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NEWS

Rather than wait a few more days until the month of December, The Solzy Awards for Documentaries are being honored this month for 2019. Earlier this month, I voted in my first-ever Critic’s Choice Documentary Awards. Some of these awards do match how I voted during the CCDA. However, there were some instances in which my preferred documentary was not a nominee earlier this month.  In other instances, some of my categories were not a category up for voting during those awards.  With no further adieu, I present the the Solzy Awards for Documentaries in 2019. 

With the release of business theaters, properties are often damaged, or sold and demolished. The 1970s saw many attempts to preserve these immutable buildings, and that is why many of the facades still exist today. Many have also been given to churches to repair and use, while many theater owners are still working on restoring movie palaces to their former glory, and to show classic films for new audiences.

When she began researching her second documentary, “Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace,” which details the rise of the movie palaces from New York to Los Angeles in the 1910s and 1920s, Wright was unable to find vintage photos of the theater she spent so much time in growing up. When she moved to the beach cities in the 1990s, she discovered the Bijou Theater on Hermosa Avenue, which is now a Chase Bank. Originally opened in 1923 as the Metropolitan Theatre, the theater has gone through an evolution over the decades. The theater later became the Hermosa Theater, The Cove Cinema and finally the Bijou until 1999 when it closed its doors for good.

This is a wonderful and important time-capsule of our heritage. This film captures a time that is sadly leaving us with the advent of streaming. As a viewer, I ask the question if we have returned to the '1950s and are seeing what T.V. did to Cinema? This film does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of the Cinema. April Wright's POV took me down memory lane of all the old theatres I grew up with that are now a Home Depot or Whole Foods. 

This is a wonderful and important time-capsule of our heritage. This film captures a time that is sadly leaving us with the advent of streaming. As a viewer, I ask the question if we have returned to the '1950s and are seeing what T.V. did to Cinema? This film does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of the Cinema. April Wright's POV took me down memory lane of all the old theatres I grew up with that are now a Home Depot or Whole Foods. 

Film critic and historian Leonard Maltin describes the experience: “You were giving people a complete escape from their ordinary lives, from the moment you walk into the lobby. Plush carpeting, gilded relief work on the walls and on the ceilings, magnificent chandeliers, decor from different periods of art and architecture around the globe. This at a time when most Americans didn’t have the opportunity to travel.” April Wright, director of “Going Attractions,” tells KCRW that going to a movie palace creates a memory -- not only of the movie you saw, but who you were with and where you were. “It's just a whole different experience. And I think people are thinking about that now; if we're losing some of that communal experience and some of that relationship that we have with movies.”

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After chronicling the rise and fall of American drive-ins, the second installment of her Going Attractions series explores the origins of lavish movie palaces and documents the fight to save these cultural landmarks that are today facing extinction. 

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"Movie palaces were built to take audiences away from their everyday lives," Wright says. "These buildings have amazing architecture. You remember not just the film you saw, but the entire environment." The rise, fall, and uncertain future of these theaters is at the heart of Wright's latest documentary, Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace. The Music Box, a 90-year-old movie palace itself, hosts the doc's Chicago premiere on Tuesday, November 12. The documentary chronicles the time line of and attraction to the movie palaces that boomed from the 1910s to the 1930s. Unlike modern multiplexes, movie palaces typically featured one big screen in an ornate venue located in downtown neighborhoods. These venues typically had seating for hundreds (sometimes thousands) and price tags of up to $4 million. Most were built when the country was on the verge of the Great Depression. To Wright and those interviewed in the documentary, movie palaces were and still are sacred grounds for communities.

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April Wright’s Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace is scheduled to screen in Chicago on November 12 at 7 pm. Momentous in its scope, Wright’s documentary chronicles the story of movies through an often-ignored lens, the places where they were experienced. In the spirit of its subject matter, Going Attractions is having its Chicago premiere at the Music Box Theatre – one of the many movie palaces featured in the film. 

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This is a wonderful and important time-capsule of our heritage. This film captures a time that is sadly leaving us with the advent of streaming. As a viewer, I ask the question if we have returned to the '1950s and are seeing what T.V. did to Cinema? This film does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of the Cinema. April Wright's POV took me down memory lane of all the old theatres I grew up with that are now a Home Depot or Whole Foods. 

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This is the second “Going Attractions” movie made by Wright. The first, completed in 2013: “Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the American Drive-in Movie.” For that project, Wright traveled to drive-ins and the sites of former drive-ins in 49 states. (Not Alaska.) In her movie palaces tribute, the focus remains on LA, New York and Chicago, though Wright visited nearly 50 individual venues across America. Saving these dreams from demolition seems like a pretty (and pretty expensive) civic indulgence to those who embrace the streaming era. Wright sees it another way, and she champions these palaces as cultural hubs of a community. She’s “thrilled,” she says, to be showing and discussing her documentary Tuesday in one such cultural hub: the Music Box.

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A cinephile from a young age, April Wright only began pursuing filmmaking 15 years ago, after building a financially successful career in another field. Since her first script got made in 2005, Wright has made a narrative feature and various short films. She has also created fascinating documentary series titled Going Attractions, which examines various aspects of the movie-going experience. After releasing Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the American Drive-in Movie in 2013, she followed up on this topic with her latest documentary Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace. Wanting to learn more about her career as well as The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace, I was able to interview Wright for Sequart.

Director April Wright and theater owner Jerald Gary join Nick Digilio for a look at the history of the movie palace in Chicago and the current efforts to save these majestic monuments to movies from becoming a lost part of our past.

THE COLUMBuS DISPATCH

Movie listings

“Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace” (2019): The documentary directed by April Wright takes as its subject the various places in which audiences have seen movies in years gone by, including penny arcades and movie palaces. 

WGN RADIO

Nick Digilio 11.11.19 | Reviews of “The Irishman”, “Doctor Sleep” and “Midway”, Movies for Veterans Day

Hour 1: + Monday Morning Movie Reviews: “Playing With Fire”, “Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace”, “The Irishman”, Hour 2: + Monday Morning Movie Reviews: “The Irishman” (cont.), “Midway”, “Last Christmas”

Tech Ballad

Under the Radar: April Wright Celebrates the Cinema in “Going Attractions”

“Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace,” from writer-director April Wright, is a loving documentary celebrating cinema and movie houses. Movie palaces were ornate, opulent theaters that showed films from circa 1910 through WWII. “Going Attractions” looks at the rise of movie palaces, from the beginning of filmmaking and distribution through nickelodeons, their importance to the studio system, their decline, and current preservation efforts.

The Daily Breeze

Hermosa Beach filmmaker’s documentary features movie palaces from time past

At their peak, Wright said there were more than 5,000 drive-ins in the U.S. — and that had dipped to around 400 when she started researching. “I thought I better make it before they are all gone,” Wright said. Wright took road trips in the summer of 2005 and 2006 and drove the entire country — the southern route one year, the northern route another year. She visited more than 500 drive-in locations in small and big towns, in 49 states, that were still open or long abandoned. The only state she didn’t visit was Alaska. “Understanding where they were situated, helped me understand the social context and the history where drive-ins fit in,” Wright said.

Solzy at the movies

Going Attractions: An Important Film Documentary

Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace is a stark reminder of what we lose in the ever-changing cinema landscape. There are a number of historic movie palace theaters featured in the documentary.  Sadly, there are movie palaces no longer with us.  In some instances, they’ve been demolished to rubble.  In other instances, only the facade survived after preservationists spoke out.  Make no mistake that the business of going to the movies have changed.  Nobody is disputing this but there’s certainly something we lose by watching a movie by ourselves at home. America has come a long way since the vaudeville circuit.

WTAJ

Inaugural Centre Film Festival hits Centre County

Hollywood director, April Wright is showing her documentary “Going Attractions” at the film festival. It’s about the history of cinema and shows older theaters, like the Rowland Theatre. “Anytime I get to play at a place like this, one of the places that my documentary is about, it makes it extra special, because you can watch the film you can see all the things that people are talking about, you can look around the room and see the examples of it right here in this Rowland Theater,” Wright, said. 

Hollywood Chicago

Podtalk: April Wright Tells ‘The Definitive Story of Movie Palaces’ in Chicago on Nov. 12, 2019

The term “Movie Palaces” might seem foreign to most people, as our movie viewing has evolved to the current super centers of multiple theaters under one roof or the big screen TV at home. But there was a brief period in the early days of movies, pre-television, when theater builders wanted to give the audience a luxurious palace to view their favorite films. Director April Wright’s new documentary is “Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of Movie Palaces,” and it will screen at a mini-palace, the historic Music Box Theatre in Chicago, on November 12th, 2019. Click here for more information and tickets.

THE MODESTO BEE

Look back at ornate movie ‘Palaces’, how theaters have changed at Modesto screening

A film at the State Theatre will cover the evolution of movie theaters, part of the theater’s 85th anniversary celebration this year. “The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace” is a documentary that will screen Monday, Nov. 18, at the downtown Modesto venue. The film shows how theaters have changed over the past century, from penny arcades to grand film palaces.

This is a wonderful and important time-capsule of our heritage. This film captures a time that is sadly leaving us with the advent of streaming. As a viewer, I ask the question if we have returned to the ‘1950s and are seeing what T.V. did to Cinema? This film does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of the Cinema. April Wright’s POV took me down memory lane of all the old theatres I grew up with that are now a Home Depot or Whole Foods. 

On Nov. 14 comes a screening of “Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of Movie Palaces” with director April Wright. The film celebrates the era – the 1910s through the ’30s – when the grandest theaters being built in the U.S. were for filmgoers. (Pittsburgh’s own Benedum Center began life in 1928 as the Stanley Theatre, and Heinz Hall was originally the Loews Penn Theatre.)

Netflix and chill has become part of the common lexicon. People watch million-dollar shows on their smartphones. Streaming services vie for our attention. No one leaves the house. It wasn't always like this. There once was a time in which movie theaters reigned supreme. A time when going to the cinema was a treat. A time when movie theaters were called movie palaces, and seated thousands. 

Several Pittsburgh-area filmmakers will present their work, including director April Wright with “Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of Movie Palaces,” at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at The Harris; and National Geographic documentarian Kenneth Love premiering “Jewish Memories of Pittsburgh’s Hill District,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19, at the Regent Square Theater.

Another tribute to the (almost) past is “Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace.” The film is a celebration of the ornate movie theaters of the past, Morrison says, many of which are now repurposed as performing arts centers.

Seattle Times: “Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace” (not rated; 94 minutes): A celebration of the grand American shrines to cinema that rose to glitzy prominence during the 1920s (including New York’s 6,000-seat Roxy and Chicago’s 46,000-square-foot Uptown), April Wright’s well-researched documentary might not quite live up to its title, but it does a decent job of capturing those golden years. Grand Illusion. — Michael Rechtshaffen

The Rowland is an extraordinary venue. It hearkens back to the golden age of cinema, when movie-going was a special event in people's social calendars. As you will hear in our opening night film, Going Attractions, directed by April Wright, the movie palace movement at the turn of the century was an attempt at the democratization of entertainment. People of all socioeconomic backgrounds could all equally enjoy the marble columns, red carpets, velvet seats, gold inlay in the wood, for the same affordable ticket price. We believe moviegoing still is, and should always be, a community event, an instigator of conversation. The grandeur of the space is a reflection of the grandeur of the ideas and images presented onscreen. We feel so fortunate to have this awe-inspiring space as the home for the festival.

Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace,” a history of the great theaters from America’s rich history of film and cinema, followed by a Q&A with the director April Wright; photographer Matt Lambros, who is featured in the film; and Rebecca Inlow, a Rowland Theatre Board of Directors member who wrote a book chronicling the theater’s history.

In part 2 of our coverage of the 28th Heartland Film Festival, I share the award winners from this year’s festival and I interview several filmmakers at the HIFF press junket!

Documentary "Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace" showcases the golden age of theaters, their decline and preservation movements. Well-researched... a timely reminder of the once unquestionable value of a shared viewing experience in this era of personal streaming.

Larry Mantle and KPCC film critics Amy Nicholson and Tim Cogshell review this weekend’s new movie releases.

April Wright likes to get the word out about grand things. As with Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the American Drive-In Movie (available on Amazon Prime and iTunes), her thoughtful 2013 ode to the outdoor moviegoing experience, she has offered up another loving, exhaustive tribute to the large architectural wonders of indoor entertainment. All hail the Movie Palace.

To do this week: scope out some interior decor at WestEdge Design Fair; reminisce about movie palaces at a screening of "Going Attractions"; attend a discussion on architecture and capitalism; get a foot in the door at Sneakertopia; and learn how parking rules have shaped LA, at Second Home Hollywood.

Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace celebrates the splendor and grandeur of the great cinemas of the United States, built when movies were the acme of entertainment and the stories were larger than life, as were the venues designed to show them: Thousands of seats, giant screens, exotic and ornate interiors with balconies and lounges, in-house organs and orchestras, amazing marquees, and air conditioning back when houses had none. The film also tracks the eventual decline of the palaces, through to today’s current preservation efforts. A tribute to America’s great art form and the great monuments created for audiences to enjoy them in. Featuring film historian Leonard Maltin.

The moviegoing experience is a pale shadow of what it once was. Today, multiplexes offer cookie-cutter, dull-looking, theaters of 100 to 300 seats with screens sometimes comparable to large-size flat-screen televisions. They lack the ambiance that used to make going to the movies a magical time.

What started as individual entertainment in penny arcades moved to a shared experience in nickelodeons. Next, when movies evolved from a lower class entertainment to mainstream, large movie palaces were built and the studio system grew in the teens and twenties. All of the grand movie palaces were built in a very compressed period of time between approximately 1915 with many converting from Vaudeville, through the early 30s. The addition of sound spawned the golden age of cinema in the 1930s in these architecturally gorgeous theatres in metropolitan areas which thrived as an escape from the great depression.

The film’s L.A. run kicks off Thursday, October 24 with the world theatrical premiere at the historic Ahrya Fine Arts, followed by a discussion with filmmaker April Wright and subject Escott O. Norton, executive director of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation. Several of the film’s other subjects will be in attendance as well! Following the premiere, GOING ATTRACTIONS will play for a week, from October 25-31, at the Music Hall (showtimes here), and Monday, October 28 & Tuesday, October 29 at four additional Laemmle theatres — the Claremont, Playhouse, Royal and Town Center — as part of the Culture Vulture series (see list of shows and ticketing links below).

It’s a niche subject, but credit to Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles (which has operated some classic theaters) for showcasing this documentary about a different era of movie exhibition. It didn’t reach many people, but at least it brought notice to a cinephile subject.

“Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace” — Documentary showcases the golden age of the great movie theaters in the years between the World Wars, their later decline and current preservation movements to save those that remain. Directed by April Wright. (1:24) NR.

All guests are invited to stay for a screening of the new documentary film, featuring the Michigan Theater, titled "Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace" at 7:30 pm at the Michigan.  The film explores the plight of historic theaters across the US and highlights how certain theaters have been saved and gone on to become economic catalysts to their communities.  The film is also open to the public at regular ticket prices. 

The movie-going experience is a pale shadow of what it once was. Today, multiplexes offer cookie-cutter, dull-looking, 100-300 seat theaters with screens sometimes comparable to large-size flat-screen televisions. The theaters lack the ambiance that used to make going to the movies a magical time. The documentary, “Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace” tries to capture and explain how these cinematic cathedrals heightened the joy of seeing your favorite stars on the big screen.

“Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace," including Q&A with director April Wright and Steve Sigel of the Garde, at 7 p.m. Friday at the Garde Arts Center

The Heartland International Film Festival is no stranger to Franklin’s Artcraft Theatre, where “Best of the Fest” movie lineups have been presented each spring since 2013. This year, the Artcraft will be a festival venue for the first time. One of the films being shown — a documentary titled “Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace” — is a logical fit for the 97-year-old Artcraft, 57 N. Main St. But don't worry; there’s no indication the Artcraft and its beautifully restored marquee are going anywhere soon.

Matt Shapira’s BIG MUDDY took home the award for Best Narrative Film, April Wright’s GOING ATTRACTIONS: THE DEFINITIVE STORY OF THE MOVIE PALACE was given the nod for Best Documentary, and C.D. Malloy’s SING YOU A BRAND NEW SONG: THE WORDS AND MUSIC OF COLEMAN MELLETT won the Audience Award.

The centerpiece, on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m., is “Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace.” April Wright’s doc is about the rise and fall of movie palaces. The screening, with a Q&A with Wright, will be in one of the state’s last movie palaces, Garde Arts Center, 325 State St. in New London. Admission is $15.

Jay says they have been having a number of fund-raisers at the theatre and members of the community have stepped in to help out. This Sunday at 3pm they will premiere a documentary about old movie theatres called 'Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of The Movie Palace'.

April Wright’s feature documentary, Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace, will premiere in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Fine Arts on October 24th in Beverly Hills after winning The Director’s Choice Award at the 23rd Annual Rhode Island International Film Festival. It’s been a long road for April and her producing partner, Rachael Ponn, to get here. I shot five days on the project way back in May and July of 2016. Having seen the film, it’s sure to entertain and educate most film buffs.

The festival’s founder and president, Bill Cowell, said “it’s always thrilling to grow the festival with more screenings and more filmmaker appearances for local film fans to enjoy.” He continued, “with the best in independent film, [this] is going to add up to an incredible week for the city and the people here that truly love movies."... A highlight of the documentary program is April Wright’s “Going Attractions: The Definitive Story Of The Movie Palace.” A red carpet gala celebrating director Fuller at The Rapids Theatre on Wednesday, September 18 kicks off the festival.

GOING ATTRACTIONS is the ultimate movie lover’s documentary and I was thrilled when DocUtah programmers suggested I champion the film at the festival this year because obviously, I’m quite the movie fan. I spent my formidable years a hop, jump, and skip away from Hollywood, and a trip to the legendary Chinese Theater was a weekly occurrence for me. But going to the Chinese was always so much more than a night at the movies. It was an experience! This documentary does a great job delving into the history of movie palaces like the Chinese and when it’s over, you’ll wish that the old school movie palace would make a comeback.

The festival kicks off on Friday, September 13th at 7:30pm in the Coney Island Museum with the New York Festival Premiere of the Documentary Feature "Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace", Directed by April Wright. The film covers the evolution of the movie business over the past century, from penny arcades and nickelodeons, to the grand movie palaces built by the studios, and what happened over the decades as they were challenged by television, decaying downtowns, multiplexes, and cell phone cinema.

The festival kicks off on Friday, September 13th at 7:30pm in the Coney Island Museum with the New York Festival Premiere of the Documentary Feature "Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace", Directed by April Wright. The film covers the evolution of the movie business over the past century, from penny arcades and nickelodeons, to the grand movie palaces built by the studios, and what happened over the decades as they were challenged by television, decaying downtowns, multiplexes, and cell phone cinema.

“Going Attractions: The Definitive Story Of The Movie Palace” has it’s world premiere this Wednesday, August 7, at Flickers – The Rhode Island International Film Festival. She shot us an advance screener a couple weeks ago, and once again, April has captured the wonderful feel of the history of the movie palace as well as their sadly fading place in today’s theater world.

Director April Wright and Producer Rachael Ponn were interviewed by KTLA News Gayle Anderson live in downtown Los Angeles for a preview of “Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace." The screening was hosted by Theatre Historical Society as a fundraiser and celebration of those who work so hard to restore L.A's historic theatres.

Going Attractions Drive-In Documentary released June 7, 2013 and had a total domestic gross of $52,458. 

Five projects focusing on the American West were selected to enter the IF/Then pitch competition at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival on February 22, 2018.