• October 5, 2016

    Abingdon, VA - New owner brings new life for Moonlite Drive-In


    From the Bristol Herald Courier:
    Local residents will soon be able to enjoy movies under the stars once again, courtesy of the historic Moonlite Drive-in.

    After seeing it idle for three years, new owner Kyle Blevins is breathing life back into the Moonlite, which is off Lee Highway between Abingdon and Bristol.

    Blevins, a UPS driver from Bristol, Tennessee, went to the Moonlite for more than 40 years before it closed. He said he’s always wanted to own the theater and recently he came to an agreement with William Booker, who has been trying to sell the property. Under the agreement, Blevins said he is owner and president while Booker remains a co-owner.

    “I never dreamed that I would be able to do it,” Blevins said.

    He declined to give the cost of the sale. In March 2015, the asking price was $1.75 million.

    The drive-in opened in 1949 and closed in 2013 after many studios made the switch to digital, making many new release movies incompatible with the old projector.

    The Moonlite was included on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, and is one of only three drive-ins in the nation to be there, according to Blevins.

    Its long history is one of the things that makes Blevins happy to revive it. He plans to restore the property to its original 1950s style.

    “It’s not just coming to watch a movie. You’re going to be transformed into a different time,” said Blevins, who added that he also plans to alter the decor to fully immerse customers in the movie experience.

    The upcoming changes were brought to the attention of many who pass by when the number 16 showed up Sept. 15 on the marquee and the Facebook page. He wanted to spark interest so he decided to conduct a countdown until his announcement of the reopening today.

    But even he admits he was shocked at the attention he got.

    The real motivation to reopening is the way people in the community still talk about it, Blevins said.

    “It’s got a lot of history that comes from everybody in the community. A lot of people have a story about it,” he said.

    Blevins hopes to get support from the community, both in preparing for the reopening and keeping the theater open. Abingdon-based CPA firm Hicok, Fern & Company has agreed to assist Blevins in overseeing financial contributions and expenditures.

    “The needs are extensive and community involvement is going to be crucial to meeting those needs,” he said in a news release.

    Blevins has scheduled a community work day for Saturday, Oct. 8, beginning at 8 a.m. He invites anyone who’s willing to help with the start of the renovation.

    His plan is to try to get the drive-in ready for at least one show around the middle of October, but there’s a lot to be done before that can happen. An official reopening is planned for next spring.

    Blevins is ready to do what it takes to get the drive-in up and running, but notes that it isn’t just for himself or his family.

    “It doesn’t belong to me,” he said. “It belongs to the community. It belongs to everybody. I just happen to be lucky enough to be able to do it.”

  • October 2, 2016

    Holly Springs, NC - Holly Springs’ first movie theater to open Oct. 5


    From The News & Observer: Ovation Cinema Grill 9, a long-awaited movie theater off the N.C. 55 Bypass, is set to open for preview days starting Wednesday, Oct. 5, Carmike Cinemas announced Thursday.

    The nine-screen Carmike Cinemas movie theater will open at 320 Grand Hill Place in the northeastern portion of the Holly Springs Towne Center. The grand opening day showing first-run features will be Thursday, Oct. 13.

    The preview days, which are Wednesday, Oct. 5, through Tuesday, Oct. 11, will feature recently released films, including “X-Men: Apocalypse,” “The Conjuring 2” and “Star Trek: Beyond.” The movies on these days are $3 with proceeds benefiting local schools, the Holly Springs Food Cupboard and Meg’s Smile Foundation, a nonprofit that provides special days out or gifts to North Carolina children affected by serious illnesses.

    The venue has full-service dining, where moviegoers can order food and drinks, such as grilled shrimp tacos and a barbeque chicken flatbread, while seated in electric, luxury recliners that allow them to request service at their seats. The theater has an outdoor patio, as well as a cocktail lounge in the lobby with a full service bar. The bar will serve craft beers from three Triangle breweries: Carolina Brewing Company in Holly Springs, Aviator Brewing Company in Fuquay-Varina and Bull City Ciderworks in Durham.

    “We are pleased to offer this exciting cinema dining experience in Holly Springs, said David Passman, president and CEO of Carmike Cinemas, in a news release. “The Holly Springs location is our first cinema dining facility built from the ground up, and we are thrilled to give the community a new way to experience the movies.”

    This new theater will serve more than just Holly Springs, but the large swath of southwestern Wake County. The closest theaters are in nearby Cary, Morrisville and Apex, but the closest two theaters – Regal Beaver Creek Stadium 12 in Apex and CineBistro in Cary – are each 15 minutes away from the new site.

    This is the third theater to open in western Wake County that has full-service dining. In addition to CineBistro in Cary’s Waverly Place, Frank Theatres opened a CineBowl & Grille in Parkside Town Commons, a mixed-use development on N.C. 55 near N.C. 540.

    The Holly Springs theater is part of the second phase of development of Holly Springs Towne Center. Indianapolis-based Kite Realty Group is the owner and developer of the project, which began construction in 2012.

    Since then, about 40 restaurants and stores, including Target, Michaels and Marshalls, have opened, and the shopping center continues to grow.

    “It’s kind of put Holly Springs on the map,” said Moss Withers, chairman of the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

    Construction of the second phase of the project, which includes more spaces for shops and restaurants, began last summer. Mattress Firm, Bed Bath & Beyond, DSW, Pure Barre, Kirkland’s, The Joint Chiropractic and Freddy’s Steakburgers already have opened, said Joseph Hughes, an associate asset manager with Kite Realty Group.

    Several other businesses will open later this year. Those tenants are Blaze Pizza, Mi Cancun Mexican restaurant and a nail salon. Hughes said Texas Roadhouse recently signed a lease and would open next year.

    “There should be more announcements coming soon,” he said.

    Over the years, the town has sought to offer enough amenities that residents won’t have to leave for shopping or entertainment, and a movie theater is another step toward meeting that goal, Withers said.

    But Withers added there aren’t many big businesses in town, meaning that residents still have to go to Cary, Raleigh or Research Triangle Park for work.

    “We’ve got the retail now, which is great, but we’re not there yet,” he said. “Little steps like this movie theater are good steps in having the amenities and conveniences to bring businesses to the market.”

    Read more here:

  • September 29, 2016

    Coral Gables, FL - Luxury movie theater opening soon at Merrick Park but is it needed?


    From Curbed Miami: The Landmark at Merrick Park, a 25,000-square-foot luxury movie theater, will open at the Shops at Merrick Park in December, the chain announced today, according to the Miami Herald.

    It will be on the third floor next to Neiman Marcus, with leather chairs, stadium seating, laser projection, a full bar and lounge, and, most importantly, online reserved seating.

    The Landmark project was approved by the Coral Gables City Commission after agreeing not to compete with the Coral Gables Art Cinema for movies. Both theaters are located on city-owned land and will be able to show the same films. Landmark will also make a $10,000 donation to the non-profit Gables Cinema for five years, starting in December. In today’s world of excellent home-viewing options on massive and affordable televisions the question is whether this fills a need with several options already in the area and a couple more in the pipeline.

    There’s AMC Sunset Place about three miles to the south and a Cinépolis just over a mile away in Coconut Grove.

    And they likely won’t draw folks form the heart of Miami, as there is a theater coming to Brickell City Centre and another opening just over the bridge.

  • September 23, 2016

    New York, NY - Everything you need to know about NYC’s new luxury movie theater


    From Time Out NY: When it comes to movie theaters, NYC doesn’t exactly have an embarrassment of riches. We’ve all sat in theaters with broken air conditioners, taped-up screens and incompetent concessions employees. But with chain theater admission dropping, a new generation of dine-in theaters are popping up to reclaim the cinematic experience. Before Alamo Drafthouse and a second Nitehawk Cinema arrive in Brooklyn next year, Manhattan’s South Street Seaport will launch the city’s first iPic theater on October 7.

  • September 21, 2016

    Sandwich, IL - Sandwich theater under new management


    From The Times: The Wow 7 Cinema in Sandwich is under new ownership and plans to reopen as Cinema 7 on Friday.

    Classic Cinemas, from Downers Grove, purchased the location and is currently renovating the building.

    Mark Mazrimas, marketing manager for Classic Cinemas, expected the renovations to continue at least until the end of the year.

  • Holstein, IA - Curtain rises for saved Holstein theatre


    From The Sioux City Journal: The “Save the State Theatre” shirts made popular in Holstein during the past year must be changed.

    To past tense.

    The State Theatre in Holstein, you see, has been saved!

    An ambitious $100,000 fundraising goal was reached and surpassed, allowing the Save the State Theatre group, working under the auspices of the Holstein Development Authority, to purchase and install what was necessary to get the 1927 theater on Main Street up and going again. A $50,000 movie projector will be installed this week. Movies might be showing as early as this fall.

    The Holstein Development Authority purchased the theater from Fred Saunders, of Denison, Iowa, for an undisclosed amount. The structure, which became a quonset structure in 1948, an oddity in theater circles, was deemed sound by Midwest Cinema, the consulting group tapped by the local committee in the restoration effort. Thankfully, there was no water damage at the site, which closed for good in 2013.

    “I’ve been in here hundreds of times during the past year and it’s so amazing how tightly this building was sealed,” said Kathy Vollmar, the committee co-chair. “I’ve not seen any mice and only a couple of crickets.”

    Fellow co-chair Brenda Cronin mentioned a rabbit that seems to inhabit a space between the interior structure and the outer quonset shell in the back.

    The restoration effort features new drywall, carpeted walls (for better acoustics), 150 high-back leather seats that rock, a new neon marquee, a new furnace, a $6,000 movie screen with 3D capability, a new digital projector, seating areas for those in wheelchairs, and more.

    The lobby and theater sparkle with new paint, lighting and carpet, all completed in a 13-month span, thanks to fundraisers that range from a daily lemonade stand to sales of seats inside the reclaimed theater.

    A fundraiser Sunday features pianist Richard Steinbach, of Sioux City, who headlines a “Piano & Pie” event at the Rosemary Clausen Center inside Ridge View High School in Holstein. Steinbach, the Briar Cliff University professor who has played at Carnegie Hall, will be joined by soprano Katie Pacza and flutist Christina Kjar-Hanson.

    There’s a symmetry in having a concert in one new theater being held to breathe life back into an 89-year-old theater about six blocks to the west, all in a city of 1,409 residents.

    The development is a testament to the can-do spirit of this community. The theater chairs, according to Vollmar, were trucked by VT Industries, Holstein’s largest employer, from Michigan and then unloaded by high school student-athletes.

    “It’s been so neat to see how the community has reacted and joined in,” Vollmar said. “Whenever we’ve posted something about needing help cleaning or something like that, boom, 12 people show up ready to help.”

    Residents volunteered to bake pies over the weekend to serve with ice cream and coffee at 2 p.m. Sunday, prior to Steinbach’s 3 p.m. performance. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students.

    One volunteer jumped into the restoration effort and we see it continue. Alyssa Dreeszen, a native of Lehigh, Iowa, remembered seeing the State Theatre when she first visited Holstein eight years ago. The facility seemed to be on its last legs.

    “It looked then like it had just been closed,” said Dreeszen, who went on to study digital filmmaking at the Kansas City Art Institute. “When I was young, we used to go to Fort Dodge or Webster City to see a movie. It’s so cool a town like this has a theater.”

    Dreeszen was so taken with the State Theatre, she offered to volunteer her services as the first manager. She’s currently planning theme months and show schedules, excited that the State, as an independent, won’t be obligated to show everything other theaters must.

    “We’d also love at some point to make the balcony seating usable,” Dreeszen said, noting how the narrow space in the balcony has been cleared.

    Vollmar said plans remain to refurbish the two cry-rooms for parents with young children. And, at a future date, the area behind the screen might be made into a party room. After a theater is saved, the thinking goes, there’s reason to celebrate.

  • September 13, 2016

    Stamford, TX - Stamford’s Grand Theater flickering back to life


    From the Abilene Reporter-News: All this action ultimately ruffled a few downy feathers.

    “We found a little baby pigeon, I guess the momma ran off because of the situation here,” said Toni Welch, hefting a towel with a small dinosaur-looking creature nestled inside.

    Rain was falling off and on Saturday morning on the square. It kept the dust down as a crew of volunteers used heavy equipment and shovels to gut the rotted wood behind the marquee of the Grand Theater.

    “The theater has been closed for about five years,” said Jessica Decker. She runs a public relations firm called Oreana Communications, her father Gary is chairman of a committee that is restoring the 80 year-old movie house.

    “A lot of people were really sad to see it close,” she said, adding that the theater, like many others in rural communities, faced a major expense in switching to a digital projection system if it wanted to continue.

    The Grand saw an earlier renovation in the mid 1990s. In 2002 I did a photo column on the theater, it was owned by Pam and David Scott from Graham at that time.

    “There were a lot of changes and updates that needed to be made, and they just couldn’t do that,” Jessica said. “So the Economic Development Corporation of Stamford acquired the building with the intention of hopefully selling or reopening it.”

    Jessica’s father recalled going to the Grand when he was growing up.

    “I went to it as a kid when we lived up north of here in Munday,” Gary said. “It’s such a historic part of downtown, we want to replace it just like it was.”

    Other than the wood behind the marquee, the rest of the theater seems to be in pretty good shape. Jessica said the plan is to replace the carpeting, seats, and fix the neon. But aside from the accumulated dust, there’s a sense that the theater could show a movie tomorrow if only the popcorn machine worked.

    David Mims, a retired school administrator, came to watch the men work after hearing something was finally happening with the Grand.

    “Oh man the popcorn, we just loved the popcorn,” he recalled, his eyes bright with that memory. “I would have never imagined they would bring this back.”

    Often when a business closes in a small town, that’s the end of it. The empty frame might sit there, a phantom-like reminder of a time when life sparked brighter within the community.

    “I’ve seen a lot of these just close and nobody does anything,” Mims said. “I just figured this was gone; it was going to be abandoned and we would see it torn up like the old theater over at Lueders.”

    He smiled and didn’t appear to mind the approaching rain. He talked of the significance that a simple movie theater holds for young people, and how sharing its communal experience with family and friends enriches one’s life. In this age of on-demand video, that experience is an endangered one.

    “There are so many things that our young people are not aware of, because we haven’t taken the time to share those things,” he said. “It just amazes me that there are some people still willing to put some effort into keeping things.”

    Back in 2002, the projection booth still had a few fire extinguishing grenades lying around in the back. They were purely sentimental, the agent within had likely long ago lost its ability to put out a blaze.

    Until the 1950s, Cellulose Nitrate was used as the base for film. Highly combustible, it could ignite with the heat of a cigarette, according to the National Media Museum, or spontaneously catch fire at temperatures as low as 120 F.

    The grenades were pear-shaped glass bottles, wrapped with two protective wires. If a fire broke out, the projectionist would throw the device at the base of the flame to immediately knock it down.

    The high temperatures generated by movie projector light bulbs made operating them a dangerous job back in the day. But there were perks — behind the projector at the Grand a modern toilet resided within its own doorless nook. But of those grenades, there was no trace.

    Jessica said it’s going to take about $75,000 to fully fund the project, and they are about a third to their goal. If all goes well, the Grand should reopen in March 2017. The only question after that is what’s the first movie they will show?

    “I want to see "McLintock!”, is what I want to see,“ Gary said. "I’m a big John Wayne fan, but we’ll see if my vote goes.”

    But if there is one thing that he is thankful for, it’s how the town feels about seeing its theater once more return to life.

    “My dad used to have a fried-pie business,” Gary said. “He told me years ago when I first moved to Stamford, he said the coolest thing about Stamford has always been the people.”

    He looked around the square, saw Mims across the street, and noticed passing drivers as they slowed down to eyeball what was happening.

    “Things don’t work in a small town unless you’ve got a lot of support behind you, and we are blessed with lots of community support behind this project. Stamford is a good place with good people,” he said.

    “It’s the people that make a town, not the buildings.”

  • August 26, 2016

    Elkhart, KS - Historic theatre proves more than a hub in town’s revival


    From The Washington Times: Brent McKinley recalls it well – watching Willie Nelson in “Honeysuckle Rose” on the Doric Theatre’s big screen.

    The 1980 movie “probably wasn’t very good,” he said with a chuckle.

    But it would be the last movie the then-10-year-old McKinley would recall watching on the Doric’s screen before Morton County’s only theater went dark a short time later.

    The theater was turned into apartments for a while before becoming a deteriorating storage building. McKinley, who tried to lead a revival of the theater last decade, didn’t figure it would ever flicker on again, due to the expensive price tag.

    Now, the 35-year intermission has ended. The popcorn is popping again. The movies are rolling.

    At the age of 98, there is a breath of new life in the Doric.

  • Irwin, PA - Lamp Theatre in Irwin ready to shine for 2nd grand reopening


    From Triblive: A second grand reopening of the renovated historic Lamp Theatre is planned for Saturday, about three years after major renovations were started on the former Main Street movie house.

    “The goal has been to entertain the community. It has been mission No. 1, and it has been a great response. We keep exceeding expectations,” said John Gdula, president of the Lamp Theatre Corp. board of directors, which oversees the multi-use performance center. Irwin turned over ownership of the structure to the theater corporation in August 2015.

    In the past year, the Lamp has attracted more than 10,000 patrons to watch a variety of performances, including concerts, comedies and musical theater, said John Cassandro, general manager of the Lamp and president of Irwin Borough Council.

    “Our gate receipts are really good,” Gdula said.

    With a year of operations under their belt, managers have a better idea of how to operate the facility, Gdula said.

    “It was a learning curve. We’re evaluating the market and seeing how the community is responding” to the kind of acts that are being booked, Gdula said.

    Those theatergoers flowing into downtown Irwin have benefited the restaurants and has given the community more vibrancy, said Lois Woleslagle, president of the Irwin Business and Professional Association, a volunteer group that promotes Main Street activities.

    “Some businesses are profiting from what is going on,” Gdula said.

    For the grand opening, a VIP reception will be at 5:30 p.m. Saturday for donors, business owners and those who played key roles in its revitalization. The evening will feature the Beatles tribute band Hard Day’s Night.

    The night’s festivities “will be able to show those people who so kindly donated their time and money exactly what has been done with both,” said Bill Elder, operations manager. “We can show everyone where the theater started, where we stand now and where we plan to be in the future.”

    The Lamp closed in 2004, a victim of changing times, when movie buffs were opting for multi-screen theaters in shopping malls and plazas. Downtown theaters in places such as Greensburg, Charleroi and Monessen became a relic of the past, although the Lamp hung on longer than most.

    The Westmoreland Cultural Trust, a Greensburg-based foundation that owned and renovated the city’s Palace Theatre, assumed ownership of the Lamp in January 2007. But progress toward reopening suffered a setback in March 2009 when a fire in the abutting Irwin Hotel damaged the theater. When the proposed renovations for the theater came in at $250,000 over estimates in July 2012, the project again stalled.

    Irwin took ownership of the building in May 2013 and began exterior renovations. Officials hoped to have it opened by fall 2014, in time for the 150th anniversary of Irwin’s founding.

    “It was a little bit daunting at first,” Gdula said of the necessary renovations.

    To get the point where it was viable again and worthy of a grand opening, backers had to raise sufficient money to save the 79-year-old theater. It was the beneficiary of about $600,000 in county and state grants and another $150,000 of in-kind contributions. The renovations that relit the Lamp could not have been completed with the money that was available were it not for an estimated 3,000 hours of volunteer work from more than 300 people, Gdula said.

    Gdula said he was “amazed” by the community’s response to rebuild the Lamp.

    “The whole community got invested into it,” Woleslagle said.

    The rebirth of the Lamp is proof “there’s a phenomenal group of people in that town,” said Irwin native Christine Orosz, executive director of Stage Right!, a Greensburg-based theater company that put on children’s and adult performances at the renovated Lamp.

    “It’s a nice-sized place. People are as happy to be at the Lamp as we are,” Orosz said.

    Orosz remembers going to see movies at the Lamp as a youngster. Now, it’s fun to see the students they have taken to Irwin for performances enjoying the town as she and her brother, Anthony Marino, artistic director for Stage Right!, did years ago.

    For the next 12 months, Gdula said, the theater board will focus on two initiatives that will require fundraising — obtaining a digital projector that costs an estimated $50,000 and extending the theater into a proposed courtyard with a walled-in area and a concessions section, a project estimated to cost $100,000.

    So many of the patrons have asked management, “ ‘When can we start seeing movies again?‘ ” Gdula said.

  • August 3, 2016

    Fort Lee, NJ - Luxury Movie Theater Opens in Bergen County Friday


    From Fine dining and luxury seating come to a new movie theater opening in Bergen County this Friday. iPic, a chain of dine-in movie theaters, is unveiling its fourteenth location, iPic Hudson Lights, on August 5 in Fort Lee.

    The theater features over-sized, extra-cushioned leather seats, a menu designed by Chef Sherry Yard, as well as an assortment of “classic candies” and “custom treats,” according to iPic’s website.

    Food is delivered to your seat while you’re watching the movie and the waitstaff is trained as “ninja waiters,” so as not to disturb the viewing experience for any customers, iPic president and CEO Hamid Hashemi told

    There will also be a restaurant on-site called City Perch Kitchen + Bar, which will serve “abundant appetizers, just-picked vegetables, generous salads and outstanding main courses from spit-roasted chickens to char-broiled steak,“ according to iPic’s website.

    Ticket prices range from $12-25, depending on the seat. Tickets for the 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. screenings of “Bad Moms” on August 5 are already sold out. Also screening for the opening weekend: “Jason Bourne,” “Nine Lines” and “Suicide Squad.” Grab your tickets at the iPic website.