Big Cinemas Manhattan

239 East 59th Street,
New York, NY 10022

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Big Cinemas Manhattan

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The 59th Street East Cinema, originally called the D.W. Griffith Theatre, was an art house theater located in midtown Manhattan. It belonged to a cluster of single, twin, and triplex movie theaters; all of which were within two blocks of each other.

One of many subterranean venues around the city, this single screen theater was reached through a small entrance that originates on 59th Street. The entrance continued past a modest concession area and then ended at a staircase, descending to theater level.

In 2000, the theater was one of the few theaters to show a director’s cut of Luc Besson’s “The Big Blue”.

The theater closed in late-2003, but reopened in July of 2004 as the 300-seat ImaginAsian Theatre, featuring first-run Asian films, live events, satellite-fed broadcasts (such as sporting events), and exhibitions. The theater not only offers the traditional popcorn, but has a cafe serving Asian snacks, beverages, as well as internet access. The theater’s first offering was hosting the 27th Asian-American International Film Festival.

By 2010, it had been renamed Big Cinemas Manhattan, and was operated by Phoenix Big Cinemas. It was closed in January 2014.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 71 comments)

br91975
br91975 on January 28, 2014 at 8:14 am

Walked by this cinema last night and noticed it was closed, as per its blank marquee, Big Cinemas signage painted black and sign posted on one of the main theatre entry doors. Too soon to tell if another operator might take over or if a retail conversion is next.

On another note, Midtown East now has more physically vacant screens – this one, the three at 64th & 2nd, and the six at 1st & 62nd – than it does operating ones (the three at the Cinema 1, 2 & 3 and the two at the Beekman).

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on January 29, 2014 at 6:54 am

City Cinemas should take it over and make it Cinema 4

SethLewis
SethLewis on January 29, 2014 at 10:28 am

This was the Cine Malibu, then the D.W. Griffith, then the 59th St. East under Cineplex Odeon, then the Big Manhattan…interesting evolution from soft porn to art house to second run showcase to first run to Bollywood… Flew the flags of Rugoff/Cinema 5/City Cinemas/Walter Reade/Cineplex Odeon before Big…Not to sniff at first run engagements of pictures like Steve McQueen’s Le Mans, Jaws 2, Connery/Hoffman & Broderick in Family Business A shame if City couldn’t find value as a second run spillover house between the Cinema ½/3 and Beekman in the now woefully underscreened UES

fred1
fred1 on January 29, 2014 at 1:59 pm

All Big cinemas in the NY market are close. They were dumb enough to play bollywood flicks and thus limit its audience. I wont be suprised how much their theaters were rundown as they put zero dollars.

Garth
Garth on February 2, 2014 at 5:11 am

I was hoping to check out the theatre due to it’s history but was not interested in the films they showed. I would put it’s chances of finding new owners as slim to none. It is just not financially viable to operate a single screen movie house with no stadium seating on the UES or anywhere. In the old days it would have become a revival house, a showcase for foreign films or a discount second run location.

RobertR
RobertR on March 11, 2014 at 3:29 am

If City Cinemas (who used to operate this) or another operator who could get good product came here they might make a go of it. Even though the days of the single screen are over, the neighborhood is painfully under screened. I ran this theatre many eons ago and hate to see it close.

robboehm
robboehm on March 11, 2014 at 3:36 am

Garth – Isn’t it really about product rather than seating? There are two small single screen theaters on Long Island which do quite well exhibiting several different films each day for several days rotating the times shown.

RobertR
RobertR on March 27, 2014 at 9:59 am

The East side used to be a BOOMING movie area. Other then the 3 films playing at Cinema 1-2-3 couldn’t this theatre have its pick of releases?

RobertR
RobertR on July 16, 2014 at 3:44 am

Anything going on here? I keep hoping it reopens hate to see it closed

RobertR
RobertR on September 18, 2014 at 3:03 am

The marquee is lit up with a for lease sign but I guess this is going to go retail :(

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