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Here’s an article from the S.I. Advance about the local theaters of yesteryear. The “Empire” is mentioned.
Farrell Lumber has closed its doors, and is now out of business. This occurred sometime around March 1, 2009.
I saw “A Christmas Story” it’s first weekend out, and loved it. Wonderful film. I try to catch it at least once during the 24-hour Christmas Eve marathon.
Most of “A Christmas Story”’s plot was taken from Jean Shepherd’s great book “In God We Trust – All Others Pay Cash.” But – the subplot about the mangy Bumpus hounds who terrorize The Old Man was taken from another of Shepherd’s superb books – “Wanda Hickey’s Night Of Golden Memories and Other Disasters,” which deals with Ralph as a teenager. Another film, “The Phantom Of The Open Hearth,” was made for public TV, based on “Wanda Hickey’s…” back in 1976. That’s a wonderful film as well, and it’s shameful that it’s not on DVD. Supposedly, the Shepherd estate wants to much money for the rights.
I saw “Harry and Tonto” at the Paris back in 1974. Unfortunately, I haven’t been back since. So many of New York’s classic single-screen movie houses, like the Sutton and the Murray Hill, are gone. I’m glad that the Paris is still going strong.
There is no more Shop-Rite; it became a Stop and Shop a couple of years ago. The building that housed the theater is in a far corner of the lot, and it’s still standing. And empty.
I saw “Die Hard” on a Friday night dinner date with my then-wife. We got tickets to see the film at a small discount through the restaurant we ate at (Millard Fillmore’s, IIRC) which was right next to the theater. It was quite a nice experience. The movie was great. The theater was packed. Sadly, the theater (the Staten Island UA Multiplex in Travis) the restaurant and my marriage all went down the tubes. I do have all the “Die Hard” movies on DVD, though.
I saw flicks like “Xanadu” and “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” at the Amboy Twin. Also, I saw Sandy Tung’s “A Marriage” there; it played for a very short time back in 1985. And, contrary to what the above article says, I do remember a fairly explicit sex scene in it.
The theater’s screens stayed the same size no matter whether the movie was shot in wide-screen or normal aspect ratio. That always annoyed me. Also, I can’t remember if that theater was equipped with Dolby, or even stereo, sound.
These days, you’re lucky to get four weeks in a theater out of any movie, whether it’s playing at the local multiplex, or a major movie palace. DVD seems to count for more than a theatrical release nowadays.
I remember going to the Victory theater to see my first movies as a kid – “Pinocchio” and “Darby O'Gill and the Little People.” We lived in the area than, and we walked to the theater. I still ride by the theater on a bus twice a day.
I rode by this (deserted) theater a week or so ago on my way to the dentist. There was a cop car stationed at the exit. I assume he was there to ward off vandals or loiterers.
Yes Garth, I’m positive it was the Empire. I even took my friend Jim to “Black Sunday” (it was my third trip to see that movie) and I saw another guy at the movie that I remembered from high school. I was surprised when the theater dropped the porn films it had run since I was a kid (it would run them again in short order.) By the way, the first flick under the dollar policy was Streisand’s “A Star Is Born,” sometime in the spring of 1977. I don’t remember what the last one was.
The Jembro store at the former Richmond theater site is now gone; the building is empty and “For Lease.”
I remember the Thunderbird. If I remember correctly, it was running porn films in the mid-80’s. I thought that a drive-in running porn was, say…a bit odd.
The status line still says “Open,” it should read “Closed.”
Saw “Stripes” there in the summer of 1981; the theater had just opened. I was unaware until recently that it had closed.
A shame, Garth. Admittedly, I don’t go to the movies a lot any more; there’s just nothing out there that makes me want to get off my duff and go to a theater. I just wait for the movie to come to HBO, Showtime or Starz. I’m going to the Regal Cinema on Forest tonight for a “Star Trek” event. It’s a bit hypocritical, isn’t it – I won’t see new movies, but I’ll go to a theater and pay $12.50 to see a TV episode I’ve seen a million times before, and own on DVD.
I went to the UA Multiplex the day before it officially opened. There were free screenings of older films (I saw “Aliens” for the third time that way) as well as free popcorn and soda. I went back
the next day; its official opening, to see “Innerspace.” I actually liked that movie theater being less crowded, but I guess that over 20 years, it became dated.
The Travis theater was the first on Staten Island to run films daily in a long time. Most Staten Island theaters ran evening shows daily, with Wednesday matinees and continuous daytime shows only on weekends. If you wanted to see a movie in the daytime, you had to go to the Amboy Cinemas in Jersey. The Travis theater changed that.
I never saw porn at the Empire, but I sure remember it. For a brief time in 1977, in between stints as a porn house, they ran regular movies, albeit third or fourth-runs. I saw “Annie Hall” and “Black Sunday” there, for a dollar per film. The place was really seedy, and poorly attended. And although “Black Sunday” was a wide-screen film, the screen didn’t open wide to accomodate it. I guess the “dollar-a-film” policy didn’t work, because by the end of 1977, the theater went back to running porn. It closed soon afterward, when Farrell Lumber took it over.
I believe it’s open now as LA Fitness; the marquee was replaced with the “LA Fitness” sign.
I saw “Collateral” there in the summer of 2004, and “Star Wars Ep. III – Revenge Of The Sith” in 2005. For big movies like those, the theater was practically empty. It was not a good sign. I’m sad; the theater was pretty easy to get to. More so than the Forest Avenue theater is
I lived in Staten Island in the summer of ‘77. I was unemployed at the time, and went to see a matinee of “Star Wars” its first day. I walked right in; the theater was only half full on a Wednesday afternoon. I went back a few weeks later to try to see it again. By then, word had gotten out, and the theater was sold out. Even with the air conditioning out on a hot July day. Needless to say, I blew it off.
I went back there to see “Empire Strikes Back” three years later. By then, I had a job (I took the day off) and waited about three hours to get in. It was well worth it.
I remember when the theater ran “Jaws”; the way the theater handled the crowds was very poor. The theater was just reopened after twinning, but “Jaws” ran in only one part; the other half was dark. I waited over two hours to get in, and barely got a seat. It turned out that the film was oversold; blocks of tickets were counted as one seat, and some people had to stand. The second half of the theater was reserved for some festival of Disney flicks they ran a few summers in the mid-1970’s. I had no kids back then, and I considered that a waste of space.
I don’t remember the Paramount running adult films. And, it didn’t close in the early 1970’s. I saw “Poseidon Adventure” there in 1974, “Eiger Sanction” there in 1975, and “Midway” and “The Enforcer” there in 1976. I don’t remember when it closed, (late ‘70s, perhaps) but I have fond memories of the place.