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Inside Park Slope’s Pavilion theater amid its conversion to a swanky Nitehawk Cinema

The Park Slope outpost of Nitehawk will feature 650 seats between 7 theaters

Photos by Tanay Warerkar

This past August we learned that Nitehawk cinema had slightly delayed the opening of its new location at a revamped Pavilion Theater, across from Prospect Park. On a tour of the construction site on Tuesday, the founder of Nitehawk, Matthew Viragh talked about the various historic elements of the original theater his team had uncovered, which ultimately prompted Nitehawk to delay the opening.

Nitehawk wanted to preserve as many of the historic elements of the original theater as possible, and some of the things they discovered included marble stairs below all the carpeting, ceiling panels, and an exposed balcony, that will now be incorporated into the new multiplex. Nitehawk worked with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (the exterior of the building is a designated NYC landmark) to ensure that everything was up to order.

The Pavilion Theater building first opened as the Sanders Theater in 1928 (the site at 188 Prospect Park West also housed the Marathon Theater in the early 20th century) with over 1,500 seats. It operated for five decades, before it closed in 1978. It was essentially abandoned for nearly two decades until the Pavilion Theater opened there in 1996 with three screens. In the mid-2000s, six additional screens were added to create a nine-screen multiplex.

A section of the original theater that will now be one of the larger screens at the new Nitehawk.
At the center of the image is the location of the original Sanders Theater.
Part of an original balcony that was uncovered during the renovation.

Nitehawk came into the picture toward the end of 2016, when Pavilion decided to shut shop. But for Viragh, the founder of Nitehawk, the revitalization of the Pavilion is a long-delayed dream coming to fruition. In August he told the New York Times, that he had originally eyed the Pavilion as the first location of Nitehawk Cinema. When that didn’t work out, Viragh chose the Williamsburg venue instead.

The Pavilion outpost of Nitehawk will be three times larger than the one in Williamsburg. It will seat a total of 650 people spread out over seven theaters. The largest two will seat about 198, and 160, another will seat 70, three others will seat between 50-60, and the smallest will seat 48. In addition, the multiplex will have two bars and a kitchen. The bar on the top floor will be open to non-theater goers as well. At the moment, Nitehawk is aiming for an opening sometime in March or April 2018.

Some of the design motifs from the Pavilion Theater.
A Pavilion Theater sign recovered before the renovation got underway.
The location of the top-floor bar at the multiplex.