Dormont’s Hollywood Theater is prepping for shining lights and nights with stars once more.
Brian Mendelssohn, owner of Row House Cinema, said on Tuesday, Sept. 5, that the Lawrenceville theater is in the process of acquiring the Hollywood, which closed in March. Fans of the historic theater don’t need to wait long: The Hollywood will open ahead of renovations on Oct. 1.
“If you look at some of the programming that we just announced today that we’re going to do in our preview period over the next three months, it kind of gives a hint, a little taste, of the type of things we want to do here,” Mendelssohn says. “All of them are events we’ve never been able to do in our Lawrenceville location, and it’s just so exciting to be able to have a large, historic theater to introduce so many cool film ideas to the community.”
Films with local connections will be screened from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 1, during the Hollywood’s free open house. On Oct. 21, the theater will host a “Hocus Pocus” Halloween party in the afternoon and a “Donnie Darko” and “Southland Tales” double feature alongside a Q&A with director Richard Kelly in the evening, followed by the first of many showings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” by the Junior Chamber of Commerce Players — a Hollywood Theater staple.
All other events taking place throughout the Hollywood’s preview period, including tickets, are available on the Row House Cinema website.
The theater will close in early 2024 for extensive renovations to update the lobby, concessions area and auditorium and make the building ADA-compliant. Alongside renovations, the building’s basement will be turned into six private media rental spaces “for video gaming, karaoke and private screenings,” the press release reads.
In terms of technology, Mendelssohn says the theater will be the best in the region.
“We’re going to have 70 and 35 mm in here, and we’re going to have an incredible 4k laser projector and 7.1 surround sound,” Mendelssohn says. “When we’re showing 70 mm, nothing will even come close to us.”
Recapturing the theater’s previous atmosphere is important to Mendelssohn. He says that there will be renderings of the expected renovations in the theater when it opens in October so that returning Hollywood fans can contribute to the conversation.
The announcement of the Hollywood’s acquisition comes less than a week after Row House announced its partnership with the equally historic Denis Theatre in Mount Lebanon.
Mendelssohn attributes the continuous growth and success to Row House’s team.
“Row House has been here for over nine years now, and we’ve built an incredible team,” Mendelssohn says.
“We really feel like Dormont is a rising star in the Pittsburgh region, and we’re happy to have the opportunity to be a part of Dormont and the Dormont community.”
With the Hollywood and Denis renovations expected to begin in early and late 2024 respectively, the Row House team has their work cut out for them.
“I swear to you I am not acquiring any other theaters in the next couple of weeks,” Mendelssohn says. But, “You never know what opportunities might present themselves.”