City Cinemas Village East

181 Second Avenue,
New York, NY 10003

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Showing 76 - 95 of 95 comments

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on September 9, 2005 at 10:54 pm

Somewhere along the line the place was a burlesque house, though I don’t know under which name, and the infamous Blaze Starr was the headline act. The Woody Allen segment of “New York Stories” was filmed here. Also, once upon a time, a play titled “Once Upon a Mattress” played here. The female lead, a young, unknown actress, Carol Burnett, suddenly became known.

I worked here both before and after the plexing. The decor of the main auditorium is intact. Prior to the renovations, the ceiliing had serious water damage, and a fortune was spent to restore it and the rest of the decorative plasterwork. It was originally a traditional theatre with an orchestra and balcony. The orchestra floor was removed to give height to cinemas 2 and 3 in the basement, making the main theatre look like it has stadium seating. It’s actually the balcony which was extended down to the stage. Behind the ceiling panels of the lower cinemas is the decorative plasterwork of the underside of the balcony. The ceiling panels had to be installed for acoustics, but the original plan was to leave the plasterwork exposed. We had been told by Landmarks that all the decorative plasterwork had to be either restored or entombed, but could not be destroyed. As for the other cinemas in the plex, #4 was build under the storefronts, #5 was built in the vaults under the front sidewalk, #6 was built on the stage floor and #7 is in the fly loft over the stage. Projection, storage and restrooms are in the trap room area under the stage.

I haven’t been in there in years, but after the renovations were complete and the main house had the curtain closed and the chandelier and stage spots lit up it looked spectacular. The theatres in the cellar were plain boxes and I never really liked them, but the two in the stagehouse with exposed brick walls were more interesting than the 4 in the cellar. I think it was a fair trade-off: the restored main auditorium in exchange for small theatres squeezed into other areas of the building. It seems to have kept the place commercially viable. Otherwise, it would have sat empty and decaying until there was nothing left of it, like the Kieths-Flushing.

hardbop
hardbop on September 9, 2005 at 9:30 am

I just looked at some of the scores the 17 films received from crix on metacritic.com. What a joke! It is flotsam & jetsom time until later in the year when we get the good stuff. Each week a new Miramax turkey that has been sitting on the shelf gets released. The reviews are hilarious.

hardbop
hardbop on September 9, 2005 at 9:24 am

I don’t think there is enough product to go around. The Angelika can barely fill its screens with prestige product. This cinema is showing 11 films this weekend. 17 Films (and documentaries) opened in NYC this week (1 Wed., 2 Thurs. & a mind numbing 14 today). Most of them will disappear in a week or two at most.

BobT
BobT on August 6, 2005 at 8:20 am

Another big beautiful theatre cut up into a hodgepodge of small screens. Walk in the front door and you need a tour guide, arrows pointing up, arrows pointing down, and straight ahead. You need a sherpa to find some screens. In one screen upstairs, the entrance door is up front next to the screen so anyone entering or exiting during a show comes in facing the audience and the hall light illuminates the view. Some of the films I’ve seen there were “Ed Wood” and “Boogie Nights”.

br91975
br91975 on August 6, 2005 at 6:30 am

Reading/City Cinemas is again experimenting with double-running art house films at the Angelika and the Village East, with films opening first at the Angelika and later adding a run at the Village East, this time with ‘9 Songs’ and ‘March of the Penguins’. This type of booking arrangement was last done during a short time in the fall of ‘03; will it be temporary again or is this now a long-term change? Time, I suppose, will tell…

br91975
br91975 on April 1, 2005 at 11:38 am

I remember the Village East and the Loews at 3rd and 11th opening around the same time, too, hardbop – if memory serves, I think within, at the most, three months of one another.

hardbop
hardbop on April 1, 2005 at 11:30 am

I could have sworn the Village East opened before the Angelika. The first film I caught at the Angelika was “Hidden Agenda” so that must have been 1990 and do remember reading about the delays in the Angelika’s opening. I faintly remember it having something to do with plumbing problems, but I later learned there was a big dispute between UA & Angelika’s original owner Joe Saleh (sic).

I always thought the Village East and that Loew’s East Village ‘plex on Third Avenue opened about the same time and were around before the Angelika opened. I guess my memory is playing tricks on me.

br91975
br91975 on April 1, 2005 at 11:23 am

The Angelika (after several delays and false starts) opened in the fall of ‘89, the Village East sometime between the spring and fall of '91.

hardbop
hardbop on April 1, 2005 at 10:17 am

I think this theatre is a bit of a pit. When I attend I always end up in one of the smaller, non-descript theatres in the basement or the second floor and never get to see films in the “main” auditorium, which is nice room, but a weird place to see a movie. I can’t imagine sitting in the orchestra in that big room.

I often have to get up and close the door when the films start and find many of the auditoriums dank.

City Cinemas really dropped the ball because I think they were hoping this theatre would be what the Angelika became. The Village East opened a couple of years before the Angelika, but never had the vibe the Angelika had when the Angelika opened. The Angelika became the premier downtown arthouse, primarly because of the cafe and the location, though City Cinemas is in a funky spot.

From what I understand, the owner of the Angelika was getting divorced and that caused him to sell out to City Cinemas. One nice thing about the Village East is that I know that if I miss a film at the Angelika I’ll get a chance to see it at the Village East before it heads off to videoland.

br91975
br91975 on March 30, 2005 at 1:29 pm

Again, time for another info update – the Village East has seven screens (contrary to the info posted within this page’s header), not six.

br91975
br91975 on March 30, 2005 at 1:27 pm

In the weekly Angelika Film Center newsletter, the Village East is referred to as the Angelika’s ‘sister theater’.

br91975
br91975 on February 22, 2005 at 8:32 am

The Village East, at best, seems to be hanging on. Along with their usual handful of Angelika moveovers (which, since the opening of the Sunshine as an art-house multiplex in December of ‘01, have been 'moving over’ later in their shelf life), they showcase mostly lower-tier studio product (‘Alexander’, ‘Pooh’s Heffalump Movie’, and, this upcoming Friday, the oft-delayed Wes Craven-Kevin Williamson flick, ‘Cursed’), indie vanity projects, and the occasional major-studio flick that doesn’t give off that air of distinctly being a Loews or Regal reject (‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ being the most recent such example).

Depending on the film, the theatre still draws decent crowds (much as was the case when I saw ‘Zissou’ there last month), but it’s definitely lost some luster (if ‘luster’ is the appropriate term to use) over the last 5-7 years. Still, as noted above, it seems to be holding its own and I can’t imagine that and/or its mode of operation changing much in the foreseeable future.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on February 22, 2005 at 7:13 am

That’s surprising – I thought the “haven’t got a clue” executives at City Cinemas would have turned this place into a sh—house like the others.

RobertR
RobertR on February 22, 2005 at 5:08 am

I saw a film here last summer and the theatre was still very clean and well maintained. That was a few months ago and things can change in a short time.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on February 22, 2005 at 12:56 am

What kind of condition is the Village East in these days? Have they let it go to hell in a handbasket like their other ones? They better make it last – they’re stuck in a 99 year lease there – 13 down – only 86 to go…

br91975
br91975 on February 2, 2005 at 7:36 pm

It does; on occasion – I suspect during fallow periods – City Cinemas only books six out of the Village East’s seven screens.

bamtino
bamtino on November 27, 2004 at 12:18 pm

The theatre’s exterior is featured in 2002’s Unfaithful, starring Diane Lane and Richard Gere. (Photos of Lane and her lover exiting the theatre are part of the evidence of her infidelity.)

br91975
br91975 on March 14, 2004 at 1:45 pm

…and one has to wonder how much longer the Village East will survive under current ownership. Last year City Cinemas filed a lawsuit against Loews Cineplex and Regal Entertainment Group, claiming that the two chains (which operate the Village VII Theatre and Union Square Stadium 14, respectively, within the same booking zone) were conspiring with the major studios to withhold product from the Village East’s screens. (City Cinemas may very well have an argument, considering that, of the 7-10 offerings typically booked into the Village East at any given time, only 1-3 are major studio offerings and even those generally aren’t the types of films likely to generate gangbusters box office.)

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 14, 2004 at 11:12 am

The theatre first opened in 1926 as the legit Yiddish Art Theatre. It then became known as the Yiddish Folks Theatre before switching to movies in the 1930s and 40s, first as the Century and then as the Stuyvesant. In the 1950s, it became the legit Phoenix, followed by several stints with burlesque as the Casino East, Gayety, and Eden. Then there were more attempts at films or legit as the 12th Street Cinema, Entermedia, and Second Avenue. City Cinemas converted it into the current Village East multiplex. Has any NYC theatre survived more name changes?

richarddziadzio
richarddziadzio on May 2, 2002 at 12:49 pm

The 1968 movie “Night They Raided Minsky’s” was filmed inside the theatre.