Crown Gotham Theatre
969 Third Avenue,
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Opened by the Trans-Lux circuit in April 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 57th and 58th on Third 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.
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