Short Cuts

Landmark's Paul Richardson talks strategy for saving the ailing theatre chain.

It Ain't a Landmark If It Doesn't Have a Patina Dept.: In the June 1 column we noted that Dobie Theatre's corporate owner Landmark Theatres was now under old management, so to speak. This morning we received a call from none other than Landmark founder and recently renamed president and CEO Paul Richardson, who has returned to ostensibly save the bankrupt arthouse chain from itself. Richardson began his career in film exhibition back in 1974 in Albuquerque with partner Bert Manzari, then later merged with Los Angeles-based Landmark Theatres in 1982 to create Landmark, still the country's only national arthouse chain. When Silver Cinemas bought out the Landmark name in April of 1998, Richardson left to pursue a position with Robert Redford's Sundance Cinemas. He's back, though, and the general consensus is that it's not a moment too soon for the flagging theatre chain. "Landmark has always been a boot-strap company, dedicated to independent film, and after the Silver Cinemas acquisition it seems obvious to me that we need to get back to our core values. We're going to focus on having employees that are film-savvy, we're going to jumpstart the grassroots marketing efforts that really suffered during the bankruptcy, and just be far more aggressive in terms of challenging booking policies." When asked how he expects Landmark -- and by extension the Dobie -- to fare amidst an increasingly blockbuster-hungry market, Richardson noted that the chain has a built-in audience of film buffs who "always return to Landmark. When the blockbusters are out, our customers are seeing them along with everyone else, but once those have played, they're back at our theatres looking for something to stimulate them." So there you have it: Expect more stimulation and employees who can pronounce Jodorowsky correctly… Local outfit Cine Las Americas has been rated the No. 1 media arts center for the second year in a row by the city of Austin. According to their press release, "the success of programming and outreach activities" during the Fourth Annual International Festival of the New Cinema of the Americas (held April 13-22) led to the ranking, which is "decided based on grant applications to the CoA Cultural Contracts Committee." Kudos all around, natch. Anyone interested in finding out more about CLA can call 864-9247… It's just not "Short Cuts" without a mention of local Super-8 film group the Cinemaker Co-op, so here goes. Sunday, June 24, 7pm, in the ACA Gallery of the Guadalupe Arts Building, Cinemaker will present a screening of two 16mm films by Peter Hutton: "Budapest Portrait: Memories of a City" and "Florence," both from the filmmaker's famed City Portraits series. The films will be screened as part of Cinemaker's bimonthly meeting, which means this is as good a time as any to check out the Co-op if you haven't already done so. Admission is free, and local filmmakers are encouraged to bring along their own VHS, Super-8, or 16mm films for presentation. Call 236-8877 for more information… To anyone over a certain age, summer means drive-in movies. Sadly, Austin is conspicuously lacking in a genuine, speaker-post-outfitted, giant screen, under-the-stars facility these days, but leave it to aGliff Artistic Director Scott Dinger to take the initiative and keep the tradition alive. To wit, Tuesday, June 19, dusk, in the MACC parking lot (600 River St.), aGLIFF and Subaru present Auntie Mame -- Academy Award nominee for Best Picture in 1958 -- under the stars, in your cars, with FM stereo, popcorn, and all the trimmings. Admission is $5/$4 for aGLIFF members. Call 302-9889 or check out www.agliff.org for more info.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Paul Richardson, Landmark Theatres, Dobie Theatre, Cinemaker Co-op, aGLIFF, Scott Dinger, Auntie Mame, Cine Las Americas

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