Sunrise Multiplex Cinemas

750 W. Sunrise Highway,
Valley Stream, NY 11581

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Sunrise Multiplex Cinemas

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This multiplex was built on the site of the old Sunrise Drive-In. When it opened in December of 1979, it had six screens which was quite radical back then. Each theater was enormous and very well appointed. Over the years, the owners (not sure who they were or are presently) added more theaters and divided up some of the original ones. The theaters were setup in along a long corridor.

For a while (early to mid 1980’s), this was THE place to see a movie if you lived on the western south shore of Nassau County on Long Island. The first movie I saw here was the first “Star Trek” movie. Also saw “Airplane”, “Starman”, as well as countless others. But the theater’s proximity to some less than desirable neighborhoods just over the Queens line in NYC began to have it’s effect on it.

The last movie I saw here was Scorcese’s “After Hours” in 1985. The Sunrise Multiplex had this late night movie which started at or around 12:30 or so. So that was the time we saw this. We sat through the movie and as we were leaving, the place was understandably deserted. What we did notice was that a large plate glass window was gone. For some reason, we didn’t think anything of it. Well, the next day, we found out that while we were watching “After Hours” a full scale riot had occurred involving patrons watching a movie called “Krush Groove”. In addition to guns being displayed, a patron was thrown through the plate glass window. I never saw a movie there again.

In 1990, at least one person was killed during a gun battle which occurred during a showing of “The Godfather, Part III”. I was not surprised.

Not sure how this theater is holding up these days but I don’t think it can be good.

Contributed by Chris Connolly

Recent comments (view all 48 comments)

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on December 15, 2009 at 1:08 pm

This link to this 1991 NY Times article is the most in depth I’ve read about the shootings. (apologies if it’s linked above and I missed it) I enjoy that it seems to convey that National Amusements put the metal detectors in out of public pressure than of their own choice. A lot of times I hear people talking about the metal detectors they make it seem like it was a choice when in fact it sounds as though it was necessary to allay the fears after the shooting.

View link

MarkieS on January 4, 2010 at 7:20 pm

why is there no listing on this website for the old Sunrise Drive In which stood on this site?

MarkieS on January 4, 2010 at 7:21 pm

why is there no listing on this website for the old Sunrise Drive In which stood on this site?

markp on February 25, 2011 at 9:48 pm

News story on local tv channels today about armed robberies taking place in the parking lot the past few days.

robboehm on February 26, 2011 at 6:13 am

MarkieS the old drive in is listed. Do a lookup by city – Valley Stream and it’s there.

KennyCarr on March 1, 2013 at 6:10 am

This is so cool! I grew up 6 houses away from the Drive-in/ Sunrise Cinemas in Rosedale. I just finished a book that discusses how I used what I learned as a kid sneaking into Sunrise Cinemas to sneak into 12/12/12 and other huge concerts all around the country and beyond. It’s called Confessions of a Sneak-In Artist. I’ll keep you posted on when it comes out. You can find more information about the book under Confessions of a Sneak-In Artist or Kenny Carr on Facebook.

Here’s an excerpt:

I grew up on a dead end street six houses away from a drive-in movie theater. A giant, solid eight foot metal fence at the end of my block surrounded the theater grounds. The older kids on the block would always have a hole dug somewhere under the fence so they could sneak in. Like tunnels out of a P.O.W. camp, it was constantly being found by security and had to be moved often. From an early age I prided myself on always knowing where the hole was located. I spent summer nights on the swings in front of the screen watching classic movies like Star Wars, Grease, Jaws and Bruce Lee triple features.

When I was eight, the drive-in was demolished and turned into a six theater multiplex. Throughout all phases of the demolition and construction of the new theater, the site was our playground. As the theater was being built we felt, as it was with the drive-in, that it was in some way ours. We knew that place from top to bottom, like the back of our hands. We knew it better than anybody. We even took pride in how nice the construction of the building had turned out. If it wasn’t ours then whose was it?

I remember there were about ten of us that went to the first showing of the first movie to ever play there. We all bought tickets and sat in the seats along the back row of the theater for Star Trek, the Original Motion Picture*. It was 1979. I was eight and a half. It was the worst movie I had seen up to that point in my young life and I was pissed. We had been looking forward to that experience for months. The two dollars we each spent on a ticket would have gone a long way at our corner store back in those days. Someone had to pay. It was after mulling it over, munching out on some snacks on the steps of our corner store on Hook Creek Boulevard that I decided I would never pay for another movie in my theater again.

Over the next couple of years, I spent countless hours honing my skills at sneaking into the movies. I learned what worked and what didn’t. I learned how to trust my instincts and how to move on them. There were a few of us that would do it a lot more than others. We must have snuck in to see Airplane at least a hundred times. Each time we would get a different joke or see something we hadn’t seen before and point it out to each other laughing hysterically. While most of my friends were involved in some form of organized sport, I sat through Follow That Bird (at an age when that was just not cool) just to be able to say that I snuck into every movie playing at, what was by that time, my thirteen theater multiplex.

You know the expression, “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten.”? Everything I need to know about sneaking in I learned in those years at the Sunrise Cinemas.

*Roller Boogie was technically the first, but it only played on the weekends in one of the six theaters while they finished up construction.

Here’s more about Confessions of a Sneak-In Artist:

I grew up next door to a thirteen movie theater multiplex. As a kid I developed and perfected techniques for sneaking into the movies. As an adult I have used those skills and techniques to sneak into the biggest concerts held at some of the world’s most secure venues at will, or more accurately, by will. In Confessions of a Sneak-in Artist, I not only explore how I got into many of these events in great detail and what is required for others to do the same, but why those events meant so much to me in the first place and why I felt compelled to be there.

Confessions of a Sneak-in Artist is an informative collection of eleven engaging and amusing interrelated vignettes that read like the highlights of a really cool memoir. Each story is chockfull of sage like wisdom on the subject of sneaking in and pop culture references, but what seemed like a fun, funny ride gets flipped upside down near the end when a traumatic event is revealed. The reader is given the last piece to what they didn’t even know was a puzzle, enabling them to see the book’s bigger picture and underlying message of hope. This new information forces the curious reader to reexamine the timeline of events and the hopscotched chronological order in which the stories are told and want to read it again keeping that revelation in mind.

The 12/12/12 Concert for Sandy relief was pretty much everyone’s rock n’ roll fantasy. The world tuned in and were blown away by passionate performances by what Mick Jagger called from the stage, “…the largest collection of old English musicians ever assembled in Madison Square Garden”. The money poured in and went right towards helping the people that really needed it. The concert also marked the crowning achievement of my sneaking in career. Because of my personal connection to Long Beach, New York, a town destroyed by the Hurricane that was being helped and honored that night, and for the reasons why it was no longer my home, it was an emotional night for me. There was no way I could have afforded a ticket to that show, but there was no way I could have missed it. I felt I deserved to be there more than most of the people who were there because they had more money than I did. Long Beach had been my family’s home since 1990.

What I want everyone to know, simply, is that what I have done can be done and that they can do it too if they really want to. Where there is a will there is a way. Everyone has the ability to focus, channel their energy and use it to somehow, anyhow, make it happen. I have snuck into hundreds of events. It’s not luck. It is technique. In this book I explore numerous ways my techniques have worked for me and how they could work to help anyone do the same.

Thanks for the posts and for checking out mine! I love reading posts from the ushers from back when we used to do our thing! I’m very interested in learning more about how Sumner Redstone started his empire from “my theater”! Someone once told me it was the drive-in they used in Grease. Anybody know anything about that? No mention of the flea markets in the back? Anybody remember the only armed guard at the multiplex in the early to mid Eighties? We called him Stiff. He had a fused spine or something that made it so he couldn’t turn his head without turning his whole body. He was my arch nemesis! I’d love to get his perspective on things back then. Hopefully there’s no hard feelings! It was all in fun!

AshnWrfre on July 2, 2013 at 11:27 pm

I have sooo many childhood memories from this theatre and this area alone. Growing up in Valley Stream, I saw a lot of movies here, but only remember a few. After the shooting here, I remember walking through the metal detectors only once, but I remember the lobby being huge! To get to green acres mall, I remember having to drive through the back of this theatre. I remember driving past the front of the theatre and mall, but whenever we went to the theatre or mall we drove through the back. I remember eating out with my family at the Roy Rogers just up the street from here a lot before it closed. For whatever reason, we ended up going to Garden State Plaza more often as I became a teenager, probably because of shooting at the theatre.

MissAmanda on March 14, 2014 at 7:17 pm

I don’t understand how they remain open. Nice large auditoriums with comfortable leather rocker-style seats, but only a handful of patrons at best. They still make you pass through a metal detector at the door — why? No one is going to bring a gun in — no one is going to go in, actually. If they got rid of these, maybe attendance would improve.

robboehm on March 15, 2014 at 6:52 am

The metal detector was installed after an incident several years ago.

moviebuff82 on March 15, 2014 at 8:28 am

hopefully they put in stadium seating…i like stadium seating when i go to movies

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