17 September 2012

The Alpine Cinema of Bay Ridge

The Alpine Cinema is a rather grand old relic on Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge. The tall building has been a movie house for a long time, nearly a century. Currently a multi-plex, it was a one-screen house once upon a time. Still, the exterior and lobby retain some of the old movie glamour of days gone by. Maybe that's because the house is owned by the same people who own the lovely Cinema Village in Greenwich Village.

The Alpine Theatre was originally a Loew’s theatre. It opened on June 6, 1921. It had a 2,200 seating capacity, though it had no balcony or gallery. At the time of its unveiling, Variety described the Alpine Theatre’s interior as "decorated in a tan and gold color scheme, the general atmosphere created being one of brightness. The side walls are paneled and painted in an imitation of tapestry. The floors are carpeted with red velvet. A good system of floor pitch gives a clear view of the screen from any part of the house."

It was converted into two screens in 1976, and then into seven screens in 1986. A nice survivor.

1 comment:

upstate Johnny G said...

I remember reading a magazine article years ago that explained what happened to all the single screen movie houses. Once upon a time, the system of payments by the movie house to the distributor was on a sliding scale where the movie house got almost all the box office for the first night, and a steadily decreasing percentage of the following nights, until by the end of the run the distributor was getting almost all of the ticket receipts. Distributors didn't like this because with big theaters in small towns, or, I imagine, in some NYC nabes, everyone would go to see the hot new movie during the first few nights, with fewer and fewer patrons attending during the days when the box office was to go to the distributor. Eventually the distributors got smart and got the system flipped so as to be in their favor. Not to be outdone, the theater companies retaliated by converting big single screen theaters to multiplexes and building new multiplex theaters, so that even if they had to give the distributor almost the whole take from the first few days, it wouldn't be very much. Clever, but it was the death knell for most of the first-run single screen movie houses.