007 at 9:45 am

Thank you everyone for your help! I will look at these links and try to work something out with my bosses, they might be more incline to do this now that we have proven playing Original version movies (not dubbed in French) works with most of our customers.
Thank you Jon for the heads up!

And yes, Mike Rivest, I’m at the Charest 8. I agree with you that LeClap and Cartier play good movies other theater aren’t inclined to show, but it’s not really old, ‘Classic’-type movies.

rivest266 on September 4, 2007 at 3:05 pm

I also noticed that all the English language movies moved to Place Charest from Ste Foy 14. In the early 1990’s all the English movies were at Place Quebec and Cinéma de paris.

MPol on July 19, 2008 at 12:10 pm

The Brattle Theatre, in Cambridge, MA and, occasionally the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline and the Somerville Theatre all show classic films from time to time. These three theatres seem to be the only three movie palaces left in the area that do show such great classics, such as Midnight
Cowboy, West Side Story, Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago. to name afew. Unfortunately, the Coolidge Corner Theatre no longer has a balcony, but the Brattle Theatre and the main screen of the Somerville Theatre do, however. The balcony, imo, is the best place to view a classic, especially West Side Story.

The big, cavernous Boston Common AMC Theatre, which is right on Tremont St,. right across from Boston Common, although they, too are a multiplex cinema, at least have one redeeming factor: Stadium-type seating, which enables one to look directly at the movie screen, rather than at the
backs of people’s heads. Come to think of it, that, too would be a beautiful theatre to show old
classics such as West Side Story, Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, etc. in, if they’d only be more flexible at times. Too bad about the movie industry now being such a money-making outfit that they feel that they’ve got to DVD everything to make a quick buck.

The Clearview Ziegfeld Cinema, right in the heart of NYC’s West Side, is also a beautiful movie palace.
Through another blog that I post on, another poster had posted the link for the showings of various Hollywood movie musicals, including West Side Story. Not being able to resist the temptation when I saw the link, I phoned my cousin, who lives on the Upper West Side of the city to ask if she wanted to take in a screening. Tickets were obtained for Tuesday, October 10th, 2006, and on that morning, I drove down to NYC. What a wonderful time my cousin and I both had at the West Side Story screening! The Ziegfeld Cinema is quite handsome and palatial-looking, very cavernous, too, with a long, narrow screen. This, too, is a great screen to see something such as WSS on. I’d also seen the 40th-anniversary screening of WSS at Radio City Music Hall 5 years earlier, with friends, and enjoyed it immensely, also. As much as I enjoy West Side Story on a great big screen—it’s a beautiful experience, I sometimes wonder if a longer, narrower screen is a somewhat more appropriate kind of screen to show a film like that on. Who knows?

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