Loew's Kings Theatre

1027 Flatbush Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11226

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genahy
genahy on July 5, 2004 at 7:26 pm

Interesting article about revival plans for Kings. View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 29, 2004 at 6:21 am

I believe that Christian Blackwood is now deceased. One of his last works was a feature documentary about Zarah Leander, the Swedish actress-singer who became the #1 movie star in Germany during the Nazi era.

Theatrefan
Theatrefan on June 29, 2004 at 5:58 am

Check with your local libraries regarding the “Memoirs of a Movie Palace” documentary, one of the branches here in New York City has it for loan and I was able to borrow it and watch it. It’s really is quite an experience to see this video. I do hope the NYC Economic Development Corp. is finally able to do something with this former Loew’s Movie Palace, unfortunately it will cost millions of dollars to restore it to its original splendor.

Ziggy
Ziggy on June 29, 2004 at 4:50 am

Okay, I just found out that it adds the link automatically when you type it in, so just go ahead and click on it. Enjoy!

Ziggy
Ziggy on June 29, 2004 at 4:49 am

I don’t know how to use the “add a link” feature, but if you type http://www.silverscreens.com/thsa.php you will wind up on a page (in french) that has some photos of the Kings interior as it looked in 2001. Don’t click on the english version of the page. I did it and, for some reason, could no longer find the photos.

JimRankin
JimRankin on June 28, 2004 at 10:11 am

The documentary you are referring to was called: MEMOIRS OF A MOVIE PALACE by Christian Blackwood Productions then of New York City in 1980. The VHS tape was in limited production and a copy ‘should’ be at the Library of Congress as part of its copyright. I know that the Theatre Historical Soc. of America (http://www.HistoricTheatres.org )has a copy, but whether or not they would be willing to copy it for you, I do not know. In July, after they return from their Conclave in Kansas City, inquire of their Ex. Dir. at the address on their front page. A Google search turned up places selling the original 3x4-foot poster advertising the video, but not the video itself. Blackwood Productions does not appear in a Google search, nor do recent titles by Christian Blackwood, whom I met as a young men here in Milwaukee back in April of 1980 when he was attending the “Symposium on the American Movie Palace” then held at the Univ. of Wis. at Milwaukee. If you find a source of the video, please let us know here! No doubt there are many people who would like to get a copy, including me, Jim Rankin at

Movieplace
Movieplace on June 28, 2004 at 9:29 am

There was a documentary made about this theater about 20 years ago. Does anybody know the name of this film or better yet how I can obtain a copy? I know that the organ still rose up on it’s seperate lift for the film, however I do not remember if it was playable.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 1, 2004 at 6:49 am

The apostrophe should come after Loew and before the “s”, as Loew’s. The theatre closed before the company changed its name to the illiterate “Loews.”

MarkW
MarkW on May 31, 2004 at 8:51 pm

Listing should be changed to Loew’s Kings

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 25, 2004 at 8:18 am

“Day-and-date” was an exhibitors' term for theatres showing the same programs at the same time and for the same number of days or weeks.

mahermusic
mahermusic on April 24, 2004 at 8:08 pm

Loew’s Kings opened on September 7, 1929, not September 6, 1928.

Mike326
Mike326 on April 11, 2004 at 7:09 pm

Warren,
What does the term “day-and-date” mean ?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 7, 2004 at 9:29 am

The decline of the Kings began in the late 1940s, when it was reduced to playing day-and-date with most of the other Loew’s houses in Brooklyn, as well as with theatres of rival circuits. Prior to that, the Kings and Loew’s Pitkin had shown their programs a week ahead of the rest of the pack except for Loew’s Metropolitan in downtown Brooklyn. In fact, when they first opened in 1929, the Kings and Pitkin played day-and-date with the Met, but that soon proved unworkable because of the unique product “split” in downtown Brooklyn between the Met, Paramount, Fox, Albee, and Strand.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 7, 2004 at 7:04 am

Loew’s Kings first opened in 1929, not 1928.

jflundy
jflundy on April 6, 2004 at 11:59 pm

Loews Kings opened on Friday September 6, 1928. It was built on the site of a seasonal outdoor movie park and the Flatbush BRT trolley depot and storage yard dating back to the 1890’s.

The site became available when a new carbarn and yards were opened located at Avenue N and Utica Avenue in Flatlands. The Marcus Loew organization was seeking to expand its theater circuit and the Kings was to be one of the new “Wonder” theaters in the NYC metropolitan area.

After the Kings was built,the Cortelyou Road trolley which began its run at the old depot, had to make a switchback on Flatbush Avenue to run south, turning west onto Cortelyou Road at the Century Rialto Theter and proceeding to Gravesend Avenue and then north to Church Avenue near the Beverly Theater.

The Kings feature vaudville with live orchestra, a large organ (Morton if I recall correctly) and silent movies. It was the number one Flatbush theater and was jammed with long lines of patrons waiting for seats in the vast lobby with brass railings and velvet ropes channeling the waiting throngs into multiple lanes.

In 1930 the Cortelyou trolleys were replaced by new electric trolley buses and added further glamour to the area which was well served by public transit. Despite this the patronage started dropping off as the Great Depression began.

In the eary ‘30’s the theater had been showing talkies for a few years and vaudville was dropped in favor of a straight movie policy.In 1935 double features became standard.

Throughout the 30’s, Erasmus Hall High School, located up Flatbush Avenue next to the Astor Theater, held its graduations in the theater on Saturday mornings. The organ was prominently featured in the ceremonies with one of the music teachers ( can no longer recall his name) performing in a quite grand manner.

The orchestra was quite large, being very long and dived half way down to the stage by a transverse asile. The balcony was very small and on the whole the layout of the auditorium was similar the Brooklyn Paramount.

Attendance picked up in the late 30’s and boomed during WW2. Around 1947 the marquee and vertical were updated spoiling the exterior harmony with a garish if spectacular look. The vertical was huge and had a brillant neon effect changing from gold to silver and impossible to miss from far up the avenue.

Patronage began declining slightly in 1951 but was still good in 1953 after which a downward slide began. I was in the orchestra on a Wednesday afternoon in 1957 seated by the center aisle at the east side in the first row to the rear of transverse asile waiting for the show to start; I looked around and saw only two other people in the huge house. I sensed that things had really changed and wondered how long would the theater last. Shortly, four men came down the asile wearing suits, one the manager. I could hear them speaking as they approached me. They stopped at the asiles intersection. One man said to the manager that the theater was clean but the beauty was somewhat faded. The manager said it hadn’t had a coat of paint in 29 years. Another said that it was too bad but don’t expect it. Apparantly this group was a corporate survry team checking out the house.

At this time there was still a newsreel but that soon stopped.

jflundy
jflundy on April 6, 2004 at 11:54 pm

Loews Kings opened on Friday September 6, 1928. It was built on the site of a seasonal outdoor movie park and the Flatbush BRT trolley depot and storage yard dating back to the 1890’s.

The site became available when a new carbarn and yards were opened, located at Avenue N and Utica Avenue in Flatlands. The Marcus Loew organization was seeking to expand his theater circuit and the Kings was to be one of the new “Wonder” theaters in the NYC metropolitan area.

After the Kings was built,the Cortelyou Road trolley, which began its run at the old depot,had to make a switchback on Flatbush Avenue to run south,
turning west onto Cortelyou

Road at the Century Rialto Theter and proceeding to Gravesend Avenue and then north to Church Avenue near the Beverly Theater.

The Kings feature vaudville with live orchestra, a large organ (Morton if I recall correctly) and silent movies. It was the number one Flatbush theater and was jammed with long lines of patrons waiting for seats in the vast lobby with brass railings and velvet ropes channeling the waiting throngs into multiple lanes.

In 1930 the Cortelyou trolleys were replaced by new electric trolley buses and added further glamour to the area which was well served by public transit. Despite this the patronage started dropping off as the Great Depression began.

In the eary ‘30’s the theater had been showing talkies for a few years and vaudville was dropped in favor of a straight movie policy.In 1935 double features became standard. Throughout the 30’s, Erasmus Hall High School, located up Flatbush Avenue next to the Astor Theater, held its graduations in the theater on Saturday mornings. The organ was prominently featured in the ceremonies with one of the music teachers ( can no longer recall his name) performing in a quite grand manner.

The orchestra was quite large, being very long and dived half way down to the stage by a transverse asile. The balcony was very small and on the whole the layout of the auditorium was similar the Brooklyn Paramount.

Attendance picked up in the late 30’s and boomed during WW2. Around 1947 the marquee and vertical were updated spoiling the exterior harmony with a garish if spectacular look. The vertical was huge and had a brillant neon effect changing from gold to silver and impossible to miss from far up the avenue.

Patronage began declining slightly in 1951 but was still good in 1953 after which a downward slide began. I was in the orchestra on a Wednesday afternoon in 1957 seated by the center aisle at the east side in the first row to the rear of transverse asile waiting for the show to start; I looked around and saw only two other people in the huge house. I sensed that things had really changed and wondered how long would the theater last. Shortly, four men came down the asile wearing suits, one the manager. I could hear them speaking as they approached me. They stopped at the asiles intersection. One man said to the manager that the theater was clean but the beauty was somewhat faded. The manager said it hadn’t had a coat of paint in 29 years. Another said that it was too bad but don’t expect it. Apparantly this group was a corporate survry team checking out the house.

At this time there was still a newsreel but that soon stopped.

RobertR
RobertR on March 31, 2004 at 1:27 pm

It was Loews to the day it closed.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 31, 2004 at 1:17 pm

The introductory to this theatre is seriously need in a revamp. Why is there “no description available?” The Kings is one of the most famous movie palaces ever built. I’m sure that many of us could provide one. Why is the chain “unknown” when it first opened as Loew’s Kings and remained for most of its existence? And why is the function described as “Performing Arts?” When the Kings first opened in 1929, it presented movies and vaudeville, but soon switched to movies only for the rest of its life. Perhaps there was once a plan to turn it into a performing arts center, but that never happened.

Orlando
Orlando on March 31, 2004 at 11:39 am

On Wednesdays, in my high school days at Erasmus Hall, on lunch breaks of 40 minutes I would walk down Flatbush Ave. South and check out the openings at Brandt’s Astor, Fox-Eastern’s Albemarle, Loew’s Kings and Century' Rialto at Cortelyou Road. I’d crossed the street
and return checking all the fronts of the marquees ending up at the RKO Kenmore. All except the Kings and Rialto, still had 8"x10" stills and one sheet display cases. Lunches varied from Chock Full O'Nuts, Woolworth’s, the Jewish Deli accross the street from the Kings, and Jahn’s. (However, never at Garfield’s. The Granada where I worked from 1970-75 I saw on the way to school and home. I went to all the theatres from 1967-1975. I never thought they would all be gone. Loew’s Kings and Century’s Rialto in 1977, the Astor in 1978, the Granada in 1983, the Albemarle in 1986 and the Kenmore in 1999.
At least the Jehovah’s Witness' have taken very good care of the Albemarle. The Rialto must look the same way as far as the inside goes and the Kings just sits there. Three out of six is not bad. The Granada is a Rite-Aid, the Astor is a dollar store and the poor Kenmore was totally gutted including the restored lobby so that it can’t be used as a theatre, Onex (LoewsCineplex) saw to that.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 31, 2004 at 9:55 am

Perhaps they could put the Kings on rollers and move it to some other part of the USA that has no spectacular theatres and would appreciate it more, such as Nome, Alaska.

RobertR
RobertR on March 31, 2004 at 9:47 am

By location alone, a restored Brooklyn Paramount stands a better chance of survival then a restored Kings. Downtown is on an upswing, with talks of moving a pro basketball team there. Flatbush would be a harder sell. Dont get me wrong, I was in the Kings a few times as a kid, my aunt lived there before she married my uncle. As a kid I remember gasping as I walked in the door. It is a sad statement about NY but we tear down everything. You mentioned we have a lot of theatres but we have more Zeigfelds then we do Roxys.

JimRankin
JimRankin on March 31, 2004 at 9:14 am

$50 million is a small estimate for the extensive work needed to fix this wonderful 2-½ acres of seats in a six story high auditorium. The 4-story-high draperies that once made the looming walls look less foreboding would require the building of an assembly barn for this scale of work, since the old drapery houses that could do such work are long gone, and those few existing today do not have the perspective, experience, or talent to reproduce such monumental work, and if they could, it would cost at least $5,000,000 for just the draperies alone! (Craftspeople today will not work for the 25 cents per hour that they did in the Twenties!) And even if you could find someone willing to risk about $75 to 100 million on this space, where would the parking for the thousands attending come from?? (Americans are not in the habit of walking, even from a bus stop on the corner!) Perhaps there is available land adjacent that could be purchased, and perhaps the city would allow a parking structure to be built there, but that would add considerably to the cost. Reportedly, the electric company will not even turn on the power until someone pays the big back bills of the former operator, and the problems mount up from there. Yes, the KINGS was a most glorious movie palace, but unless TV and videos somehow disappear tomorrow, there is not likely to be found anywhere an audience large enough and CONSISTANT enough to support the theatre, which would be taxed again just as soon as a private party got ownership from the city. We must face the fact that the only reason it still stands today is that the city doesn’t want to spend upwards of $10 million to have it demolished, though they may have to do that if it becomes a refuge for undesirables in deteriorating conditions, as it inevitably will with time.

Will the equally wonderful BROOKLYN PARAMOUNT become available in a condition that enables it to be restored? I fervently hope so, but many of the same problems confront that situation as confront the KINGS. Where will the THOUSANDS of people come from to support the place? It is tax free now, but it is highly unlikely that it will remain so under new conditions! And taxes are just one of the expenses such huge facilities face, since just to pay for the utilities for a year would bankrupt the average business. (For example, few movie palaces had any insulation in the walls and ceilings to contain heat, so heating costs would be astronomical). The only real hope is for a ‘sugar daddy’ such as Donald Trump who presumably wouldn’t care if he lost millions each year, since he would be so in love with the place that he would keep it just for nostalgia and as a public monument to a day and age when people cared about such things and would support them with their hard-earned money. Now the people spend for rock spectacles and sporting events, not theatres, and even the much smaller, and therefore much more efficient theatres are in a financial bind as our culture degenerates, and people no longer support the arts in sufficient numbers to maintain them in any large scale.

For those of you in love with the KINGS, there was a documentary released in 1979 called “Memoirs of a Movie Palace” as a photographic tour of the KINGS, and it may be possible to find it in some library. Through such, it may be possible to relive some of those days of lost glory, but don’t hold your breath about reviving any such behemoths in our crass, and expensive, day and age. Unlike most cities, New York already has an abundance of theatres, and it is highly unlikely that the tax payers there will vote to pay to maintain another one.

P.S. The KINGS is one of my favorite theatres, simply from having seen it in photos and the documentary, so I am not being negative, simply realistic, sad to say. Oh to have a ‘time machine’ to be able to travel back to those days of architectural majesty!

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 31, 2004 at 7:04 am

I believe that it’s currently owned by The City of New York, which has been trying to find a buyer for some years now. Sure, it would be wonderful to re-open the Kings as a gift to Brooklyn, but who’s going to put up the $50 million or upwards that would be required to do so?

garry
garry on March 30, 2004 at 7:52 pm

It would be a gift to Brooklyn to re-open this wonderful movie palace. A group should be formed such as the friends of the Loews in Jersey City, who are doing miracles in their restoration, to take over the Kings and revive it. The rebirth of this palace would be a true cultural gift for current and future generations. Who currently owns this theater?

Marcus
Marcus on February 23, 2004 at 9:14 am

Could be good news for the Kings: The New York Times recently did an article on the Ditmas/Flatbush area in their “If You’re Thinking of Living In” series. Many people priced out of Park Slope are moving south of the park, into the lovely single Victorian homes in the area. I have driven around there and it is definitely more gentrified, diverse and safe than it was about 5 years ago when I lived nearby. Would be fantastic if the theater followed in the footsteps of the Loews Jersey, and became a focal point for the community.