Master Theater

1029 Brighton Beach Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11235

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Oceana Theatre exterior

The 2,184-seat Oceana Theatre was opened in 1934, operated by an independent exhibitor. By 1943 it was operated by Rugoff & Becker. In the 1950’s, it was taken over by the Century Theaters chain.

The Oceana Theatre was later divided into a 4-screen multiplex. What was interesting though is that the owners were so concerned about people going from picture to picture, that they made a “rats maze” in where you had to go through different doors to access each individual auditorium.

The candy counter upstairs and down was divided in half and each theatre even had its own rest rooms! However, this shrunk the lobby into a very small size.

Later, they took the backstage area, and added theatres 5 and 6 to the building. The backstage area used to have vaudeville-era clothes in boxes and other great old items plus the original stage was hidden behind the screens on the 1st floor.

Also, originally in multiplexes, all screens had to share a common projection booth due to union rules. At the Oceana Theatre the booth was in the back of the two downstairs theatres and the upstairs booth was accessed through a ladder which would go to the booth which was in the middle of the theatre upstairs.

They eventually got rid of the booth structure and moved the projection booth to the rear of the upper theatres after union rules were relaxed.

Known later on as the Atlantic Oceana, the theatre operated as a venue for Russian live dinner theatre, known as the Millennium Theatre. This closed in 2014, and in the summer of 2014, it was being converted into a Russian supermarket. It was reopened in 2016 as the 1,326-seat Master Theater.

Contributed by Mike Abrams, William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

certrix on December 27, 2008 at 2:01 am

Living on Brighton 12th street in the 1960’s, the Oceana was my neighborhood theater. I remember attending a premire of The Monkey’s Uncle, starring Annette Funicello, in 1965. After the picture started I remember following Annette and watching her hail a cab on Brighton Beach Avenue. What a time, no security, no escort, no chaperone.

I took piano lessons from Mrs. Bocher in a studio over the Oceana’s marquee. There was an electronic repair shop in the storefront to the east of the entrance. I used to wait there before catching the bus to go to school. By the way, singer Neil Diamond’s parents had an infant’s aparell shop located a few doors east of the theater.

LuisV on March 12, 2012 at 6:22 am

A big article in today’s NY Times:

Relatively little is said about the theater itself except for this nugget: “The theater, with its glittering chandeliers and red-carpet walls, has a threadbare glamour.” It also calls this 1,400 seat theater a Lincoln Center of sorts for the Russian Community. I wonder how much of the original details remain.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 12, 2012 at 10:16 am

There’s also this photo gallery with several glimpses at the interior (mostly portions of the lobby).

LuisV on March 12, 2012 at 11:16 am

Thanks Ed, I don’t know ho wI didn’t see the link! That said, I’m not sure what to think about the photos. I thought the one shot of the red carpeted walls with the chandelier was interesting but the other shots made the interior look rather bland. This might be deceiving though. What do you think?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 12, 2012 at 2:35 pm

I think the streamlined architectural lines in the portions of the lobby ceiling depicted are consistent with a theatre built in the 1930’s. The color scheme seems a bit garish, and most likely not original. I’d also think some of the lighting is retro-fitted. The carpeting along the staircase wall appears to be repeated in the auditorium side walls – at least from what I can make out in the very first picture taken of seated patrons that appears in the gallery. Outside of the lobby ceiling, I’m not sure very much (if anything) survives from the original interior design.

robboehm on August 22, 2014 at 6:59 am

Apparently the theater is no more. A 15,000 feet gourmet Russian supermarket is due to open on the site offering 40 varieties of caviar. It’s called Gourmanoff. Foods of Bulgaria, Uzbekistan and Latvia will also be featured.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on September 6, 2016 at 6:46 pm

This has reopened as the Master Theater.

Dodiad on November 25, 2016 at 5:07 pm

I grew up on Banner Avenue and Brighton 7th Street in the 1950s. The Oceana was our regular neighborhood tgeater (along with the Tuxedo on Ocean Parkway off Brighton Beach Avenue). I remember going to the Oceana in about 1955 (I would have been 9 years old) to see a live stage show with tge Merry Mailman, Ray Heatherton (actress Joey Heatherton’s father). Many good times at the Oceana.

thehorror13 on May 25, 2017 at 11:09 am

This theater should be listed as the Oceana!! Nobody is going to search for this classic old Brooklyn theater as the Master Theater. It has become a Russian supermarket for the most part and does not deserve to be associated with this Russian “theater”. ALL THE TRUE MEMORIES OF THIS THEATER IS OF OCEANA! This theater should be listed as CLOSED! Give the Master Theater it own listing or make it a side note!

robboehm on May 25, 2017 at 8:10 pm

If you search as Oceana you’ll get the Master. In theory all CT sites should be by the last name used. In theory.

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