Blue Balcony Cinema

247 E. 2nd Street,
New York, NY 10009

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Additional Info

Styles: Atmospheric

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The Blue Balcony

Located in Manhattan’s East Village, the Blue Balcony Cinema is New York’s latest art house cinema which opened in early-2013. It is a cine-sculpture built in the Petit Versailles Community Garden by an artist consortium named Et. al.

Guests are invited to enter during nightly film screenings and weekend matinees. The sculpture’s interior references the Atmospheric style movie palaces of the 1920’s, possessing a vaulted ceiling constellated with specks of light and walls doubling as facade scenery. The effect gives the impression of being in the open air of an unearthly place.

Ambient colored cove lighting is left on during the feature film, as was the practice in the Atmospheric style cinemas, and changes correspondingly with the tenor of the film. The three tiers of seats accommodate an audience of 14, who face two large panes of glass, and which look out onto the rippling leaves in the community garden below.

Thematically the balcony is decorated with allusions to Maurice Maeterlinck’s symbolist fairytale “The Blue Bird”, as well as to the no longer extant labyrinth of Louis XIV’s Gardens of Versailles, and the 1924 silent cubist film “L'Inhumaine”. Featuring Georgette Leblanc as a vampish chanteuse at home in the geometric set, designed by the modernist architect Robert Mallet-Stevens.

The Blue Balcony Cinema had closed by 2015.

Contributed by Nicholas Vargelis

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

cmbussmann on March 14, 2013 at 8:00 am

I suspect they are projecting both DCP and 35mm. They have a screening of Times Square booked in mid-March and I know that film is 35mm only.

PeterApruzzese on March 14, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Could be just a DVD. Doesn’t seem as if the picture matters according to their website.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 16, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Doesn’t seem as if there even IS a picture, Peter… This is as much a theater of the mind as it is a cinema. In fact, I’m not entirely sure it qualifies as cinema at all. An interesting idea, but I still think it’s more a conceptual work of abstract art.

You know, when I was a kid, before we had VCR decks, I used to make cassette audio recordings of my favorite movies when they aired on TV, simply by holding my mic up to the TV speaker. I would listen back and replay the movie’s visuals in my mind’s eye. Does that qualify my childhood bedroom for a CT listing? I jest, but, surely, it is a debatable point.

And don’t get me wrong… I don’t object to this listing, I’m just raising the question for possible discussion.

artpf on February 13, 2015 at 6:07 pm

What happened to this site? It used to actually be cool and have background with pics for theatres of long ago. Now you search for stuff and they don’t even come up Varieties Photoplays anyone? Used to be here. no more. Please shut this down if you cant be relevent

PeterApruzzese on February 13, 2015 at 7:06 pm

Not sure what you mean, first result in search list for “Varieties” brings up this listing for it:

artpf on March 9, 2015 at 6:22 am

Yeah. You have to search OUT of the site for specific theatres in order to find them. At one time years ago you could call up a list and just browse through open and closed theatres. Now only the open ones come up. It really makes teh site useless. What happened? i mean if the content was there before, why did it disappear?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 9, 2015 at 8:40 am

When doing a search the default is for currently operating ‘Open’ theatres. To see all theatres click on the ‘All Theatres’ button.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 2, 2016 at 6:37 pm

No longer showing movies.

TheALAN on January 8, 2016 at 12:35 pm

If only sci-fi television writer Rod Serling (1924-1975) — “The Twilight Zone” — was still with us! We can only imagine what he could do with this one.

Nicholas Vargelis
Nicholas Vargelis on March 21, 2016 at 3:41 am

Dear people in this thread of comments. As the author of “The Blue Balcony” I can say that is is indeed a work of art or as sometimes I describe it, a “cinema sculpture”. We did play movies every night for over a month and it was open to the public and yes there was no projector and no screen ! And people (everyone from artists to locksmiths) absolutely loved it. And for those of you who love old cinema palaces this was an hommage to these popcorn palaces ! Of course with a little twist – the scenery that decorated this mini auditorium was also, visually, telling the story of Georgette LeBlanc and her lover Maurice Maeterlinck, by referencing their artistic works (ex. The Blue Bird of Hope, The Inhuman Woman, Blue Beard’s Castle etc.)

And getting back to the movie part: each night when a movie played a computer would analyse the image, frame by frame, and translate the video into data for dimmer that feed a matrix of light bulbs concealed behind all the scenery in the room. So the image of the film got translated into a light show ! And the audio of the film would be heard through the sound system, unmodified.

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