Cinema Village

22 East 12th Street,
New York, NY 10003

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Cinema Village

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This venerable art house has been around for decades and is virtually the last of the old Village independent cinemas that flourished during the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s. It was opened in 1963 with 310 seats in a conversion of a former fire station.

After several tough years, the theater was expanded into three screens and has continued its tradition of showing independent, foreign, and classic films.

The Cinema Village evokes a different era when "independent" really meant it.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 91 comments)

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 14, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Bigjoe, the SOBO only operated in 1971 and I believe some of the shows were live/film combo nude performance art pieces that would not be considered porn today.

The 55th St Playhouse descent into hard core porn was gradual but there was no closing period. After “THE BOYS IN THE SAND” there was a fine line between gay art films and gay sex films.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on May 15, 2012 at 10:33 am

Hello- as always i thank my fellow posters for replying to my inquiries. so Al A. if i understand you reply correctly the 55th St. Playhouse went from being a top art house to a gay porn house in short order? i suppose anything is possible in the big wide world of Manhattan real estate even the fall of 1971. its just i can’t picture the theater going from being a top art house than say two or weeks later becoming the top hard-core gay porn house in Manhattan. i naturally assumed there had to have been a significant closed up period.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 15, 2012 at 11:57 am

After DEEP THROAT opened in 1972 the market changed drastically for art houses and direction the theatre operator took was more distinct between those who programmed European art films and those who programmed sexploitation or hard core and advertised it as art product.

BullyOhio
BullyOhio on November 18, 2014 at 7:20 pm

This theater was featured in an episode of Mad About You

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on November 20, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Hello-

I always thought the Cinema Village which has been a beacon for film goers for at 50? years was built from the ground up as a movie theater. but I read it was actually built within the gutted skeletal structure of an 1890s firehouse. how much of the firehouse actually exists?

artpf
artpf on February 13, 2015 at 12:48 pm

Built in 1963 in the shell of a turn of the century fire station, Cinema Village is the oldest continuously operated cinema in Greenwich Village and one of the oldest continuously operated art cinemas in the city.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on June 8, 2015 at 11:35 am

This theater was featured in a story on “Last week Tonight” due to the fact that this theater was the only one in the NYC area to show the Fifa funded United Passions which bombed at the box office due to the scandal surrounding the soccer federation and it’s outgoing leader Sepp Blatter.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on June 11, 2015 at 11:32 am

i know. Once in awhile this theater shows crappy movies….

thehorror13
thehorror13 on November 11, 2017 at 10:41 pm

Built in 1963 in the shell of a turn of the century fire station, Cinema Village is the oldest continuously operated cinema in Greenwich Village and one of the oldest continuously operated art cinemas in the city.

Through most of it’s first three decades of life Cinema Village was one of Manhattan’s several repertory cinemas. Showcasing a canon of vintage classics, cult and contemporary critical favorites on double bills that would usually change three times a week, this once essential programming format has now largely died out in commercial cinemas in the city and around the country. Before the video revolution, short of a private film collection, going to a repertory cinema was virtually the only way to see many films after their initial theatrical run. Rep houses like Cinema Village, the recently re-opened Thalia and the now long closed Bleeker Street, Carnegie Hall, 8th Street Playhouse and Regency were the autodidacts' film school and favorite haunts of cineastes for decades.

Undermined by home video, buy outs by major circuits and real estate development, commercial repertory cinema virtually disappeared in the city by the late 1980’s. Cinema Village only escaped closing and survived with a switch to limited engagements of highly alternative first run programming.

This resulted in an eclectic mix of slip through-the-cracks American indie sleepers (Red Rock West), the occasional revival (In the Realm of the Senses, Two Lane Blacktop, The Leopard), documentaries (Theremin, Waco: Rules of Engagement, Kurt & Courtney), festivals, animation compilations, Japanese cult cinema (Tokyo Decadence, Angel Dust, Ghost in the Shell) and heavy doses of Hong Kong cinema.

In the early nineties before Jackie Chan, John Woo, Michele Yeoh and their stunt coordinators went Hollywood, Cinema Village became known, through its annual festivals and other bookings, as the place to see the amazing Hong Kong films of what would soon to acknowledged as a filmmaking golden age. For filmgoers who never ventured to Chinatown or had only seen blurry bootleg videos, these films were a revelation and they would soon have a profound influence on international filmmaking styles. During this period we also had the privilege of playing host to personal appearances by talents such as Michele Yeoh, Chow Yun Fat, Wong Kar Wai and Peter Chan.

In 2000 our patron’s support was rewarded with a long deferred renovation and expansion of screens. When we reopened, we had transformed ourselves into a thoroughly modern three screen facility with state of the presentation. Our additional screens allow an even more diverse programming mix and permit us to extend runs of special films to extraordinary lengths (Mulholland Drive: 18 weeks; Yi Yi: 21 weeks; The Piano Teacher: 28 weeks).

In 2001 we quietly introduced digital video projection capabilities to accommodate the increasing reliance on digital video by independent productions. This now gives us the potential to play deserving features without the burden to distributors or filmmakers of an expensive conversion to celluloid.

Nearing its fourth decade, Cinema Village is proud of its longevity and thankful to have survived the pitfalls that have taken down so many other independent cinemas. Notwithstanding our resourcefulness, our ability to survive is testimony entirely to the New York City audience. We could probably only exist where we are: in the midst of most diverse, cosmopolitan and cine-aware of cities.

Auditoriums

Screen #1 Capacity: 155 seats Projection: DCP, QuickTime, Blue-ray, 35mm,16mm Sound: Dolby Digital

Screen #2 Capacity: 63 seats Projection: DCP, QuickTime, Blue-ray, 35mm Sound: Dolby Digital

Screen #3 Capacity: 69 seats Projection: DCP, QuickTime, Blue-ray Sound: Dolby Digital Accessibility

Theater 1 is wheelchair accessible.

Listening Devices Listening devices may be provided upon request

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on November 12, 2017 at 1:40 pm

Hello-

what thehorror13’s post fails to mention is the uncomfortably small size of the men’s room. i am surprised they didn’t expand it during the 2000 tri-plexing. i can’t believe it meets the NYC Building Code standards.

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