Cinemapolis

171 East State Street,
Ithaca, NY 14850

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Cinemapolis was opened at the same time as its counterpart, Fall Creek Pictures, in 1985/86. Theater 1 has 177 seats and theater 2 has 116 seats.

It is located in the Center Ithaca Building in the downtown Ithaca Commons.

Contributed by Dave Bonan

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on November 15, 2005 at 12:23 pm

Cinemapolis is one-of-a-kind in Ithaca, and that’s saying something in a town where there’s many ones-of-a-kind. When the block-size Center Ithaca complex opened in the early ‘80s on State Street at Ithaca Commons, it accommodated various street-level stores, a food court, some second-level office space, and two floors of luxury apartments. But its vast basement space went unused (except for utility areas) until Richard Szanyi and Lynne Cohen got the idea of nesting a small art theater into a corner of it.

The theater, owned and operated by Szanyi and Cohen and devoted chiefly to foreign imports and North American independents, proved an immediate hit, though newcomers usually need to spend time figuring out how to find it. Its main access is on a side alley through a metal fire-exit door marked only by a toy-sized marquee and mini-display case. It’s more or less like entering an exclusive club. After descending narrow stairs, you proceed through a long cinder-block-walled basement hallway where, if you walk too fast, you’ll overshoot the theater’s single doorway. Its major marker is a cluster of stills from Lumière’s “Voltige,” Méliès’s “Trip to the Moon,” and the like. If you arrive before this door opens, you’d never know there’s a theater inside. But once you’ve been there, you’ll never forget it, and you’ll keep coming back again and again.

Cinemapolis proved so critically successful that a year or so later, adjoining space was carved into a second, smaller theater. In both, comfortably proportioned screens occupy a single-level space with nicely staggered, deeply cushioned seats (new sets were installed recently). The projection in each is focus-perfect, with proper masking (well, usually, anyway), and excellent sound. An ever-obliging staff goes out of its way to please, and responds promptly to requests for focus or volume adjustment. And a youthful collegiate crowd greets the performances with respectful attention, savvy good humor, andâ€"when appropriate—enthusiastic cheers.

Ex-pat New Yorkers wax nostalgic about the ambiance as it recalls NYC art houses of the ‘50s and ‘60s. For me, it’s a mutant version of the Thalia, the Regency, the 55th Street Playhouse, and the Art, with a touch of the Baronet, the Fine Arts, and the Plaza thrown into the mix. In its main auditorium, rear-lit stained-glass panels decorate attractively draped walls, and expansive rows of seats give the impression of creating a much larger space than it actually is. In the smaller auditorium, a center aisle lends an intimacy to the side-row seating. Oh, and the refreshment stand offers home-baked brownies and chocolate-chip cookies with herbal teas and dark-roast coffees, along with old movie posters and stills from earlier attractions. The lobby can get packed between screenings, and the buzz in the air when a film lets out is terrifically energizing as patrons trade wise-cracks, critical comments, and neighborly glances. Now at the beginning of its third decade, it’s a gift to the community.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on September 6, 2009 at 2:30 am

Closed earlier this year when the new Cinemapolis opened at 120 E Green St.

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