• September 14, 2017

    Hanford, CA - ‘Movie Heroes’ plan to save Metro 4 Cinema


    From The Sentinel: Many residents were upset when news that the Metro 4 Cinema in downtown Hanford was going to close in July, but a large response from the community kept the theater’s doors open; and now it seems there is a possibility the theater will stay open for good.

    What could save the theater is a model from the company Movie Heroes, which asks customers to pay a monthly membership fee in order to watch an unlimited number of movies.

    Filmmaker Matt Sconce and his business partner, Keith Walker, used the exact same model to save their hometown movie theater in Oakhurst.

    Sconce said he found out about the Metro 4 from a friend, and rushed to Hanford the day before it was set to close to provide the solution to the theater’s problems.

    On Oct. 1, Sconce and Walker will officially take over ownership of the Metro 4 Cinema.

    Along with unlimited movies, the monthly membership will include discounts on food and drinks. For those not wanting a membership, ticket prices will be lower, Sconce said.

    Walker likens the system to a “brick-and-mortar Netflix.” He said many customers have told him that the system takes the guesswork out of watching movies.

    If customers don’t like a movie, they can simply walk out without feeling like they wasted their money.

    “They no longer have that fear of not liking the movie they went to see,” Walker said. “There’s no guilt.”

    “They won’t feel ripped-off,” Sconce said.

    There’s also no monthly commitment, Walker said. Customers can buy memberships for a month without having to renew every month.

    Walker said it was a combination of things that made them want to save theaters: first and foremost was a love for their hometown theater, but also their desire to help others.

    With their first project, Walker said they essentially let the people in the town of Oakhurst decide if they wanted to save the theater, and they did.

    Not only did the system stabilize the Oakhurst theater, but sales have tripled, Walker said. Movie Heroes also helped a theater in Coalinga stay open.

    “We love helping theaters with history that people care about and are willing to preserve,” Sconce said.

    In Hanford, Sconce said the monthly membership will be $19.95 per month for one person or $34.95 for two people. He said child rates are still being finalized.

    Walker considers the model “innovative” and “liberating,” and hopes it will turn into a movement with more and more theaters adopting this method.

    “We’re hoping this not only saves the theater, but revitalizes peoples’ love for movies,” Sconce said.

    Mai Xiong, general manager of the Metro 4 Cinema, said she was extremely excited about the changes at the theater and hopes everything turns out great for the theater and the community.

    “I’d love to thank that community,” Xiong said. “Especially all those people who visited the theater and expressed their support and happiness when we stayed open.”

  • Larchmont, NY - Developer buys Larchmont playhouse, will keep it as movie theater


    From A New York City developer has purchased the iconic Larchmont Playhouse and plans to keep it as a movie theater, focusing on foreign, independent and arthouse films.

    Charles Cohen closed on a deal Friday to buy the three-screen theater, according to a news release. The theater has remained vacant since last year.

    No financial details on the acquisition were released, but Cohen said he hopes to begin an 18-month renovation and redesign of the playhouse by early 2018. He said he plans to keep the exterior as is, to preserve its historic character. The most recent asking price for the theater was $1.5 million.

  • August 28, 2017

    Los Angeles, CA - In Downtown Los Angeles, the Return of the Movie Palace


    From The New York Times: Along the walls of The Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles is a pair of murals, painted in 1927 when the space was known as the United Artists Theatre, depicting members of Hollywood’s creative class in heaven and studio heads as demons.

    In the back of the theater is a projection booth, added in the 1950s, which made the Ace one of the first Los Angeles-area movie houses able to project the larger-format 70-mm film. And painted in open spaces of ornamental gold lattice in the building’s lobby is a line from Psalm 119: “Forever O Lord, thy Word is Settled in Heaven,” a holdover from the theater’s 20-year stint as the home of televangelist Gene Scott (it was then called the Los Angeles University Cathedral).

    A century ago, downtown Los Angeles was the center of the city’s entertainment, with movie and vaudeville theaters seemingly on every block. Today, as the neighborhood’s renaissance enters its teenage years, the remaining cinemas are coming back to life, with live music bringing crowds and energy back to neglected venues.

  • Ridgewood, Queens, NY - Could the former Ridgewood Theater be making a historic comeback as an arts space?


    From One man is trying to reboot the historic former Ridgewood Theater to its past glory by advocating creating a fine arts or performing arts space on the ground floor.

    Anthony Arroyo has been a fan of the Ridgewood Theater since he was a child, and was saddened to see a sign on the historic façade advertising for rental units and commercial space at the once-thriving community theater.

  • July 25, 2017

    Milwaukee, WI - ‘A Piece of Cinema History’: The Oriental Theatre Turns 90


    From The Oriental Theatre on Milwaukee’s east side turned 90 at the beginning of this month. Its first day in operation was on July 2nd, 1927.

    Lake Effect recently highlighted Milwaukee Film’s long-term lease of the Oriental Theatre, which will begin in July of next year. Milwaukee Film is the latest in a long line of organizations and individuals who have operated the theater during its history.

  • July 11, 2017

    Honor, MI - This Northern Michigan drive-in movie theater is a nostalgia trip


    From Nostalgists, take note: Northern Michigan is home to a moviegoing experience that’s part of a not-quite-bygone era. The Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre near Honor – about a 40-minute drive from Traverse City – throws back harder and farther than most in this throwback business. The Cherry Bowl is a place for a classic family outing, offering a double-feature, activities for kids and all the nostalgic touches of a summer night out in the ’50s. Here are five things you need to know about this historic place.

  • June 8, 2017

    Laguna Beach, CA - Future of Laguna Beach’s only movie theater is still unknown


    From the Los Angeles Times: Nearly two years after closing, Laguna Beach’s only movie theater remains dark.

    “Everyone wants to do what is right,” Lance Alspaugh chief executive of Los Angeles-based Vintage Cinemas said Tuesday of the South Coast Cinemas building at 162 S. Coast Hwy.

    “We became engaged in 2016 and, basically, there are a lot of moving parts,” he added.

    Property owner Leslie Blumberg retained Vintage under a short-term agreement through the end of this year, Alspaugh said.

  • June 7, 2017

    Los Angeles, CA - It’s like ‘Cheers’ for movie lovers: An inside look at Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema


    From The Los Angeles Times: Magic hour in Los Angeles can be intoxicating in the dreamy haze of dusk, skies aglow in pinks and purples like a gauzy scene straight out of the pictures. At the New Beverly Cinema, the last pure bastion for 35-mm film in La La Land, the sun fades into extra romance every night for movie lovers waiting outside the box office under its iconic red-lettered marquee.

    On a recent Friday at magic hour, standing patiently in line for a standby ticket to a sold-out double feature of “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” (1985) and “Ed Wood” (1994), is cinephile Cody Chavez, 27, who sports a homemade Pee-wee Herman costume and a giant grin on his face.

  • Encitas, CA - City leaders looking to restore historic Encinitas theater


    From the Seaside Courier: Silent film star Mary Pickford supposedly rode a bicycle to its opening in 1928, and Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin attended its initial screenings — right after the dawn of “talkies.” Later, surf films took top billing because of the surf culture in the area.

    The La Paloma Theatre, a Spanish revival-style venue in Encinitas, is a historical landmark to many in the city, and downtown business leaders are looking to get it designated as such, either through the National Register of Historic Places and/or the California Register of Historic Resources.The Encinitas 101 MainStreet Association and consulting company Dudek have donated employee time to lay the groundwork, association president Dave Peck told the Encinitas City Council April 27.“The one thing that people don’t disagree about in this town — and it’s a town where we disagree about things, sometimes in a vitriolic way — is that La Paloma needs to be preserved as an icon, as a landmark, as a beacon in our downtown,” he said.

    By looking up at the ceiling of the old theater, “you can see what it once was,” he said, and that it needs significant cosmetic improvements.

  • May 31, 2017

    Milwaukee, WI - Looking back at the rise, and fall, of Milwaukee’s first drive-in movie theater


    From the Journal Sentinal: n 2017, drive-in movie theaters are a blast from the past.

    Nearly 80 years ago, they were the future. Or, as The Milwaukee Journal reported on Dec. 6, 1939, “a new way to see the movies — driving right in and watching the show from your car.”

    Milwaukee — and the state — got its first drive-in seven years after the first outdoor movie theater opened in Camden, N.J., in 1933.

    In December 1939, a group disclosed plans for a drive-in theater on the site of a former dog track on the south side of Blue Mound Road, west of Moorland Road in what was then the Town of Brookfield. The Journal reported on Feb. 9, 1940, that the drive-in would have room for 700 cars (later reduced to 500), speakers for each car and a 50-by-60-foot screen — which the developers called the “world’s largest.”