Thursday, August 29, 2019

Paris and Beekman


The Paris Theater, along with the Beekman 1 & 2, has shuttered after a combined 111 years of life.

In June we heard the Paris might be closing. Then in July, I was told by employees and management that it was definitely not closing and the news was just rumor. I was not convinced and wrote, "As with all rumors and denials, take it as a warning. Go, enjoy the Paris, enjoy the movie. Because you really never know when it will be your last time."

Yesterday, tipster Dan Braun alerted me via Twitter that both theaters have gone missing from the City Cinemas website. The Paris Theater page goes to Page Not Found. Their telephone message about showtimes extends only until August 15. No one's answering the phone at the Beekman either.

After some further digging, Joe Wagner on Instagram has posted the goodbye note from the Paris:

Dan Braun says, "Both buildings which house the Paris and the Beekman 1 & 2 share the same landlord, Sheldon Solow. He might have decided he simply no longer wanted movie theatres as tenants. City Cinemas’s lease on the Paris is scheduled to end this month."

From a look at the comments at Cinema Treasures, it sounds like City Cinemas had 10-year leases for both sites--and those were not renewed. As I've noted on this blog many times, there are no protections for thriving businesses that want to stay put. No Small Business Jobs Survival Act. No commercial rent control. Nothing.

Meanwhile, Mr. Solow is doing alright. Forbes has him worth $5.2 billion. This is not the first time the Paris has shuttered due to a lease. Back in 1990, the theater closed. The Paris' managing director at the time told the Times, "It's obvious that we weren't wanted. We had a 20-year lease that expired on Aug. 31, and we offered Solow market rent--much more than we had been paying. But our offer was turned down flatly, and they gave us no explanation." In the end, the Paris changed management and went on showing art films for the next three decades.

Is there hope for another comeback? So far, Solow has not commented on the closure.

Opening in 1948, via Cinema Treasures

The Paris opened in 1948, "with Marlene Dietrich cutting the ribbon in the presence of the Ambassador to France," according to Cinema Treasures. It was the last of the great single-screen cinemas in Manhattan, it was loved by many, and it will be greatly missed.

As Joe Queenan wrote on the occasion of the Paris' 60th anniversary for the Times in 2008:

"The Paris is the kind of establishment where, when you show up, not one but two pipe smokers are congregating outside. They are throwbacks to an era when emaciated young men raved about Samuel Beckett, questioned the political ramifications of existentialism and lined up to see Brigitte Bardot in '... And God Created Woman' while meticulously cleaning their meerschaums. Some people may think this sort of thing is a bit passé and corny. The folks at the Paris do not agree. Neither do I."

Little Edie and the Maysles, via Cinema Treasures

As for the Beekman, the original opened in 1952 and closed in 2005. It was demolished, writes Cinema Treasures, and the "Beekman name was moved to Clearview’s New York One & Two across the street," which was originally the Loews One & Two, opened in 1979.

It was perhaps not as beloved, nor as special, as the Paris, but it is a loss.

Here's the Beekman's goodbye--same text as the Paris:

photo by Michael Lorin Hirsch

And so two more independent art-house cinemas have been ripped from our lives. And more culture gets flushed down the drain of this new New York City. But, hey, we'll always have Starbucks.

See Also:
Lincoln Plaza Cinemas


rongee said...

I stopped by last evening to snap a few images of the theater. Managed to get a shot of the marquee just before the lights went out!

Downtowner said...

Man, what a shame. But the warning was there. Sadly the rumors often become true. As you said, enjoy what's here while it's here. Not tomorrow. Or the day after. But today.

Brad said...

The original Beekman was a treasure. With it's step down to a real waiting room with couches and a window out to see when the movie was starting. Always a single screen, it was a great cinematic experience and hosted many premieres.

sadhudson said...

So sad by this. Is it too much wishful thinking to hope it will make a comeback? I thought the goodbye notice on the wall was really passive.

richard cory said...

Just to let you know, the signs for the original Beekman are housed inside the movie theater in Greenport, Long Island, across from the Shelter Island ferry. They are up on each side of the main screen, and look great.

James said...

I expect soon that I'll look back into my own memories of New York and find that they've been sold for redevelopment.

Manqueman said...

Back in the late 1970s-late. 80s, I lived on 83rd east of First. I now associate, so to speak, with a woman half my age who lives around 88th and Second and confirms that I'm pretty much missing nothing -- great commute to spend too much time at work (another sign of the times) and little else. Used to frequent both of these theaters, probably the Paris mores (La Traviata with Teresa Stratas, Helen Bonham Carter's debut as a lead!).
Every day, the City gets shittier and shittier...

Mitch said...

This article in the NY Times was really obnoxious.

The Times seems often to fell that it needs to justify the nonsense going on in NY Real Estate.

Rodin said...

I didn't know. Among movies I saw at The Paris, Romeo and Juliet in the late sixties, and Pee Wee's Big Adventure in the eighties.
And others. The original Beekman ....I saw film there as well, don't remember one in particular. So no one theater movie theater exits any longer? When I go by Cinema one , I remember it as one theater for Tom Jones and others films. The demolished Baronet and Coronet for Dr. Strangelove. So it's not much fun going to the 18 dollar movies anymore.