Seven Cool Things About Dormont's Hollywood Theater
After a decades-long cycle of closing and reopening, Pittsburgh’s oldest single-screen theater continues to enchant visitors.
PHOTO BY JOSH GREENBERG
With a mission to “celebrate cinema and preserve the single-screen experience,” the charming Hollywood Theater (thehollywooddormont.org) offers moviegoers unique programing — and a killer selection of popcorn toppings. Here's seven other things you might not know about the venerable movie house.
The year the Hollywood Theater first opened its doors on Potomac Avenue in Dormont. At the time, the basement was lined with a bowling alley and billiard tables to occupy guests waiting for the next film.
Short on funds to purchase a liquor license, the theater adopted a BYOB policy, a rarity for a cinema. There is no corkage fee, but donations are accepted.
The current number of seats in the theater. The capacity has fluctuated over the years; it’s estimated the theater once could hold up to 1,000 people.
The model of the Hollywood’s theater organ, the only such instrument in a Pittsburgh-area cinema. Through a partnership with the Pittsburgh Area Theater Organ Society, the organ
was installed in 2013 at the front of the theater and is used regularly at special events and to accompany silent films.
The estimated height of the Hollywood’s ceilings — allowing it to be one of only two cinemas in the Pittsburgh area with balcony seating. (Downtown’s Harris Theater is the other.) In the 1920s, the Hollywood was considered an “atmospheric theatre,” modeled to resemble a European courtyard; tiny stars lit up the ceiling, making the balcony a sought-out area for moviegoers.
‘Le Voyage dans la Lune’
During its “Go Digital or Go Dark” campaign (in which the Hollywood raised money for a digital projection system), the theater created a new logo. Based on the influential French silent film “Le Voyage dans la Lune,” the logo depicted a film projector — in place of a rocket — in the eye of the “man in the moon.”
‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’
The critically acclaimed teen drama filmed scenes inside the Hollywood, which had closed for business at the time. “Wallflower” director (and Pittsburgh native) Stephen Chbosky offered $5,000 to use the space — a sum that provided seed money for the theater’s campaign to reopen as a nonprofit organization.