(WSB photo from 2013: Mural over The Admiral’s concession area)
After many months of uncertainly, finally a breakthrough for West Seattle’s historic Admiral Theater. The company that runs it has announced “an agreement in principle” with the building’s owner, clearing the path to its much-needed, long-anticipated remodel, which will turn it into a fourplex.
Though The Admiral’s announcement (read it in full here) says the “planned improvements (will) begin this fall,” it also notes “an immediate conversion from 35mm film to state-of-the-art digital cinema and Dolby Surround Sound.” That will be followed by “phased=in revisions of the interior floor plan, adding two auditoriums (with elevated stadium seating), all-new chairs with cup holders, new carpeting and curtains, new screens (including 3D capability), and improved heating, air conditioning and ventilation. Additional improvements will also be evident in the restrooms, concessions area and upstairs Crow’s Nest Lounge.”
The Admiral is a city landmark with protected features, and Jeff Brein, managing partner of Far Away Entertainment – the Bainbridge-based regional chain that has run The Admiral since 2008 – says the plan recognizes that: “The existing architectural features, nautical theme, original artwork of captains and explorers, and unique lighting fixtures will be retained. Additionally, and perhaps most exciting, hand-painted historic murals hidden behind curtains for over 35 years will be uncovered and with financial support from grants and the community restored to their original condition.”
The Admiral will continue to work with the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, which worked to save the historic theater more than a quarter-century ago. And it expects to stay open “with minimal disruptions to moviegoers” during the work, which management hopes will lead to phased-in openings as soon as this August.
The theater started moving to first-run films with the successful premiere run of “Interstellar“ four months ago. That followed a long-running concern about a “ticking clock” as they waited for the now-secured longterm commitment so they could proceed with renovations, including an upgrade to digital projection.
P.S. We’ve asked for renderings of the Admiral’s future; not available yet, but soon, we’re told. For its almost-century-long backstory – dating back to its opening in 1919 as the Portola – check this 2013 story by SWSHS executive director Clay Eals.
ADDED 7:42 PM: Thanks to Clay for the tip on the customized marquee at the theater tonight, announcing the news – we went over to photograph it:
We also just heard back on one of our followup questions, to clarify the timeline: “The finished project should be done by end of summer, but one theater (actually 2) will be done before that. Also, digital projectors will be in by the end of March.”