Endangered: UA Brandon Cinema

posted by NativeForestHiller on September 18, 2008 at 8:00 am

FOREST HILLS, NY — Potentially the last UA twin theater, the UA Brandon Cinema, also known as the Continental Theatre (70-20 Austin St) is slated to close according to Sholom & Zuckerbrot Realty LLC: Listing and Picture

Do we really need to sacrifice a theater for a typical retail establishment? Is the Midway Theatre next? Don’t let this theater join the ranks of the Trylon Theater, Forest Hills Theatre, & Elmwood Theatre, just to name a few!

The Continental Theatre has been a mainstay in Forest Hills since the early 1960s, and was boasted as “NY’s 1st split-level theater.” It is situated on a charming commercial hub, Austin St, and steps away from Continental Ave, the Forest Hills Gardens, & Queens Blvd. It is being advertised for retail, but the community feels it could ideally be adaptively reused as another movie theater, an indie theater, a performance space, or a combination of the above options.

Parties of interest should contact Chair Michael Perlman of Rego-Forest Preservation Council at and information will be relayed to the appropriate parties.

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Comments (4)

Luis Vazquez
Luis Vazquez on September 18, 2008 at 11:42 am

Ummm……This is the Continental Theater on Austin St?

This theater is hardly a cinema treasure. At least not how I remember it. It was a plainish box without much to distinguish it from any other box. I went back in the 70’s and 80’s so maybe it had already lost its “charm” by then.

That being said, a theater doesn’t necessarily deserve to be saved simply because it shows movies. For me (and I’m only speaking for myself) it is the architecture of a theater that makes it a true cinema treasure. A place where the theater itself greatly added to the pleasure of seeing a film. The Continental was not that kind of theater. The Forest Hills theater was (before it was torn down and then made into a drug store. The Midway was one of those theaters (before it was gutted and multiplexed). The Trylon is a treasure. This Austin (Kew Gardens Cinemas) is still a treasure even though it was multiplexed – though in a sensitive way.

The Continental doesn’t fall into this category. It’s a run of the mill theater; nothing more. In looking at the individual posts of the theater not one person says “Oh, this is a beautiful theater!” Not a one.

RobertR on September 18, 2008 at 1:34 pm

Have been going here all my life since it was a Walter Reade art house. Used to have a beautiful waterfall curtain as a single screen.

jackeboy on September 18, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Luisv…couldn’t one of the criteria for what makes a theatre a treasure be how people feel about it? I have some wonderful memories of this place. For me this was one of my first experiences with foreign films and as such is important to me. Neighborhood houses deserve to be saved also, if only to provide an alternative to the multiplexes.

Luis Vazquez
Luis Vazquez on September 19, 2008 at 12:16 pm

Absolutely Jackeboy! I do acknowledge your feelings. However, I did say that, for me, it was the architecture of the theater that made it a treasure. A beautiful theater was just as important, if not more so, than the movie itself. These theaters were a part of the experience of going to see a film and making it memorable. Marcus Loew famously said, “I don’t sell tickets to movies, I sell tickets to theaters!” No one would use that quote when referring to The Continental or the vast majority of the multiplex and post war theaters on this site. There are some very significant exceptions like The Ziegfeld in Manhattan.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t take away that people have wonderful memories and expereiences in a plain box theater. It doesn’t mean, however, that they need to be preserved. The Trylon should have been saved, The RKO Keiths Flushing should have been saved, The Forest Hills should have been saved. All were true Treasures. the Continental……not so much.

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