Jean Renoir Cinema

162 2nd Avenue,
New York, NY 10003

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Astyanax on August 22, 2011 at 8:22 pm

To think that 34 years ago before the advent of video & cable,you could open a speciality boutique mini-cinema and show vintage classics and edgy product. At least Ilene Kristen is still around, hamming it up on “One Life to Live” (at least for the time being!)

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 15, 2008 at 7:35 am

The Gate showed movies here for two years (1967-68), probably longer than the Jean Renoir or the Camelot ever operated.

Gate should be added as an aka and 162 Second Avenue should finally be added as the best likely address.

kevinlally on April 15, 2008 at 12:46 pm

As the late, quite remarkable Ray Blanco explains above, the Jean Renoir Cinema originally opened at 162 Second Avenue, then was forced to move to the Actors Playhouse at 100 7th Avenue South due to landlord problems. A plumbing crisis at the second location was the last straw, and the cinema closed for good at the end of 1977. I was there, and it was quite a year, full of ups and downs.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 18, 2008 at 8:48 am

A 1977 NYT ad for “The Renoir” lists the address as
100 7th Avenue So. Nr. Sheridan Square.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on September 18, 2007 at 10:27 am

The first commercial festival of Cuban films was held at the Olympia in March 1972 way before the Jean Renoir opened. It lead to the commercial release of the now classic MEMORIES OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 24, 2006 at 2:05 pm

THis site has a photo and some history as the Gate (162 Second Avenue)

View link

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on April 22, 2006 at 6:55 am

If indeed the Gate, Camelot Twin and Jean Renoir are all the same, the address is: 162 Second Avenue.

RobertR on December 18, 2005 at 7:28 am

Here is an ad as The Gate.
View link

bamtino on November 8, 2005 at 5:19 pm

The Camelot Twin, listed elsewhere on this site, was reported to have existed at 2nd Ave. and 10th. Could it have used this space five years earlier?
The Gate Theater which, along with its alternate name, Tambellini’s Gate Theater, should be listed as Previous Names for this theatre, was mostly used as an Off Broadway venue. It was located, along with the Cricket Theater (AKA Cricket Playhouse), another live venue, in the former Second Avenue Baptist Tabernacle building (erected in 1909, replacing the original church structure which had been built in 1849), a 14-story structure at 162 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10003. One theater was in the basement and the other on the 1st floor. The auditoriums apparently seated 135 and 250 persons, though COs for the property report capacity as 165 and 350.
In the later half of the 1960s, the Gate Theater screened many underground, experimental, and short films, including, in 1964, Martin Scorcese’s “What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?” In December 1977, the location became home to the Theater for a New City.
Today, the structure is home to Urban Outfitters.

br91975 on August 6, 2005 at 3:06 am

Thanks for posting your memories of the Jean Renoir, Ray; what was its exact street address?

RayBlanco1 on July 22, 2005 at 3:20 am

I forgot to mention that my other true partner was Ken Edwards…we were both 19 years old then. He kept that theater going against another. Ken and I are still in business together.

At that time, we also distributed films through Bauer International (originally A.J. Bauer & Company)and then became Liberty Films. We distributed the early films of Wim Wenders (when no other American distributer would touch him…including Dan Talbot of New Yorker Films), Hans Jurgen Syberberg, Alexander Kluge, Gregory Nava (whose first film Confessions of Amans had its theatrical release at the Renoir) and Martha Coolidge whose first film (Rape…Not A Pretty Picture) also had its theatrical premiere at the Renoir.

Another one of my friends (till today) was Kevin Lally who today is the Editor of the Film Journal and the author of Wilder Times, the definitive book on Billy Wilder. The latter project was a dream of his back then.

To answer your question, it was only 16MM which limited us greatly back then. But we actually experimented with 16MM creating a platter system so the entire film was on one reel. It only broke down once…during the last two minutes of a Bunuel Mexican film…of course to a packed audience! I forget the film right now…and can you believe not one single person asked for their money back. And they say New Yorkers are heartless…it would have bankrupted us sooner rather than earlier.

Well that’s it for now. Sort of memory lane for me…anyone remember Joe Franklin? Yes, I made an appearance…my first on television with Ilene promoting the Jean Renoir Cinema. Now Franklin was a treasure!!!

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 22, 2005 at 3:14 am

I should add that I once saw Jean Renoir speak at Harvard. It was March 5, 1965, and I don’t remember too much of the lecture except his statement that The Golden Coach had been inspired by the music of Vivaldi.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 22, 2005 at 2:54 am

Please do go on. Nice comment. I’d like to know the exact dates or years of existence of this theatre, whether you were equipped for both 35mm/16mm, perhaps have links to ads or photos, read some more anecdotes, etc.

RayBlanco1 on July 22, 2005 at 2:43 am

What a small world, I was just wondering the Internet and found this website. I was the founder of the Jean Renoir Cinema in New York. It was a dream that became a reality thanks to Nancy Newell (New York Times got it wrong) and Ilene Kristen. I programmed the theater with Nancy supplying the energy. Ilene was an investor. One of my treasures is a hand-written note from Jean Renoir himself giving me permission to use his name. Throughout the run of the theater, Renoir would send his friends to check up on us.

We did some innovative programming including the First Cuban Film Festival in a commercial theater as well as the first theatrical opening of Luis Bunuel films from his Mexican period – again they had never had a cinema opening in the United States. Unfortunately, a lack of funding, the cost of advertising in New York and problems with landlords in New York forced us to close the theater.

I still have the programs and lots of things from those days. The physical buildings are still there. The Second Avenue location was on Second Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets. We had to move from that location since we had been subleasing and the people we paid the rent to had not paid the landlord. So after a week of being shut down, we relocated to the then and now Actors Playhouse on Seventh Avenue South.

I could go on…I am really happy that someone remembers the Renoir…it was one of my most adventuresome and happy times…what a small world!

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 9, 2005 at 2:58 pm

“Daughter of Deceit” was Luis Buñuel’s “ La Hija del engaño.” The director’s more obscure Mexican films were being released for the first time in art and specialty houses in the U.S. Most had been shown already, but in unsubtitled showings in Spanish-language cinemas. The Little Theatre at the Public showed a few of them. I remember seeing “El Bruto” there.

RobertR on June 9, 2005 at 10:55 am

I just found a NY Times ad dated 8/12/77. The Renoir was advertising a new print of “Daughter of Deceit” from 1951.

br91975 on April 20, 2005 at 11:46 am

What was the exact street address of this theatre? I presume its former space – at least on the exterior – bears little or no resemblance to its former film or live theatre tenants, given how much that stretch of 2nd Avenue continues to change and redevelop itself.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 20, 2005 at 11:40 am

A link to photos of Ilene Kristen, owner/founder of the Jean Renoir Cinema in 1977. She is seen at her movie theatre here.

RobertR on April 7, 2005 at 7:51 pm

WOW I never heard of this theatre, I would love to hear more details.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 7, 2005 at 6:05 pm

According to a New York Times article on the day of the theatre’s opening, one of the founders of the cinema was Ilene Kristen, then 25 years old, who played Delia Ryan on the soap opera “Ryan’s Hope.” Others were Ray Blanco, then the owner of Brauer International, a distributor of art films, and Nancy Newhall, one of the first women ever admitted to the Projectionists Guild.