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You know we are all on here saying that the building or the interior or both should be landmarked, but why don’t we make an attempt to Landmark it? The city’s landmark commission is a very strong group and they do investigate everything, especially in former economically and economically depressed areas.
I actually tried to apply for the Commodore, but it only had the “firm” and not the architect. Here we have the architect. I would be worth getting a group together to save the place with its amazing interiors.
Yes, I know. The housing project there was the first Federal Government Housing Projects built under FDR’s “New Deal.” Here is an interesting though. Supposedly the book, “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn” took place in the old tenements somewhere where the Projects are built. Even at the end of the book, Betty Smith says in the semi-autobiographical book, that after her father married the cop, and they were moving, “they had planned to tear down her old neighborhood.”
Here is a fact that most people do not know, and now that Grand Street around there has a redevelopment plan. The building, where Betty Smith lived as a girl and where her family lived actually survived. It is actual one of the tenements with a store front near Graham and Grand. Why, no one with the Brooklyn Historial society never checked this out is beyond me. It is something I was thinking of bringing to Marty Markowitz. It is the perfect place to be a museum for the “rich history” of Williamsburg.
There is the WAH centery on Broadway, WAH being the Williamsburg Art and Historical society, however, it closed for the time being because the old building, across from Peter Luger’s, is an old Bank Building, but does not have a fire escape, so the WAH center had to close until they raise the money.
I hope that, the building Betty Smith grew up in does not get knocked down by developers. It would be a shame, knocking down the building where the most famous book about Brooklyn took place.
Here is another question about the Gracie Theater. Even though it closed during the depression, what is the building now? Could it still be a “movie theater in disguise.” I am sure it has no treasures left inside, but since Williamsburg needs a theater, it could be a good place to start.
Also, does anyone know about a new multiplex theater going up on Metropolitan ave somewhere in the Burg?
I used to attend the Community board 1 meetings because it was around the corner from my apartment so I called someone on the board whom I knew. He told me a movie theater will be opening on Metropolitan ave, but would not tell me exactly where but hinted it would be between the BQE and the water.
Does anyone know anything more. This is all I get out of him.
Can someone fill me in on any new development of an Angelica or Film Forum, or other kind of art house that was suppose to open on Metropolitan avenue. I believe it was on this posting that I first heard on might be opening, but I have been out of the “Northside” loop, for a while, staying on my side of the BQE at the Lorimer Stop.
I do know that, from “minutes and agenda” mailings I get from the community board and calling the community board itself, I was told that approval was given for a theater to be able to be built on Metropolitan ave.
Does anyone know any details of this, or whether it is just Galapgos that shows movies is just finding a new space or it is it going to be true art house theater and if it opened yet.
Let me know,
I am not responsible for the post on here. That guy came and advertised without my knowledge. I have to much going with my own life to complain to the webmaster here. If you feel his post is inappropriate, then you need to go to Cinema Treasures and tell them to delete it.
Yes, I am sure of that, and also we have to remember this is in the part of the Burg, that still needs “gentrification” and is right near the projects. It is south of Grand Street which on that side of the BQE is really still “untouched” and the stores and restaurant are still the same as they were for years.
Of course just east of there is the L Montrose and Morgan stop with a lot of lofts. And one thing also, the Grand Street stop on the L is on Buswhick and Grand a few blocks away.
But the value of the theater to the “new williamsburg” and I am not saying there was anything wrong with the old, is less than it would be on the Northside and even around the Commodore.
As I said, this was told to me by an usher or an “active parishoner” who was there after mass, helping to close up. I was lucky enough to get there at that time to talk abot the inside of theater, however, I did not see the inside of the theater and this guy was “no expert” or spokesmen. The person who I really needed to talk to was the pastor, but he was having a meeting at the time. They said I could possibly wait, but during the week would be better.
As for the figures on the cost of the theater, I totally agree with you if they are asking $15 million, that is a ridiculous price. You could probably buy a theater or something to preserve in Manhattan for that price. No usher tried to make the agrument that it is such a building etc. In addition, even if we start a save the “theater organization”, no one who would donate funding, or the bank or credit union who holds the mortgage would never ever finance something thats worth is excessively and ridiculously more than the actual value or the building. 1.5 million could be what is going for, and that could be the value of things that were preserved, IE, chandeliers and an objects built into it that good ad value to it.
However, the interesting thing is that several former theaters were taken over be evangelical and hispanic churches. No with the property taxes going up with the value of the building and the gentrification, parishoners also not able to afford Williamsburg anymore, many of these churches that own the building could “cash out” and seek less expensive locations. This possible could but on the market several theaters, long thought lost, for renovation.
I know one theater, I believe the Metro theater on Grand Street, or one other here on Cinema treasures, that is Grand Street is also a Church. I was a small church of the storefront looking kind, and looks like it could have been a small one screen theater or a vaudville house turned movie theater. But I passed it and checked the address when the function said it was “unknown”, and it is a church.
So theaters like this could be a diamond found in the “rough”
I can understand not going to that area because it is only now begining to gentrify. The problem is, do people try to save the rainbow which the pastor supposedly wants $15 million, but supposedly has been restored to its full potential. I could not go in the church today because I went there as they were locking up, but I have to say even the big lobby, not the theater lobby, but the lobby you walk from the street door to the inside of the theater and it still had everything there. Even the frames for the movie posters were still there.
However at the price, most people would say it would be cheaper to take a warehouse and build a new theater.
I keep hearing that an Angelica or IFC theater is going to open on Metropolitan Ave, but I have heard nothing of the opening. I even contacted the community board, and they said there is one planned and approved. But where is it going to be?
Meserole and Graham. I was in the church lobby today. It is all the same. The usher who had already locked up said the theater has stayed mostly the same as when it was an art deco movie house.
However the price tag is high, or at least the usher said was the price was $15 million. A hell of a lot more than the Commodore.
I just went by the rainbow to get the number. The church was open but I just missed the actual theater open. They had locked up but the Pastor was upstairs. (The balcony is now the pastor office) I was in the lobby and it is incredible and the church goers say that the interior was restored and maintain from the movie theater days.
Here is the big problem. One of the ushers said the building is going for $15 million a hell of a lot more than the Commodore at $3million. But then again that was just a parton speaking.
The question about interior photos. I am going to call the realtor and try to “get in”. I have the credentials being producer of TV and also a background in theater so it would not be odd for me to see about purchasing the theater for a group.
If I can get in, I will bring my digital camera and take photos to post here and also, if there is some interest used to get a prospective investors or community support to save what could be the last theater.
As I said with the Commodore and other theaters in Williamsburg, I have done a lot research of Williamsburg, and I know Betty Smith’s daughter who wrote “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” and even have looked through Betty Smith’s papers at UNC in Chapel Hill.
Before film, in Williamsburg there were vaudville houses on almost every corner of Williamsburg. I have a feeling that as buildings go up in the burg, we need some kind of historic committee to look for these old gems that could be behind a warehouse or a garage etc.
For years I used to go to lower eastside, before it was trendy like now when I was student at NYU in early 1990’s. The Sunshine theater on Houston Street was the Old Yiddish theater. I passed that millons of time and even at Jewish food at the little restaurant next door. There was no indication, that an old theater was behind the facade.
I honestly believe we might find all this in Williamsburg as things are renovated and possible knocked down which should be looked into to be saved.
I think I am going to go by there today and see if I can get the number of the realtor and call them saying I am working with a theater group or something. Some reports say, that a wall was built with the screen is that you cannot see and also, because it was a catering hall, they might have ripped stuff down.
The catering hall might not be so bad. At the Floral in FLoral Park NY, the place was another old art deco like place. Though the theater was turned into mostly office and retail space, a catering hall is on the top floor, and refurbished and cleaned the beautiful art deco ceiling and walls because the hall was built with high floors. So the beauty of the catering hall was preservation of part of the theater, the most beautful part, the ceiling with fresco like paintings etc.
I will drive by and get the number. Maybe finally, after the Commodore closed and is being destroyed which was not a “beautiful” theater, and people online complained of it closing, to which I did a lot of work getting info and even talking to city film commissioner about preservation, no one was really active.
This place could be a gem, and maybe we model after the theater righht above the PATH train in Jersey City at Journal Square. It was a similar beautiful theater and people came together to preserve and show revival and film festivals as a non-profit.
Is there is a For Sale sign on the Rainbow theater, has anyone investigated how much it costs. From the building records it is own by the church that is no longer there.
If you read about the Rainbow, in its Hey day, it was a beautiful Art Deco interior inside. I wonder if it is still there? If it is it could prove easier to make a historic landmark. It could be as beautiful as the lobby of the Chrysler and Empire state building and other buildings of the time.
Anyone familiar with it?
I do not know if this building even exist anymore. It probably was knocked down in ubran renewal when the housing projects went up. That whole street is just projects.
There is a for sale sign outside the theater. Does anyone know which company is selling it. It supposedly built inside with an Art Deco look like the Chrysler Building or the Empire State buiding. We could not save the Commodore but maybe we can save this one!
Hmm, as much as I do enjoy the once in a while guilty pleasure of Bollywood, that 750 films are made a year in Bollywood, far more than Hollywood produces in years, and the growing South Asian population in and around New Hyde Park, I wonder if the community could support a multiplex of just Bollywood films.
In a single theater like Bombay, or double theater that was in the “old downtown”, such as the neighborhood theater in Fresh Meadows turned porn house when the Multiplex opened there in the 70’s- 90’s to reopen as, “The Bombay” theater a successful Bollywood theater in the late 90’s in Fresh Meadows, 5 or 6 screens of Bollywood all the time might be too much to be financial viable. In addition not all the films are good enough to watch in Mumbai let alone export them.
Look at Italian cinema, and the French, which was popular with Americans at one time, the industry there is on “life support” There are many Italian and French films made each year, think about how many actually make it to the United States?
The same with Bollywood film. When “Bride and Prejudice” came out, Hollywood was buzzing that this film would be huge hit and bring Bollywood into mainstream America and the beautiful woman whose names escapes me was being marketed as the next exotic foreign beauty, the next “Sophia Loren.” I remember even Nightline, which at the time was still, “a gold standard and sophisticated” did a whole show on Bollywood and this beauty. She also made the rounds of all the entertainment shows. Then, nothing, the box office failed, and that was the end of Bollywood. In the US industry, if you flop your first film in a new “genre” you are dead since this film was financed by the Hollywood studios.
So I guess what I am trying to say is, a local theater with one or two screens, with low rent, would be served by the Indian comunity. One would not get rich, but could stay in business. A full on multiplex would be huge gamble and probably unsuccessful, since by not showing at least mainstream art films, you are leaving out a huge majority of your clientele, American teenagers. Also since teenagers are the biggest spenders at the cinema, if Bollywood is not hip or becomes hip for a year and then disappears, without diversification I cannot see an entire multiplex of Bollywood all the time.
Are they looking for the Bollywood approach to film or are they looking at the indie films like the Malverne.
Right now, the block booking and long term exhibitor/distributor contracts with the big multiplexes, independent theaters need to carve out a niche for themselves. The Blockbusters will not come there way, unless they are happy with second run, weeks after it plays in the multiplexes.
To answer about the Manhasset theater, it is still a Clearview Cinema chain owned by Cablevision. They might play several indie films simply because the are IFC productions and Cablevision owns IFC, the independent film channel which has gone into movie distribution and production finance with foreign partners.
However, the Malverne is a true indie and relies on the indie studios for its output. Is is a marriage of inconvenience something that Manhasset probably will never go down. Remember, now with IFC productions, the Weinsteins, the Miramaxes, the Sony Classics etc, are their competitors.
From a corporate approach, Cablevision is not likely to make Manhasset anymore “arty” than it already is, and uses theaters like Manhasset, the out of the way theater for their own output.
We cannot forget that Clearview is big chain that cablevision did try to unload until it started IFC Productions, and Indie film distribution company. Also, Cablevision and Clearview have the collective bargaining power to bring in the top films, even though on Long Island, they own a handful of theaters, Cablevision does own the Ziegfeld, the Multiplex on 23rd Street in Chelsea and many, many theaters in New Jersey.
So close to opening, by whom? From what I understand the place was gutted by Consumer Distributors. Who was going to reopen it? Cleaview or AMC or Loews or a smaller chain or indie.
If that is the case, there are other locations near by that were not movie theaters that can be opened as movie theaters.
In today’s world and these old theaters, once they are gone, they are gone. For today’s films, those old theaters were not made for the sound, or the large projection. Renovating a theater to preserve it in order to show these films is a good investment, but to rebuild something like the Alan from scratch after being gutted as an empty space, one would be better off taking an empty space with a lot of parking. That giant Pergament on across from what was the old Park East Theater comes to mind. It has sat empty for years, has a huge parking lot and has no windows. So if you are going to take raw space which the Alan has become, that would be a better location.
Remember the one thing about the Alan was that, when it was open, the stores around it flourished and like several theaters, the Bellrose comes to mind, there was just not enough parking for the “car culture” Long Island has become. It is a sad fact, but without enough parking, people will park on the residential street, and then the residents will start complaining about the late night parking, and the noise from people in front of the house.
Then the no parking signs go up, and there is nowhere to park.
As much as I hate the fact that the multiplex killed the neighborhood theater, many people would shy away from a theater if they show up and cannot find a parking space. That is what made theaters like the Alan unique. At the time, when Long Island became a post war suburb, it was THE theater that everyone in the neighborhood would go to, walk to, and support.
I am interested though in who was thinking of reopening the Alan. You say they came so close. Who were these people? Were they looking to open a theater or just the Alan for nostalgia purposes?
I prefer not to talk about what my involvement in entertainment is on here. I will email you are your business email. My email is a derivative of “Ligg” so if you see a name with these initials it is not spam.
I love the Malverne. It is like the Long Island’s answer to the Angelica. I do not think most Malvernites go there, or at least in droves like a local movie theater it once was. My mother has a friend who lives near the main street, and she tells my mother, “oh you are one of those people who come from all over the Island to a movie and take all of our parking spaces, LOL!”
The place is very clean and well maintained. For the most part, with dividing the main auditorium, it is pretty modern inside, except, try going into the Men’s room. It still has the original urinals. You walk in, and it is not freakish or anything like that, but they look like antiques themselves, the kind you would find in an old courthouse, museum or old public building in the city!
So you we can all be assured that Malverne’s management has some interest in preservation! LOL
Well actually, I work in entertainment and honestly, what is needed north of Jericho Turnpike would be an “art house” type theater like the one in Huntington, the Angelica and Sunshine in Manhattan and the Malverne theater.
The theater in Malverne was just like every other theater originally on Long Island, in the center of town, and probably would have closed, had the owner, or the person who bought it quaded the theater and started showing films from Miramax and other indie distributors. It is the only theater of its kind in Nassau County, and actually does not really attract the residents in the surrounding areas, but rather mainly college students and wealthy seniors from the five towns area. Look up what they show in Newsday, and you can see why people travel all the way to Malverne.
I live by the NHP station, and I travel there to see films. I always thought there would be a market for a similar theater in the area north of Jericho Turnpike, for the “gold coast” residents who are the audience for that type of films, plus the residents of Northeast Queens.
Of course a theater like the Malverne in New Hyde Park North, would HAVE TO reserve at least one screen for Bollywood films which are lacking on Long Island. I myself am not Indian, but I love the Bollywood films and try to watch them whenever I get a chance to. At my apartment in Brooklyn, for some reason, the Indian network that is usually you need to pay the ridiculous charge of $12.95 a month, but it is free for some reason on Sunday mornings. Damn, those movies are great, and being in the biz, it is amazing for what they do on a budget so small. They for the most part recreate an entire MGM musical for less than one non A-List star here.
Chicago was considered a lower budget film when it was made and went on to win the Oscar at $20 million and it did not have the large cast of the old MGM movie. Imagine how much it would cost in India, with a huge huge cast? Probably $500,000.
Anyway, I feel that the many theaters along Jericho and Hillside area that were local theaters “missed the boat.” and could not see the future showing more alternative films the multiplex.
But then again, around this time, Ted Turner bought MGM and could only afford to own it for nine months, before selling it back to Kirk Kevorkian at a huge loss. The only thing he held on to was the MGM library which also included all the Warner Brothers films pre-1948. Unless a movie was a big hit and famous, no one had any need for “old black and white movies.” Who would of thought 5 years later an entire network was launched with this library and over ten years later, is one of the most watched basic cable network.
Is only someone could see past the “multiplex mentality” some of these theaters could have been saved!
Any chance for Nostalgia reasons in converting it back to a theater, at least part of it. In its hey day, I remember it to be pretty big. But then Consumers Distributors moved in and gutted the place. From what I remember, it was most recently a dollar type store.
If not a theater, I do have to wish you luck renting in that strip, as most of the stores seem to change hands or go out of business every few years, from Bella and several other restuarants, to Fabric Bonanza.
The only thing that seemed to have lasted the longest is the Indian grocery store. However, I see from your website you are like a Sylvan learning center, a destination, not a retail location to drive by, so I wish you luck.
Can I ask if any remnants of the theater remains? An artifacts etc?
Regarding the article on the NY Times, I do remember an article either in the “Greenline” or the other local paper of Williamburg and Greenpoint. It was not one of the new hip papers like the “L” just the usual paper you pay a quarter for that has been around for many years before Williamsburg became hip.
I do not remember when it was or how much time it around before or after the theater closed, but what kept the place open was many of the employees had shares of ownership in the theater, and there was an old man who worked there for like 30 years as a projectionist or a ticket taker who would not sell out and tried to save the theater but no investors were interested.
Finally, as the last hold out, he sold his shares and the Commodore was closed.
I wish I could find that article, but these local papers do not keep track of their stories like the NY times database.