Pavilion Theatre

188 Prospect Park West,
Park Slope,
Brooklyn, NY 11215

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Sanders Theatre exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located in the Park Slope district, and built on the site of the Marathon Theatre (1908-1927). The Sanders Theatre was opened in August 1928 with 1,516 seats. The interior design was carried out in a Moorish style, and it was equipped with a Wurlitzer 2 manual 7 rank organ. It was closed in 1978, and stood unused for over a decade.

It was taken over by a new operator in September 1995, and was eventually repaired and reopened as the Pavilion Theatre in 1996, with 3-screens. By October 2004, it had been converted into a 9-screen cinema. In September 2016 plans were announced that the cinema would close in October 2016 to be converted into a 7-screen Nitehawk cinema, to be known as Nitehawk Prospect Park.

Contributed by John Chappell, Suzanne Moore

Recent comments (view all 39 comments)

Kris on December 10, 2014 at 12:45 pm

That would certainly explain why the restaurant next door has never been replaced. While I don’t particularly begrudge them wanting to build something there, the architectural renderings here look like more of the same ugly futurist condos that have been popping up all over Park Slope.

As for the Pavilion itself, I wish they would reopen the cafe! I wish a lot of things, really, but that one seems like it could be a real boon given the current state of the neighborhood. But alas, they’d rather just have more overpriced condos.

theatrefan on April 23, 2015 at 11:24 pm

There is an article in today’s AM New York that states this building will be turned into a luxury housing apartment building which will include a smaller high end movie Theatre underneath & retail, that will feature independent films. The article also states that the plans are still fluid and could go in a number of different ways. I guess only time will tell what will eventually happen to the Pavilion.

theatrefan on April 24, 2015 at 8:39 am

Here is the AM New York Link:

theatrefan on April 24, 2015 at 8:41 am

Here is a story from The Real Deal:

Metropolite on August 26, 2015 at 6:18 am

Nitehawk Cinema eyeing the Pavilion.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 26, 2015 at 9:43 am

Direct link to this article.

PARK SLOPE — The saga of the Pavilion Theater could have a major plot twist in the next act.

The owner of Williamsburg’s Nitehawk Cinema says he would love to take over the Pavilion after its new owners renovate it.

“I’ve always been interested in the Pavilion, even in its current state,” Nitehawk owner Matthew Viragh told DNAinfo New York. “It’s been somewhat neglected, but I’ve always thought if we could get a hold of it we could do great things.”

Viragh first approached the Pavilion’s owners around the time he opened Nitehawk, the popular Metropolitan Avenue movie theater where cinephiles dine on gourmet food and booze during screenings.

Nothing came of those talks, but Viragh spoke again to the Pavilion’s new owners, Hidrock Realty, after news broke that they plan to renovate the Pavilion and construct a five-story condo building next door.

“We reached out when we heard about the new development plans, [but] they’re not in tenant mode yet,” Viragh said. “They’re trying to get the building through the [city approvals] process.”

A Hidrock spokesman confirmed that Nitehawk is one of several contenders to take over the Pavilion, but that the developer won’t make a decision until after the development gets the approvals it needs to move forward.

“Nitehawk is absolutely under very serious consideration,” spokesman Ethan Geto said. “Hidrock thinks they would a great job.”

The Pavilion is in Park Slope’s historic district, so the Landmarks Preservation Commission has to sign off on any development there. The condos and theater renovation will also need a zoning variance that must be OKed by the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals.

The LPC recently asked Hidrock to tweak its plans after locals raised concerns about the look of the new building.

A new operator for the Pavilion would likely be a significant upgrade for the theater. The multiplex draws crowds from across Brooklyn for blockbusters, but it’s battled several problems in recent years.

The theater fought bed bug rumors in 2011, and a lack of heating forced customers to chill out during screenings in 2013. Recent online reviews have complained of malfunctioning air conditioning and dirty theaters.

Viragh has made other forays outside of Williamsburg — he recently bought a commercial building in Bushwick that he plans to rent out.

Willburg145 on June 16, 2016 at 6:39 pm

I went there today for the first time. I think I was in screen two. The air conditioning was not hardly on and it was somewhat warm in the theatre. And there was a musty smell.

Kris on September 6, 2016 at 9:11 pm

Huzzah, if all goes well, it will be a Nitehawk in 2017:

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 6, 2016 at 10:11 pm

Text of article:

Nitehawk to Open a Second Cinema in Brooklyn

Park Slope, Brooklyn, hang on to your strollers. The Pavilion, the neighborhood’s lone remaining movie house — one frequently criticized for varying degrees of neglect — is to be transformed into a Nitehawk theater, set to open early fall 2017. Plans to add condominiums to the site, made before the Nitehawk entered negotiations with the building’s owners, have been scrapped.

This will be the first expansion for team Nitehawk, which opened the popular dine-in boutique cinema in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 2011. In an era of megabudget superhero flicks and ever-better television, Nitehawk thrived, proving that if you build a three-screen artisanal movie house in a hipster-rich neighborhood and serve burrata, kale salad and cocktails tableside, they will come. The new multiplex, to be rechristened Nitehawk Prospect Park, will have seven screens, a total of 650 seats, a double kitchen, two bar areas, a restored atrium overlooking the park, and, of course, in-theater dining, according to Matthew Viragh, Nitehawk Cinema’s founder.

The Pavilion will be closed by the end of October, he added. Renovations, which should cost less than $10 million, are expected to take about a year.

“We’ve always wanted to do more locations,” Mr. Viragh said. “Our focus is Brooklyn; we want to be a neighborhood cinema. That’s in our DNA, to cater to this area.”


Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 6, 2016 at 10:13 pm

Article, continued

If the Nitehawk is the movie-theater equivalent of an enduringly cool kid with a man bun, the Pavilion is more of a Miss Havisham with some questionable late-in-life cosmetic tweaks.

Perched on the westernmost corner of Prospect Park, the cinema opened as a 1,516-seat, Wurlitzer-equipped theater, the Sanders, in 1928, and for decades suffered the indignities of old age. It was shuttered in 1978, reopened as the Pavilion with three screens in 1996, then divided into nine screens in the 2000s. Local blogs meticulously pored over its decline, noting its trash-strewn, thickly sticky floors, ripped upholstery and frequently broken toilets; patrons bemoaned it as well, collectively giving it a two-star rating on Yelp.

New operators took over in 2011, adding leather seats, new carpet and fresh paint, but Park Slope cineastes would not be swayed. “There were pieces of tissue paper in my drink cup,” one patron wrote on Yelp this year. “I grab a booster for my kid and it’s covered in gum and melted gummy candy,” groused another.

The Pavilion’s long march toward Nitehawkhood began five years ago, when Mr. Viragh approached Hidrock Properties (then Hidrock Realty), which had bought the Pavilion for $16 million in 2006.

Mr. Viragh and Steven J. Hidary, whose family owns Hidrock, discussed making the theater a Nitehawk, but with the Williamsburg location also opening in 2011, the timing was off. Then, several years ago, Mr. Hidary said his family “wanted to bring out the full potential of the site.” The plan, which caused local consternation, was to build condominiums while also retaining a three- or four-screen theater. Last year, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a six-story condo conversion for the one-story building adjoining the Pavilion, with units also to be built on the cinema’s second floor. Then Mr. Viragh came forward with investors who wanted to buy the theater and give Nitehawk a long-term lease.

Brooklyn’s residential building boom has led to concerns about market oversaturation, but Mr. Hidary said that the company’s decision was not affected by a softening real estate market, because Hidrock bought relatively low and just two dozen units would be built on a prime site. Condos might have even made them more money, but “we had to decide, do we build condos or do we save Brooklyn?” said Mr. Hidary, who is from Midwood. “So we saved Brooklyn.”

The sale of the theater, for $28 million to 188 Prospect Park West L.L.C., closed on Aug. 26, according to Mr. Viragh and Mr. Hidary, with Hidrock still owning the adjoining one-story site. (Mr. Hidary said that there were no current plans to build condominiums there.) Emails to Ben Kafash, one of the Pavilion’s operators, were not immediately returned.

Brad Lander, a city councilman who fought to keep a cinema at the site, said that while the Pavilion might not have been beloved, “losing a movie theater would’ve been a blow,” adding, “It’s a center of Park Slope family life.”

The new Nitehawk will add to the boomlet in specialty art-house cinemas in New York City, which includes the Metrograph on the Lower East Side and the Syndicated, in Bushwick, Brooklyn. A branch of the Alamo Drafthouse, with seven screens and 798 seats, is set to open in Downtown Brooklyn this fall, while the Quad Cinema in Greenwich Village is being refurbished for opening at an undetermined date.

“We want to elevate the cinema experience, because that’s what it’s all about,” Mr. Viragh said. “How rare is it to save a theater in New York, and not make it into a Duane Reade or a Starbucks?”

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