AMC Fresh Meadows 7

190-02 Horace Harding Boulevard,
Fresh Meadows, NY 11365

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Loews Cineplex Fresh Meadows - 2002

This large theater, which sits along the Long Island Expressway, began its life on November 23, 1949. It was a giant 2,184-seat suburban movie palace serving a 3,000-family, middle income housing project in Fresh Meadows, Queens, New York.

It was constructed by the firm of Voorhies, Walker, Foley & Smith and was built for Century Theaters which had the automobile in mind when it constructed an adjoining parking lot with space for 1,000 cars.

The theater itself contained an enormous auditorium with a balcony, a large lobby and foyer, and a lounge in the theater’s mezzanine.

The modern opulence of the Meadows, and its late-1940’s stylings, have been lost over the years as the former Century Theatres movie house has slowly morphed into a seven-screen multiplex.

Now operated by AMC Theatres, the ghost of its former operators, Cineplex Odeon, can still be seen in the theater’s marquee.

The AMC Loews Fresh Meadows 7, became known as AMC Fresh Meadows 7 is located near a five-screen Loews theater on the other side of the Long Island Expressway that recently closed.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 159 comments)

Fredhadley on July 19, 2015 at 8:11 am

Meadows 2

I first saw the “Mighty Meadows” in 1965 at a special Sneak Preview of “A Thousand Clowns.” I was 17 and worked at Century’s Prospect in Flushing. Whenever the Meadows had a big event, they would borrow ushers from the Prospect to augment their staff. This was in the days of single-screens, so two thousand + patrons would come pouring out at once.

The Prospect manager was Walter Leyendecker, who had replaced Mr. Mc Eachern or “Mac,” formerly of the Meadows. The first thing I noticed, was that the auditorium exit signs, instead of glowing red, glowed a sexy violet.

When I became 21, I became a projectionist with NYC Local 306 IATSE. Because of low seniority, I took a job at RKO Alden on Jamaica Avenue in the mid ‘70s. It was in decline in a dangerous neighborhood. In 1978, the Alden was converted from one screen to a quad. My pay went from $13 to $22 per hour as I had to run all 4 screens.

In 1983 after the Alden Quad closed because of poor business, I became eligible for “circuit seniority” and claimed the Meadows and got it over other older projectionists because I had lost my job through no fault of my own. The manager was Ed Bernhardt who was allowed to keep a small dog, named Charlie in the manager’s office. Charlie never barked and knew never to venture out into the lobby.

The Meadows was a twin by that point with the huge original auditorium divided longitudinally by a wall and serviced from the original booth in the upper rear of the building. This booth was amazing! Very large with picture windows that had louvers beneath to get fresh air. The view was of the LIE, just yards away. There was a dumbwaiter at the north end for hoisting the heavy film shipping cases.

The old “preview magazines” that enabled double-system “work prints” to be screened for audience testing had been removed and were stored near the dumbwaiter. The equipment was 4 35 MM Simplex X-L with Ashcraft carbon arc lamphouses that had been retrofitted for Xenon bulbs. The soundheads were RCA. We spliced three 18-minute reels together and ran 6,000 foot hour-long reels with one changeover in the middle of the movie.

In the 90’s the Meadows was acquired by Cineplex Odeon and its CEO, Garth Drabinsky (he put real butter back on the popcorn) decided to make a sevenplex. Platters were brought in (see photos), and two new booths that ran the long way (east-west) were built. Six 35 MM and one 35/70 MM Simplexes were put in. Three cinemas (1,2&3) had small screens in the basement mounted along the long south wall.

Three medium screens were in Cinemas 5,6&7 on the upper level and Cinema 4, the “presentation” house with 35/70 was in the basement with a large screen near where the original 1949 screen was along the east wall.

In 2003 the union started allowing the managers to run the projectors on Mon, Tue & Weds, so I left the Meadows and “bid” for Regal’s Sheepshead Bay 14-plex, still 100% union. I retired in 2008. My final shift was the first day of a new cutback. The projectionist would go home after starting the last shows and the manager would shut down. I clocked out at 10:30 PM for the last time. I had just turned 60 and was eligible for early retirement, so I went to Boca Raton, FL.

Two years later, the Sheepshead Bay went digital and the projectionists were replaced by manager/projectionists. Now there are but a handful of theatres, mostly repertory, still union. Sad.


theatrefan on July 19, 2015 at 1:58 pm

That’s a great story Fred, Thank You. Reel Film (pardon the pun) almost has an organic quality to it that just can’t be easily replicated with a bunch of bits & bytes from a DCP version, in the same way vinyl records had a warmth and texture to them that no CD ever matched. I also to make it a point to check the program of any repertory film house program to make sure it;s being shown in 35mm or 70mm format, when this type of film presentation is done well, nothing else can even come close.

Jerrr26 on November 1, 2015 at 2:10 pm

My family moved from Manhattan to Fresh Meadows in 1950 so this became our local theater. My first date with a girl was to the Meadows and I saw my first 3-D film thereā€¦ Bwana Devil! Seeing my first 3-D there was very important in my life as 3-D has been my career for the past 40 years now. (I directed three 3-D music videos for the Rolling Stones and now teach Stereoscopic 3-D to grad students.)

I only remember the Meadows as one large theater, the concept of breaking up a theater did not exist then.

The quality of 3-D projection in the 50’s was awful. The poster before me, theatrefan, spoke up for the beauty of actual film over digital. This may be true for normal 2-D movies but, for 3-D, digital is so very superior that is might be highly irresponsible to show 3-D from film today.

There was a Horn & Hardart cafeteria diagonally facing the theater’s entrance and that was part of the experience. Also a large Bloomingdales was right nearby. I wonder what those are now? Maybe a trip is in order. I learned to ride a bike in a Fresh Meadows parking lot, and, a few years later, to drive a car in that same lot!

By the way, I discovered this site just last week and I posted some other memories under Carnegie Hall Cinema.

DARCYDT on April 4, 2016 at 5:20 pm

Now $16.49 in the afternoons and $17.99 at night. With 3D figure $20.49 in afternoon and $21.99 at night, ridiculous.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 4, 2016 at 7:53 pm

Regular shows starting before noon are $8.99, but there aren’t too many that start before noon…

jeffpiatt on November 24, 2017 at 8:01 am

RobertR That’s the new standard marquee for all AMC locations after there upgraded. the yellow circle patterned metal plates is what there putting up to cover up the old “flex” sign spaces on the older locations generally to mount the new AMC signage all locations are getting under the new Branding push AMC is doing. having the showing films up on the entrance has been downplayed by internet listings most of my local theaters removed the Auditorium numbers and have the sign give the theater site to get showtimes. the theater was also renamed again to AMC Fresh Meadows 7 as the AMC Loews nameing is being phased out.

DARCYDT on March 28, 2018 at 6:44 pm

Screen 4 is being converted to Imax

Johnfromthe80s on May 26, 2018 at 11:39 am

This place has been around for ages, other than Movieworld its probably the only theater in the area that is still there. I remember it used to a two screen theater. Saw Raiders of the Lost Ark here and Young Sherlock Holmes, then later on it became a multiplex, then went another renovation in the 2000s, and a few years ago went yet another renovation.

moviebuff82 on April 13, 2019 at 9:06 am

DARCYDT noticed that already when i was browsing showtimes for Endgame on fandango.

robboehm on April 13, 2019 at 9:44 am

Johnfromthe80s- also still around are the Main Street Playhouse and the Bombay (formerly Mayfair).

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