Crown Gotham Theatre

969 3rd Avenue,
New York, NY 10022

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Trans-Lux Movies Corp.

Architects: Drew Eberson

Functions: Retail

Styles: Greek Revival

Previous Names: Trans-Lux East Theatre, Penthouse East Theatre, Gotham Theatre

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Crown Gotham Theatre

Opened by the Trans-Lux circuit April 10, 1963 with Marlon Brando in “The Ugly American”. It was built at a cost of $500,000, this cinema was a popular East Side mainstay from its opening.

Located in a modern, white brick post-war high rise between E. 57th Street and E. 58th Street on 3rd Avenue, the Trans-Lux East Theatre (its original name) was a sophisticated 570-seat movie house with a balcony.

Very much a United Artists or Warner Bros programmed house through the 1960’s and 1970’s, the theatre showed “A Hard Days Night”, “Help”, “The Hallelujah Trail”, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”, “A Shot in the Dark” and more in the mid-1960’s but relatively little after that.

It was distinctive enough as a decent sized single screen theater for United Artists to launch a road show engagement of “Last Tango in Paris” at a then unheard of price of $5.00 per ticket.

On February 1, 1980 Bob Guccione then leased the house for a couple of years and renamed it the Penthouse East for screenings of “Caligula” starring Malcolm McDowell (there never was a Penthouse West).

Trans Lux then renamed it the Gotham programming mostly with Fox pictures but it never had the same prestige as the Baronet & Coronet or Cinema I-II up the block.

Owned in its last years by the Crown family as it rolled out its brand in Connecticut over the last bits of the TL estate there and some new builds, it was programmed by City Cinemas with a mix of Disney and Miramax fodder largely sub-runs.

There was a rumor that Miramax was going to take it over, redo it and rename it the Paradiso (after Cinema Paradiso), which would have made a superb competitor for the Paris Theatre, but alas another East side single screen bit the dust.

The theatre closed on March 29, 2001 with Alan Rickman in “Blow Dry”. It was gutted for retail space.

Contributed by SethLewis

Recent comments (view all 39 comments)

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on July 17, 2016 at 9:57 am

The Trans-Lux East had its grand opening on the night of April 10th, 1963, with the invitational premiere of “The Ugly American.” The Marlon Brando starrer started continuous performances the next day, in a dual engagement with the Rivoli Theatre in midtown.

davidcoppock
davidcoppock on February 8, 2017 at 12:24 am

“Did they ever show a Batman film there?”

vindanpar
vindanpar on August 2, 2019 at 4:11 pm

An elegant theater where I saw El Cid and The Sound of Music in beautiful prints. And though it did not have a huge screen they were satisfying experiences.

$5.00 though was not unheard of. Roadshow movies were charging more than that for the best seats since ‘64.

kieran10
kieran10 on September 17, 2020 at 12:48 am

I always liked this theater the best of all the 3rd avenue cinemas (on and off) between 57th & 60th. I didn’t have an occasion to go here too many times, but I do remember seeing Big here and then sneaking out of class early to see a matinee of Say Anything the day before it closed.

kinolieber
kinolieber on May 2, 2021 at 11:29 am

Memorable for seeing first run of WOODSTOCK there, for which a special upgraded rock concert sound system was installed.

ridethectrain
ridethectrain on July 5, 2021 at 8:26 am

Please update, theatre closed March 29, 2001. Last film was Blow Dry. Also uploaded, first film No formal grand opening ad.

vindanpar
vindanpar on August 2, 2021 at 3:41 pm

Does anyone know when the restored El Cid played here in 70mm?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on August 2, 2021 at 3:48 pm

vindarpar, it opened on August 20, 1993 and played for two weeks.

vindanpar
vindanpar on August 2, 2021 at 5:09 pm

Thank you. It was an excellent print. People are bemoaning the quality of the bluray so I’m wondering why a better bluray is not possible.

I’d like to know what happened to that print.

misterrick
misterrick on November 18, 2021 at 7:16 pm

An interesting factoid about the Trans-Lux East is that starting on February 1, 1980 Penthouse International which at the time owned Penthouse Magazine leased out the Trans-Lux East in order to screen their controversial film Caligula since main stream circuits like General Cinemas, RKO Century Warner and United Artists etc… refused to screen the films due to its controversial nature and the fact that the film’s executive producer and Penthouse Magazine owner/publisher Bob Guccione refused to submit it to the Motion Picture Association of America for fear that it would get an X rating. Caligula had some big hit actors including Malcolm McDowell, Teresa Ann Savoy, Helen Mirren, Peter O’Toole and Sir John Gielgud.

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