West Seattle, Washington
(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.”
(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.
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 – 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.
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):
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.
(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.
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.)
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.
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.
(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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Thanks to Melissa for the reminder that one of the movies playing this week at Admiral Theater was partly filmed here in West Seattle. We mentioned the Shipwreck Tavern shoot for “Safety Not Guaranteed” in May of last year. According to the Admiral schedule, the movie is showing there once a night through Thursday, at 9 pm.
Oscar nominations are out – and West Seattle’s own historic Admiral Theater points out that two of the “Best Picture” nominees are being screened there right now! “Moneyball” and “Midnight in Paris.” Showtimes are here. Admiral manager Dinah Brein adds, “Also – we wanted to let the community know there will be NO 4 pm screening of Tower Heist this Thursday, 1/26/12 due to a private event.”
Long before night fell, we photographed the marquee for posterity (and reminders via Twitter and via Facebook) … Tonight’s the night the doors to the Admiral Theater swung wide open for a free holiday treat, a hot ticket indeed:
Those are some of the moviegoers now watching “A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie,” courtesy of The Admiral and its fellow Admiral District businesses. And look who was there to help Admiral boss Dinah Brein share the holiday cheer (and collect donations for the Humane Society):
We have it on good authority that Santa, in this case, likely arrived via two wheels, rather than eight tiny reindeer. P.S. If you feel like a movie Christmas Day, the Admiral will open at 4 pm Sunday (after closing following the matinees on Christmas Eve).
That’s a scene from “It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie,” which you can see on the big screen at West Seattle’s only moviehouse tomorrow (Tuesday) night – historic Admiral Theater‘s free Christmas movie. Dinah from The Admiral shares this reminder, with new details about the event:
The movie starts promptly at 7 PM and doors open at 6:15 PM. Guests are advised to come early as we will probably pack out. During the movie, adults can enjoy a liquid libation up in the Crow’s Nest Lounge.
Prior to the movie, Santa will be on hand for a photo op and will be serving up Xmas Cookies and Hot Chocolate.
This year the movie is co-presented by the newly formed Admiral Business District. The movie is graciously donated by the Admiral District Blockbuster.
Don’t forget to bring some much-needed animal provisions; high end pet food, crates, collars, toys, beds, etc., which will be donated to the Humane Society.
The Admiral is at 2343 California SW. If you are planning ahead for this weekend – Dinah adds that both matinees will be shown on Christmas Eve, then the theater will close for the night, reopening for the 4 pm show on Christmas Day, with both evening shows on the screen that night.
The word’s in from Dinah Brein at the historic Admiral Theater – this year’s free Christmas movie is … the one in the trailer clip atop this story … “A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie’! 7 pm Tuesday, December 20th. Here’s the official announcement:
The Admiral Theater, the Admiral Business Association and The Admiral Blockbuster present ‘It’s A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie’ -Tuesday, December 20.
What would life amongst the Muppets have been without their unofficial leader Kermit the Frog? This holiday confection, not only spoofs the Yuletide classic , It’s a Wonderful Life, but also takes satirical aim at such pop cultural phenomena as Moulin Rouge and Fear Factor.
The plot is set in motion when evil banker Rachel Bitterman (Joan Cusack) forecloses on the Muppets’ famous variety theater, with the intention of building a gaudy nightclub. But Bitterman’s machinations take a back seat when apprentice guardian angel, Daniel (David Arquette), shows Kermit what conditions would have been had he never existed. Oh yeah, Whoppie Goldberg is cast as God!
Join Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy and a star studded cast in this heartwarming holiday classic that will bring joy to the world this Christmas at the Admiral Theater!
For the fourth consecutive year admission is free, but we ask that everyone bring donations for the Humane Society and the Seattle Animal Shelter including crates, high-end dog food, collar’s leashes, blankets, etc. This time of year, the shelters run low on these much needed supplies.
The movie starts promptly at 7 PM. Beer & wine will be available for the adults, upstairs in the Crow’s Nest Lounge.
Many storefronts are already festively lit and decorated in the Admiral District, and more will be by tonight – including wreaths going up on some of the business-district light fixtures, like this spot outside Alki Bike and Board (whose proprietor Stu Hennessey is in our photo, with Dave Weitzel from Weitzel Construction). The “work party” was already planned before today’s forecast took a turn for the sunny! Also helping decorate – Max and Quinn, as in the Atomic Boys‘ original namesakes (sons of store owners Parris and Kent Sadow):
Among the holiday fun coming up in the Admiral District, Dinah Brein at the historic Admiral Theater says she’s finalized the date for the free Christmas movie, 7 pm December 20th. She’s still finalizing the movie; once again this year, she asked us to ask you for ideas – see the suggestions here.
Admiral Theater boss Dinah Brein says, “It’s that time again……time to decide the annual Free Admiral Theater Xmas Movie. We’ve already shown Elf, A Christmas Story and Jim Carrey’s A Christmas Carol. We want something both kid friendly and adult friendly.” Got any suggestions? E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. They’ll also take up a collection for charity that night, too; the movie will be screened one night the week before Christmas.