Crown Gotham Theatre

969 3rd Avenue,
New York, NY 10022

Unfavorite 10 people favorited this theater

Crown Gotham Theatre

Opened by the Trans-Lux circuit April 10, 1963 and built at a cost of $500,000, this cinema was a popular East Side mainstay from its opening when it screened Marlon Brando in “The Ugly American”, to its closing in 2001 after screening “All the Pretty Horses”.

Located in a modern, white brick post-war high rise between E. 57th Street and E. 58th Street on 3rd Avenue, the Trans-Lux East Theatre (its original name) was a sophisticated 570-seat movie house with a balcony.

Very much a United Artists or Warner Bros programmed house through the 1960’s and 1970’s, the theatre showed “A Hard Days Night”, “Help”, “The Hallelujah Trail”, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”, “A Shot in the Dark” and more in the mid-1960’s but relatively little after that.

It was distinctive enough as a decent sized single screen theater for United Artists to launch a road show engagement of “Last Tango in Paris” at a then unheard of price of $5.00 per ticket.

Bob Guccione then leased the house for a couple of years and renamed it the Penthouse East for “Caligula” (there never was a Penthouse West).

Trans Lux then renamed it the Gotham programming mostly with Fox pictures but it never had the same prestige as the Baronet & Coronet or Cinema I-II up the block.

Owned in its last years by the Crown family as it rolled out its brand in Connecticut over the last bits of the TL estate there and some new builds, it was programmed by City Cinemas with a mix of Disney and Miramax fodder largely sub-runs.

There was a rumor that Miramax was going to take it over, redo it and rename it the Paradiso (after Cinema Paradiso), which would have made a superb competitor for the Paris Theatre, but alas another East side single screen bit the dust.

The theater closed in 2001 and was gutted for retail space.

Contributed by SethLewis

Recent comments (view all 34 comments)

Astyanax on January 27, 2011 at 11:48 am

The TransLux East was singular for its intimate sense of luxury with its posh red and gold appointments and classical architectural details. When it reopened as the Gotham this was lost and was replaced with a sleek, yet cold ambiance. Other than Last Tango In Paris, the TLE could never compete with Cinema 1 or the Coronet for the exclusive mainstream bookings. The fourwalling of Caligula, and subsequent distribution patterns probably reuined it as a prime first run venue.

Ian on March 9, 2013 at 7:24 am

A photo shortly before closure here:–


Garth on August 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm

I know I saw “Zardoz” here in 1974, because according to the NY Times it was the only Manhattan theatre showing the film upon its premiere. I also saw “Caligula” on its debut in 1980, when it was called The Penthouse.

Garth on August 8, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Google NY Times Archive and you get a selection screen.I have only looked up movie reviews, not sure if the old ads are there. Check it out, there is a wealth of info.

mharmon999 on June 20, 2015 at 1:01 pm

The theatre was unique for the big lobby and balcony, the lobby had a big sitting area, very few theatres that are around in 2015 like this one, the staff was always nice and even remembered people who were frequent guests there. The first movie I saw there was on 10/27/84 was the Paul McCartney film Give My Regards to Broadstreet. I also saw Wall Street, The Pick Up Artist and others.

Logan5 on August 24, 2015 at 9:32 pm

According to the book “The Beatles: The Ultimate Recording Guide” by Allen J. Wiener, “Give My Regards To Broad Street” starring Paul McCartney premiered on Wednesday October 25, 1984 at the Gotham.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on July 17, 2016 at 9:57 am

The Trans-Lux East had its grand opening on the night of April 10th, 1963, with the invitational premiere of “The Ugly American.” The Marlon Brando starrer started continuous performances the next day, in a dual engagement with the Rivoli Theatre in midtown.

davidcoppock on February 8, 2017 at 12:24 am

“Did they ever show a Batman film there?”

vindanpar on August 2, 2019 at 4:11 pm

An elegant theater where I saw El Cid and The Sound of Music in beautiful prints. And though it did not have a huge screen they were satisfying experiences.

$5.00 though was not unheard of. Roadshow movies were charging more than that for the best seats since ‘64.

kieran10 on September 17, 2020 at 12:48 am

I always liked this theater the best of all the 3rd avenue cinemas (on and off) between 57th & 60th. I didn’t have an occasion to go here too many times, but I do remember seeing Big here and then sneaking out of class early to see a matinee of Say Anything the day before it closed.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater