Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Report: The Landmark Sunshine Cinema closes on Jan. 21



The owners of the the Landmark Sunshine Cinema on East Houston have made its closing date official: Jan. 21.

Deadline Hollywood broke the story last night.

Ted Mundorff, CEO of Landmark Theatres, took a pragmatic tone when reached by Deadline. “We’ve known it was coming,” he said. No special programming or commemoration is planned on the final weekend, he confirmed. “There’s nothing to celebrate.”

The Sunshine moved up "Dog Day Afternoon" one weekend, and the Al Pacino classic will play alongside "Super Fly" as the theater's last midnight movies on Jan. 19-20.

To recap, last May, the Post reported that East End Capital and K Property Group bought the building for $31.5 million with plans to convert it to a mixed-use development with retail and upstairs office space. The site includes 20,000 square feet of air rights.

In November, the new owners of the building housing the theater filed demolition permits to take down the three-level structure here between Eldridge and Forsyth, per The Lo-Down.

Landmark reportedly had the opportunity to buy the property, but decided against it after CB3 voted down a proposal for a full liquor license for a cafe in the theater in 2012 for pre- and post-movie drinks and dinner. Landmark now offers those amenities at a new theater on West 57th Street.

The Sunshine had been expected to close in early 2018. The recent arrival of some special screenings at the theater gave hope to some Sunshine regulars that, perhaps, the place would remain open for a few months longer...



... and there was a tweet from the Sunshine about the Oscars...


The Sunshine opened on Dec. 21, 2001.


[2001 photo via Facebook]

Built in 1898, the Sunshine Cinema building was formerly the Houston Hippodrome motion picture theatre and a Yiddish vaudeville house.


[Photo taken during the BombCyclone last Thursday]

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I guess they didn't offer CB3 members enough, who give everyone else liquor licences. Looks like CB3 helped make way for the next high risedevelopement and helped them make the decision to close a neighborhood landmark. They won;t give a theater a liquor license but they have no problem handing out licenses to everyone else for their puke brunch facilities.

Anonymous said...

boooo, i will miss this beautiful building!

Anonymous said...

This is a rude and sad awakening. I don't really no what else to say or how to comment on the state of this situation. What I will offer is my sadness. Not everything in life is about money or transactions. Places such as this, rather institutions, are being ripped apart in communities such as ours (LES and EV respectively), and taken away from us, only to be left with glossier, rather empty spaces such another useless shopping center and offices which fail to fill a void, or to give others a boost. I actually spoke to one of the employees in the ticket office outside recently. They said that naturally, many are upset, and in complete shock that something like this could happen.

Not only did I enjoy Sunshine for the variety of independent films that were shown since 2001, but because it also wasn't a mega theater with blockbusters. It embodied a cozy feeling when I entered the main doors and ushered in unforgettable films rarely seen anywhere else. It was both an escape and a refuge from the chaos of the city and life. Even if it was for two hours, I was able to relax and take part in something special. I also enjoyed it because I could walk there from and to my apartment. The loss of Sunshine is a constant reminder that nothing is forever nor sacred. Including the loss of Lincoln Cinema, which is also slated to close this month, what is really happening to NYC? Does anyone fucking care anymore what happens to neighborhoods when greedy business owners and landlords monopolize our landscape?

I know it's just a theater, but I am gutted :(

Anonymous said...

Thanks CB3!

Anonymous said...

destroying a beautiful building

Anonymous said...

I hope that spot stays empty for 10 years like 25% of the rest of retail spaces in Manhattan. I know I decided to live here hoping one day all stores and such would close and the spaces would be empty. How cool!

Anonymous said...

Thanks CB3. Doing the Lord's work. God only knows the mayhem and destruction would've been unleashed on the neighborhood by those hordes of slightly tipsy moviegoers.

Anonymous said...

Once again we are thankful to CB3 for doing such a wonderful job. They continuously do great things like this in order to speed up the destruction of our great NYC neighborhood. I'd like to know who supports these people.

Anonymous said...

Sunshine Cinemas' closing is all by design:

The whitewashing of NYC. What's awful and funny at the same time about it is it makes the Lower East Side even less interesting.

Look at it now. It has really only two real live music venues: Mercury Lounge and The Delancey and both suck as you'll never see new, fresh hardcore punk, metal, or hip-hop there (the musics which are the reason 99% of music today exists.) Zero record and book stores. Name me ONE cafe or bar which attracts artists and other non-bro/shebro people. San Loco is the last place which hasn't been taken over by the Hell Square pukefest crowd but how long does that place have? I bet it closes when the lease is up as I doubt they'll be able to afford the guaranteed rent increase.

Metrograph has beem a welcome addition to the neighborhood which will hopefully step up and make up for the loss of Sunshine to a degree.

Giovanni said...

This is such a travesty. The facade of that building alone should be preserved, it always reminds me of an old train station. The loss of the Sunshine along with the Lincoln Plaza Cinema at the same moment feels wrong in a city that is bringing in so many students, international vistors and ex-pats. The Lincoln Plaza Cinema’s landlord claims they need to make major repairs and intend to have a cinema there, but they don't seem to be talking to the owners of the theater, and they could just could bring in another arthouse operator, or turn it into an underground mall. As for the Sunshine it doesn’t sound like anything better will replace it. This is just more wholesale destruction of art and culture.

The New York cultural scene seems to run in the opposite direction of booming economies. It’s when there is a recession that the artistic venues arise, and they are the first to get gentrified out when the economy rebounds. Last night I was walking in the old Photo District, now known as the Flatiron, and I could not believe how luxurified it has become. In the 90s they pushed out the photo studios, pizzarias and Army Navy stores in favor of accountants, chain clothing stores and Jamba Juice. Now even Jamba Juice is gone, and there is high end bakery, glitzy sushi and pricey restaurants that don't have names, just symbols and mysterious looking icons.

Yet with all the glitz and glamour popping up everywhere, there is no real sense of meaning, and nothing organic to suggest these places are even remotely a part of New York. The one exception is a place called NY Cake, on 22nd Street near 6th Avenue, an amazing store with every type of cake mold, candy making supplies and any kind of cookie cutter you can imagine. If they are going to tell us “Let them eat cake,” the least we can do is bake the most delicious cake we’ve ever had.

Goggla said...

This makes me so sad. I remember the opening in 2001 and how exciting that was. Seen so many good films here over the years and really enjoyed the atmosphere of this theater over the giant multiplexes. What a loss.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how bad CB3 fucked up here. I hope it's had them take a look at themselves. All the douchebag, carpetbagging yuppie sports bar type shit that comes in and has a liquor license while a classic theatre gets denied. Insane.

Anonymous said...

Oh the hypocrisy, now CB3 is wrong for not issuing a liquor license. And 9:17am, the irony is that because the owners wanted to make more money with said license and couldn't is the reason it can't sustain itself and had to sell - for more money.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, CB3 messed up here. Big time. They rightfully get too much pressure about bar over-concentration in some areas. But as someone said above, "slightly tipsy moviegoers" are not the problem. The B.S. business/or empty space to come likely won't have half the good influence on the neighborhood - and city - that Sunshine did.

Damn.

cmarrtyy said...

Slowly but surely the city abetted by developers will wipe away the identity of our neighborhoods and leave us a sterile city. Oh, city... Oh, sterile city...

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Netflix open a brick and mortar location here? They can have lots of couches and sell family size bags of Doritos at the concession stand.

Anonymous said...

Makes me very sad...

Anonymous said...

What I don't get is why doesn't the city offer a deal to companies that have buildings like this

you can build on top maybe even get a few extra floors .. if you keep it as an artistic space and keep the facade in tact

Anonymous said...

This is fucking bullshit. And yet another reason to contemplate leaving NYC. After eighteen years here, I fail to recognize what it has become, who I've become since my arrival in 2000, and all of things, places, and people that made it unique.

When landmark theaters such as Lincoln Plaza and Sunshine shut their doors, it is basically saying 'fuck you; we'd don't care; we want money' from the greedy landlords and incoming developers to the neighbors who patronize these venues.

I walk around a lot in many downtown neighborhoods and see endless for lease signs in windows. Last month, I counted ten in SoHo alone. And that was two and half blocks. A buddy of mine who works in real estate said the landlords actually get tax incentives when spots are vacant. They can usually write it all off. What a shame what NYC is turning into. It feels like it is morphing into a sterilized city for the very rich and elite. Sorry. I don't mean to be a debbie downer. But NYC isn't fun or appealing anymore.

chris flash said...

The "Community" Board does NOT represent the community!!

Members are appointed by the city councilmember of that district (in this case, Rosie Mendez) and by the Manahattan Borough President. they are political appointees whose interests are either business-related (their OWN) or political (aspiring to higher office at some point) or in furtherance of their own financial gain (we have many reports of pay-offs in exchange for liquor license approvals).

I was excited to see the Sunshine company breathe new life into this dormant building, which included acquiring a vacant lot next door on which to expand the building and digging out the basement for more theater space. After such a tremendous outlay, Sunshine got a very long term Lease from the building owner.

We are saddened to see Sunshine go, but, as their Lease had at least another 10-15 years to go, they must have been bought out in order to vacate to make way for whatever architectural monstrosity is built on its footprint.

If this building had been LANDMARKED as a theater ONLY, and/or if ZONING was RESTRICTED to a structure no higher than what is there now, the Sunshine Theater would not have been purchased by any group, unless they intended to continue operating a theater there.

New York City has been DYING, one venue at a time, one building at a time.

As Jeremiah Moss has described it, NYC is rapidly becoming "Anywhere USA"....

Anonymous said...

How can CB3 allow this building to come down? Are they all on real estate's pay roll???

Or just delusional.

Anonymous said...

To “Chris Flash” and other commenters — if you truly believe CB3 members are accepting bribes to approve liquor licenses, you should report this to the City’s Dept. Of Investigations (DOI), which can be reached at (212) 825-5900 or via an online complaint form. I think the accusation is 100% BS but if you know of “many reports” then you should take it to the next step.

Anonymous said...

Was so upset to see the Instagram post yesterday... immediately bought a ticket for one of their The Room screenings this weekend. Went there for one of those a few years ago before living in East Village and it was a blast... walked home on Houston at 2 am. Always such a strange experience having memories of navigating a place before you knew it well.

I feel like I didn’t go as often as I should have, being spoiled for choice with the rest of the theaters, but these guys filled the mainstream indie category and I saw some great stuff here over the years. What’s left for that? Lincoln is closing. Closest I can think of is Angelika, IFC, or maybe Nitehawk. There’s still Quad, Anthology, Film Forum, Cinema Village,Village East, and Metrograph... any I’m missing?

@11:02 I’ll take your challenge: Bluestockings, the feminist / activist bookshop on Allen near Stanton. Not a regular but it has a nice atmosphere and seems to be an actual community gathering place.

Anonymous said...

This is the saddest news ever. First Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and now Landmark Sunshine. I've seen many films here and this breaks my heart. Beautiful space and I would go to the theater a lot on my days off from work. It was so peaceful during the week. I also attended many film screenings here as well.

RIP to Landmark Sunshine and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas

Pray nothing happens to the Angelica and Cinema Village.


I've left NYC 3 years ago and so much has changed. Many businesses and restaurants are long gone. WTF!

chris flash said...

Anonymous January 11, 2018 at 8:41 AM:

Our info is from business owners who PAID to get CB3 approval for liquor licenses -- they got what they wanted, they consider it a business expense that will benefit them, so they are not likely to complain to any authority and risk losing their licenses, are they?

It was a tad obvious to have had as head of CB3's liquor license committee (I forget exactly what they called it) a man who owned SEVERAL venues on the LES that served liquor, wasn't it? Nice to be in a position to be able to eliminate competition and to help your friends and yourself....

Sunshine most likely didn't know how to play the game by CB3's rules.

It's STILL not too late to have the Sunshine building LANDMARKED!!