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Tower Theatre Update

TOWER THEATRE THE NEXT 100 YEARS

The Tower Theatre won't be open in 2023 but read below for our planning update.

Our deep gratitude goes out to all who have inquired about and have continued to love the Tower. We know how important the Tower is to cinematic preservation and consequently to the 9th and 9th community. Throughout 2022, and into this year, your continued support in attending SLFS films and events at our Broadway location, and your donations in support of our mission to exhibit, create, and preserve the art of cinema, has been a key success factor in building a future for the Tower. We know that many of you feared the Tower might close permanently. We’re happy to say that SLFS is 100% committed to the preservation of this unique and wonderful gem of a venue. 

PURCHASE OF THE TOWER

Tori signing resized smaller
Tori Baker, CEO/President, signs for ownership of The Tower Theatre in December 2022.

SLFS has been operating the Tower Theatre since we formed our nonprofit 23 years ago. As a donor-supported cinema, we continued with relatively short leases which renewed repeatedly. There were restrictions on what we could do with the building since we did not own it. We are happy to announce that in December of 2022, and thanks to a generous grant from Alternative Visions Fund, SLFS has purchased the Tower Theatre location. 

 

This is monumental to the preservation mission goals of SLFS. We intend to ensure cinematic adventures continue at the Tower for generations to come. The Tower has always been part of our founding story, and our mission. By securing the building ownership, SLFS and our allies can now look towards neighborhood collaboration to build a vision that preserves the unique character of the Tower, supports the 9th & 9th economic viability, and harnesses the archive video/DVD collection for film preservation and education. 

 

This purchase allows for the Tower to have a fresh start. Therefore, we are happily turning away from previously-reported cosmetic improvement plans to begin serious long-term visioning for the Tower. We’ve named our new initiative “Tower Theatre: The Next 100 years.”

REMODELS, RENOVATIONS, and VISIONING for the TOWER THEATRE

Our inspiration is to repair and renovate the 1928 Tower Theatre as an environmentally responsible hub for cultural, nostalgic, modern, and uncensored cinematic experiences. As an economic and cultural anchor in 9th and 9th , the Tower will remain a safe haven for underrepresented voices and individuals who love to explore new ideas and tastes through the cinematic lens. 

  

This treasured movie theater, the oldest single-screen in Utah dedicated solely to film, represents a cultural cinematic landmark that demands to be preserved for future generations. SLFS intends to trailblaze environmental responsibility in theatrical exhibition and serve community through historic, contemporary, unique technological film screenings, plus offer and grow our world-class and highly rare archive. Additionally, we plan to provide museum-like exhibits that access nostalgia for our past and celebrate the future of the medium of film. 

 

Embarking on this adventure will take time, stakeholder support, and fundraising.  We do not anticipate the Tower opening in 2023 for this reason.  However, you may see us making some essential repairs throughout the process. We will keep the public posted. Through this visioning process we are committed to protecting the Tower’s legacy and remaining true to the spirit of the Tower.  SLFS has always had the Tower at the heart of our cinematic mission and will continue to honor its texture, personality, and purpose throughout the visioning process. After all, the first cinema in Utah to have air-conditioning, and talkies, deserves to see the light of the projector lamp never go dark.  

WHAT CAN BE RENOVATED?

SLFS has formed an advisory committee of stakeholders and local business leaders to help envision the future of the Tower and what is possible regarding environmental and neighborhood sustainability.  SLFS plans to make the Tower renovations a community project that includes engaging local business at 9th and 9th, checking in with neighbors (you may be hearing from us soon), stakeholders, and patrons, and igniting the passion of cinema-lovers from far and wide.  We will update the public with current news periodically on this web page and through our social media channels.

 

Taking on the Tower project in a  post-pandemic arts recovery climate is ambitious. Still, SLFS firmly commits to visioning for the Tower’s next 100 years. Our goal is for the Tower to be Salt Lake Film Society’s premiere film venue for director/actor Q&A’s, cultural and environmental films, panel discussions, archival film access, and various SLFS film programs that support the appreciation for the motion picture arts. We are home to the largest video/DVD archive collection in Utah. The Tower is made by community for community, and will remain accessible to all, a movie house and visiting center where people can learn about and talk about their love of cinema.  

REPAIRS UNDERWAY

  1. Tower Marquee: 

The Tower Marquee was retrofitted to repair the rain leaks, protect new electrical installations, and to improve the rain/weathering.  This repair can only be seen from the top of the marquee, but was essential. 

  1. Rain Gutters: 

New rain gutters were installed, allowing for more efficient drainage from the rooftop, assisting with water collection and leaking issues.  

  1. Roofing repairs

Along with rain gutter repairs, roofing repairs have taken place that have sealed the exterior. 

  1. Interior sealing: 

Interior sealing of brick, concrete and water entry points has been completed 

  1. Lobby: 

Demolition of the lobby has been completed, allowing access to plumbing and electrical that will be needed for a new lobby layout as well as planning steps towards an ADA accessible bathroom. 

THANK YOU, & HOW TO SUPPORT

At this time, we are reaching out to foundational donors. If you, your business or estate would like to be involved in the Tower Theatre: Next 100 Years project, please contact Marcie Collett at marciecollett@saltlakefilmsociety.org. 

We can arrange a tour, answer your questions and introduce you to the community team working on the project.

Our sincere gratitude to all who have donated, who have engaged with us, and who continue to love the mission work at SLFS to exhibit, create, and preserve the cinematic experience. 

With love, 

SLFS staff, board, advisory committees, and volunteers at SLFS

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Tower Theatre Update Fall 2022

"While we don't have a reopening date yet, our goal is preservation of the Tower Theatre and also the neighborhood of 9th and 9th as a unique hub for neighbors and friends who support safe spaces for diverse communities to gather."

Here’s the full statement from our own Tori Baker, CEO & Executive Director at SLFS:

“Welcome to the 9th & 9th neighborhood and the Historic Tower Theatre. We are currently under renovation.

Salt Lake Film Society, your local nonprofit cinema organization, has a mission to EXHIBIT, CREATE, & PRESERVE the big-screen experience. Our amazing nonprofit staff is working with construction partners to reveal a renovated lobby, ADA improvements, and other upgrades.

While we don’t have a reopening date yet, our goal is preservation of the Tower Theatre and also the neighborhood of 9th and 9th as a unique hub for neighbors and friends who support safe spaces for diverse communities to gather.

Throughout 2022 we have been working on exterior repairs, including interior planning, drawings and design. We’ve also been committed to fund development, assessments and meetings with our 9th and 9th neighbors on neighborhood preservation ideas. 

We are happy to report that the auditorium repainting, plus ceiling sound panels and video/DVD archive and library assessment are well under way. SLFS has received a pristine collection of 15,000 DVDs to add to our archive and will begin working on the vision for the archive’s return to the newly remodeled lobby.

While we are renovating, see curated films at our Broadway Centre Cinemas location, including traditional Tower programming such as Rocky Horror Picture Show, Tower of Terror, and the most innovative cinematic presentations of independent film in our state.”

You can be part of the preservation of the Tower as a Salt Lake Film Society Red Carpet Club subscriber or donor.

Tower Theatre circa 1940s/1950s

Cool Upcoming Films For Summer 2022

Coming Soon at Broadway

At SLFS we are trying to beat the heat with cinema. Here’s some upcoming films for the month of August 2022:

NOPE – July 22

FIRE OF LOVE – July 22

VENGEANCE – July 29

HALLELUJAH – August 5

BULLET TRAIN – August 5

BODIES BODIES BODIES – August 12

Of course, nothing is certain in these times and dates may change.

So keep an eye on this space or at slfstix.org for any new additions to the schedule. We still have some surprise announcements coming soon…

And don’t forget Summer Showdown every Friday and Saturday night! We will be finishing up with some classics that you don’t want to miss on the big screen.

SLFS Fall 2021 Update

Film Availability – This is a bit of an unknown right now. As you know, we’ve been able to keep new films available virtually throughout the pandemic, but it’s been far from a normal time in film world. How the fall season will shake out is anyone’s guess. We’re hoping for some strong new independent cinema celebrating the courage and resilience we have all been trying to model. No matter what, we will be ready with a large curated selection of outstanding independent films that match SLFS patrons’ taste and our mission to exhibit, create, and preserve the independent film experience.

The Future of SLFS@home – We didn’t know when we created SLFS@home that we would want to keep it around post-pandemic, but we do! We’ve learned a lot about what access means to people who for whatever reason are not likely to come into a movie theater and we are so happy to commit to continuing to serve them and anyone else who would choose to stay at home and watch in their pjs. Some of the SLFS@home options might even be designed to enhance your enjoyment of the films you see in our theaters!

@homeArts – Our own Tori Baker, CEO/President, recently hosted Purpose in Action, a summit for the 30+ cinemas and arts organizations on @homeArts, the online platform we created for ourselves in mid-March of 2020 and have since opened up to dozens of independent cinemas around the nation and other arts organizations as well.

Hiring – We need you! We are job planning and we’ll soon be hiring to gear up and reopen. Keep an eye out here for opportunities.

The Reopening of the Broadway Centre Cinemas

The Reopening of the Broadway Centre Cinemas – Brought to You by Love!

Ahem. Here we are. Really. 

Five hundred and eighty-nine days after last being open, we will finally be showing films again at the Broadway. We are over-the-moon excited and a little nervous; it feels huge.

We are so grateful to you for all the love you’ve shown us and we can’t wait to see you again. 

What follows will detail (click on heading to jump ahead):

Films That Will Be Opening

Health And Safety Guidelines

What We’re Asking Of You

What’s Up With The Tower

What Will Happen To SLFS@home

-Other Useful Info You Might Need

There are so many people to thank. We send our deepest gratitude to all of you who have wished and worried on our behalf. Your concern and your love have sustained us. Thank you to everyone who donated at any point during the 589 days, whether by sending a check, setting up a recurring donation, tacking a couple of bucks onto an online screening payment or member renewal, or contributing to a challenge grant – thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We felt great love from you and a great responsibility to get this whole thing right and make our way back to you as whole and as soon as possible.

The SLFS team is forging the future of this organization and giving their hearts to the mission. They all have worked tirelessly through the pandemic to keep our programs moving in the digital space and toward this historic moment of reopening our beloved Broadway.

We will bring our immense joy and your strong confidence in SLFS along with us as we finally, finally, walk back through our doors and begin in all the many ways, some old and some new, to Exhibit, Create, and Preserve the cinematic experience for all.

Much love from all of us.

What We’re Asking Of You

First, a word of thanks for all you have given us thus far. Your encouragement, donations, and positivity have kept us afloat during this time. We want you to feel safe and appreciated in our space. We are reopening because of you. You are so important to us. 

Please follow the rules we have posted.

We also would like to ask you to maybe be a little extra patient with us as we all get our routines down. We definitely want you to feel free to let us know how we can improve, but in addition, if you could please offer up a bit of grace as we get going, that would be amazing. We are all trying so hard. Many of us at the front-of-house are new and learning our way.

Thank you so much. 

What’s Up With The Tower

We’re busy refreshing and enhancing the Tower; however, due to supply-chain issues, a few of our projects are still in motion and will not be completed in time to open the doors just yet. We don’t anticipate a long delay. We’ll keep updates on social media and at SLFS.org. Continue to follow us, consider donating or becoming a subscriber, and without a doubt, we’d love to see you at the Broadway’s reopening on October 22. 

What Will Happen To SLFS@home

SLFS@home will stay – it’s an important tool in our toolbox

We will continue our independent first-run film curation on the digital screen at SLFSathome.org (and the national curation we pioneered for @homeArts and the arthouse cinemas around the US).

The digital screen is becoming a vital part of our mission, allowing us to connect to artists in ways we have never been able to before. We can also curate panel discussions there on important societal and cinema arts themes. 

One of our many epiphanies during the pandemic was that not all movie patrons want – or can enjoy – the brick-and-mortar cinema. The home environment can be the favorite theater for some, particularly, but not limited to, those with physical and emotional challenges.

We also learned that we could expand our reach throughout Utah and even globally through presenting our cultural tours programs and even our weekly films online. 

We’ve decided that we like and see value in continuing to be part of the technology-driven virtual future of the film industry.

Other Useful Info You Might Need:

Filméxico is our next cultural program, so save the date for Nov. 12-18. You can enjoy it in theater and on SLFSathome.org.

Studio Backlot Motor Cinema presented by Redman Movies and Stories – Our fall season is complete, but the Motor Cinema is a semi-permanent third venue for SLFS. We’ll let you know when our next films will hit the screen.

Last updated October 19, 2021

Update 10/13/2021: 

Reopening Update: Tower reopening delayed.  We’re busy refreshing and enhancing the Tower daily, however, due to supply-chain issues a few of our enhancements are still in motion and will not be completed in time to open the doors in October. We don’t anticipate a long delay, we’ll keep updates on social media and at SLFS.org.  Continue to follow us, consider donating or becoming a subscriber, and without a doubt, we’d love to see you at the Broadway, Oct. 22 for reopening.  

Here’s some photos to show what we’ve been working on at our historic Tower Theatre: 

Update August 2021: 

Grand Reopening October 22!
We have missed you like crazy.
Thank you for your patience with us.

Used to be, showing explosion-free movies for adults was the most courageous thing we had to do.
Now, like you, we’ve had to do a ton of grown-up things since March of 2020. We’d tell you, but it’s boring.

Here’s the cool, interesting stuff we’ve been working on:

Broadway and Tower – We’re finally reopening our dear venues on October 22. We have some fun changes in store for you, like auditorium improvements at the Broadway and a new proscenium at the Tower, plus some surprises. With the current realities of construction material availability and worker scheduling, you may find that some things will still be in progress when we open. For example, we may not open every auditorium at the Broadway on October 22, but we will have plenty of films and auditoriums for you to choose from. We know you’ll understand if there are still some project elements underway. We can’t wait to welcome you back!

We will for sure crank up our awesome popcorn poppers for you! Of course, we will be following all CDC guidelines and we will want you to do the same.

Studio Backlot Motor Cinema presented by Redman Movies and Stories – The Fall season will run August 27 through October 16 with Cult and Horror films on the schedule. Fun fact: Some folks think the Motor Cinema was just a covid-coping idea, and yes, it has served us well in that regard, but the Motor Cinema is a semi-permanent third venue for SLFS. Come have a fright with us!

Here’s a deeper dive into more SLFS goings-on with an SLFS Fall 2021 Update.