Babylon Cinemas

34 West Main Street,
Babylon, NY 11702

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Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 13, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Headline: Old Babylon Village theater inspires dreams for father, son


The father and son in contract to buy the closed Babylon Village cinema say they will reopen next spring with a slate of professional shows cast with Broadway players, along with concerts and other acts.

Seaford residents Mark and Dylan Perlman expect to close this summer on the former Bow Tie Cinemas’ building on Main Street, paying $1 million to the chain that owns the moviehouse and renaming it the Argyle Theater at Babylon Village. The Argyle would be Long Island’s second year-round professional theater, joining the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport.

The Perlmans said in an interview last week that they will invest about $1.5 million to build a stage, sound and lighting systems and drastically reconfigure the building’s interior. Contractors will tear down walls that now divide the space into three movie theaters.

About 100 seats will be removed, leaving 450. Part of the snack bar will be repurposed as a bar. Outside, the vertical sign over the marquee, spelling out “Babylon” in fluorescent blue letters but dark for years, will be fixed and relit.

Stagecraft classes for children and young people will be offered. They may even show a movie or two, continuing a business that sustained the house from 1922 to 2014, when it closed.

But the focus will be live performances of the caliber found 40 miles to the west in Manhattan, they said. “This will be the closest thing to Broadway on Long Island,” said Dylan Perlman, 22, a Hofstra University graduate who started acting professionally as a child and has appeared in independent movies and TV’s “The Good Wife.”

He and his father, 62, a psychologist with a practice in Wantagh, plan six main-stage shows a season with Actors Equity casts.

The two began talks last week with the union. A contract would mean high-level players from Broadway stages, but also higher production costs.

The Argyle schedule will include classics in the vein of “West Side Story” and “The Music Man,” but not “Hamilton.” While many of the current hits tour nationally, licensing rules forbid productions close to New York City, Mark Perlman said.

Babylon Village Mayor Ralph Scordino this year called the deal “a home run for the village” that could anchor an already strong downtown business district with about two dozen bars and restaurants.

The Perlmans are making their move at a boom time for Broadway, which had $1.4 billion in ticket sales and drew an audience of 13.4 million this season, according to The Broadway League, the industry’s national trade association.

Long Islanders bought just fewer than 1 million tickets last season for Broadway shows according to the league, suggesting strong regional demand across Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Babylon’s Main Street will never be confused with the Great White Way, but the Perlmans are betting that can work in their favor. Argyle tickets will cost from $25 to $75, lower than the $103 average for Broadway.

Many of the village’s bars and restaurants are open late for a post-show supper or drink, minus the Manhattan crowds. Most municipal parking is free, and the Long Island Rail Road station is a quick walk from the theater.

Industry veterans say that the Perlmans, who are newcomers to the business, are entering a difficult but potentially rich market.

“We have an incredibly supportive audience who seem to support the work we do, but we are still in the middle of a recession, and theater is not the easiest business,” said Richard Dolce, producing artistic director of the Engeman Theater, now in its 10th year. “We survive on ticket sales. We have to pick the right shows and produce them as well as we possibly can and hold our breath.”

Alan Inkles, director of the Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University, said that after 34 years in the business, he is working harder than ever to make season subscription sales, competing less with other theaters than a sea change in entertainment consumption, with much of the potential audience staying home and “binge-watching Netflix, watching the new season of ‘Game of Thrones.’ ”

The Perlmans admit that lenders initially responded to their plans with what Mark Perlman called a “healthy skepticism.” That changed, he said, “when they met with us, looked at our histories and we explained our vision, the people we’re putting together.”

They are convinced that they are selling something streaming entertainment can never offer: “People still yearn for social interaction, for face-to-face contact, to go out for the night,” Dylan said.

wally 75
wally 75 on July 13, 2016 at 11:19 am


Tom Palminteri
Tom Palminteri on August 16, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Does that mean someone bought it?

robboehm on August 16, 2015 at 10:51 am

Nothing currently on the marquee.

GeorgeStrum on January 29, 2015 at 6:37 am

I remember back in 1959 my mother took my sister and I to see a movie there. In the lobby was a very distinguished white haired gentleman doing a live radio broadcast. When he left the microphone he came over to my mother and started to talk to her. He seemed very flirtatious and my mother look kind of flustered. I later learned he was Ray Heatherton a.k.a The Merry Mailman from tv. He did look familiar to me as a child I watched his program.

robboehm on November 23, 2014 at 1:04 pm

For sale or lease sign on the marquee with a 212 area code.

amcbayplaza13 on September 20, 2014 at 7:42 am

Bow tie cinemas did installing Sony 4k digital projectors, braco digital projectors and Christie digital projectors to replaced the 35mm film projectors in their theaters .About 6 years ago Clearview cinemas was gonna brought the Loews American Theaters in the Bronx to make the guest to happy but no Clearview cinemas screw up so the Bow Tie cinemas brought opened their theater so that the guest will be happy to see a movie in the community. In 2008 Bow tie cinemas took over the Loews American Theater in the Bronx but Bow tie cinemas closed their theater in Parkchester because their theater wasn’t convert into a digital projection.My uncle went to this theater when it was owned by United Artist in 1997 and now it’s not fair to see Bow Tie Cinemas couldn’t be more like AMC, Cinemark, Carmike, National Amusements and Rave motion pictures theaters honesty if the only way I could talk to AMC to covert this theater is to an 18 screens stadium style seating theater instead of seeing this theater turn into an bank,pharmacy,TJ maxx, and school building.

Tom Palminteri
Tom Palminteri on September 13, 2014 at 6:14 pm

If anyone has an idea about the above petition please contact me here or e-mail me at

Tom Palminteri
Tom Palminteri on September 13, 2014 at 9:08 am

As a life time movie buff and resident of the Babylon area I am saddened by the closing of one my favorite movie theaters . I saw so many movies there. I also worked there when it was United Artist in 1997-98. It’s a shame that Bow Tie couldn’t make it work even with low prices. I for one prefer to go to a local movie theater over the multiplexes. Just in the last two years I got to see such gems; Blue Jasmine, The Chef, Life of Pie, Argo and Silver Linings Playbook all at the Babylon Cinemas and It was always a relaxed and friendly experience. Sometimes I like to go to the movies alone and Babylon has always been my first choice. I wish there was a way to preserve it as a movie theater instead of making it into a bank or a pharmacy. Being that the Babylon theater is a historic building in the town of Babylon I am thinking of starting a petition to prevent them from taking it away from the community. Perhaps another theater company/owner can make it work. This happened in the town of Islip and now they have a movie theater after it had been closed for several years. So I don’t think it’s impossible. Having a movie theater in a Village like Babylon has added so much to the community; all of the local bars, restaurants and shops have all benefited from it. It would be a shame to not preserve such a treasure. If anyone is interested in helping me with this petition let me know here and we can work on it together.

jpark377 on September 11, 2014 at 2:05 pm

I worked at this location for many years as a contractor when it was a UA (going back to even before it was tripled), and the market place has changed tremendously over the years. There’s really nobody to blame here: Main Street style theaters are really just a thing of the past. Years ago, larger towns could have many theaters of this style (Patchogue and Bay Shore, as examples, had many movie theaters like this one), and support every one of them; but nowadays, these theaters are a dying breed. And forget about it: if you don’t promote birthday parties or group sales with this type of theater, you’re finished. Everybody talks a good game that they like the classic old-styled movie house: then they run down to the newest behemoth stadium seating theater and pluck down the $13 for a ticket, and then they toss $15 down on the candy stand, and then they wonder how come the Babylon or Lindenhurst theaters closed.
I’m not blaming the public for liking the newer stadium theaters (it is nice not to stare at the back of someone’s head, while sitting in a very comfortable rocking seat; and that’s with the picture and sound quality being exceptional!): just be intellectually honest, and realize that many of you voted with your wallet at the box office and candy stand for the newer stadium theater over the old Main Street type theater. 2013 was the largest revenue year for the movie industry, so when I hear people try to rationalize that the industry in-general is in a steep decline, and that’s what’s causing these theater closures, I know that they aren’t living in the real world. The customer’s choice is what’s relegating these movie houses into ancient history.

robboehm on September 11, 2014 at 1:41 pm

At the time Bow Tie took over Clearview outlets I seem to recall not all made the transfer. Then, subsequently, at least one closed.

There is nothing to say that Bow Tie, or someone else, might choose to resurrect the Babylon for the period when the South Bay is down. Might be to their advantage to rebuild an audience for the house.

joemasher on September 11, 2014 at 8:30 am

Thanks Orlando! The Babylon Cinemas was converted to digital over a year ago. Unfortunately it was no longer a viable operation, and had not been for many years.

Orlando on September 11, 2014 at 7:56 am

The South Bay was digital about a year and a half now and the option to close and rebuild was decided within the past three months. They’d be closed now had they waited to install digital. They switched over theatre by theatre while film was disappearing and not all at one time. To NYer, Bow Tie is not to be blamed for the closure since they had the theatre for a little over a year. Clearview (Cablevision) is mostly to blame for the closing of the Babylon.

robboehm on September 11, 2014 at 6:58 am

Some sources say that the theater was destroyed in that fire. Wrong. Unlike the, supposedly, fireproof Edwards (East Hampton) and Rialto (Patchogue), the Babylon survived it’s fire. For the other two the walls came down. The original Capitol/Babylon walls still survive. Only the street facing facade is different.

And re the South Bay again, if they knew they were going to tear down and rebuild why go digital now?

gfm8959 on September 10, 2014 at 1:57 pm

There was a fire in April 1955- I didn’t see it mentioned anywhere in the comments. I guess that’s why it was remodeled/reopened in 1956?

NYer on September 10, 2014 at 10:00 am

And yet The Babylon was very successful for 80 or so years before Bow Tie entered the picture. When Prudential/United Artists owned the theater. is was first class all the way, same building in the middle of the street, same tiny parking lot behind, combined with top management. They were first run, getting the best pictures first, sometime directly from Radio City Music Hall. It was a “Red Carpet Theater”. People who came knew where to park and lines around the building were common. It’s sounds like Clearview AND Bow Tie gave on a grande dame. Babylon’s loss.

Orlando on September 10, 2014 at 8:23 am

Clearview kept it as part of their “Free” Tuesdays if you had the “Cablevision” package that offered it free. It was sold out on free nights but empty on all the other days. Babylon was the theatre located on the far east of the island and everyone east of the Babylon swarmed it. When the theatres were sold to Clearview and then to Bow Tie it was a “package deal”. It was Clearview who decimated whatever audiences the Babylon had. As far as the South Bay goes, it is all digital and got the best product because it always out grossed the Babylon even in its' deplorable condition. Yes, the parking helps but its' not the South Bay’s parking lot. A deal was made back in 1967 with the shopping centers' owners. By the way, South Bay’s fortunes have been sinking due to its' uncleanliness and is due to be closed soon and be replaced with a brand new building housing 7 cinemas on the same sight. Nothing has been announced, but I have reliable connections. The demolition and rebuilding of the new structure will take at least one year. So therefore, Bow Tie was premature in closing the Babylon because there will be a void in movie going in this area. Lastly, Price matters, South Bay had a strong $4. and then $5 Bargain Matinee which was very successful. Babylon followed suit but only with a “first show matinee” and $6.00 all seats policy on Tuesday, these promos failed. Bargain Tuesdays didn’t attract the patrons. The Babylon Village said the theatre failed because of poor “Bow Tie” management. I disagree. Incorporated Villages of Long Island are the reason that some businesses fail with their “rules of signage and everything else” Enough said.

robboehm on September 9, 2014 at 11:46 am

If the theater has not been profitable for 20 years why did Clearview keep it and why did Bow Tie take it over? And re the South Bay it has parking. Have they gone digital or can we expect their subsequent closure?

NYer on September 9, 2014 at 2:59 am

And then there was one… Who would have thought The South Bay Cinemas would be the last man standing.

A different time never to be seen again, where a kid in every town could walk to that special place and spend a Saturday watching stories made of flickering light. The clakety clack of the projector and smell of fresh popped corn, now replaced by flat screens, and little discs of silver, but will never compare to the cacophony of a thousand people erupting in laughter as the hero pratfalls or scream in fear as your worst nightmare unfolds up there, or even the gentle sound of a united community sniffling as the heroine doesn’t make it to the closing credits and loving every minute of it.

The Prudential/UA Babylon has a special place in my heart and I thank her for the great times, as I have as each cinema treasure of my life has passed on.

longislandmovies on September 8, 2014 at 8:54 am

Can’t say this is a surprise as it has been loosing money for the last 20 years . Shocking it lasted this long .

Orlando on September 8, 2014 at 7:31 am

The Babylon Cinemas CLOSED last night, Sunday, Sept. 7th 2014. The last picture shows were “Guardians Of The Galaxy”, “If I Stay”, “Sin City 2” and “Dragon 2”. However, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” with stage cast “Sold Out” and started at 12:45 AM Sunday morning. The manager told the audience about the closing and the patrons went silent. Then the theatre got a round of cheers and applause for the 92 years of service to the area. It was very touching. I worked there a while in 1988 for UA management. Farewell to another Main Street symbol of entertainment. Capitol/Babylon Theatre 1922-2014.

Orlando on September 4, 2014 at 5:02 pm

On, there are no show times for the Babylon Cinemas, with Sunday 9/7, as the last day listed. I knew it was slated to close and I wonder what will happen to the building. It would have been 90 years old next year. By the way, the Live and Film “Rocky Horror Picture Show” will play Saturday 9-6-14 at 11:30 for $8.00. DON’T MISS IT!!! Come SUNDAY!!!

robboehm on July 6, 2014 at 11:36 am

Reference is made to a comment made by Ken Roe on October 31, 2004 and those made by Orlando the same year. The original Babylon closed in 1922(see elsewhere on CT) the same year the current theatre, then called the Capitol, opened. After the Capitol went bankrupt in 1924 it was reopened under new ownership in February 1925. Presumably the name was changed to Babylon at that time because there is reference to theatre magnet Mike Glynne being injured in an automobile accident on the way to the opening of the Babylon theatre in February 1925.

According to one source, Glynne only acquired this Babylon, together with the Regent and Carlton in Bay Shore and the Garden in Southampton, in 1926. According to another, those four theatres were acquired by B.S. Moss from the Brewster circuit in 1926 never mentioning Glynne.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 11, 2014 at 10:45 am

Babylon auditorium photo mentioned above now posted in photos.

robboehm on May 9, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Already too many performing arts theatres on Long Island: The Space at Westbury, Engermann at Northport, CM at Oakdale, Patchogue, Suffolk in Riverhead, Bolton (Regent) in Patchogue, Smithtown, Paramount in Huntington etc, etc..

There are fewer and fewer movie theaters on Long Island and, it would seem that many of those are struggling.

Between the cost of going to the movies and the fact that, in many areas of Long Island, you have to drive 20 minutes or more to get there, it’s not surprising.