Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Film Center
36 East 8th Street,
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This onetime Greenwich Village favorite on E. 8th Street near Broadway deserves to have a listing apart from the Art Greenwich, which was much futher west. The Art Moderne styled Art Theatre first opened on October 7, 1940. and was built by the Rugoff & Becker circuit. Thomas Lamb is credited as architect, though it was more likely someone in his company since he was semi-retired by that time.
The Art Theatre started out as a late-run showcase for American and foreign movies, but became a first-run in the late-1950’s. It eventually fell into the clutches of the RKO-Stanley Warner-Century combine, which let it fall into disrepair and finally closed it around 1985-86. RKO then took the name Art Theatre and attached it to the Greenwich, which it also operated.
After closure, the Art Theatre was taken over by B.S. Moss, which turned it into a triplex as the Movieland. Moss later closed its Movieland at Broadway and 47th Street (the last of many names for the 1918 Central Theatre). Movieland seems an inappropriate name for bohemian Greenwich Village, which is perhaps one of the reasons why the theatre didn’t have a long or successful life.
Its sale to NYU seemed inevitable, since the university may be the Village’s largest property owner. In 1997 they employed architect Davis Brody Bond to renovate the building. It is now known as the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Film Center.
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