Posted by: lucylightning | August 3, 2012

The Hollywood Theatre

by Alex Trivilino

In the days of movie theatres that boast 22 screens, 3D showings, and ten-dollar popcorn, it’s safe to say that going to the picture show ain’t what it used to be.  However, if you cling to the old fashioned approach of making an event out of going to the movies, look no further than Hollywood.  The Hollywood Theatre in Dormont, to be specific.

The Hollywood Theatre has only one screen, and hosts a variety of screenings that range from cult favorites like The Room (for which they supply plastic throwing spoons) or The Big Lebowski all the way to film classics like The Great Escape or the Indiana Jones trilogy (and maybe that new one).  It’s your chance to see old movies back on the silver screen, and not just reformatted for 3D.

Theater manager John Maggio came to the Hollywood after working on a campaign to save the Dormont Pool in 2006, in which $150,000 was raised.  From there, he became involved in the community to bring back the theatre as a nonprofit.  Donations, sponsors, and memberships have kept the theatre alive and prosperous, but if you’d like to support the theatre, you can always volunteer or purchase raffle tickets that let you choose a movie to screen.

The Hollywood Theatre recently celebrated its one-year anniversary in its current incarnation, screening Howard Zinn’s The People’s Speak documentary on May 4.  Theatres like this don’t normally survive in the current climate of megaplexes, and in fact, it’s the first in years to stay afloat for more than a year.

“This has a beautiful history…I can’t imagine it becoming a Walgreens,” says volunteer Wayne Massey, whose passion for the Hollywood is echoed through his continued time helping out at the theatre.

Last summer, the Hollywood played host to a five-day shoot for The Perks of Being a Wallflower, when the films’ characters attend a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening—a weekly occurrence at the Hollywood.  The theatre was filled with extras— all in costume, of course—and Maggio heard glowing reviews from the film’s cast and crew.

One of the most notable aspects of the Hollywood Theatre is that it hasn’t changed much over the years.

“People who saw Three Stooges or Abbott & Costello shorts are surprised it still exists,” Massey reports.  In contrast with the familiar delights of long-time attendants, those who are newer to the theatre are excited to find such welcome relic, not to mention one that has such novel elements as, say, a balcony.

The unique nature of the Hollywood allows it to play host to musical performances, rent outs for birthday parties (complete with home movies projected on the screen), weddings, or film festival screenings.  The theatre has flourished over the past few months, and word-of-mouth has been a huge contributing factor.  People are just as happy to see their favorite movies as they are to keep the place open.

Visit the Hollywood in person at 1449 Potomac Ave. in Dormont or online at


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