Alpine Theatre

6817 5th Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11220

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Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 8, 2012 at 6:29 am

Techman, you may have noticed that minority audiences were rare at the Alpine and that the grosses reflected their reluctance to come into Bay Ridge at night. Even our ethnic Alpine employees had problems with the local police.

The Fortway attracted the Sunset crowd and had some problems. That is the price we paid for higher grosses.

You are correct about Garth Drabinsky and he now has the criminal record to prove it.

techman707
techman707 on January 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm

“DJM78 on January 7, 2012 at 11:55 pm Just read an article about the Alpine. It seems that as of a few years ago Jeffrey Deneroff still owned the building which is the Alpine.”

That could be, I haven’t kept up with it. I know that Nick Nicolaou was leasing the Alpine from Golden after Loews Cineplex (or whatever they were calling themselves at that point) gave up the theatre. He still there as far as I know. I wonder if he’s converted to DCI….or how many theatres has he converted?

techman707
techman707 on January 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Al, While you know that I agree that Bernie Goldberg was an a-hole (by the same token, Garth Drabinsky and Steve Wiener (who personally I liked), were no bargains either.

What’s all this “There was no such intentional preference against the Alpine. The Fortway just had access to an ethnic audience that Bay Ridge police intimidated at the Alpine. Blacks and hispanics were simply not welcome in the streets of Bay Ridge in the evenings, even as late as the late nineties, so movies with wide appeal went to the Fortway first” all about?

I must have missed all that shit. All I know is that EVERY TIME I had to do work at the Fortway, if I parked in the back, when I came out my window was smashed and my radio gone.

DJM78
DJM78 on January 7, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Just read an article about the Alpine. It seems that as of a few years ago Jeffrey Deneroff still owned the building which is the Alpine.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 7, 2012 at 8:43 pm

There was no such intentional preference against the Alpine. The Fortway just had access to an ethnic audience that Bay Ridge police intimidated at the Alpine. Blacks and hispanics were simply not welcome in the streets of Bay Ridge in the evenings, even as late as the late nineties, so movies with wide appeal went to the Fortway first.

Mr. Goldberg was simply grade-A asshole. Dead or alive. Anyone who knew GTM could confirm that.

I worked for Cineplex Odeon and dealt with these silly Brooklyn clowns for years.

techman707
techman707 on January 7, 2012 at 8:29 pm

It’s hard to say, but, a VERY OLD man (I know his name but just can’t think of it now) owned the Fortway building. He MUST be dead now and it probably has to do with his family and estate and NOT anything to do with Golden Theatre Management.

As I’m sure you’re aware that theatres in general haven’t been doing very well, with the exception of the VERY large multiplexes. Within a couple of years the film companies won’t be making FILM prints any longer and if the theatre hasn’t converted to digital projection (DCI Cinema), which runs an average of $75-80,000.00, you can’t even run digital. It has already caused MANY small mom & pop theatres across the country to close down because they can’t afford the cost of converting. Yet, without that expense, the theatres would have had no problem staying in business. SAD, BUT TRUE.

DJM78
DJM78 on January 7, 2012 at 8:11 pm

techman707- I appreciate all these great theatre facts. I heard stories about Mr. Goldberg. I’m sorry to hear that he has passed. I still wonder why that the Fortway was closed and not the Alpine? To me the Fortway was a much nicer theatre. If I can remember right Cineplex Odeon gave the fortway the bigger movie releases over the Alpine. Also if memory serves the Fortway’s largest theatre held plenty more than the Alpines largest auditorium.

techman707
techman707 on January 7, 2012 at 7:46 pm

The balcony at the Oceana, while steeper than the Fortway, wasn’t that steep. The Olympia theatre had a balcony that was so steep you were practically looking at your feet when you looked out the window from the projection booth. The Oceana was another theatre that, like the Fortway, was first tripled and then quaded and then two additional theatres were added back stage for a total of 6. The two partners of Golden Theatre Management, Bernard Goldberg and Jeffrey Deneroff, essentially sold all the viable theatres to Cineplex Odeon in 1989. They continued to own some of the buildings. Last year Mr. Goldberg passed away, but Mr. Deneroff is alive and well.

DJM78
DJM78 on January 7, 2012 at 6:17 pm

techman707-Wow thanks again. I remember seeing The Oceana from the B1 bus on my way to class at Kingsborough. I heard it had a very steep balcony. What ever happened to GTM? Did GTM sell all of their theaters around the same time has the Fortway and the Alpine in 1989? I heard the man who ran GTM ruled with an iron fist! True?

techman707
techman707 on January 7, 2012 at 6:17 pm

“From Ed Solero on March 28, 2011

Techman, you might be very pleased to learn that there are very legitimate plans that have been announced by the Brooklyn Borough President – at long last – to restore the Loew’s Kings to its former glory and put it to good use as a performing arts venue. The project is set to begin in earnest sometime next year and will hopefully be completed by 2014.“

Ed, I think that was a swindle from the start. I even sent an op/ed letter to the Times when it was announced that they were going to spend 70 million dollars to restore Loews Kings. It seems that 65 million was to come from BANKRUPT NEW YORK CITY and 5 million from the “developer”. I told them to give me only 15 million and I would do the same thing. It’s just another Bloomberg swindle. The city has owned the property for at least the last 25 years and leased it to the Flatbush Development Corp. for $1. a year. The theatre was IN PERFECT SHAPE when Flatbush took it over. They did NOTHING but let it sit and get destroyed and vandalized and NOW want to WASTE 65 million dollars. GIVE ME A BREAK!

techman707
techman707 on January 7, 2012 at 6:05 pm

It’s okay, you didn’t get to pick too much.-LOL When it comes to ALL the theatres that were operated by Golden Theatre Management, I know more than I’d like to remember. Despite becoming senile, I still can’t get some of them out of my head. Some of the other theatres that I installed and/or serviced for GTM were:

The Beverly Theatre The Granada Theatre The Oceana Theatre The Rugby Theatre The Graham Theatre (Gerritsen Beach) The Olympia Theatre (Originally Loews Olympia, Manhattan) The Benson Theatre The Alpine Theatre The Fortway Theatre Quad Cinema (13th St, Manhattan)

as well as many other theatres of Loews and RKO that I can’t even remember anymore. The only thing you can be pretty sure of is that they’re ALL GONE NOW. New York had more first class theatres than ANY OTHER city in America and with just a few exceptions, they’ve torn them all down. You would have thought that they MIGHT HAVE saved a couple of real nice Loews Theatres to run repertory films in as a non-profit operation, but NO. In Jamaica, Loews Valencia (one of the original Wonder Theatres) is still there….but it’s “The Tabernacle Of Prayer” now and doesn’t (and can’t) run movies.

DJM78
DJM78 on January 7, 2012 at 5:49 pm

techman707- I want to thank you for letting me pick your brain.

DJM78
DJM78 on January 7, 2012 at 4:52 pm

techman707-Wow,your knowledge of these two theaters is amazing. Yes Dave is the security guy I was referring to.

techman707
techman707 on January 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm

DJM78-While I was still working at the Alpine (until I retired in 1996) I stopped doing any installations and service in 1988. I did all the service installations for Golden Theatre Management from 1972 until 1988. In 1989 Cineplex Odeon took over the operation of the Alpine.

I’m the “engineer” that the security cop who worked for Golden referred to. The engineer that worked for Loews told them they couldn’t make more than a Quad out of the Alpine and even that design was severely flawed as far as I was concerned. That was the main reason the theatre was sold to Golden.

Apparently, the “original” Alpine design called for a small balcony. At some point they must have decided to remove the balcony from the design, however, they kept the unusually high rear section of the theatre where the projection booth was located. The design that Loews' engineer’s came up with called for elevating a new projection booth ON TOP OF the old booth, while continuing to use the old booth and projecting OVER THE CEILING of the two rear theatres that would be created. All they were going to do was run a new wall half way down the middle of the existing twin’s width. It was at that time that I was asked “can anything better be done?” After studying the original blueprints for a couple of weeks, I worked out a design for 10 theatres of more or less equal size with a unique stepped elevation running from the original stage to the rear of the theatre. In the end, the design wound up being only 7 theatres so they could have the 2 larger theatres on one side, instead of my original 5 and 5 design. The new design required a double “T” shaped booth instead of a straight in-line stepped booth.

As for the Fortway, although my memory is gone, I’m pretty certain that the last two side theatres were done before 1982, probably 1979 or 1980. I would guess the security cop you spoke to was either John, a BIG TALL guy, or Dave, a guy with gray or white hair and thick glasses.

DJM78
DJM78 on January 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm

techman707, I also remember being told a story about the multiplexing of the Alpine. We had a retired NYPD cop who worked at the Fortway. He ran the security detail for a few of the Cineplex Odeon theaters in Bklyn. He told me that Loews brought in their engineer to multiplex the Alpine beyond a twin. The engineer told Loews that it could not be done for some reason or another. Loews then sold the Alpine to the Golden Theatre chain. Golden’s engineer had no problem
multiplexing the Alpine beyond a twin. I was then told that Loews never again employed that engineer. Im not sure if this is true or false

DJM78
DJM78 on January 7, 2012 at 11:35 am

techman707, I was an usher at the Fortway from 1994 to 1997. I really miss the place. When I was there the two projectionist were Alan and Mike. Maybe you knew one of them? From what I remember Alan was there in the 80’s. If it’s not too much trouble I would love to know what the Fortway looked like before it was multiplexed. I know when it tripled there was only one screen on the ground floor. I believe it was 1982 when theatre #’s 4 and 5 were added on the ground floor. Also I remember it being part of the Golden Theatre chain before Cineplex Odeon took it over,is that correct?

techman707
techman707 on January 6, 2012 at 9:15 pm

DJM78, What was your job at the Fortway? I probably know you. I installed the projection equipment at the Fortway. The first time when it was tripled and then when the two side theatres were added downstairs to make it a five-plex.

P.S. The Fortway was “pretty close” to a palace when it originally opened. I also did the Alpine sevenplex installation and from then until I retired I remained there. BEFORE they butchering the Alpine Theatre when Loews twined it, the lobby had some nice ornamental plaster under the “dropped ceiling”. Although it had no balcony, it was a decent size “neighborhood” Loews theatre.

DJM78
DJM78 on January 6, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I worked for a few years at the Fortway. The Alpine was our sister theatre in the Cineplex Odeon chain. The fortway was no palace but I always thought the Alpine was a dump. Still is even with the added screen in the back of the building.

techman707
techman707 on March 28, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Ed, I totally agree with you, having watched all the theatres you mention were torn down WITHOUT a peep out of the NYC Landmark & Preservation Commission.

As for the Kings, I’ve heard that for the last 20 years. Since I won’t be around in 2014, I won’t be in a position to say I told you so, but I hope I’m wrong.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 28, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Techman, you might be very pleased to learn that there are very legitimate plans that have been announced by the Brooklyn Borough President – at long last – to restore the Loew’s Kings to its former glory and put it to good use as a performing arts venue. The project is set to begin in earnest sometime next year and will hopefully be completed by 2014. That would mean that all five of the original so-called “Wonder Theaters” that Loew’s opened in the Metropolitan area between 1929 – 1930 will be preserved and open to the public – even if the Valencia remains open solely for church services. I think that is pretty remarkable for a town where the legitimate playhouses of Broadway hog up the official landmark spotlight, while our grand old cinematic palaces fall by the wayside. I mean, with the redevelopment of Times Square and the theater district, not ONE of the big-time Broadway premiere movie houses remains standing.

Let me correct myself… the old Warner Brothers' Hollywood Theater remains in all its glory as (surprise surprise) a church – having also spent some time as a legitimate Broadway theater. And the small, but elegant Embassy Theater, which was a newsreel showcase for much of its life, also survives as the home to the Times Square Visitor’s Center. But the Strand, the Warner, Loew’s State, Criterion, DeMille and Rivoli have all met with the wrecking ball after having survived well into the ‘80’s … and beyond in some cases. And before that, the Astor, Victoria, Capitol and Roxy all met with their demises as well. Pretty sad that such a rich history in cinematic presentation has just been wiped so thoroughly clean.

techman707
techman707 on March 28, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Ed, I’m aware of Loews 175th St. being turned over to a church because I was asked if I was interested in buying the projection equipment years ago. I forgot about it, I know I’m getting senile. It works like this, either I remember EVERYTHING, including the most minute details, or NOTHING.-LOL I was talking with someone a short while back and I was explaining how to fix a projector the person was working on and all of a sudden I couldn’t think of the word “sprocket”. It could be any word and it just happens. Because I have COPD/Emphysema and use oxygen and my doctor thinks it’s due to a lack of oxygen, which has gotten worse in the last year. Loews 175th St was also what I call, a SUPER theatre. A friend of mine who is a member of AMICA (a group of crazies that collect & rebuild organs) told me about ten years ago that the organ at the 175th St still had its organ. Unless the church is still using it, one of the crazies has probably pulled it out (and set it up in their basement, running the pipes up through the roof-LOL).

The Kings has been destroyed. It was “given” to a group called “Flatbush Development Corp” by the City for $1.00 a year. Another friend of mine was involved with them about 15 years ago and helped clean and spruce it up. They held a “gala event” and NEVER did another thing. My friend said that the roof started to leak, ruining much of the beautiful wood and a lot of the ornamental plaster. A short while after, thieves broke in and striped out every piece of copper and anything else they could steal (it DID have a pair of Simplex XL’s and a dubber that still worked when I checked it out before the “gala”. I don’t know if you were ever through the theatre, but, they had a FULL BASKETBALL COURT & GYM as well as a screening room (that was larger than some multiplex theatres) located in the basement.

As for the Jersey Theatre, I think I was there once, but I’m not very familiar with too many theatres in Jersey. Years ago I did some work at the Lakewood, obviously in Lakewood NJ, but as I recall, it wasn’t anything to write home about. I know that the ST. GEORGE THEATRE in Staten Island is still there and in one piece. While not a Loews theatre, I recall it being a very large good looking theatre, something like the Fabian’s Fox in Brooklyn.

While I could think of other theatres that still exist and haven’t been torn down….yet, my real point is that in a city that had hundreds of theatres, when it comes to a premiere or running a 70mm film, the best NYC can come up with is a dump like the Ziegfeld, which I was involved with the original installation of the Zeiss Ikon 35/70 projectors. Because they had delicate turrets, every time someone slammed the turret closed, the pin that kept the turret perpendicular with the film plane changed, causing the picture to shift on the wall and when the operator tried to move the projector to straighten it out, they couldn’t focus evenly across the screen. It was really a bad design, but if they took more care it wouldn’t have happened. I tried locking the turret closed, but they finally decided to change the projectors. They cost Walter Reade a lot of money for the time. They would have been MUCH better off with Cinemechanica projectors, like the DeMille had.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 28, 2011 at 1:40 pm

There’s also the Loew’s Paradise up in the Bronx, techman. It survived years of neglect after closing as a sub-divided quad cinema and has been restored to much of its grandeur as a live venue. And then we have the former Loew’s 175th – also turned over to a church back in the late 1960’s – which survives largely intact and well taken care of as the United Palace, a church and live venue. Finally, if one travels across the Hudson, the Loew’s Jersey has been lovingly restored by volunteers and is seasonally operated for a number of years now as a revival movie house. Every now and again they even air out the old Wurlitzer for special events. Both the Jersey and the Paradise were opened in 1929, while the 175th was opened in 1930. And let us not forget that awaiting its restoration and return to glory is the last of the Loew’s wonder theaters, the 1929 Loew’s Kings, still standing on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. I, for one, find it quite remarkable that all 5 of these theaters remain in existence, with 4 of the 5 currently open to the public!

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Thanks techman, I have seen the Loews Valencia page there are many comments and photos on that page, it would take a long time to read all the comments there.

techman707
techman707 on March 28, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Thanks, I’ll check it out. Loews seemed to have two basic theatre types. The pre 1928 theatres and the post 1928 theatres. While ALL their theatres were beautiful, the theatres built between 1928 – 1935 were, in my opinion, spectacular. There is still one left in New York. It’s located in Jamaica, Queens, Loews Valencia. Loews gave it to a church for nothing, which wound up saving the theatre from demolition. It had a Spanish style outdoor design and with the sparkling stars and moving clouds, it made you feel like you were really sitting in an outdoor theatre.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 28, 2011 at 12:27 pm

No the theatre was torn down after the fire,but the lobby was used for retail until the mid 80’s.Church Street Center was built on this site but was also torn down about 20 years later.I have posted some photos of this theatre on its page here on Cinema Treasures.Click on to it to read its history.