The Hollywood Theater opened around 1924 with a bowling and billiards in the basement. By 1933, RKO Stanley operated the theater. In the 1940s, Warner Bros. purchased the theater from the Murray family and subsequently gutted and remodeled the building. The theater had a seating capacity of about 650 downstairs and 250 in the balcony. For many years in the 1950s and 1960s the Hollywood Theater was one of Stanley Warner’s main second-run neighborhood houses in Pittsburgh, and even enjoyed a spell as a first-run house in the late 1960s. The Hollywood played Warner, Universal, RKO, Disney, and United Artists films. The Harris South Hills, about a mile away, ran competing Fox, MGM, Columbia, and Paramount films (Note: The South Hills Theater was razed in 2010). The Hollywood Theater’s original marquee, which contained thousands of bulbs and two glass attraction panels, was removed when the city widened the street and the glass tile facade was replaced with stucco.
The advent of the VCR and Blockbuster video stores in the 1980s severely affected attendance at theaters, especially second-run movie house like the Hollywood. The theater eked along, but by the mid 1990s, the interior was showing signs of age and neglect. It closed in 1998.
In 2006, the Bradley Center, an agency serving children with mental, emotional and developmental disabilities, signed a lease with the building’s owner, Hollywood Partners, LLC, and renovated the theater (read about that here). During the renovation process, seating was decreased to 300 to offer more leg space and a more comfortable viewing experience. When it reopened the following year, teens from the Bradley Center manned the theater to gain essential work experience. Unfortunately, the venture did not work and the theater closed in 2008. A group of mid-west investors were the next to give it a try, reopening the Hollywood in August 2009; it closed again in the spring of 2010.
Determined not to lose another single-screen theater, a group of community leaders, area residents, and local film lovers banded together in November 2010. The result is the Friends of the Hollywood Theater (FOHT), whose mission is to reopen the theater not only to show movies, but as a community center where the public can enjoy film festivals, concerts, and special events such as big screen viewings of sporting events and the Academy Awards. Reopening the theater will add to the vitality of the Potomac Avenue business district, Dormont, and the region.
Friends of the Hollywood Theater reopened the theater in May 2011, and began a new chapter for this historic building.
Go Digital Or Go Dark Campaign
The Hollywood Theater needs to raise $75,000 to make the film-to-digital conversion in 2013 as major movie studios and distributors are now making the switch to DCP (Digital Cinema Package), a file format that is screened at theaters via a high end digital projector and server. If the Hollywood Theater does not get this new projector, it will be forced to go dark as we will be unable to get the rights to show any movies.
Handmade For The Hollywood
Handmade for the Hollywood was put together as a unique way for creative members of the community to contribute to the go digital or go dark campaign. Artists were asked to donate their time and supplies to create limited edition prints that would be sold as part of a fundraiser. We got a lot of positive responses, and the posters featured here are the end result.
A huge thanks to all of the artists and hopefully you for buying a poster!