Kew Gardens Cinemas

81-05 Lefferts Boulevard,
Kew Gardens, NY 11415

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1970's photo as the Austin courtesy of Robert's World Facebook page.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built in 1935, this neighborhood house originally opened as the Austin Theatre and has had ‘more faces than Eve’. Spent years as a second run double feature house, until being taken over by Rugoff Theatres in the late-1950’s or early-1960’s. Art films were played for a few years catering to the affluent area and nearby Forest Hills.

For a few years it played mostly moveovers and booking midnight shows every Friday and Saturday night. It became a XXX house and was extremely profitable. The owner even played the midnight shows of regular movies for awhile. It then went all porno, later being taken over by the same owner of the Polk Theatre until it was shut down by the city (a story in itself).

The story has a happy ending: new owners bought the place, stripped it down to its minor Art Deco style origins and made a mini version of the Angelika. The huge lobby has a concession stand where you can get coffee and fresh cookies. Two theatres were made in the old loge and restroom area on the second floor. Downstairs are three screens, number one keeping the original mini stage and arch. The other four auditoriums are tiny, but have top notch sound and projection and rocking chair seats stadium style. In early-2008 a sixth screen was added, formed out of an adjacent dry-cleaners store.

The Kew Gardens Cinemas is a total delight to attend, here’s hoping it survives forever.

Contributed by RobertR

Recent comments (view all 104 comments)

johndereszewski on January 1, 2012 at 5:46 pm

LuisV, given the number of people who jammed the Kew Gardens yesterday evening, I hope you are correct about the possible incorporation of the pharmacy site. At the very least, it would provide some additional and badly needed lobby space – and perhaps an additional screen …….. robboehm, I too have been to Florence and can attest that the Ponte Vecchio does open up at the middle of the Arno to provide a beautiful river view. A bronze bust of Benvenueto Cellini, originally donated by the metal workers of Florence, is situated on the west side; while the famous Vasari Corridor spans the entire east side, about one floor up, the ground floor also opens up at the center to provide a river view as well as a spectacular panorama of the hills situated further east.  

johndereszewski on January 28, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Just spent an enjoyable evening seeing “The Descendants” at the Kew Gardens. (A very fine film – but not in the same class as either “Midnight in Paris” or “The Artist”. Clooney, however, was terrific.) The place was packed, which is a tribute to the management’s excellent picture selection – and the sophisticated tastes of the local residents ……. While there, I asked a couple of employees about the theater’s possible expansion into the old drug store. While one worker did not have a clue, the other one confirmed that some thought had been given to it, but that nothing firm has, to date, emerged. So, stay tuned. (Wouldn’t it be great to see a drug store turned into a movie theater!!)

taketheatrain on July 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Did they add a six screen, I rember it was five 3 downstairs and two upstairs. Where is screen 6 located and how many seats and when did it open. Did the other screen lose seats

techman707 on May 1, 2013 at 8:41 pm

United Artists never owned or operated the Austin Theatre as described in the overview. The person who wrote it might have mistaken it for the Continental theatre in Forest Hills for a short time. UA also operated the Midway and the Forest Hills Theatre.

fred1 on May 2, 2013 at 6:48 am

I remember thatwhen it was the Austin back in the 60’s 70’s they play similar stuff with the Mayfair in Fresh Meadows. Did they both had the same owner?

johndereszewski on January 2, 2014 at 5:28 am

Just a little update. The vacant drug store, alas, was never incorporated into the Kew Gardens. A new store now occupies that site.

DavidZornig on March 11, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Just added a 1970’s pic as the Austin in the Photo’s Section courtesy of Robert’s World Facebook page.

DavidZornig on December 30, 2014 at 12:39 pm

1956 photo added courtesy of AmeriCar The Beautiful Facebook page.

robboehm on March 26, 2015 at 5:42 pm

Photo from adult era added.

DavidZornig on April 17, 2015 at 6:42 pm

Google street view shows some type of addition over the roof as of October 2014. Link would not post correctly.

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