For the past 90 years, the Hollywood Theatre has been one of Northeast Portland's most recognizable landmarks. Its marquee, now newly refurbished, and its towers rise high over Sandy Boulevard.
The nonprofit Hollywood is a Cinderella story. It went from glorious movie palace to second-run shithole to under-attended arthouse over the course of nine decades, all before returning to its former glory, one of Portland's most unabashedly beloved institutions.
That's cause for celebration, and that all kicks off Friday with a screening of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, screened on the theater's newly minted 70mm projector. The film was the first screened on the old-school projection system, which the Hollywood is the only theater in the state to use. Those 70mm screenings also include Lawrence of Arabia, West Side Story and Aliens.
Related: Quentin Tarantino Pops Up in Portland.
The celebration also includes an appearance by legendary rock documentarian D.A. Pennebaker—himself 90 years old—for a double feature of the Bob Dylan classic Don't Look Back and Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (July 6), and a retrospective of films featuring nonagenarian legend Harry Dean Stanton (Paris, Texas, Repo Man, Escape from New York).
These are banner events, but honestly, at this point, nearly every special screening is treated like a big event. A recent screening of the 1974 oddity Zardoz sold out, and included an audience member dressed in Sean Connery's trademark mankini. Kung Fu Theater—featuring long-forgotten 35mm prints from programmer Dan Halsted's stash—has a cult of its own. Hecklevision, B-Movie Bingo and other audience-participation screenings are the norm, as are guest-curated series like Queer Horror, live-scored silent films on the antique organ, and everything in between. That's to say nothing of the educational aspect of the nonprofit institution.
Not bad for a theater that once languished as a leaky-roofed second-run theater in the '70s and survived a stint as a poorly attended art house specializing in more Merchant Ivory than cult classics and audience participation. In the past half decade, the theater has revamped, restructured and rebuilt.
Portland is a better place for it.
"When we started off, we didn't know what the hell we were doing. We were experimenting. We're all movie geeks, so we're creating a place people want to go," says Doug Whyte, who has served as executive director since 2010, right about the time the theater started fully firing on all cylinders, revamping its programming and giving the building much-needed upgrades. "When I joined the board, I honestly didn't want to go there that much, but I could see the potential."
Whyte got his wish tenfold. At 90, Portland's iconic movie theater has finally become the great American movie house it's always shown the potential to be. All it took was some upgrades and a group of programmers willing to listen to the audience and transform a night at the movies into something more: Social events rather than a solitary ones. Here's to 90 more.
See it: The Hollywood's 90th Anniversary starts with 2001: A Space Odyssey Friday-Sunday, July 1-July 3. hollywoodtheatre.org.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail makes its court-ordered quarterly return to Portland screens. Pix Patisserie. Dusk. Wednesday, June 29.
University of Washington archeologist Sarah Bibdon lectures prior to a screening of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but probably won't actually disclose how many Nazis she's killed in pursuit of fortune and glory. OMSI. 6:30 pm Wednesday, June 29.
Before he was Eric Bana. Before he was Mark Ruffalo. Hell, before he inspired a wrestling racist to make a sex tape, Hulk was a green-painted Lou Ferrigno, and Re-Run Theater has the "Prometheus" episode of the '80s classic. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Wednesday, June 29.
Drag clown Carla Rossi returns to Queer Horror with John Waters' overlooked gross-out spectacular Desperate Living. Hollywood Theatre 9:30 pm Thursday, June 30.
For '90s kids, scrappy coming-of-age comedy The Sandlot is the ultimate summer movie. For '80s kids? Just watch Goonies instead. Academy Theater. Friday-Thursday, July 1-7.
Long after Last Tango in Paris shocked the world with new applications for butter, Bernado Bertolucci returned to steam up screens with The Dreamers, featuring Michael Pitt, Eva Green and a little brotherly. 5th Avenue Cinema. 7 & 9:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 3 pm Sunday, July 1-3.
In a post Brock Turner world, the already skeevy campus sexual politics of the Bret Easton Ellis-penned, Roger Avery-directed Rules of Attraction have become even more troubling than they were with the razor-sharp satire was released. It was icky and darkly hilarious then. Now, it's still those things. Only way more troubling. 5th Avenue Cinema. 7:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 3:30 pm Sunday, July 1-3.
Network: In which a cautionary 1976 satire of media blowhardery slowly transitions into a prophetic vision in 30 short years. Laurelhurst Theater. Friday-Thursday, July 1-7.
You know, if the Army's really like they make it look in Stripes, sign me up! Wait, it's still like that, right? Mission Theater. Opens Thursday, July 30.
Blake Lively's currently fending off a gigantic CGI shark in The Shallows. Luckily, Jaws is returning to screens to show her what she should really be afraid of. Mission Theater. Opens Thursday, June 30. Joy Cinema. Friday-Monday, July 1-4.
An outdoor screening of Apocalypse Now should be a surefire way for Cartopia carts to get a boost on their vegetarian fare… Cartopia. 9 pm Sunday, July 3.
The 1984 Stallone knockoff—sunglasses, mullets and bulging pecs included—The Stabilizer gets the B-Movie Bingo treatment. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Tuesday, July 5.