Friday, May 26, 2017

More NYC theaters facing the wrecking ball

...Landmark — which opened in 2001 in the 1898 building that had been a Yiddish vaudeville house — struggled to keep up with rising rents and hoped to reinvent itself a few years back as a dining destination like Williamsburg’s Nitehawk Cinema. Locals, however, fought those plans, with Community Board 3 rejecting the theater’s liquor license application.The art house theater's lease ends January 2018, and it will likely be pushed out, though, Pagoda said he'd be open to negotiating with Landmark.
I've been writing way too much lately about movie theaters in the New York metropolitan area dying off. When they are replaced, they're usually pricey Alamo Drafthouse-style luxury joints in Manhattan (and occasionally Brooklyn). I'm thinking of possibly putting together a guide evaluating the best first-run theaters in the other four boroughs (maybe beyond) and where they are, while we still have them. For now, here's the last rites for the latest batch:

- Landmark Sunshine. While it's a good theater, it's on Houston Street, which is well-serviced by the Angelika and the Film Forum, not to mention the IFC Center a few blocks north on Sixth Avenue, and even some newer venues across the river in Williamsburg, almost all of them catering to the same indy crowd. Sunshine had a decent run, given that heavy competition, but I tend to think this won't be a great loss. Moviegoers on the Lower East Side are still spoilt for choice.
What I saw there127 HoursThe RoomThe Contender

RKO Keith's
- RKO Keith's. I recently had a nice Twitter conversation about the Keith's with Debbie from Moon in Gemini. Turns out she's from Flushing, though she doesn't live in NYC anymore. It's hard to believe such a primo piece of real estate, in a busy part of Queens, has lain fallow for over thirty years (!), but now they got somebody who wants to turn it into condos. Yay. From the looks of the design, it'll be the tallest building east of CitiField. Can't say I care for the way this will change the character of the neighborhood, but then, my Flushing vanished with the Keith's.
What I saw thereRocky IV

- Brooklyn Heights Cinema. Never made it there. As I recall, it was a fairly small venue. It would've benefited greatly from the sprucing up of the surrounding area.

- Pavilion Theater. If Nitehawk Cinemas is indeed expanding south from Williamsburg to Park Slope, that will be the best thing to happen to this perpetually shat-upon theater. I never felt bedbugs in any of the times I went there, though there's no denying it had (has?) a run-down feeling about it. The last time I was there, a few years ago, they were in the middle of some renovations. This is an area starving for a quality theater. The Brooklyn Academy of Music is great for the art-house crowd, but there should be a place for the blockbusters east of Court Street. If only the renovated Kings Theater showed movies.
What I saw thereSin CityPreciousThe Lost World

Center Cinemas
- Sunnyside Center Cinemas. Never liked this place much. The seats were tiny, the décor threadbare. It was in a great location, however: right under the 7 train in a growing neighborhood. Its sister theater in Kew Gardens Hills (not to be confused with Kew Gardens) is still hanging in there, perhaps because it's in a part of town in no danger of gentrifying anytime soon. With a little love and investment, this could've been another Cinemart. Sunnysiders probably schlep to the UA Kaufman in Astoria now.
What I saw thereThe TownDriveThe Hunger Games

- Ridgewood Theater. Before my time. I don't go to this part of town often. I imagine if you live in Ridgewood, you have to go all the way to Williamsburg for a movie.

Maybe this only amounts to changing deck chairs on the Titanic - Netflix, VOD and streaming video are as popular as ever - but I still believe in the communal experience that comes from seeing movies in theaters. I'm not ready to let that go yet.

What if more theaters were non-profit?
To save the drive-in, you must destroy it
My dream movie theater


  1. I think it is important that you document these changes. It's a real eye on the world.

  2. The film world, anyway. I'm sure there are larger implications regarding the further gentrification of certain neighborhoods, New York becoming more of a playground for the wealthy, etc., but my intent was simply to note how movie-going continues to evolve. That's always been a theme of mine here.


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