City Cinemas Village East

181 Second Avenue,
New York, NY 10003

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City Cinemas Village East

Viewing: Photo | Street View

City Cinema’s beautifully restored Village East was once the home of Yiddish theater in its 1,200-seat auditorium. Legend has it that Walter Matthau began his film career here as a young boy working at the concession counter.

Its past is still evident in the Moorish designs that adorn both the inside and outside of the theater. Yiddish writing outside the lobby and a large star of David in the dome of the main auditorium further infuse atmosphere into the historic building. By the late-1930’s it was operating as a movie theatre, named Century Theatre (listed as (Closed) in 1941 & 1943). By 1950, it had reopened as a movie theatre renamed Stuyvesant Theatre, with a seating capacity for 1,082.

Today in the basement below the original ornate theater and lobby, four screening rooms have been added with seating provided in screen 2;187, screen 3;179, screen 4;130 and screen 5;66. A further two screens have been added on the former stage area of the theatre, which are stacked one on top of the other. The screen on top has wonderful stadium seating, a decent size screen, and is a very nice theatre in itself. It is not as beautiful as the main auditorium, but does have exposed brickwork and some character.

With New York City’s lack of a still-operating historic movie palace, the Village East is the closest thing around.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 98 comments)

Logan5 on September 24, 2014 at 11:53 am

Anyone know when it was turned into a 7-plex?

NYer on July 18, 2015 at 5:52 pm

The 7-plex opened on February 22 1991. The only opening ad I could find in The N.Y. Times was a very tiny three inch ad on Valentines Day announcing the opening the following week. I didn’t see an opening day ad at all. Maybe they spent the money on a Village Voice ad. Ad in photo section.

Garth on September 16, 2015 at 4:49 pm

I was here for the second time today,this time to see “Irrational Man”(if you like Woody Allen it’s his best in years).Last time,my movie was playing in one of the basement theatres, today I was sent upstairs to a magnificently restored auditorium. The movie was not centered correctly on the screen causing a brief interruption during which the house lights were raised. I didn’t mind because it gave me time to admire the theatre and it’s design. Upon leaving I noticed the marquee stated “Historic Auditorium Now Re-opened”. I recommend a visit to any fellow movie theatre enthusiasts.Also the Orville Redenbacher popcorn was fantastic.

theatrefan on September 17, 2015 at 8:41 am

I had the pleasure of attending a midnight screening of Rocky Horror Picture show here about 14 years ago. It was a great show and also a wonderful auditorium.

Brianhs on October 26, 2015 at 8:58 am

Do they still have the 70mm projector installed in Auditorium 1 to play The Hateful Eight or (hopefully) Star Wars later this year?

theatrefan on October 26, 2015 at 9:28 am

When Interstellar played the 70mm was shown at the Ziegfeld, City Cinemas 1-2-3 and Lincoln Square IMAX, I don’t seem to ee Star Wars TFA as a 70mm release unfortunately. I will have to ask the manager who we know if they still have the 70mm projectors here.

dave-bronx™ on October 26, 2015 at 11:19 pm

If they are digital and have kept any of the 35/70’s it would be in the main theatre as there is space in the booth. Cinemas 2 and 3 in the cellar each have tiny booths, originally with one film projector and one 3-stack platter and it was crowded, #2 opened in 1991 with a 35/70 machine. The two small cinemas in the cellar, 4 & 5, shared a big booth with plenty of space, but the screens are so small the 70mm would be pointless. Cinema 6 on the street level of the stagehouse had a tiny booth. #7 in the flyloft might work, the booth was a little bigger, but the screens in 6 &7, while wider than 4 & 5 in the cellar, they were not as wide as 2 & 3. From the beginning the only place 70mm made any sense in that theatre was in Cinema 1, the original, restored auditorium.

Brianhs on October 28, 2015 at 5:15 pm

I know they had a 70 projector for The Master, but I’m unsure if they kept it after the restoration

Brianhs on October 28, 2015 at 5:16 pm

They have a poster up saying Hateful 8 will play there, there’s just no indication on 70 or not

RogerA on November 25, 2015 at 5:27 pm

They ran an advanced screening in 70mm and the projector broke. I sounds like they need a chief projectionist who knows what he is doing.

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