The latest movie theater news and updates
August 2, 2002
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!)
PASADENA, CA — Supporters aiming to save the historic, 1800-seat Raymond Theatre from redevelopment into condominiums are holding a raffle to pay for the organization’s legal fees.
According to Gina Zamparelli, the tireless head of the Friends of the Raymond Theatre, “Our lawsuit is moving forward rapidly. A hearing date is now being scheduled [and] we are expected to go to court sometime in November of this year.”
The group needs to raise more than $7,000 before September and if the case moves on to appeals, the required funds will increase. 5,000 raffle tickets have been printed and the grand prize is a vacation for two at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada for 3 days/2 nights. Other prizes include:
2nd: $500 in cash
3rd: Go-Video Duel Deck DVD/VCR Player
4th: 2 Adult Passes to Disneyland, Anaheim, CA
5th: $50 Starbucks Coffee Gift Certificate
Suggested donations for raffle tickets are as follows:
$1 for 1 ticket
$5 for 6 tickets
$10 for 12 tickets
$20 for 25 tickets
$50 for 60 tickets
$100 for 125 tickets
$200 to $500 + donation – One raffle ticket for every dollar you donate
The drawing will be held October 12, 2002 and you do not have to be present to win. To purchase tickets online, visit paypal.com and send a payment to with your full name, address and phone. Your raffle ticket numbers will be sent via email upon request.
You can also send your payment via snail mail by writing to:
Friends of the Raymond Theatre
P.O. Box 91189
Pasadena, CA 91109-1189
(Thanks as always to Gina for getting the word out to us!)
July 29, 2002
EASTCHESTER, NY — The Garson Brothers Development company has begun construction on a new $15 million apartment complex on the site of the recently razed Scarsdale Plaza Theater. According to the New York Times, the 49-unit “Scarsdale Commons” is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2003.
The now vanished theater was sold, along with an adjacent space, for $2.85 million in late 2000. When plans to raze the theater later went public, local residents along with Craig Morrison, the chair of New York’s Historic Preservation Committee, led a drive to save the old movie house. Despite attempts to landmark the building in June 2002, the theater was demolished.
The Scarsdale Plaza was originally constructed by Rapp & Rapp for RKO in 1931. Morrison, in a June New York Post article, referred to the theater as “the only one of its kind in America” for the unique wood details in its marquee and interior. The theater had been closed since 1996 and is now just a footnote.
Score one for the developers.
POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — The continued success of the Bardavon 1869 Opera House is being cited today in the New York Times as one of the signs that the beleaguered city of Poughkeepsie is finally clawing its back from the brink.
According to the New York Times, following years of renovations in which its interior and exterior has been meticulously restored, the Bardavon is now drawing 120,000 visitors per year — a three-fold increase from its totals in 1994.
NEW YORK, NY — Elsewhere, the former Loews Cineplex Worldwide Cinemas, once the only remaining discount movie theater in Manhattan, is scheduled to be converted into multiple auditoriums for off-broadway productions. According to the New York Times, the complex will be converted into five small auditoriums, along with rehearsal space, and is scheduled to open in mid-2003.