The latest movie theater news and updates
August 5, 2002
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the Regal Entertainment Group is looking to sell its leases at three prominent movie houses, the 1984-era Galaxy, and two vintage houses, the UA Alexandria and the UA Metro.
Michael McCormac, who is handling the transactions, is quoted as saying that the “‘contracts are going back and forth,’ and if completed, the movie houses ‘probably would remain theaters for a period of time, then they would be 'bye-bye’.‘ … The Metro would probably be retail, and the Alexandria could be a combination (of retail and non-retail).’”
According to the Chronicle, Regal “owns the lease at the Metro, the lease at the Galaxy and the Alexandria’s lease and property”. All three theaters have been on the market for the past year with deals for the Metro and Alexandria nearing completion.
The shakeout is impacting other area theaters as they attempt to secure their future in a shaky exhibition market. Landmark “will temporarily close the Lumiere later this year for renovation, the Roxie is trying to build a second screen, and Century Theatres recently opened a high-end CineArts movie house in Palo Alto, where it took over a longtime Landmark space.”
In other area news, the Park Theatre in Menlo Park is also slated to be closed and possibly torn down.
(Thanks to Gary Meyer for this update.)
BOSTON, MA — Hope is fading on Boston’s historic Modern Theatre as its owners, who are being accused of letting the old movie house fall into disrepair, have applied for a permit to demolish the 1912-era movie house.
According to the Boston Globe, the Modern, which is near two other shuttered movie palaces, the Paramount and Keith’s Opera House on Boston’s long-neglected Washington Street, may be beyond repair inside as extensive water damage has decimated the interior. Its facade, too, has begun crumbling.
Preservationists are now fighting the demolition request and hope to save at least the facade. With the help of the Landmarks Commission and the Boston Preservation Alliance, supporters also hope to bring some form of entertainment back to the building.
The Modern was constructed in 1912 inside a a fomer warehouse and retail building. The theater’s name was changed to the Mayflower in 1949 and its policy switched to adult films in the 1970s. It closed in the early 80s and has been used most recently as storage for pushcarts.
(Thanks to Dennis Huber for the sad update.)
August 2, 2002
We’ve just passed the 2,500 theater mark!
Thanks to all of your contributions, we’ve added over 1,500 “Cinema Treasures” in the last six months alone. Our current database now includes over 2,500 theaters and almost 1,250 photos.
Thanks again and we’re already looking ahead to 3,000!
MERCED, CA — The Merced City Council has approved the city’s purchase of the Merced Theatre from United Artists for $700,000 — half of the amount the theater chain had asked for. According to the Merced Sun-Star, the purchase price also includes retail space and the apartments above the historic theater.
The city of Merced will manage the property, while the Merced Theatre Foundation, which has spent the last three years convincing the city to buy the shuttered movie house, will sign a long term contract to operate the theater.
The group plans raise between $2.5 million and $3 million to restored the Spanish-style theater and is looking for donations which can be sent to: Merced Theatre Foundation, P.O. Box 2510, Merced, CA 95344.
(Thanks to Ron Pierce for the update!)
August 1, 2002
LOS ANGELES, CA — Bob Dylan will be the first performer at the Wiltern Theatre in mid-October following a “reconfiguration” in which all of the seats on the first floor of the historic Art Deco theater were removed to accomodate a more general admission policy.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Wiltern has been closed since early June. Seating in the balcony has remained intact for upcomng shows with Dylan, Bryan Adams, Ani DiFranco and more. The only officially announced show is a November 4th appearance by the Rolling Stones.
SANTA MONICA, CA — In other Los Angeles-area news, the historic Aero Theatre may have found a savior in the American Cinematheque, a 21-year-old film society which currently owns and operates the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the group is in “negotiations to help run the historic Aero Theater in Santa Monica by using it as part of the Cinematheque’s classic film screening programs.” If successful, the group would also help add new seats, projection equipment and a new concession stand.
The 550-seat Aero has been struggling in recent years as a second-run movie house. A previous plan for Robert Redford’s ill-fated Sundance Cinemas to take over the theater fell through after General Cinema, which was a partner in the project, filed for bankruptcy.
The Aero was the childhood movie theater of the prolific Redford and has been a staple of now-trendy Montana Avenue for over six decades.
July 31, 2002
SANTA MONICA, CA — A benefit screening of “Rebel Without a Cause” will be shown tonight at the Aero Theatre at 6:00 and 9:00 p.m. Tickets, which will help the ailing movie house, are $20 and include appetizers. The theater is located at 1328 Montana Avenue. For more information, call the theater at (310) 395-4990.
EL PASO, TX — We’ve just received the following news regarding the gorgeous atmospheric Plaza Theatre:
The El Paso City Council voted this morning to allocate approximately $14 million for the restoration of the Plaza Theatre. Money raised will come from an increase in parking meter rates in the Downtown area. The vote for the project passed City Council by a vote of 6-1, with one representative absent.
El Paso Community Foundation’s presentation centered on the development of a partnership with the City by committing $12 million for the project. The proposal also included the integration of the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ (currently on loan to Sunland Park Mall) back to its original home, and donation of the Centre Annex Building, located adjacent to the theater. The Centre Annex Building is proposed to house a restaurant, event ballroom, young people’s theater and roof-top patio terrace.
Credit for this project belongs with Mayor Caballero and members of City Council, as with the vision and foresight of literally thousands of El Pasoans. Over the next few weeks and months, we look forward to working with you to bring back to life the Plaza Theatre.
Cinema Treasures would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to our friend Roman Herrington, Program Officer of the El Paso Community Foundation, for helping resurrect one of the country’s greatest and most endangered movie palaces.
The annual tour of Detroit’s historic movie palaces will take place Saturday, August 17th and is being offered thanks to the “extraordinary cooperation of theatre owners” and is organized by Preservation Wayne, Detroit’s largest and oldest preservation group.
The tour will cover the State, Fox, former Michigan, Gem, and Century theaters, as well as the Music Hall and the Detroit Opera House. According to the groups’s press release, “Added attractions include a movie palace exhibit at the Opera House, and organ recitals on both the Wurlitzer and Moller organs at the Fox Theatre.”
Tickets are $20.00 for members of Preservation Wayne and the Art Deco Society of Detroit or $25 for the general public. Tickets include a lunch stop at the Detroit Opera House. Paid reservations are required to guarantee your preferred time slot.
Tours leave the State Theatre lobby on Woodward Avenue every 30 minutes from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Convenient, inexpensive parking is available in the Fox Centre Garage, behind Hockeytown Caf
July 30, 2002
REDLANDS, CA — The new owners of the Fox Theater have launched a website that highlights the large amount of work needed to restore this movie palace to its original luster. Although badly decayed inside, artist renderings of the restored Fox are tantalizing given its current state and hint at a great future.
Opened in 1928, the Fox was later twinned in a rather destructive manner and finally closed in the late 1980s. It has been shuttered ever since. The theater was purchased earlier this year and will become a live theater venue upon its reopening.
(Thanks to Julie Schneblin for the update!)
CHICAGO, IL — Janet Davies, the entertainment news reporter from WLS-TV (ABC), will be reporting today on the Uptown Theatre at 4:00 pm on Channel 7 in Chicago. The piece will feature an interview with Mark Zipperer, CEO of the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts.
In other Uptown news, the group has announced that they have already “raised $1.3 million to date of the $4 million needed to purchase the building, stablize/winterize the building, replenish our operating budget, and kick off the campaign to secure the remaining funds necessary to completely restore the Uptown Theatre to its original grandeur.”
The UTCA is seeking donations which can be sent to:
Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts
4707 N. Broadway, Suite 315
Chicago, IL 60640
The Uptown will also be holding a benefit rock concert in the near future and will have booths at the following events:
Uptown Unity Fest located at Truman College (on Wilson between Clark and Broadway) on August 3rd from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Northalsted Market Days located on Halsted Street between Belmont and Addison on August 10th & 11th from 11:00 am – 10:00 pm.
The group will also be raffling off a 2002 JAGUAR (S-Type V6) which is valued at $45,000. Accoring to the group, chances of winning are 1 in 625. Cost per ticket: $200. For more information on the raffle, call 773-561-5700.
(Thanks to Michael Beyer for keeping us in the loop!)