8th Street Playhouse
52 W. 8th Street,
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Opened February 1, 1929 as the Film Guild Cinema. It was renamed 8th Street Playhouse on May 14, 1930. The loss of this theater is one of the saddest movie theater tales. A neighborhood house, in the 1970’s the theater began playing offbeat independent and revival films. It originated the seven nights a week midnight show policy.
“Rocky Horror Picture Show” may have premiered at the nearby Waverly Theatre, but this is where it became world famous playing 11 years every Friday and Saturday night. The 3-D festival in the 1980’s saw lines of hundreds of people for every show. I remember “The House of Wax” being held over for weeks. They ran 3-D prints of movies that had not been seen in the original format since the 1950’s like “Kiss Me Kate” and “Bwana Devil”.
There were also horror festivals, Judy Garland tributes and a summer of virtually every film New Line Cinema ever produced. When the owner passed away, the theater was taken over for awhile by City Cinemas who booked first run movies there. When the Village East opened, City Cinemas pulled out of the 8th Street Playhouse and also the Quad Cinema. The death came at the end when United Artists took over and totally mismanaged going revival and second run and then closing it during the middle of a festival.
It sat closed and falling apart until it was converted to a video store. When its marquee was torn down Greenwich Village lost one of its true landmarks.
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