Historic West Seattle movie theater facing money woes

SEATTLE -- The historic Admiral Theater in West Seattle has been entertaining movie fans for decades. But the theater could close its doors by the end of the year if some major upgrades can't be completed, employees said.

Posters still hang on a wall from opening night back in 1942 after a Seattle architect gave the theater its nautical feel, employees said. The theater showed silent films when it opened in 1919. It was converted to a projection theater in 1942, but not much has changed since it was converted to two theaters during the 1970s.

Employees said the theater's old projection machines need to be replaced with digital equipment since many movie studios have stopped distributing movies on reels of film. They also want to double the number of movie screens at the theater and replace the chairs, carpets, and drapes, employees said.

Employees said the upgrades could cost about $600,000 or more.

The owners hope to work with their landlord on an extended lease so they can reach out to banks for financial help, employees said. If plans fall through, the theater could close by the end of the year.

Employees don't want to think about that possibility.

"I think it would be a real shame," said Dinah Brein, Manager and Director of Entertainment. "I don't think a lot of people will get over losing such an amazing legacy and landmark that they cherish."

Employees plan to meet with the theater's landlord in August to discussion their options, Brein said.