West Seattle Blog... » Admiral Theater http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Admiral Theater update: More first-run movies on the way http://westseattleblog.com/2014/12/admiral-theater-update-more-first-run-movies-on-the-way/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/12/admiral-theater-update-more-first-run-movies-on-the-way/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 18:57:42 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=294953

(WSB photo, added Thursday afternoon)
If you don’t often check the schedule for West Seattle’s historic Admiral Theater, you might not have noticed yet, but the success of the “Interstellar” premiere run is bringing more first-run movies to The Admiral.

One big example: “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies(trailer above) is on the way, starting December 16. As for the theater’s future – very much up in the air as of our update last month – the latest is that the current management is “in talks with the landlord to move forward with the lease toward a hopeful renovation.” Stand by for updates.

P.S. Following up on a reader question, we asked theater manager Dinah Brein if they’re planning a Christmas movie again this year. Doesn’t look like it, she says, given how busy they’ve been with all of the above, but she’s expecting to have a holiday donation drive of some sort later this month.

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‘Interstellar’ to blast off in Admiral Theater premiere tomorrow. Will it be moviehouse’s ‘last hurrah’? http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/interstellar-to-blast-off-in-admiral-theater-premiere-tomorrow-will-it-be-moviehouses-last-hurrah/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/interstellar-to-blast-off-in-admiral-theater-premiere-tomorrow-will-it-be-moviehouses-last-hurrah/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 06:30:41 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=290969

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

It’s a week of big events at West Seattle’s city-landmark Admiral Theater. None bigger than tomorrow, when the first-run “Interstellar” premieres with a sneak-peek screening at 8 pm.

Tonight, Admiral manager Dinah Brein and her crew were preparing the film reels for the screening.

It’s an hours-long task, but one that is a reminder of the reason they are getting “Interstellar” before the megaplexes, as reported here last month: The Admiral is one of just a few theaters still screening in 35mm, and that’s one of three film formats in which the producers are releasing the movie two days in advance.

Tuesday will come just three nights after a crowd jammed in for the final monthly “Rocky Horror Picture Show” shadow-cast-enhanced screening:

(Saturday night WSB photo by Torin Record-Sand)
That ended a 10-year run; the shadow-cast producers are moving to a venue in North Seattle.

And this all happens as a cloud of uncertainty hovers as if The Admiral’s distinctive nautical facade were mired in a fog bank.

On one hand, this premiere event should be cause for elation, as should other milestones, like a community-organized screening of the documentary “I Am Eleven” that sold out the house last Tuesday.

The result of some maintenance work and minor upgrades was evident when we stopped by tonight – including new house speakers (above), which mean that “Interstellar” will sound as good as its brand-new film print looks.

But as Admiral fans know, much more work is needed – is planned – but can’t be done because the theater’s management still doesn’t know whether it will be there beyond the end of this month. While they have a renovation plan that would turn The Admiral into a hub of not just first-run movies, but also other types of entertainment – as reported here in July – they still have no commitment from their landlord, they say.

“Utter frustration” is how Brein describes it. She says they are aware that property owner Marc Gartin has been “entertaining” potential new tenants for the building. It’s long been listed for lease, with its listing status currently described as “pending.” Brein says they were aware that a Portland theater owner was looking at it as of about a month ago, but they can’t get owner Gartin to return their calls or e-mails about whether a deal is going through, or whether he’ll commit to them continuing.

The theater business currently is part of Faraway Entertainment, a regional chain owned by Brein’s brother Jeff Brein, and she says the company has been actively looking for funding for the potential renovation project and are optimistic they could get it. They also are grateful to community members who have contacted them offering help in fundraising. But without the landlord committing to a lease – they’ve long been on month-to-month – they can’t pursue fundraising or other financing. They can’t even tell their employees whether they’ll have a job through the rapidly approaching holiday season. Brein expressed anger at Gartin’s reported non-communication, calling it “reprehensible.”

The deadline they’re facing is caused by the same situation that’s brought them the “Interstellar” premiere – the fact The Admiral has not converted to digital, with ever-fewer movies available on film. They’ve been waiting for a commitment and a lease so they could proceed with a significant investment for the conversion and other updates the two-screen theater needs.

In the short run, Dinah Brein says she’s excited about showing a first-run movie: “I could kiss (director) Christopher Nolan” for deciding to release it on film. She adds, “I really hope that all of our regular customers come out in force to watch this movie and support us here at the
theater. It may be our last hurrah. If so, we want to go out with a bang.”

“Interstellar” toplines for The Admiral’s run:

*8 pm Tuesday, then Wednesday-Saturday, screenings at 11 am, 2:30 pm, 6 pm, 9:30 pm (see theater website for showtimes beyond that)

*Two lines planned – cash-only and credit-card-only

*Tuesday night’s price, $10.25 for all tickets

*After that: Both matinees will be $8.50; seniors (65+) and kids (under 11) will be $8.50 all day

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Last chance to ‘Time Warp’ with ‘Rocky Horror’ at The Admiral http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/last-chance-to-time-warp-with-rocky-horror-at-the-admiral/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/last-chance-to-time-warp-with-rocky-horror-at-the-admiral/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 06:50:33 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=290515

Saturday night – the night after Halloween – brings the end of an era at West Seattle’s historic Admiral Theater – the last of the monthly “Rocky Horror Picture Show” events with shadow cast, after a decade. From The Admiral’s Dinah Brein:

Saturday night, November 1, will mark the final live shadow-cast performance of the Vicarious Theater Company as they shadow-cast The Rocky Horror Picture Show on the Admiral Theater stage.

The cast has performed here for over ten years and many of the original cast members are still involved.

“We have enjoyed our time with the Vicarious Theater group immensely,” said theater manager Dinah Brein. “They’ve been like a family to us. We’ve watched many of the cast members meet, fall in love, and even get married from their time here at the Admiral. I think the only one that will be sorry to see them go is the janitor. That was a lot of rice and toast to clean up over 10 years. We could have probably fed a small country.”

Come say goodbye to the cast and catch the show, this Saturday night, November 1st. Doors open at 11:30 and the ticket price is $6.00 – cash only (exact change preferred). You must be at least 17 or accompanied by an adult to attend as the pre-show and the movie are rated. R.

In case you’re wondering, we talked to Dinah while stopping by The Admiral for the “I Am Eleven” event on Tuesday night; still nothing new to report re: the theater’s future.

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West Seattle scene: ‘I Am Eleven’ filmmaker at The Admiral http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-scene-i-am-eleven-filmmaker-at-the-admiral/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-scene-i-am-eleven-filmmaker-at-the-admiral/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 06:56:40 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=290263

I AM ELEVEN – Official trailer 2014 from I Am Eleven on Vimeo.

At Admiral Theater tonight, a sold-out house – about 300 people – got a bonus after watching the documentary “I Am Eleven” – they got to talk with its filmmaker, Genevieve Bailey, and her co-producer Henrik Nordstrom:

We caught up with Bailey, who is from Australia, and Nordstrom in the Admiral lobby, just before the post-film discussion with the audience. She said they had been in Atlanta previously and just decided to come – a modest jaunt for Bailey, who made her film by spending six years traveling the world filming the lives of 11-year-olds. Tonight’s screening was arranged by West Seattleites Susanna Moore and Anita Lavine through the on-demand service Gathr.

ADDED: Nordstrom shared this photo of the 11-year-olds in the audience, invited up to the stage (as mentioned in comments):

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See it first, in West Seattle! ‘Interstellar’ to premiere at The Admiral http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/see-it-in-west-seattle-first-interstellar-to-premiere-at-admiral-theater/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/see-it-in-west-seattle-first-interstellar-to-premiere-at-admiral-theater/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 17:30:30 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=288858

That’s the final trailer for “Interstellar” – which you’ll be able to see at West Seattle’s historic Admiral Theater before it hits the megaplexes. The Admiral’s announcement explains why (and when):

How exciting is this? Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures announced that the highly anticipated “INTERSTELLAR” from Christopher Nolan will be released in 70mm IMAX® film, 70mm film and 35mm film formats on Wednesday, November 5th, two days ahead of its nationwide release. Because the Admiral Theater is one of only a few theaters screening in 35 mm, we have been selected to premiere this highly anticipated holiday movie.

“In the past, we have always had to wait in line for a film to run its course in major chains before coming to us,” says Dinah Brein, Admiral Manager. “More and more, new films aren’t even being made in 35mm, so this is a huge treat for us, sort of an early ‘Thanksgiving blessing’.”

The Admiral will have a special sneak-peek showing of the movie, Tuesday, November 4th at 8:00 PM and then will show the movie multiple times beginning on Wednesday, November 5th. Ticket prices will be set at $10.25 for adults and $8.50 for seniors (65 and over) and children under 11. All screenings before 5:00 pm will be matinee priced at $8.50. Senior Tuesday discount does not apply and special tickets (Groupon, Living Social and Deal Flicks) will not be accepted for the run of the film.

“INTERSTELLAR” was shot using a combination of 35mm anamorphic film and 65mm IMAX film to maximize the crispness and clarity of the image and give the audience a truly cinematic and immersive experience. These advance engagements highlight those theaters presenting “INTERSTELLAR” in its native formats.

“INTERSTELLAR” stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn, John Lithgow, and Michael Caine. With our time on Earth coming to an end, a team of explorers undertakes the most important mission in human history; travelling beyond this galaxy to discover whether mankind has a future among the stars. Directed by Christopher Nolan, written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, and produced by Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan and Lynda Obst.

P.S. because you’re probably wondering: No new official news on The Admiral’s future.

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Admiral Theater’s future: ‘Ticking clock’ forcing decision soon http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/admiral-theaters-future-ticking-clock-forcing-decision-on-its-fate/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/admiral-theaters-future-ticking-clock-forcing-decision-on-its-fate/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 05:57:27 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=280371

(June WSB photo: Film-projection room at The Admiral)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

More than a year ago, we told you about the Admiral Theater‘s hopes of renovations to ensure the historic moviehouse’s future.

It hasn’t happened yet. And its management/ownership is acutely aware of a “ticking clock” sped up by the fact that – as they pointed out when we talked to them for the aforementioned story last year – film is going away as a method of delivering movies.

In a conversation with theater manager Dinah Brein, she explained they’ve already felt the effects. “Certain films weren’t even made in (film) like ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ ‘Dallas Buyers Club,’ so we have to wait for it to go to DVD (before we can) show it.” For some movies, that timetable is relatively fast – for some, it’s not. And only one of the Admiral’s theaters is DVD-capable.

The Admiral simply must convert to digital. (It’s not alone, as continuing national coverage has documented.)

And for that, they have to have a commitment from the building’s owner Marc Gartin that they’ll be there for the long haul.

Trying to secure that remains a work in progress, according to Dinah Brein.

If you look at commercial real-estate listings, the Admiral remains listed as “for lease” – a listing that’s been up for more than two years.

Admiral management says they know that showing first-run movies would be a viable business. It would more than make back the cost of renovations, according to a report they commissioned (and keep in mind, Admiral proprietor Jeff Brein – Dinah’s brother – runs a chain of successful community theaters around the region). The report, Dinah Brein told WSB, also “showed the movie business is not all doom and gloom – people still like the shared experience.”

But if you can’t get movies, you can’t show movies, and you have no business. So the Admiral has been “in limbo,” on a month-to-month lease, for a long time. And now, the no-more-film-soon situation is compounding matters – the “ticking clock” mentioned earlier. “There is no wiggle room,” as Dinah Brein put it.

They have been keeping the place going on a shoestring – a theater with inherent beauty, but features that need to be repaired, and, as the Breins told WSB last year, that can’t be repaired piecemeal – it’s a do-it-all-at-once project, projectors and seats and carpet, etc.

One way or another, the Admiral’s fate has to be and will be determined soon. “Our hands are tied until (the landlord) decides,” Dinah told WSB. “Our commitment is still to making it bigger and better than it’s ever been.” The plan first discussed in our report last year involves construction work to convert The Admiral into four auditoriums, with new seats, new carpeting, even some restoration of its historic murals.

If it doesn’t have a future as a movie theater, what might happen? The Admiral’s exterior, and parts of its interior, are under protection as a city landmark, so changes couldn’t be made without the Landmark Preservation Board‘s approval. (Details are in the ordinance designating The Admiral as a landmark more than 20 years ago – see it here.) But overall, the site is zoned for a more-dense use – NC2-40, “neighborhood commercial” with a building up to 40 feet. Around the city – Capitol Hill comes to mind, with multiple examples – conversions continue with historic facades preserved as hints of buildings’ history, as new, taller structures go up within them.

As longtime West Seattleites know, The Admiral has been in jeopardy before – the closure 25 years ago comes to mind (read about that in this SW Seattle Historical Society recap). What will the next chapter of its story be? The answer could be just weeks away, as the Breins have a meeting scheduled with their landlord next month.

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Save the date: ‘Awareness-raising’ orca film ‘Lolita’ screening at The Admiral http://westseattleblog.com/2013/11/save-the-date-orca-movie-lolita-screening-at-admiral-theater/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/11/save-the-date-orca-movie-lolita-screening-at-admiral-theater/#comments Sun, 17 Nov 2013 18:03:10 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=256337

Mark your calendar for a free movie at the historic Admiral Theater – Thursday, December 5th. This isn’t a fundraiser, but rather an awareness-raiser. We learned about it from Dawn Clark, who says her high-school-senior daughter Keely and friend Angelica are so concerned about the captive killer whale known as Lolita – the last surviving Puget Sound-captured orca – that they are renting space at The Admiral to show a documentary made about her, “Lolita: Slave to Entertainment.” Here’s the trailer:

Activists around the world have been campaigning for Lolita to be set free. The awareness campaign even succeeded in getting a ferry being built right now at Vigor Shipyard on Harbor Island to carry her previous name, Tokitae. You can support the students’ efforts by coming to the movie on December 5th; doors open at 6:30 pm, movie at 7 pm. It’s not a movie for young children, so they’re promoting it for teens and adults; if you need an incentive besides free admission, they’re offering free desserts. “We’re not raising money, only awareness for her,” says the announcement Dawn shared. “Her story will touch your heart. There is a sanctuary waiting for her in the San Juan Islands. Help us get the word out.” (You can read about the proposed retirement sanctuary on the Orca Network‘s website.)

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West Seattle weekend scene: ‘Clutch’ premiere at The Admiral http://westseattleblog.com/2013/06/west-seattle-weekend-scene-clutch-premiere-at-the-admiral/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/06/west-seattle-weekend-scene-clutch-premiere-at-the-admiral/#comments Sun, 30 Jun 2013 06:52:24 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=156486

Notice the gleaming classic cars outside the Admiral Theater tonight? The show of muscle (cars) was only fitting for the public premiere of a movie said to include more than 150 vehicles. The movie is “Clutch,” a years-in-the-making project for West Seattleite Jay Rowlands, as we reported two months ago. Tonight, he held court at the crowded premiere:

(This photo and next two, shared by Jennifer – thanks!)
The crowd that gathered for red-carpet arrivals filled the Admiral’s lobby:

And some of the cars remained outside the theater during the screening:

If you missed the premiere, you can get the film on DVD or BluRay – it was just released this week and can be ordered right from the “Clutch” website’s home page.

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Got tickets yet? ‘Jaws’ @ Admiral Theater on Friday night http://westseattleblog.com/2013/06/got-tickets-yet-jaws-admiral-theater-on-friday-night/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/06/got-tickets-yet-jaws-admiral-theater-on-friday-night/#comments Tue, 18 Jun 2013 03:34:59 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=155127 It’s been a while since we’ve reminded you – but now we’re just four nights away from the benefit screening of “Jaws” at the Admiral Theater, so we’re reminding you again. As announced last month, it’s the kickoff of a benefit movie series (with co-sponsors including WSB) for the Mind Unwind Foundation‘s support of arts in education and for The Admiral’s renovations, and there’ll be a silent auction and art exhibit as well as the movie. 11 pm this Friday night, June 21st. Get your tickets online, here. 21+ only because of beer/wine sales. And save the dates for the second and third movies in the late-night series, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” July 27th, and “The Big Lebowski” on August 24th.

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‘Jaws,’ ‘Monty Python,’ more: Benefit series @ Admiral Theater http://westseattleblog.com/2013/05/jaws-monty-python-more-benefit-series-admiral-theater/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/05/jaws-monty-python-more-benefit-series-admiral-theater/#comments Wed, 29 May 2013 20:16:21 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=153052

(1975 trailer for “Jaws”)
Three more big-screen special events have been announced for the Admiral Theater – this time, movies and more, presented as benefits, explained by Mind Unwind‘s Krystal Kelley:

I am happy to announce a series of Art events that we are doing this summer at the Admiral Theater. This is a fundraiser to raise money for both the Admiral Theater’s renovations and for supporting Arts in Education through the Mind Unwind Foundation. It also helps support local artists!

Tickets for the first two events go on sale June 7th. First one:


Late-night showing of JAWS at 11:00 pm

Join us for a late showing of a classic movie, including intermission, wine/beer, silent auction and unique mixed media exhibit “Lost At Sea” by J. Conrad Nivens. 21+over event. Guests are encouraged to wear their finest DENIM!

Second event:


Monty Python & The Holy Grail at 11:00 pm

Join us for some friendly medieval fun. Late night showing of Monty Python & The Holy Grail at 11:00 pm, intermission, beer/wine, silent auction and original exhibit, “Holy Grail” by Dave Ryan of Manticore Stencil Art. Guests are encouraged to come dressed as medieval knights & wenches.

The third event will be a group art show with a showing of “The Big Lebowski” on August 24th. Krystal says that along with ticket sales, they’ll also be raising money by selling sponsorships; any businesses/organizations interested in sponsoring the series can sign up by going here.

P.S. If you missed our recent story about the Admiral’s renovation hopes, read it here. And to find out more about the Mind Unwind Foundation, go here. Related to its work, you’ll see a summer-long art-supply drive in The Admiral’s lobby, too.

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Another championship game: Big soccer, big screen, at Admiral Theater tomorrow (food drive, too) http://westseattleblog.com/2013/05/another-championship-game-big-soccer-big-screen-at-admiral-theater-tomorrow-food-drive-too/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/05/another-championship-game-big-soccer-big-screen-at-admiral-theater-tomorrow-food-drive-too/#comments Fri, 24 May 2013 21:43:37 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=152653

Another championship game happening tomorrow (Saturday, May 25th) – as shown on The Admiral Theater‘s marquee, and previewed here a week and a half ago, tomorrow is the day you can join the West Seattle Soccer Club for an open house and live screening of the 2013 UEFA Champions League final match between German powerhouses Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Munich. Doors open at 10:30 am and close when they reach capacity – but everybody’s welcome, first-come, first-served. No admission charge, but please bring a “kid-friendly food item” to benefit the West Seattle Food Bank. One change from the original announcement, according to WSSC’s Tim McMonigle (who also shared the marquee photo) – the kids’ movie (for children not interested in the game) is now a free bonus showing of “Oz, the Great and Powerful,” one of the Admiral’s current films. It’ll start at about 11 am, and end around the same time as the match, which starts around 11:45, after 11 am preliminaries.

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West Seattle Soccer Club invites you to watch big-time soccer on the big screen @ Admiral Theater http://westseattleblog.com/2013/05/west-seattle-soccer-club-invites-you-to-watch-big-time-soccer-on-the-big-screen-admiral-theater/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/05/west-seattle-soccer-club-invites-you-to-watch-big-time-soccer-on-the-big-screen-admiral-theater/#comments Tue, 14 May 2013 17:30:38 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=151322 Want to watch a soccer-championship match on a big screen? The West Seattle Soccer Club is offering you the chance, sponsoring the 2013 UEFA Champions League final match live at The Admiral Theater on Saturday, May 25th. Doors open at 10:30 am and will close when they reach capacity – everyone is welcome, first-come, first-served. Free admission; you’re asked to bring a “kid-friendly food item” to benefit the West Seattle Food Bank. Read on for the full announcement, as shared by WSSC:

The West Seattle Soccer Club (WSSC) is excited to announce that we will be sponsoring the showing of the final match of the 2013 UEFA Champions League at the Admiral Twin Theater on Saturday, May 25th. Admission is FREE for all of our soccer families and their invited guests. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Please bring a kid-friendly food item to benefit the West Seattle Food Bank and help us end hunger in our community!

Pre-game will begin at 11:00 am, with the championship match between the German powerhouses Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Munich starting at 11:45am.

To make it easier to bring your kids, we will be showing “Kicking and Screaming,” a soccer-themed comedy like “The Bad News Bears,” in the adjacent theater. The Admiral Twin Theater will offer concessions at a reduced rate and the WSSC will raffle off some great soccer prizes.

Admission is LIMITED, so please arrive early to assure your seat and join the fun. The doors will open at 10:30 am and close when capacity is reached or the match begins.

The WSSC is a 100% volunteer-run organization. Please consider partnering with us to serve the kids and families in our community through soccer. We will have information concerning upcoming events and needs available in the lobby with volunteers available to answer your questions and help you get connected.

Join your WSSC friends at the Admiral Twin Theater on Saturday, May 25th for a family-friendly ticket to see one of the biggest professional soccer matches of the year!

The UEFA Champions League is an annual continental club football (soccer) competition organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) in 1955 for the top football clubs in Europe. It is one of the most celebrated tournaments in the world and the most prestigious club competition in European football.

The West Seattle Soccer Club (WSSC) is the largest youth sports league in West Seattle and has been in existence since 1968. Every year the WSSC hosts a spring league with over 1,400 players, a fall league with over 1,800 players, and multiple coach and player clinics. The WSSC’s goal is to create the best possible sports experience for its West Seattle members.

Again, though the announcement is geared toward the WSSC’s sizable community of participating families, we’re assured that EVERYONE interested is welcome, and they are hoping for a “huge crowd,” we’re told. The Admiral is at 2343 California SW.

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Admiral Theater plan: ‘We have to … try to make this thing happen’ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/04/admiral-theaters-big-plan-we-have-to-try-to-make-this-thing-happen/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/04/admiral-theaters-big-plan-we-have-to-try-to-make-this-thing-happen/#comments Fri, 26 Apr 2013 04:09:05 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=148660

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The owner of the Admiral Theater has a plan to ensure the historic landmark has a promising future as well as a storied past.

The first phase of that plan is already complete … creation of the plan itself.

“We have spent a lot of time and energy and money – what little that we have – to engage the services of an architect,” explained Jeff Brein, whose Far Away Entertainment owns the Admiral – the business, not the building itself, as well as seven other theaters in six towns around the region.

“We determined that in order to keep the theater going and to at least turn a profit, we need to make some changes in the basic business model. And that … takes the theater from its current two-auditorium, second-run format to a four-auditorium, first-run digital format.”

There’s really no choice, said Brein. The notion of a “second-run, dollar-house” theater is dying: “The studios are not providing us with the types of release schedules they used to. The window from theatrical first-run release to home video or cable TV or RedBox or whatever is becoming much more narrow.”

That’s not the only reason that a first-run moviehouse makes more sense for West Seattle: “It’s a great unserved market. If you want a first-run movie, you have to get in your car and travel well outside (West Seattle) – downtown, the airport, wherever people need to go.”

However, it’s not as easy as deciding to run new movies instead of not-so-new movies. First, Brein says, “you really need a minimum of three to four screens. And you need a facility that everybody is going to feel comfortable in.”

No matter how much you love the Admiral Theater, designated a city landmark 20 years ago – “comfortable” is not a word that comes to mind. “Overhaul” is.

Brein knows that. The Admiral’s devoted on-site general manager – his sister Dinah Brein – knows that.

So, they have a plan. They have an operating budget.

What they don’t have yet (and they stress they’re NOT asking for a handout or donations) is … the money.

“It’s going to cost us somewhere around $600,000 to do the improvements that are required,” explains Jeff Brein. That includes construction work to convert The Admiral into four auditoriums, with new seats, new carpeting, even some restoration of its historic murals, like this one over the concession area:

It’s been a two-auditorium moviehouse for 40 years.

And part of what needs to be done is not an option in any version of a scenario that involves operating The Admiral as a movie theater for the long run: “(The plan includes) new digital projectors – not an option for any theater. Film is going away by the middle of 2014 at the latest. If you don’t have digital projectors, you’re out of this business.”

Dinah Brein (above) can tell you what it’s been like to operate with film instead of digital – “building” each film from the bulky reels that arrive, dealing with problems if something goes wrong. As her brother says, the current projectors “are practically antiques.”

Same goes for much of The Admiral. She has dealt with furnace problems, clogged plumbing, even one problem that her husband had to go up on the moviehouse’s roof to try to troubleshoot. “I care about this place,” she told us, while keeping watch behind the refreshment counter one afternoon as the first moviegoers of the day started to trickle in. “It’s like a child.”

If only its physical components were child-like rather than old and creaky. Other improvements that are part of the plan – mandatory rather than an option, ultimately – include ADA-required work to better serve disabled moviegoers, particularly in The Admiral’s restrooms, which would add capacity.

Last but by no mean least, says Jeff Brein, who spoke with us in an extensive phone conversation fro Bainbridge: “We have an upstairs area that has a sizable heretofore-unused room we could convert into a party facilty or small screening room, or something folks could use for other activities.”

This isn’t a wish list – it’s gone as far as architectural specifications and schematics, as well as budgeting with contingencies. “Phase 1, preplanning, has been complete,” Brein declares. “Now we move to Phase 2 … which is, where are we going to get $500,000 or $600,000 to make this happen?”

If you don’t already know this, The Admiral’s ownership has no affiliation with a major chain or any other kind of deep-pocket company, though it’s gone through multiple types of ownership over its near-century in operation. Far Away Entertainment, founded in 1997, is a small Western Washington-based and owned company, with two theaters on Bainbridge – one of which is a renovated historic theater – and one each in East Bremerton, Oak Harbor, Anacortes, Stanwood, Ocean Shores, plus West Seattle. The company’s offices are on Bainbridge, but each theater has a management team based in its community (Admiral GM Dinah is a West Seattleite).

“We have been looking at a variety of approaches” to get funding, Jeff Brein explains. But “it is difficult and I would go as far as to say it is almost impossible to get any commercial bank to make a loan to a small business that has had a couple of years of less-than-desired profits, although (The Admiral) did turn a small profit last year. Banks are not loaning to small businesses in our business category. It’s disheartening and disappointing.”

At first glance, you might nod your head and think the theater’s “business category” does sound like a risky proposition – technology continues to make it ever more possible to watch a high-definition screening on a huge screen in your own home – but Brein says it’s not just about movies, though they will generate much more under the plan: “The projections for a four-screen first-run digital theater are night and day compared to what we are generating right now. The film income more than triples under this business model. We’re not looking at investing for a speculative venture – we’re confident this would be a profitable theater, would return its investment, and (be in) position for good growth.” Besides movies, they could show live events from sports to opera, which are staples in many theaters now.

But if banks aren’t going to help, who will? They have worked with the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development, seeking a share of Small Business Administration money that the National Development Council funnels through cities, “to keep businesses going and keep people employed.” Brein says it even got to the point where an NDC loan officer toured the theater – but then the possibility vanished, apparently because of the aforementioned profile of its past three years of finances – even considering those were recession years – and concern about the fact it’s a movie theater.

Since then, Brein had a meeting recently with City Councilmember (and West Seattle resident) Tom Rasmussen, who he describes as “very supportive.” Again, he stresses, they’re not looking for a handout – but more ideas on potential funding resources, “whether it might be a bank or an individual or some other entity, maybe an existing business … I don’t expect (the city) to hand us this money on a silver platter but they certainly have some influence in the community; they work with movers and shakers and we have got to continue to do everything we can do to shake the trees to see what falls out and try to make this thing happen.”

Other ideas that have been explored include “a couple of out-of-the-box options … perhaps the benefits of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit,” which wouldn’t change the need for the half-million-plus sum to overhaul The Admiral, but might facilitate “some smaller grants and programs.”

And he’s talked to possible strategic partners, even Sundance.

What they have NOT contemplated so far is a community fundraising drive, for two reasons, Brein says – for one, they realize there is still some lingering ill will over the short-lived donation drive by former theater ownership/management five years ago, which left “an audience victimized in the past … that had nothing to do with us.” (Brein, in fact, wound up back in charge of The Admiral because of what fell apart in 2008, as explained in our coverage at the time.)

And he has another reason: “The other reality is that we’re a for-profit company – it would be kind of like walking into Macy’s and seeing somebody with a bucket, asking for money so they can get more clothes to sell.”

That said, “nothing’s off the table … it may come to (community fundraising).” The money will have to come from somewhere: “We are hopeful that something will break through at some point.”

And he adds that failure is not an option: “We are really bound and determined to make this work. I have not on any level threatened to close the theater, I have not said if we don’t get X amount of money, we’re going to shut this down, that’s the last thing I’d want to do.”

Again, they don’t own the building. Brein says, “I have to give Marc Gartin, the landlord, credit for working with us. He’s even agreed to use the building as collateral if we were to go out and get some financing – that’s a major contribution on his part.” And he’s been “flexible on (the theater’s) rent.”

Though The Admiral is only one of his properties, Brein says, “I am working on this project every single day. … We’re not sitting back just waiting; we’re out there aggressively looking.”

And if you are a theater patron and have wondered why it’s so rundown, Brein says the overhaul has to be done all at once – piecemeal doesn’t work – because of constraints with the theater itself.

So why stick with it and not just walk away? we asked.

Brein said he realized his reply might sound sappy, but: “Once we got into this theater … we became very engaged and recognized how important the theater is to the community. … We also recognized this was not a candidate for us to go out and sell it to someone … we didn’t ever want to abandon it because we knew if we walked out the door, it was simply going to close. … We were entrusted with this.”

This is a script without an ending yet; rather than comparing The Admiral’s saga to a movie, Jeff Brein says it’s part of the “rollercoaster ride” he’s experienced in his company’s 16 years of operation. But he says a happy ending is very much possible: “I think we’ve done our homework and the numbers look good. I don’t think anybody can question the support and the adoration this theater has in the community.”

Now, there’s just a mystery to be solved – how will the plan get from Phase 1 to Phase 2?

P.S. You can read up on The Admiral’s history in this story by Clay Eals, executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.

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Congratulations to Admiral Theater’s Dinah Brein and songwriting partner for Today Show jingle win! http://westseattleblog.com/2013/01/congratulations-to-admiral-theaters-dinah-brein-and-songwriting-partner-for-today-show-jingle-win/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/01/congratulations-to-admiral-theaters-dinah-brein-and-songwriting-partner-for-today-show-jingle-win/#comments Tue, 29 Jan 2013 19:41:17 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=138957

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Congratulations to Admiral Theater boss Dinah Brein and her cross-country songwriting partner – Dinah reports their Today Show jingle-contest entry won!

Seattle songwriter and theater manager Dinah Brein, along with her collaborator Jon Michaels, has won NBC’s “Quest for the Best Today Show Jingle”. Michaels performed the song this morning on the Today show and beat out the two other finalists. Renowned record producer David Foster, who judged the segment, commented after listening to the songs that if he were chosen to produce a killer 30-second spot – it would be the Brein/Michaels entry and awarded the song the top honor.

“Jon called me this morning and told me the good news”, said Brein. “He also said, don’t be mad, I didn’t mention you until the end of the segment, because my daughter would have killed me if I hadn’t led off with her.”

UPDATE: Added above, the “Today Show” clip during which Michaels performed the jingle he and Brein wrote.

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West Seattle holidays: ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ is this year’s free Admiral Theater movie http://westseattleblog.com/2012/11/west-seattle-holidays-the-nightmare-before-christmas-is-this-years-free-admiral-theater-movie/ http://westseattleblog.com/2012/11/west-seattle-holidays-the-nightmare-before-christmas-is-this-years-free-admiral-theater-movie/#comments Thu, 29 Nov 2012 20:56:34 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=131485

Just in from The Admiral Theater: This year’s free holiday movie, to be screened at 4 pm Sunday, December 16th, benefiting the Seattle Humane Society:

The Admiral Theater is proud to announce this year’s free community Christmas movie……drum roll please….”The Nightmare Before Christmas“.

Painstakingly and meticulously crafted, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a beautiful and unforgettable film from start to finish. It is original, funny, and moving.

Again, admission is free but we are asking for a donation to my “pet” (pun intended) charity – The Seattle Humane Society.

Bring dog/cat food, toy’s, bedding, etc. and make the holidays bright for our 4-legged friends. …

This is a classic Christmas family movie and as usual, we urge the community to show up early. It fills up fast. The movie starts at 4 PM, Sunday, December 16th.

Adding this to our West Seattle Holiday Guide – where you can find dozens of other holiday events, offerings, and giving opportunities, now through New Year’s.

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