Criterion Twin Theatre

447-465 Atlantic Avenue,
East Rockaway, NY 11518

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Criterion Twin Theatre

Originally a single screen cinema with 981 seats, it is listed in 1930 as the Atlantic Theatre, opening in the late-1920’s. Operating as the Criterion Theatre since at least 1941. By 1957 it was operated by Liggett-Florin Booking Service.

Later twinned and operating as a first run movie theatre, it was closed in February 1985.

Contributed by RobertR

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

chconnol on January 6, 2005 at 9:30 am

Nice, decent sized single screener that was converted into a double sometime in the late 70’s, early 80’s. I saw “Foul Play” and “Oh, God” when it was a single as well as “Annie Hall”. As a double, I saw “A Christmas Story” and “The Dead Zone”. It was in a nice area and the theater was well maintained.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 17, 2005 at 11:49 pm

I live near this theater and I am going to check out what it’s currently used as. I know when it closed it became a video store, o bitter irony.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 25, 2007 at 9:31 pm

I walked past this theater today. The theater building and the attached strip of stores that run along Atlantic Avenue are listed for sale, per this website. Several of the store fronts are vacant, including the former Super Video store on the corner that saps says occupies part of the old theater space. That would make the address of the theater 447 Atlantic Avenue, East Rockaway, NY 11518.

Construction was going on in the old video store and the doors were open so I peaked in. Assuming this was the old lobby and foyer space, the place was completely gutted with a drop ceiling in place. A bit down the side street (Maxwell Street) a pair of doors that look like they might have been former exit doors for the theater were also wide open – and revealed no more than a completely refinished storage room bearing no signs of a former theater. The auditorium structure runs parallel to Atlantic Ave and behind the other store fronts. It is now occupied by offices and a warehouse of some kind – a large loading bay door is evident in the alley that runs behind the building. There also seems to be an odd dormer on the roof of the former auditorium.

Here’s a view that shows the entire structure. Saps and CConnolly… can you guys confirm that the entrance and foyer/lobby space for the theater was on the corner of Atlantic and Maxwell where the video store was?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 6, 2007 at 12:50 am

Here are a few shots I took today:

Building profile and former entrance
Auditorium side wall
Lobby wall

I found this ad from the 12/12/1980 Daily News for a late run double feature booked into the Criterion 2. The ad refers to the theater as “K.B.’s Criterion.” K.B. Theaters also owned The Movies in Bellmore, the Roslyn and the Westbury (as well as others, I’m sure).

This NY Post ad from 3/10/1982 shows a late booking here for “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

My collection of local newspapers doesn’t pick back up until September & October of 1985, by which time the Criterion disappears from all listings.

CConnolly1 on May 18, 2009 at 7:36 am

can you guys confirm that the entrance and foyer/lobby space for the theater was on the corner of Atlantic and Maxwell where the video store was?

Please excuse the looooooooooooooong time replying to your question. The best I can remember, the answer is yes. The entrance was on the corner of Atlantic and Maxwell. Fairly typical layout: long lobby and then the theater (and then theaters) came up on the left.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on June 16, 2011 at 8:52 pm

The building profile posted by Ed Solero on Sept. 5, 2007 should be the image used on this page, since it accurately reflects the actual entrance of the theater.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 15, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Hey Saps… I’ll have to upload that photo here for it to show up as the intro photo. They can’t snag photos on other websites like photobucket to use for the I.D. photo. I’ll get around to it one of these days!

candleman on May 7, 2013 at 11:10 pm

I lived at 27 Sachem Street, East Rockaway, from 1928 (when my Dad built the house) to 1954. My sister and I used to walk from home to the Criterion frequently. We called it the “Crite.” I was in school with Larry Saphier, whose father operated the Criterion. I think that admission was 11 cents – 10 cents plus 1 cent tax, same as the Arcade Theater (the “Itch”) in Lynbrook. The Lynbrook Theater at Five Corners was more expensive, because it ran “first run” movies, like the Fantasy in Rockville Centre, where my wife served as usher for a time. The Criterion was as it has been described in other entries here. The entire building was a rectangle. The theater lobby was at the north end. The theater hall ran north-south parallel to Atlantic Avenue, along the rear of the building. The Atlantic Avenue frontage was built as a series of stores. The theater was maintained nicely. Parking was available on vacant lots to the rear of the building. I remember singing on stage there with a juvenile choral group run by Lillian Quinlan. Saturday matinees consisted of a feature film and then a lesser film, such as “scary” movies with evil doers played by Bela Lugosi, John Carradine, and other “bad guys.” The Criterion was part of my life, growing up in East Rockaway, which was a nice town then, and it still is; although we get back there infrequently now.

Texas2step on April 28, 2018 at 7:27 pm

This one closed in February of 1984.

robboehm on April 28, 2018 at 9:19 pm

Texas glad you found a photo. I’ve been trying for some time.

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