Nova Theatre

3589 Broadway,
New York, NY 10031

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Nova Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in around December 1913 as the Bunny Theatre. The name ‘Bunny’ has over the years been incorrectly attributed to early film star John Bunny, but this is not the case. The Bunny Theatre was built for Carl E. Schultze, an artist and creator of the popular ‘Foxy Grandpa’ comic strip, which he signed with his pen name ‘Bunny’ and a drawing of a rabbit. Across the top of the facade, a stone inscription read the name ‘Bunny’, and on each side of the name was a rabbit head. By 1930, there was also a 702-seat Bunny Roof Theatre operating here. Schultze died in 1939, and by 1941 it had been renamed Dorset Theatre when it was operated by Harris Theatrical Enterprises. It retained the Dorset Theatre name until at least 1950.

The theatre was purchased in the 1980’s by Adriana & Ramon Nova and was renamed Nova Theatre. They would later pass it over to their son Jesus Nova and the theatre was triplexed. Although the Bunny Theatre’s sign is gone, remnants of the original exterior and interior remained. The very top of the building’s facade remained as originally built.

Sadly, the Nova Theatre closed in August 2002 and was gutted. Jesus Nova went on to operate the Coliseum Theatre (former RKO Coliseum Theatre) at W. 181st Street & Broadway. A 99 cent store has opened in the former Bunny Theatre building. In the Summer of 2009, the decorative facade was taken down.

Contributed by Ross Melnick, Cezar Del Valle

Recent comments (view all 98 comments)

jnova
jnova on August 31, 2011 at 6:58 am

it feels great to be part of a wonderful history, but at the time you don’t realize it. my mom and dad ran it like a mom and pop store: lots of love and dedication. i am the youngest of the Nova clan, so i saw things from the “bottom”, so to speak. my mom and dad came to America to work hard and raise their children with opportunities, and the Nova was the beginning of that dream so alot of hard work went into it. it was sad to see what went on under cover of cinema darkness and we tried to control as much as we could…but how do you stop a tornado? lol you can’t! so we rode the winds as best we could.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on August 31, 2011 at 7:08 am

I know the neighborhood was wild but in many ways that kept the competition out and audiences loyal. I ran similar theatres for Cineplex Odeon but Loews ran away from those neighborhoods in the 80’s.

br91975
br91975 on August 31, 2011 at 8:12 am

I’m really glad you joined the Cinema Treasures community, jnova; welcome aboard!

One question I asked a few years ago which, if anyone here can answer, it’s you: what was the layout of the interior of the Nova? I never had the privilege of seeing a film there but remember the downward floor just inside the entrance and the one-sheet cases along each wall.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 31, 2011 at 12:46 pm

A shame that the historic facade was not allowed to survive the building’s repurposing. Welcome to the site, jnova. Should the introductory comments be corrected to reflect that Adriana and Ramon were the purchasers of this theater in the 1980’s, not Jesus?

jnova
jnova on August 31, 2011 at 1:21 pm

thank you, everyone. i am honored :] when we first opened, the doors were the original brass, the concession stand was an island connected to the ticket booth at the top of the hill. there were huge doors leading into the inner theater and a long counter that spanned across the top, behind the last row. the seats were old red velvet and the original curtains were still there. the screen was HUUUUGGGEE!! it was beautiful and the first time i saw “the fog” at the tender age of 9 i can tell you i was in shock! lol that first night there was a huge fight afterwards (my brother, jesus was the projectionist in those first days and boy did he need to learn a few tricks! lol) and yes, my mom and dad (Adriana and Ramon) bought the theater with the money they had saved from all the jobs they held (simulataneously, sometimes) and then bought a few others. we also had the alpine theater, then located on broadway and dyckman, we sold it to mcdonalds and that’s how my parents got the money to move back to santo domingo when my dad fell ill. he entrusted the Nova to my brother, jesus, and that’s how it went…my brother was fresh out of college when they bought the Nova and i was 15 when we moved to santo domingo, 17 when i returned and worked there on and off until it closed. there were other theaters we bought and sold but it was a family business. i worked alongside everyone and i wouldn’t change that for the world :]

Saturn5Dad
Saturn5Dad on January 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Mr. Nova, thank you for the memories of the Bunny/Nova! Are you still involved with the Coliseum on 181st Street? If so, please contact me at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/156753344429112/

jrock
jrock on January 26, 2012 at 1:04 pm

great stuff. having worked on a photo project in early 2000’s I have a nice continuation of photos that show: the old nova marquee (with an announcement of a wyclef concert and its last movie posters…Undisputed and fear dot com); the marquees removal revealing more bunny ornamentation; then the removal of that stone ornamentation and finally the whitewashing of the exterior and placement of 99cent sign; and eventual removal of the uppermost bunnies and bunny name. made barely recognizable in less than ten years after standing so many.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 28, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Jrock, if you ever decide to upload those images here, I’m sure they would be greatly appreciated!

jrock
jrock on March 27, 2012 at 9:58 am

Ed….i will try to get permission to upload some of the photos, they are now part of the collection of the Film Study Center at MoMA. Good news is that right now they are projecting many of them in the Titus galleries at MoMA which are outside the Titus 1 theatre. They opened this on Thursday and it should run for a while….

Gonzo
Gonzo on July 13, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Recent Jim Kelly obit published @ Roger Ebert.com talks about The Tapia.

http://www.rogerebert.com/balder-and-dash/his-own-man-jim-kelly-bruce-lee-martial-arts-enter-the-dragon-died-1946-2013

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