8th Street Playhouse

52 W. 8th Street,
New York, NY 10011

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8th. Street Playhouse exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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 15 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.

Contributed by RobertR

Recent comments (view all 100 comments)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 14, 2011 at 9:22 am

Wrong listing, iatse311. The 8th Street Playhouse featured a streamlined decor without a proscenium and with all the seats on one level. Googling the work of photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto, it appears that the photo might be of the Playhouse in Great Neck? But I can’t really support that definitively. You may try posting there to see if it jogs any memories.

geogrif
geogrif on January 20, 2012 at 7:56 am

No telling what that bland facade used to be. But the Film Guild Cinema interior, by modernist architect/designer Frederick Kiesler in the 1920s, was amazing. A photo is here: http://www.kiesler.org/cms/index.php?lang=3&idcat=36

lfreimauer
lfreimauer on January 20, 2012 at 9:03 am

Saw 15 chapters of a Batman serial there in one day in the 1960’s. J Carroll Nash played a Japanese villian.

Desbiens
Desbiens on June 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I use to work at the 8th St. Playhouse in 79. I worked there and Crazy Eddies. I sure would like to see some people from that time 79. Maybe someone who worked there. I lived at One Christopher in the Village.

nick810
nick810 on October 24, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Does anyone know if the 8th St. Playhouse has a full stage?

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on October 25, 2013 at 4:15 am

Nick 810,It did not. It had a screen in the wall.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 25, 2013 at 1:10 pm

I seem to recall there might have been a bit of a platform stage in front of the screen, but certainly nothing by way of theatrical facilities. Didn’t stop a hell of a show from going down in front of numerous Rocky Horror screenings, back in the day! If my memory is correct, it was no more than a slight, raised platform, maybe a few inches above the floor ahead of the first row. I could be completely mistaken about that.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on October 27, 2013 at 8:35 am

Ed Solero, it was kind of like the original shadow box screens at GCC when they first opened. They did not have masking like most Ruggoff theaters they had just a single strip that came down from the ceiling. Very strange.

bradmarcus
bradmarcus on October 18, 2014 at 10:59 am

The picture sure looks like the beloved 8th Street Playhouse. Aside from going to multiple screenings of “Rocky Horror”, Vestron films held several premieres there. I had the “pleasure” of watching “Parents” and “Lair of the White Worm” in a celebrity-packed theater. The place had character. It was also 2 doors down from the hottest recording studio and more than once while waiting for Rocky Horror or after, I saw the Stones and others coming and going.

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