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NYC’s lost movie theaters, mapped

From Sunshine Cinema on the LES to Midtown’s Ziegfeld Theater

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Late last year, the operators of the Upper West Side’s beloved Lincoln Plaza Cinemas informed moviegoers that the theater would close after a 35-year run due to a rent hike. Despite a concerted push by locals to keep it open, the theater closed its doors for good in January this year. Just a week before, Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema, another cherished theater on the Lower East Side, also closed its doors; an office building will soon rise in its place.

Those two closures were the latest losses for New York’s indie cinema scene, though a good number remain—Metrograph, the Angelika Film Center, the Paris Theater, and Film Forum among them—and some, like Cinemart Cinemas in Forest Hills, came back from the brink of closure.

Still, many theaters have disappeared, with new residential developments, shopping complexes, and multiplexes rising in their place. Here, we’ve gathered 11 independent theaters the city has lost in the past decade.

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Landmark's Sunshine Cinema

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After 17 years in business, the Lower East Side’s indie film haven shuttered for good after years of speculation that it would close. In May 2017, East End Capital and K Property Group purchased the East Houston Street site for $31.5 million, and announced redevelopment plans shortly after that. The existing structure will be demolished to make for a glassy office tower measuring 65,000 square feet.

Ziegfeld Theater

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Once the largest single-screen theater in New York City and a go-to destination for Hollywood premieres, the Ziegfeld closed in early 2016 after years of its owners losing money on the venue. The Ziegfeld Ballroom debuted in its place in November 2017; the multi-purpose event venue was created after a $25 million, 20-month renovation. The iconic red velvet seating and interiors are gone, and in its place are areas for cocktail receptions, dinners, and some theater-style presentations.

Brooklyn Heights Cinema

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This two-screen cinema operated at the corner of Henry and Orange Streets for more than 40 years before shuttering in the summer of 2014 to make way for a five-story apartment building, the plans for which were revealed the following year. The new condo will incorporate the old movie theater's original facade, adding three stories atop the building. Sales on the new building’s five apartments launched last May with prices starting from $2.85 million.

Sunnyside Center Cinema

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Fans of Sunnyside Center Cinemas tried to stop the theater from closing, but real estate interests won out. The bargain theater, where daytime tickets cost just $5, shuttered in 2015, and landlord John Ciafone now plans to redevelop the site into affordable housing (hey, at least it's affordable). Ciafone has said that he'd be willing to have the theater back as a tenant once the building is complete, but that's still TBD. The project temporarily stalled last summer due to the lapse of the 421-a tax break program.

Tribeca Cinemas

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The onetime home of the Tribeca Film Festival closed in the summer of 2015, and the building went up for sale shortly after that. A developer purchased the building at 13-17 Laight Street for $90 million the following year. The new owner wants to develop the six-story building into offices, retail, and a lifestyle space.

Pavilion Park Slope

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After garnering a reputation of being one of Brooklyn’s worst movie theaters thanks to bedbugs and crummy seating, the Pavilion closed in 2016, and is currently in the midst of a transformation into a Nitehawk cinema. The new space will seat 650 people over seven screens. The multiplex will also have two bars and a restaurant. The Pavilion originally opened as the 1,500-seat Sanders Theater and operated that way until the 1970s. It opened as the Pavilion theater in 1996 with three screens.

American Theatre

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Parkchester's American Theatre shuttered in 2013 after some 70 years of business. The theater sold a few times in recent decades, and in the mid-aughts, its future looked bright as the new owner renovated the space and turned it into a 1,400-seat multiplex. But dwindling crowds ultimately made it go dark, and residents mourned its loss (though Yelpers didn't seem to mind). It was replaced with retail.

Whitestone Multiplex

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This onetime drive-in movie theater, which was converted to an indoor theater in 1983, shuttered in 2013. At first, plans called for the site to be converted into an outlet mall, but the site sold after mostly functioning as a parking lot after its closure, for $75 million, in 2017. The site will likely be transformed into an e-commerce delivery facility.

Brandon Cinemas

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After 51 years of business in Forest Hills, the Brandon Cinemas on Austin Street closed in April 2014, and was replaced by a medical center. Though the community mourned the loss, its owners decided to shutter because of a lack of business. The movie theater was operated by the Regal Cinemas chain.

Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

Lincoln Plaza Cinemas

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The Upper West Side’s beloved Lincoln Plaza Cinema shuttered after a 35-year run in January. The founders of the theater tried to extend the lease, but a rent hike prevented them from doing so. The developer that owns the site said it was necessary to close the space due to structural repairs and that they are hopeful a new theater will open there once work has been completed.

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Ridgewood Theater

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Designed by one of the foremost architects of theaters, Thomas Lamb, Ridgewood Theater opened in 1916 and seated 2,500 people at that time. It was converted into a five-screen multiplex in the 1980s, but declining ticket sales led to its closure in 2008. The exterior of the building was landmarked in 2010. Four years later, a developer demolished the interior portions of the building to make way for condos. Last year however, a longtime resident of the neighborhood started a campaign to convert the retail portion of the building into an arts space as a nod to the theater that stood there for decades.

Anthony Mercado

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Landmark's Sunshine Cinema

After 17 years in business, the Lower East Side’s indie film haven shuttered for good after years of speculation that it would close. In May 2017, East End Capital and K Property Group purchased the East Houston Street site for $31.5 million, and announced redevelopment plans shortly after that. The existing structure will be demolished to make for a glassy office tower measuring 65,000 square feet.

Ziegfeld Theater

Once the largest single-screen theater in New York City and a go-to destination for Hollywood premieres, the Ziegfeld closed in early 2016 after years of its owners losing money on the venue. The Ziegfeld Ballroom debuted in its place in November 2017; the multi-purpose event venue was created after a $25 million, 20-month renovation. The iconic red velvet seating and interiors are gone, and in its place are areas for cocktail receptions, dinners, and some theater-style presentations.

Brooklyn Heights Cinema

This two-screen cinema operated at the corner of Henry and Orange Streets for more than 40 years before shuttering in the summer of 2014 to make way for a five-story apartment building, the plans for which were revealed the following year. The new condo will incorporate the old movie theater's original facade, adding three stories atop the building. Sales on the new building’s five apartments launched last May with prices starting from $2.85 million.

Sunnyside Center Cinema

Fans of Sunnyside Center Cinemas tried to stop the theater from closing, but real estate interests won out. The bargain theater, where daytime tickets cost just $5, shuttered in 2015, and landlord John Ciafone now plans to redevelop the site into affordable housing (hey, at least it's affordable). Ciafone has said that he'd be willing to have the theater back as a tenant once the building is complete, but that's still TBD. The project temporarily stalled last summer due to the lapse of the 421-a tax break program.

Tribeca Cinemas

The onetime home of the Tribeca Film Festival closed in the summer of 2015, and the building went up for sale shortly after that. A developer purchased the building at 13-17 Laight Street for $90 million the following year. The new owner wants to develop the six-story building into offices, retail, and a lifestyle space.

Pavilion Park Slope

After garnering a reputation of being one of Brooklyn’s worst movie theaters thanks to bedbugs and crummy seating, the Pavilion closed in 2016, and is currently in the midst of a transformation into a Nitehawk cinema. The new space will seat 650 people over seven screens. The multiplex will also have two bars and a restaurant. The Pavilion originally opened as the 1,500-seat Sanders Theater and operated that way until the 1970s. It opened as the Pavilion theater in 1996 with three screens.

American Theatre

Parkchester's American Theatre shuttered in 2013 after some 70 years of business. The theater sold a few times in recent decades, and in the mid-aughts, its future looked bright as the new owner renovated the space and turned it into a 1,400-seat multiplex. But dwindling crowds ultimately made it go dark, and residents mourned its loss (though Yelpers didn't seem to mind). It was replaced with retail.

Whitestone Multiplex

This onetime drive-in movie theater, which was converted to an indoor theater in 1983, shuttered in 2013. At first, plans called for the site to be converted into an outlet mall, but the site sold after mostly functioning as a parking lot after its closure, for $75 million, in 2017. The site will likely be transformed into an e-commerce delivery facility.

Brandon Cinemas

Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

After 51 years of business in Forest Hills, the Brandon Cinemas on Austin Street closed in April 2014, and was replaced by a medical center. Though the community mourned the loss, its owners decided to shutter because of a lack of business. The movie theater was operated by the Regal Cinemas chain.

Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

Lincoln Plaza Cinemas

Google Maps.

The Upper West Side’s beloved Lincoln Plaza Cinema shuttered after a 35-year run in January. The founders of the theater tried to extend the lease, but a rent hike prevented them from doing so. The developer that owns the site said it was necessary to close the space due to structural repairs and that they are hopeful a new theater will open there once work has been completed.

Google Maps.

Ridgewood Theater

Anthony Mercado

Designed by one of the foremost architects of theaters, Thomas Lamb, Ridgewood Theater opened in 1916 and seated 2,500 people at that time. It was converted into a five-screen multiplex in the 1980s, but declining ticket sales led to its closure in 2008. The exterior of the building was landmarked in 2010. Four years later, a developer demolished the interior portions of the building to make way for condos. Last year however, a longtime resident of the neighborhood started a campaign to convert the retail portion of the building into an arts space as a nod to the theater that stood there for decades.

Anthony Mercado