Theatre 80 St. Marks

80 St. Marks Place,
New York, NY 10003

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Theatre 80 St. Marks

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This was a Lower East Side landmark as one of the city’s oldest revival theaters. It had rear projection 16mm and played double bills of Hollywood classics. Long before the Angelika and other trendy theaters were serving coffee and brownies, you could get them here. It was designed by the owner Howard Otway, who employed architect Millard Bresin to draw up the plans.

Upon the death of Howard Otway, the theater was leased out for live theater, and was managed by the Otway family trust. The original mini marquee is still there.

Home of the Pearl Theatre Company for many years, in the Summer of 2009, they announced they would be leaving the building and a new theatrical tennant was being sought. In November 2009, it was announced that the Theatre 80 St. Marks would be reopening as a movie theatre with some live theatre use. Films would be projected digitally. The new operator is Lorcan Otway, the son of the original owner of the theatre, the late Howard Otway.

Contributed by RobertR, Lorcan Otway

Recent comments (view all 74 comments)

DavidMorgan
DavidMorgan on November 19, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Here is a NY Times article on the gangster museum upstairs from Theater 80:

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“[Lorcan Otway’s] two-room museum is right above that former speakeasy, which for years has been known as Theater 80 St. Marks in a neighborhood that boasts its share of notorious ghosts like Capone (the Brooklyn-born Chicago mobster often visited Manhattan), Lucky Luciano and John Gotti …

“His father, Howard, an actor, bought the two buildings, at 78 and 80 St. Marks Place, from Walter Scheib, the former speakeasy operator, in 1964. In a bunkerlike basement room, the elder Otway found a safe with $2 million in gold certificates, which he soon learned had expired.”

donnalinderman
donnalinderman on January 23, 2011 at 10:31 am

Nothing but fond memories from this semi-old East Villager of my days/nights at Theatre 80. Who cared if the projection wasn’t great or seats weren’t comfortable…where else could you go to learn your cinema history when the heat was out (often) in your 5th floor walkup w. a junkie sleeping in your vestibule? Sneak in a slice from Stomboli’s across the street, split a brownie w. your companion and settle down to watch some great movies in days before Netflix. How lucky can you get?

Shannon
Shannon on July 26, 2011 at 5:16 am

So happy to hear that the Theatre is back being used as a movie house. I was a projectionist there between 87 and 88 after having graduated from university. And the movies that i was privileged to watch were an education to me and inspired me through out my career in I also remember Howard and Florence very fondly. Good luck to you Lorcan.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm

What’s the latest? (Reading the comments on the Regency page made me remember MY favorite revival house, which was this.)

iisentaku
iisentaku on October 12, 2012 at 11:47 am

Interesting to read what others have written/said about Theatre 80. My own perspective is a bit more personal: My mother, Roxanne Smith, was Howard Otway’s co-producer. She raised money to fix up the space as a theatre. She also raised money and co-produced, THIS HERE NICE PLACE, Howard Otway’s play, that opened Theatre 80 for live theatre.

I am happy to learn that the Otway family still run Theatre 80. And, I hope that someday, someone will do the homework and write a true and full history of how the place came to be, and what happened there.

Those few of us who were around then —and can still recall any of the events— are not going to be around forever.

Nicholas

cblog
cblog on November 2, 2012 at 2:16 pm

This was my favorite theater when I lived in Manhattan. Much notice was made that columbian coffee was served in the lounge, and it was good. I think I was there for the last movie before Pearl, ‘Sabrina’ with Bogart and Hepburn. I missed seeing ‘A Clockwork Orange’ there, it was too cold to go out that day! Thank you Otway family for many extremely pleasant times.

cblanc10708
cblanc10708 on April 10, 2013 at 8:50 am

Does anyone have any old film programs from Theater 80 when they were running films. Would gladly pay for any copies or even if it can be scanned. thanks. Charles, Westchester NY

cblanc10708
cblanc10708 on April 10, 2013 at 8:53 am

I attended a screening from the Take Two Film Festival at Theater 80 this past weekend. I had not been there since 1994 when they stopped showing films. It was like no time had passed at all. What a splendid evening. Please show more films if possible.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on April 10, 2013 at 10:14 am

How were the recent Festival films shown? Are they still using rear projection?

cblanc10708
cblanc10708 on April 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Digital projection. not sure if its from behind the screen..

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