• September 10, 2002

    Film Festivals To Include Historic Movie Houses

    CHICAGO, IL — The Chicago International Film Festival kicks off this year on October 4th at the Chicago Theatre where first night filmgoers will be treated to a 20-minute tribute to this year’s honoree, Pierce Brosnan. According to the Chicago Tribune, all other screenings will be held at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema and the Music Box.

    The festival continues until October 18th with a closing-night screening of “Frida”, the new Frida Kahlo biopic starring Salma Hayek. For more information, call (312) 332-FILM, or visit the festival’s website.

    TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA — Elsewhere, the Toronto International Film Festival is currently underway with screenings at the Uptown and Varsity theaters as well as other area venues. The festival continues until Saturday, September 14th.

    (Thanks to Bryan Krefft and Chad Irish.)

  • September 9, 2002

    Key Theatre Closes After 85 Years; Victim Of New Multiplex

    WEST HAZELTON, PA — The Key Theatre, which has been in operation since 1917, closed last week due to failing attendance. According to a report sent in by Jonathan M. Crist, the single screen movie house has been operated as a second-run theater over the past few years and “has suffered from dwindling attendance due to competition from a new Hoyts multiplex.”

    “The former operator has turned the keys over to the Landlord. The building is in much need of repair and upgrade – making it unlikely that it will be reopened as a theater. There had been an attempt by a local woman earlier this past spring to purchase the building and convert the theater into a cinema restaurant/drafthouse, but these plans appear to have fallen through.”

    (Thanks to Jonathan for the sad news.)

  • Futurist Theatre In Scarborough To Be Revamped

    SCARBOROUGH, NORTH YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND — The historic Futurist Theatre closed yesterday and will remain dark for three months while the theater is upgraded by its new operator. When it reopens, it will remain a mixed movie and live performance venue.

    According to the Scarborough Evening News, the theater is being outfitted with Dolby Digital sound and will upgrade its projection capabilities. The new operator, Hollywood Plaza owner Barrie Stead, is also working on booking live shows for summer 2003.

    Hope for the long time existence of the Futurist is still very much in doubt, however, as plans to sell the theater are in the works. According to the report, the theater is expected to stay open only for one year after reopening under Stead’s management.

    The theater is expected to reopen in the fall with the second installment of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Two Towers”. The Italian Renaissance Futurist Theatre opened in 1927 and seats over 2,000 patrons.

  • September 6, 2002

    Jacksonville’s Center Theater Collapses Forcing Early Demolition

    JACKSONVILLE, FL — The Center Theater, the last of 12 downtown movie houses in Jacksonville, partially collapsed early yesterday morning forcing officials to speed a planned demolition of the historic theater. Following the collapse, much of the old movie house was demolished yesterday with the remaining elements to come down during the week.

    The Center Theater had previously been deemed a safety hazard by city officials and plans to demolish the theater were two weeks away when the theater unexpectedly folded in. No one was injured despite the Center closing out its days as an illegal residence for transients.

    According to the Florida Times-Union, the Center originally opened in 1915 as the Arcade Theater. With its passing, only the Florida Theatre remains from that era.

    (Thanks to Mark Reed for the news.)

  • Trolley North Closes; Demolition To Come

    NORTH SALT LAKE, UT — The 1970s-era Trolley North theater closed for good last night after being resurrected in 2001 by Westates Theatres. According to the Deseret News, the three-screen theater has already been sold and will be knocked down and replaced by an office building.

    Westates plans to erect a new 8-screen theater in Davis County sometime next year.

    The Trolley North opened as a twin in 1974 known as the Mark II and was originally operated by Plitt. It became part of the Loews Cineplex empire following the sale of Plitt to Cineplex Odeon and the merger of Loews Theatres and C.O.

    Unfortunately, the aging movie house fell victim to Loews Cineplex' bankruptcy reorganization and was shuttered in February 2001. “Loews had pretty much destroyed it before they left,” Westates vice president Tony Rudman is quoted as saying, and the company failed to bring the ‘rundown and out-of-date’ theater back to life.

    (Thanks to Grant Smith for the news.)

  • September 5, 2002

    Mann National Closing For Renovations

    LOS ANGELES, CA — “Bradley” is reporting that Westwood Village’s Mann National, one of the largest first-run movie houses in America and one of the last giant single screen theaters to be erected, will be closing in October for renovations.

    “The seats, fixtures, drapery, carpets, etc. are all being replaced. I was told the theater will be there for a while. Mann seems intereted in keeping the BIG theaters open and in good use.”

    Mann Theatres, which most recently gave Grauman’s Chinese Theatre a meticulous makeover, has a number of historic movie houses in Westwood Village including the Mann National, Mann Village, and Mann Bruin theaters along with two newer single screen houses, the Mann Plaza and Mann Festival.

    While the National will benefit from the refurbishment, the news may be a bit of a blow to nostalgia fans who still visit this immense theater for its golden orange and brown interior and now increasingly rare fixtures.

    In addition to housing one of the largest screens in Los Angeles, the Mann National has also hosted film premieres (Antz, In Dreams, etc.) and numerous advanced, promotional, and press screenings.

    (Thanks to “Bradley” for the news!)

  • Battle To Save The Sameric Continues

    PHILADELPHIA, PA — The Philadelphia Daily News is reporting that the National Trust for Historic Preservation has granted $2,500 to the Committee to Save the Sameric for retention of real estate and tax experts to advise on ways the theater’s owner, the Goldenberg Group, which retains its demolition permit despite talk of turning the movie palace into a dinner theater, could donate the property for tax credits.

    Committee founder Howard Haas has also taken steps to incorporate Friends of the Boyd, Inc. as a nonprofit organization. A meeting is expected in September with the committee, the theater owner, and Mayor Street, with the eventual goal of saving the Art Deco movie palace.

    Haas recently filed an appeal of the Board of Licenses and Inspections Review decision to issue a permit to demolish the theater. “A status conference has been set for Thursday, October 3, 2002 at 9:30 AM in Courtroom 426 City Hall.”

    (Thanks to Howard Haas for the update and for his tireless fight to save this jewel.)

  • August 30, 2002

    Ector Theatre Could Face Closure

    ODESSA, TX — The 1951 Ector Theatre in downtown Odessa could face the same fate it did in 1985, when competition from a nearby multiplex forced it to close it doors, if it doesn’t get more business soon.

    According to the Odessa American, since the Ector was reopened by owners Don and Toni Stice last year with a 1950s themed-celebration, audiences have not been filling the 681-seat movie house as anticipated. Toni Stice said the theater needs “at least 200 or more [theater-goers] each weekend to break even”. Lately, the numbers have been closer to half that amount.

    The Stices have until November 1st, when their lease runs out, to make a turnaround. Otherwise, things look bleak for the Ector remaining open. Thus far, they have received around $3500 from donations to help keep the theater running, but will need much more help.

    For more information, call (915)352-9031.

  • Panida Theatre Receives Governor’s Award

    COUER D'ALENE, ID — The historic Panida Theatre is not only celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, but has just been awarded the 2002 Governor’s Awards in the Arts, reports the Couer d'Alene Press.

    Karen Bowers, executive director of the Panida, says in the article that, in addition to switching from 16mm to 35mm projectors, the theater will be “spruced up” for its anniversary. A gala fundraiser is being held September 14th, including a perfomance by the Couer d'Alene Orchestra and appearances by actors Jack Bannon and Ellen Travolta, Couer d'Alene natives.

    The Panida, which is a combination of the words “Panhandle of Idaho”, opened in 1927, and originally was a vaudeville house before switching to movies, which it continued to show until the mid 1980s. Today, the theater screens classic and foreign films, hosts concerts, and live theater.

  • August 29, 2002

    Richmond’s Ridge Cinemas to Close Sept. 5th

    RICHMOND, VA — According to the Richmond Times-Disptach, the popular seven-screen multiplex is being closed by Regal Cinemas on September 5th after 32 years as one of the most popular movie houses in the city.

    The Ridge still draws an audience (though a continually smaller one), screening a mix of both mainstream and art features. It opened in 1970 with the Albert Finney and Alec Guinness musical “Scrooge” and Jack Nicholson in “Five Easy Pieces”, as a twin.

    The Ridge’s closing has caused some dismay as it is still in decent shape, while other less presentable theaters owned by the chain in the area will continue to remain open.

    (Thanks to Mary Wiggins!)