Babylon Cinemas

34 West Main Street,
Babylon, NY 11702

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robboehm
robboehm on July 6, 2014 at 11:36 am

Reference is made to a comment made by Ken Roe on October 31, 2004 and those made by Orlando the same year. The original Babylon closed in 1922(see elsewhere on CT) the same year the current theatre, then called the Capitol, opened. After the Capitol went bankrupt in 1924 it was reopened under new ownership in February 1925. Presumably the name was changed to Babylon at that time because there is reference to theatre magnet Mike Glynne being injured in an automobile accident on the way to the opening of the Babylon theatre in February 1925.

According to one source, Glynne only acquired this Babylon, together with the Regent and Carlton in Bay Shore and the Garden in Southampton, in 1926. According to another, those four theatres were acquired by B.S. Moss from the Brewster circuit in 1926 never mentioning Glynne.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 11, 2014 at 10:45 am

Babylon auditorium photo mentioned above now posted in photos.

robboehm
robboehm on May 9, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Already too many performing arts theatres on Long Island: The Space at Westbury, Engermann at Northport, CM at Oakdale, Patchogue, Suffolk in Riverhead, Bolton (Regent) in Patchogue, Smithtown, Paramount in Huntington etc, etc..

There are fewer and fewer movie theaters on Long Island and, it would seem that many of those are struggling.

Between the cost of going to the movies and the fact that, in many areas of Long Island, you have to drive 20 minutes or more to get there, it’s not surprising.

Orlando
Orlando on April 26, 2014 at 8:41 am

The Babylon Theatre (Bow-Tie) is in negotiations to be sold for a Performing Arts Center. I hope the new occupants see that some of the elaborate work is hidden under the drop ceilings in the lobby. Clearview Cinemas destroyed any chances of long term survival of this and many others of the UA theatres it acquired with their free Tuesday nights (if you had Cablevision). These theatres were all losing money before Clearview came along with their fireplaces and free phone service. Bow-Tie Cinemas took over these and now is seeing no more business than Clearview, even less. Now on Tuesday Bargain Day at $6.00, the theatre had 10 people total for the 3 screens, all first run product. This is pathetic. Everything Bow-Tie acquired will drain them of their current money making theatres they had prior to taking over. On bright moment is the “Live On Stage And Screen "Rocky Horror Picture Show” has sold out almost 5 times. So…Performing Arts is the way to go with some “Classic Movie Shows” added in for fun. And it will be one big screen again.

jukingeo
jukingeo on August 18, 2012 at 12:47 pm

The link Bway posted is bad. Here is what the auditorium of the Babylon used to look like:

http://www.boxoffice.com/the_vault/issue_page?issue_id=1956-6-2&page_no=1#page_start

Even though not in color, you can see how impressive this theatre was.

I also have to point out that the theatre had side curtains that moved in and out so that it could handle a wide variety of aspect ratios.

It is a pity that we had to loose the beautiful large screens such as this. I really do miss this screen very much.

jukingeo
jukingeo on August 18, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Ahhh, the good ‘ole Babylon Theatre. This theatre and I go way back…way back to 1982. The first movie I saw here was “Conan: The Barbarian”. Back then the theatre was a HUGE single curved screen with a gorgeous proscenium arch. The theatre had a balcony too. In the lobby there was a huge art deco type chandelier and a beautiful stairway up to the balcony (which already had partial stadium seating). That same year (1982) “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” was released to this theatre. This was the first movie I viewed multiple times here. While E.T. is in my top 3 favorite movie list, the first time seeing it at Babylon was perhaps the single best theatre experience I ever had.

Then in 1984/5 tragedy struck the Babylon and it was divided two three screens. The large auditorium was divided into two and the balcony became the third screen. Much of the beautiful ornamentation in the theatre was gone. The chandelier still remained though. Gone was the large curved screen and it’s beautiful proscenium. Instead you had just simple rectangular screens on a simple black background.

The first movie I saw after the conversion was “Cocoon” (1985). It was shown on the balcony screen. However, the conversion wasn’t completed and the air condition wasn’t running yet…it was mid summer! Needless to say, my first viewing after the new conversion wasn’t a pleasant one.

Afterwards I have seen many more movies at this theatre which include: “Alien 3”, “Back To the Future II & III”, and many others. The balcony screen is the best of the three.

When the movie theatre changed hands from UA to Clearview, I pretty much stopped going there.

As Bway pointed out above, the outside of the theatre hasn’t changed much since 1983 despite the drastic changes inside. One major plus though, is that the theatre has retained it’s large neon vertical sign on the front.

For those visiting the theatre, there is a small parking lot to the right of the building, but it fills up fast. Street parking is metered, so you would have to use a municipal lot across the street, behind the Main St. buildings.

It is still a good visit to check out, but it definitely has lost quite a bit of it’s luster from when it was a single screen. I only enjoyed this large screen for 3 years, but still to this day the single screen version of this theatre was my favorite.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 13, 2012 at 8:20 am

New link to the 1956 cover photo cited above by Joe Vogel: boxoffice

wally 75
wally 75 on May 4, 2012 at 1:32 am

Who will pick up the Clearview Theatres? Any ideas..

jpark377
jpark377 on January 1, 2011 at 5:58 pm

It’s rather amazing how many years they got out of those Heywood-Wakefield seats that were in those auditoriums. When UA sold that theater in the mid-nineties, it still had those old HW seats, though I know they were re-covered and painted many times. I really liked the “finger” design that HW used on the seat pans: it made them really easy to remove from the floor standard for service (didn’t need a wrench). The HW achilles' heel was the use of springs below the cushions for support, and the use of springs for the pan riser function (the better seats of today are “gravity risers”, hence no springs to break). The riser springs would fatigue and break, and the seat pan would then flop down; but I guess that was better than a malfunctioning cushion spring that would pop through the seat upholstery and snag a patron’s clothes. An argument could be made that if the seats weren’t used in excess of their normal service life (I don’t know, perhaps 20 years or so?), these malfunctions probably wouldn’t happen. All this being said, when you look at old pictures of auditoriums from the 50’s and 60’s, chances have it that the seats were Heywood-Wakefield. I can’t even imagine what HW’s market share was in their peak years!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 23, 2010 at 12:31 am

I misspelled the architect’s surname in my previous comment (as did the Heywood-Wakefield ad.) It should be Sornik.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 23, 2010 at 12:13 am

The mid-1950s rebuilding of the Babylon Theatre was designed by architect Maurice D. Sornick. A few photos appeared in an ad for Heywood-Wakefield seats in Boxoffice of January 7, 1956.

A photo of the auditorium was on the cover of Boxoffice, June 2, 1956. The Babylon was operated by Associated Prudential Theatres.

Bway
Bway on April 20, 2009 at 11:31 am

Here’s a photo of the Babylon in 1983. It really hasn’t changed all that much.

View link

robboehm
robboehm on February 28, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Also, somebody mentioned the last theatre with a vertical. What about the Fantasy. And, in recent years they added one to the Greeport when they split up the old auditorium into a handful of theatres. As far as the simple neon style I believe the old Cambria and Laurelton had these. The big guns of, course were the Queens, Floral, Triboro, Valencia, Astoria, etc.etc,

robboehm
robboehm on February 28, 2009 at 3:54 pm

My only experience at this theatre was a performance of Rocky. Although I don’t usually see movies first run this was an exception and, as a result, I had to stand on line. I couldn’t believe the audience got so worked up during the big fight scene that they were out of their seats cheering. Talk about a movie grabbing you.

jpark377
jpark377 on May 28, 2008 at 6:03 pm

I appreciate this website, but they have to work on running correct initial desciptions of the buildings. This was a UA Theater before Clearview took it over in the mid-90’s.
When Lee was the manager here in the 80’s, you could quite literally eat off the floors. It’s was one of the cleanest theatres I’ve ever worked in. Her husband Joe was also an incredible theater manager. Real theater people like that are tough to find today.

wally 75
wally 75 on August 4, 2007 at 11:45 pm

wgli went on air in mid to late 50’s….wnyg became wbab am & fm

in late 50’s back to wnyg 1440 am….now

the only two people that may have done this broadcast that i can think of is ray heatherton aka friendly B O B of
bank of babylon….or jack elsworth of W A L K [still there]…
I WILL DO MORE CHECKING…..PS WBIC 540 BACK IN THE DAY DID LIVE
BROADCAST FROM JOHNNY ALL WEATHER IN COP. TIL SUNSET..WHEN STATION
SIGNED OFF THE MOVIE STARTED…

GeorgeStrum
GeorgeStrum on August 4, 2007 at 7:26 am

I,d like to repeat a question I asked about two years ago. Perhaps new visitors to this site might remember. Does anyone remember radio broadcasts coming from the lobby some afternoons in the mid 50’s? Thanks.

wally 75
wally 75 on May 1, 2007 at 7:51 am

also suffolk theatre in riverhead..now in danger..

wally 75
wally 75 on April 30, 2007 at 7:25 pm

ANYONE FROM CLEARVIEW ….CHECK OUT ISLIP TRIPLEX…YOU MAY HAVE YOUR

SECOUND THEATRE IN SUFFOLK…

BobT
BobT on March 4, 2007 at 2:41 am

Big giant screen unfortunately cut up into three. The seats upstairs were better than the orchestra section. The balcony theater is huge. We had to sit front row balcony, always front row center, even if it meant getting there extra early and waiting up in the restroom/loge area. On the MGM “Red Carpet” circuit. Saw “Carrie”, Woody Allen’s “Sleeper”. Saw “Hair” here the second time after seeing at The Ziegfeld opening night. Sorry about the problem John R had with “ET”, but the film was a sold out, lines around the corner, huge burst of applause finale smash here. The traffic and parking was ridiculous, but they just came and came. I even relief managed a few nights after it was tripled and “Dune” was playing in the empty balcony theater.

JohnMoviola
JohnMoviola on March 3, 2007 at 10:20 pm

I saw a few movies there, but always remember seeing the first showing of “E.T.” there, and the sound was hard to hear, then too loud. I also saw “Hair!” there, just as the ad link in a previous post shows!

Bway
Bway on October 4, 2006 at 6:00 am

Perhaps they knew the Islip Theater was closing?

longislandwally75
longislandwally75 on October 3, 2006 at 7:12 pm

THIS JUST IN…BABYLON HAD A MAKE OVER LAST MONTH…NEW SEATS

SNACK BAR…HIGH BACK SEATS WITH PLENTY OF LEG ROOM..

CHECK IT OUT..

WALLY 75

Bway
Bway on June 8, 2006 at 6:35 am

I know it’s a little late to ask now, but what exactly was a “Theater tour”?

Orlando
Orlando on August 16, 2005 at 2:56 am

This theatre will be on the theatre tour on Sept. 11, 2005. See the Lindenhurst Theatre on this website for more info.