Big Cinemas Manhattan

239 E. 59th Street,
New York, NY 10022

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Big Cinemas Manhattan

The 59th Street East Cinema, originally called the D.W. Griffith Theatre, was an art house theatre 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 E. 59th Street. The entrance continued past a modest concession area and then ended at a staircase, descending to theatre level.

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

The theatre 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 theatre not only offers the traditional popcorn, but has a cafe serving Asian snacks, beverages, as well as internet access. The theatre’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 74 comments)

fred1 on January 29, 2014 at 11:59 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 on February 2, 2014 at 3:11 pm

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 on March 11, 2014 at 1:29 pm

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 on March 11, 2014 at 1:36 pm

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 on March 27, 2014 at 7:59 pm

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 on July 16, 2014 at 2:44 pm

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

RobertR on September 18, 2014 at 2:03 pm

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

RobertR on February 5, 2015 at 4:27 pm

Come on the theatre could get big bookings with all the other cinemas closed

David_Schneider on March 29, 2016 at 8:24 pm

The other ImaginAsian was in Los Angeles with its own page on Cinema Treasures, now as the Downtown Independent, but still has its cool looking exterior.

Bruce C.
Bruce C. on September 9, 2017 at 5:44 pm

The old theater is now the Tracy Anderson Group Classes Cafe. A photo taken on August 14, 2017 has been added.

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