Hollis Cinema

191-12 Jamaica Avenue,
Hollis, NY 11423

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robboehm on November 15, 2012 at 11:02 am

I was never in the Bellaire but the exterior certainly looked “itchy”. I remember hearing stories about how the Bellaire would have water on the floor after a rain. I found it really odd when it was converted into a two level bowling alley. The lower one must have really flooded. I was in the Hollis once, see an earlier posting. I found the surroundings pleasant even though the projectionist on that day was totally incompetent missing cues, cursing loudly at his own frustrations, etc..

Tinseltoes on November 15, 2012 at 10:55 am

I think that the main rival to the Hollis was the Bellaire, which was much nearer than the Island. The Bellaire was probably the one known as “the itch.”

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 14, 2012 at 10:49 pm

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

THX on November 30, 2011 at 8:19 pm

I actually remember seeing Rocky 2 in that theater which premiered in 1979. So I know that theater didn’t “find God” until at least 1980. And the zip code is 11423.

MarkieS on January 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Thanks so much for doing all that checking!

robboehm on January 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm

MarkieS, I just went back to the Island site to see if there was a photo, the links no longer exist, and found a posting from you dated June 18, 2009 in which you mentioned your mother, at age 81, referring to the Island as “the itch” and seeing Intermezzo there.

MarkieS on January 16, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Thank you, it WAS The Island. My mom remembered the name. She remembers seeing Intermezzo and Pygmalion there.

robboehm on January 16, 2011 at 1:30 pm

To the best of my knowledge there were only two theatres in Hollis. This one and the Island. The Island had a very old looking incandescent lit marquee. I attended one performance at the Hollis in the 1950s. I thought it was clean and attractive. My only negative was the projectionist on that day was totally incompetent. He never made smooth transitions between the reels and he could be heard cursing loudly when things didn’t go right. I remember the usherette, yes usherette, saying she didn’t understand his problem because he was union.

MarkieS on January 4, 2010 at 9:49 pm

my mom told me about a dumpy theater in Hollis that even in the 30’s was known as “the itch”, and showed movies that had been out for awhile. I don’t think it was this one though. Any ideas what it could have been?

kencmcintyre on September 2, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Here is a May 1962 ad. Click on the ad for an expanded view:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 15, 2007 at 5:12 pm

“Lost Memory” left out some pertinent information in summarizing the NYT article of 2/3/62. For its new life as the Hollis Repertory Cinema, the theatre was extensively refurbished and had its seating capacity reduced to 325. The opening program was a double bill of “The Bicycle Thief” and “Citizen Kane.” New shows opened on Thursdays and ran for six days. Every Wednesday was devoted to special events, such as double bills of opera and ballet features or test screenings of new experimental films seeking distribution. During the week, the Hollis opened at 7PM, with daytime performances only on Saturday and Sunday. The theatre’s manager was Norman Seider, almost certainly related to Joseph Seider, president of Associated Prudential Theatres, which ran the Hollis. In the Times article, Joseph Seider said that “Our original idea was to serve Long Island with an attractive little theatre devoted to good unorthodox pictures. But judging by all the phone calls and letters we’ve been getting, interest has spread and people will be coming here from all the boroughs. Our programs are booked straight through the next thirteen weeks.”

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 29, 2007 at 7:49 am

Until I happened on this 1932 ad in the LI Daily Press, I’d never heard of Playco Theatres, and can’t find the company listed in Film Daily Year Books. I suspect that Playco was similar to today’s Creative Entertainment, providing services for absentee owners:

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 28, 2006 at 6:48 pm

Here’s a local.live.com aerial view of the former theater facing the south and looking at the building’s Jamaica Avenue frontage.

Hollis Theater aerial

Click on the larger building icon in the bird’s eye tool palette to get a closer view. The theater is the buidling with the white facade behind the 3 trees on the sidewalk.

I remember passing this building by a few times and thinking it may have been a former theater – but then I quickly dismissed that notion as it was at a time when I was zealously “seeing” former theaters on every other street corner! Had I noticed any church signage there would have been no doubt whatsoever.

bobby1361 on March 22, 2006 at 1:53 pm

Actually it played adult films well into the 80’s. The church that is there now has been there snce about 1997/1998. It had been closed for a few years until the church bought it. I know some people who attend the church.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 17, 2005 at 8:52 am

In this 1931 eastward view of Jamaica Avenue, the marquee and white stone facade of the Hollis Theatre can be seen in the center of the right side. The theatre reportedly first opened in 1925:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 11, 2005 at 7:53 am

Many of these small, late-run theatres turned “art” out of desperation during the “TV revolution.” By showing something quite different from their mainstream rivals, they hoped to coax people away from their TV sets. To the best of my memory, nearby Jamaica never had an “art” cinema, so the Hollis could draw patronage from a wide area surrounding it.

RobertR on June 10, 2005 at 7:12 pm

In 1962 this was being billed as The Hollis Repetory Cinema. They were playing a double bill of “Public Enemy” and “A Nous La Liberte” both from 1931. The next day they were playing Sophia Loren in “Aida”. I found this amusing since a year ago I made postings on the Guild 50th site about this “lost” film which was revived in the 80’s there. Even more amusing is Hollis having an art house, if you saw this area now.

RobertR on September 29, 2004 at 10:49 pm

In a 1958 ad Prudential advetised the theatre as The Hollis-Art. They were playing a double feature of “Gates of Paris” and Maria Schell in “So Little Time”.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 7, 2004 at 4:40 pm

The Hollis Theatre was located at 191-12 Jamaica Avenue and had about 600 seats. It was a typical late-run neighborhood movie theatre until around 1960, when it was upgraded to an “art house” as the Hollis Cinema.