Master Theater

1029 Brighton Beach Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11235

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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.

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!

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.

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

This has reopened as the Master Theater.

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.

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.

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 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 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.

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.

bsolue on January 30, 2008 at 6:35 am

does anyone remember Zeimars Deli which was located in Brighton Beach? My uncle used to own it.

kencmcintyre on September 16, 2006 at 10:18 am

This is a 1934 sketch of the proposed Oceana:

ERD on October 31, 2005 at 11:38 am

The Oceana was an attractive neighborhood theatre. It was was close to the once fashionable Manhattan Beach.

RobertR on October 13, 2005 at 9:39 am

The two backstage theatres could easily be opened for movies again if they have not been torn out.

RodgerLodger on September 26, 2005 at 2:12 am

On Saturday afternoons we kids had to sit on the left side…the center, the good seats, were off-limits, and an annoying woman (“matron”) in a white outfit would patrol with a flash light. Years later I learned of a New York state law requiring segregation of children, apparently for their own safety. But for budding movie buffs to have to sit off-center was an insult, let alone a joy dampener.

zach on July 6, 2005 at 10:57 am

Lived near the oceana, sheepshead ,lakeland and tuxedo.Also near me was the kings highway theater.across from the oceana was the brighton baths and downstairs was Zeimars deli.

sethbook on November 2, 2004 at 12:52 pm

My mother’s mother used to go to the movies here every Saturday after she was done with the shabbos lunch dishes. Even though my grandfather was strictly orthodox, she somehow brokered a deal for herself whereby once a week, she got to go to the movies by herself without acceding to his demands and the chores of housewifery. Good for her!

RobertR on May 7, 2004 at 7:46 am

What do they show in the Millenium theatre upstairs? I bet the two backstage theatres are still there, might make a few dollors to run it as a twin if it could be done cheaply.

Orlando on May 7, 2004 at 7:40 am

Yes, I saw the Golden Gloves boxing match last year in the original auditorium orchestra space. Some of the exterior is the same, the box-office removed within the past three years. The lobby marble has been removed and redone, the coved ceiling intact. I believe the balcony is now the Millenium Theatre and must have been de-multiplexed even though that staircase was closed to the public that night. It was funny because the Daily News did an item on the theatre that I was quoted to have worked there. In addition, when I asked the manager/owner about the changes to the building, she told me it was a landmark and couldn’t be changed (however many changes did occur). Some of the theatre’s features are noticeable but you have to know ehere to look. Thi person obviously didn’t know much about the origins of her building.

RobertR on May 7, 2004 at 7:22 am

Has all the multi-plexing been removed now that this is a live theatre again?

Orlando on May 7, 2004 at 7:08 am

The Oceana was sold to an independent theatre owner in late 1973, He also had run the Granada, Highway and Rugby Theatres. The Rugby was first to go to Golden (who had the Quad and Olympia in Manhattan and the Graham on Whitney & Knapp Street and the Benson in Brooklyn). The Granada entered the Golden fold in 1974 followed by the Oceana in 1976. The balcony was sealed off from the public and only the upstairs restrooms were accessible. I worked the Oceana in 1975 for a while. It’s auditorium was large and two blue backlit decorative grilles were on each side of the screen. A former Century matron, Gloria, now at the candy counter use to call the theatre a big barn. I was not there for the Golden-transformation thank God. I remember “Hester Street” played an exclusive run here for 4 to 5 weeks before the “Golden” rule. On the second level outside the ladies' room was a bust of the goddess Oceana that was also lit. Milton was there when I worked there and was a doorman. We also had a problem with the seniors who parked thier sun chairs all along Brighton Beach Avenue and had to be asked not to block the theatre entrance. I remember seeing “The Wind And The Lion” here. Century had not gone bankrupt at this or any other time. They just sold off thier buildings as neighborhoods changed and money was needed for them to continue. The Century Circuit was taken over by the Almi Group in 1981 and that’s when Almi let go off all the unprofitable Brooklyn houses as well as the Long Island leased properties. I worked for Almi and that’s the way it happened.

MikeRadio on December 4, 2003 at 5:39 pm

I contributed to the description in the article above. I was an usher at the Oceana, when it was owned by GOLDEN. I believe this is the company who owned it after Century went bankrupt. GOLDEN also owned the Fortway, and the Benson at the time.

I was given the usher job, because they needed someone to work New Years eve in 1982, and me and a friend were both called. I worked there about 2 months and change. It was a 4 plex at the time, as the old vaudville clothes and other artifacts were backstage where they eventually put 2 more theatres, that used a side entrance.

Speaking of exits and entrances, we would pull gates down on the fire doors while the last movie of the day was still showing!

I do not remember much about the people that worked there, but the managers at the time were Milton and Martin. One’s last name was Rosenburg. There was another usher named Alfredo or Albert who I recall as well. We also had an off duty cop around many times.

Some of the movies I saw mulitple times at the Oceana while ushering included one of the Pink panther movies, The Chosen, The Last American Virgin, The Entity, and several others.

People would line up outside to get in. There was a way to go between theatres through backstage downstairs and a simple door upstairs, which would circumvent the “maze” that was built to keep people from switching theatres.

I wore a bow tie, and a black vest and white shirt.. carried a flashlight.. had to stop people from smoking (no smoking just became the law) and tell rowdy kids (I was a kid also) to quiet down.

Now, ushers clean the theatre and walk out. The movie starts itself. The sensors on the film dim and raise the lights. You do not see any other staff once the movie starts. And in most cases you are seeing the movie in a neat square box.

Brooklyn had some amazing showplaces. See my comments about The Loews Oriental and the Kingsway.

I still love going to the movies. But I will miss the experience of going to the movie THEATER.


William on November 14, 2003 at 4:16 pm

The Oceana Theatre was located at 1029 Brighton Beach Ave..

jinchelsea on April 27, 2002 at 7:55 am

My father managed the Oceana Theatre from the mid-1950s until 1960. During the 1950s it was one of three neighborhood theatres owned by Rugoff & Becker (the other two were the Tuxedo, where the Luna Park apartments are located on Ocean Parkway, and the Sheepshead, in Sheepshead Bay). All three theatres were acquired by the Century chain in the late 1950s, and my father worked for them until the late 1960s (Century also owned the Kingsway, Avalon, Midwood and other Brooklyn Theatres). At some point, when Century went bankrupt, the Oceana was converted to a sixplex, and there were often one or two Russian-language films playing for the now-Russian-speaking neighborhood. I went there several times in the 1980s while it was still a movie theater, and was fascinated to see how it had been converted (my father’s office and part of the lobby were now a separate theater!). Two years ago on a trip to Brighton Beach I managed to get into the Oceana, which has been operating as a Russian nightclub for some time. The facade was pretty much the same as it had been 40 years ago, but the inside had been totally adapted to resemble an old-fashioned nightclub. There was still a stage where the original screen had been (in the 1950s some stars made personal appearances to plug their movies). Probably the biggest event that I remember was in 1958 when “The Ten Commandments” played a two-a-day run for a number of weeks.

Here’s a final question: does anyone remember the Brighton Theater, a legitimate theater that was part of the fabled “subway circuit,” a group of theaters around New York City where Broadway shows toured when they closed their original run? The Brighton was located near the Tuxedo Theatre at the end of Ocean Parkway, just before you turned to go to Coney Island (right) or Brighton Beach (left). My father managed the Brighton for some period of time in the early 1950s, and I remember attending a performance of “Top Banana” as a very young child. Anyone have more information on the Brighton?