The Reporter -
The Show Is On
Woodridge’s newly remodeled Hollywood Boulevard Cinema
enhances viewing experience for patrons
A Classic Hollywood Finish
Hollywood Boulevard Adds Screens, Seating in $3 million Revamp
Moviegoers deserve more than just a few hours of fleeting images on a screen in exchange for their hard-earned money, said Ted Bulthaup, owner of Woodridge-based Hollywood Boulevard Cinema.
To back up his claim, Bulthaup recently spent over $3 million expanding the theater complex in Woodgrove Festival Shopping Center to include three new auditoriums decorated with popular Hollywood themes, as well as an area to house a museum to be stocked with movie memorabilia.
“That’s why the public embraces us – because we really care about them and what we do. We give them their money’s worth,” said Bulthaup.“Even if the movie might not be that good, the overall experience is well worth the money.”
Bulthaup is a Woodridge resident who in 1991 in Indianapolis pioneered the idea of blending comfortable seating with a full food-and-beverage menu and movie theaters vastly different from the cookie-cutter multiplexes that dot the national landscape.
In 2003, Bulthaup opened Hollywood Blvd Cinema in the southwest corner of the Woodgrove Festival Shopping Center, then spent about $3 million over the past six months expanding the theater.
The results, Bulthaup said, justified the investment.“We’ve expanded our seating capacity about 25 percent, from 1,000 to 1, 250 with these new additions, said Bulthaup.“I don’t yet have specific numbers on attendance since opening, but it has gone extremely well.Fortunately, research shows that the movie industry is pretty much recession-proof.”
Among the three new auditoriums are two with themes from classic movies: “Casablanca” and the “Wizard of Oz.”The third is a tribute to great movie palaces from Southern California.
The Coconut Grove Auditorium mimics the setting of the Humphrey Bogart classic with statues of Bogart’s character, Rick, greeting moviegoers as they seat themselves.Architectural details consistent with a Moroccan plaza setting surround the seats, and a domed ceiling twinkles with a blanket of stars.
A replica of the Ford tri-motor airplane central to the movie’s beginning and end hangs from the ceiling, and the scene-setting nuances are a tribute to Bulthaup’s vision.
“We brought in eight different types of stone, seven styles of decorative ceramic tile and three colors of barrel roof tiles to create the facades, and the arched wooden entrance came all the way from Santa Fe (N.M.),” Bulthaup said. The result is a venue resembling the plaza of a desert Moroccan village.
When the second-floor auditorium opened Nov. 14 the featured movie was, naturally, “Casablanca.” “There was no other movie we could have shown,” Bulthaup said.
A Mayoral Nod
Woodridge Mayor William Murphy took a private tour of the facility prior to the grand opening and said the renovations were impressive.
“It’s difficult to pick out one aspect over another as my favorite because Ted has gone to so much detail in each room, and has enhanced what was an already successful business venture,” Murphy said.
To enter the "Rainbow Room" auditorium on the first floor one must pass under a rainbow, then through a furnished replica of a simple depresion era Kansas farmhouse, replete with antique clock, fireplace and images of Dorothy, Auntie Em, Uncle Henry, Toto and Elvira Gulch.
The third new auditorium presents a series of ornately framed murals of movie palaces from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
“I first became interested in old theaters when I helped renovate some old movie palaces into concert venues when I was young,” Bulthaup said.
His Own Handiwork
While much of the physical work was contracted out, Bulthaup put in his share of time painting, nailing and all the designing.
“This is entirely my vision.We didn’t hire designers or decorators to help design the new rooms.I knew exactly the way I wanted them to look,” Bulthaup said.
A space has been dedicated as a museum, which will house various items that Bulthaup describes as “movie treasures” such as artifacts from the movie “Cleopatra” and the chariot used in the movie “Ben Hur.”
“The overall effect we have created here is an old fashioned movie palace, not just a cookie cutter movie-plex,” Bulthaup said.
BOGIE GENEALOGY: Stephen Bogart, son of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, was the guest of honor when the Coconut Grove, their Moroccan themed auditorium named after the renowned old Hollywood night club opened November 14th. Steve was named after his fathers character from the movie "To Have and Have Not" where Bogart and his mother first met. Bogart's other love, his own boat "The Santana" was also named after the boat in this classic film.
STILL TO COME: A Chinese restaurant called "The Formosa Cafe on Hollywood Blvd." and tenth auditorium remains in the plans.
AND MORE:Bulthaup said he is close to signing a deal to open another Hollywood Boulevard-type theater in Naperville at an as-yet-undisclosed location.
$200,000:Amount of money Ted Bulthaup spent on the ceremony for the surviving actors who played Munchkins in “The Wizard of Oz” when they were memorialized last year on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame with their own star.