Argyle Theatre

34 W. Main Street,
Babylon, NY 11702

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Showing 101 - 125 of 149 comments

jpark377 on September 11, 2014 at 2:05 pm

I worked at this location for many years as a contractor when it was a UA (going back to even before it was tripled), and the market place has changed tremendously over the years. There’s really nobody to blame here: Main Street style theaters are really just a thing of the past. Years ago, larger towns could have many theaters of this style (Patchogue and Bay Shore, as examples, had many movie theaters like this one), and support every one of them; but nowadays, these theaters are a dying breed. And forget about it: if you don’t promote birthday parties or group sales with this type of theater, you’re finished. Everybody talks a good game that they like the classic old-styled movie house: then they run down to the newest behemoth stadium seating theater and pluck down the $13 for a ticket, and then they toss $15 down on the candy stand, and then they wonder how come the Babylon or Lindenhurst theaters closed.
I’m not blaming the public for liking the newer stadium theaters (it is nice not to stare at the back of someone’s head, while sitting in a very comfortable rocking seat; and that’s with the picture and sound quality being exceptional!): just be intellectually honest, and realize that many of you voted with your wallet at the box office and candy stand for the newer stadium theater over the old Main Street type theater. 2013 was the largest revenue year for the movie industry, so when I hear people try to rationalize that the industry in-general is in a steep decline, and that’s what’s causing these theater closures, I know that they aren’t living in the real world. The customer’s choice is what’s relegating these movie houses into ancient history.

robboehm on September 11, 2014 at 1:41 pm

At the time Bow Tie took over Clearview outlets I seem to recall not all made the transfer. Then, subsequently, at least one closed.

There is nothing to say that Bow Tie, or someone else, might choose to resurrect the Babylon for the period when the South Bay is down. Might be to their advantage to rebuild an audience for the house.

joemasher on September 11, 2014 at 8:30 am

Thanks Orlando! The Babylon Cinemas was converted to digital over a year ago. Unfortunately it was no longer a viable operation, and had not been for many years.

Orlando on September 11, 2014 at 7:56 am

The South Bay was digital about a year and a half now and the option to close and rebuild was decided within the past three months. They’d be closed now had they waited to install digital. They switched over theatre by theatre while film was disappearing and not all at one time. To NYer, Bow Tie is not to be blamed for the closure since they had the theatre for a little over a year. Clearview (Cablevision) is mostly to blame for the closing of the Babylon.

robboehm on September 11, 2014 at 6:58 am

Some sources say that the theater was destroyed in that fire. Wrong. Unlike the, supposedly, fireproof Edwards (East Hampton) and Rialto (Patchogue), the Babylon survived it’s fire. For the other two the walls came down. The original Capitol/Babylon walls still survive. Only the street facing facade is different.

And re the South Bay again, if they knew they were going to tear down and rebuild why go digital now?

gfm8959 on September 10, 2014 at 1:57 pm

There was a fire in April 1955- I didn’t see it mentioned anywhere in the comments. I guess that’s why it was remodeled/reopened in 1956?

Orlando on September 10, 2014 at 8:23 am

Clearview kept it as part of their “Free” Tuesdays if you had the “Cablevision” package that offered it free. It was sold out on free nights but empty on all the other days. Babylon was the theatre located on the far east of the island and everyone east of the Babylon swarmed it. When the theatres were sold to Clearview and then to Bow Tie it was a “package deal”. It was Clearview who decimated whatever audiences the Babylon had. As far as the South Bay goes, it is all digital and got the best product because it always out grossed the Babylon even in its' deplorable condition. Yes, the parking helps but its' not the South Bay’s parking lot. A deal was made back in 1967 with the shopping centers' owners. By the way, South Bay’s fortunes have been sinking due to its' uncleanliness and is due to be closed soon and be replaced with a brand new building housing 7 cinemas on the same sight. Nothing has been announced, but I have reliable connections. The demolition and rebuilding of the new structure will take at least one year. So therefore, Bow Tie was premature in closing the Babylon because there will be a void in movie going in this area. Lastly, Price matters, South Bay had a strong $4. and then $5 Bargain Matinee which was very successful. Babylon followed suit but only with a “first show matinee” and $6.00 all seats policy on Tuesday, these promos failed. Bargain Tuesdays didn’t attract the patrons. The Babylon Village said the theatre failed because of poor “Bow Tie” management. I disagree. Incorporated Villages of Long Island are the reason that some businesses fail with their “rules of signage and everything else” Enough said.

robboehm on September 9, 2014 at 11:46 am

If the theater has not been profitable for 20 years why did Clearview keep it and why did Bow Tie take it over? And re the South Bay it has parking. Have they gone digital or can we expect their subsequent closure?

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on September 8, 2014 at 8:54 am

Can’t say this is a surprise as it has been loosing money for the last 20 years . Shocking it lasted this long .

Orlando on September 8, 2014 at 7:31 am

The Babylon Cinemas CLOSED last night, Sunday, Sept. 7th 2014. The last picture shows were “Guardians Of The Galaxy”, “If I Stay”, “Sin City 2” and “Dragon 2”. However, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” with stage cast “Sold Out” and started at 12:45 AM Sunday morning. The manager told the audience about the closing and the patrons went silent. Then the theatre got a round of cheers and applause for the 92 years of service to the area. It was very touching. I worked there a while in 1988 for UA management. Farewell to another Main Street symbol of entertainment. Capitol/Babylon Theatre 1922-2014.

Orlando on September 4, 2014 at 5:02 pm

On, there are no show times for the Babylon Cinemas, with Sunday 9/7, as the last day listed. I knew it was slated to close and I wonder what will happen to the building. It would have been 90 years old next year. By the way, the Live and Film “Rocky Horror Picture Show” will play Saturday 9-6-14 at 11:30 for $8.00. DON’T MISS IT!!! Come SUNDAY!!!

robboehm on July 6, 2014 at 11:36 am

Reference is made to a comment made by Ken Roe on October 31, 2004 and those made by Orlando the same year. The original Babylon closed in 1922(see elsewhere on CT) the same year the current theatre, then called the Capitol, opened. After the Capitol went bankrupt in 1924 it was reopened under new ownership in February 1925. Presumably the name was changed to Babylon at that time because there is reference to theatre magnet Mike Glynne being injured in an automobile accident on the way to the opening of the Babylon theatre in February 1925.

According to one source, Glynne only acquired this Babylon, together with the Regent and Carlton in Bay Shore and the Garden in Southampton, in 1926. According to another, those four theatres were acquired by B.S. Moss from the Brewster circuit in 1926 never mentioning Glynne.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 11, 2014 at 10:45 am

Babylon auditorium photo mentioned above now posted in photos.

robboehm on May 9, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Already too many performing arts theatres on Long Island: The Space at Westbury, Engermann at Northport, CM at Oakdale, Patchogue, Suffolk in Riverhead, Bolton (Regent) in Patchogue, Smithtown, Paramount in Huntington etc, etc..

There are fewer and fewer movie theaters on Long Island and, it would seem that many of those are struggling.

Between the cost of going to the movies and the fact that, in many areas of Long Island, you have to drive 20 minutes or more to get there, it’s not surprising.

Orlando on April 26, 2014 at 8:41 am

The Babylon Theatre (Bow-Tie) is in negotiations to be sold for a Performing Arts Center. I hope the new occupants see that some of the elaborate work is hidden under the drop ceilings in the lobby. Clearview Cinemas destroyed any chances of long term survival of this and many others of the UA theatres it acquired with their free Tuesday nights (if you had Cablevision). These theatres were all losing money before Clearview came along with their fireplaces and free phone service. Bow-Tie Cinemas took over these and now is seeing no more business than Clearview, even less. Now on Tuesday Bargain Day at $6.00, the theatre had 10 people total for the 3 screens, all first run product. This is pathetic. Everything Bow-Tie acquired will drain them of their current money making theatres they had prior to taking over. On bright moment is the “Live On Stage And Screen "Rocky Horror Picture Show” has sold out almost 5 times. So…Performing Arts is the way to go with some “Classic Movie Shows” added in for fun. And it will be one big screen again.

jukingeo on August 18, 2012 at 12:47 pm

The link Bway posted is bad. Here is what the auditorium of the Babylon used to look like:

Even though not in color, you can see how impressive this theatre was.

I also have to point out that the theatre had side curtains that moved in and out so that it could handle a wide variety of aspect ratios.

It is a pity that we had to loose the beautiful large screens such as this. I really do miss this screen very much.

jukingeo on August 18, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Ahhh, the good ‘ole Babylon Theatre. This theatre and I go way back…way back to 1982. The first movie I saw here was “Conan: The Barbarian”. Back then the theatre was a HUGE single curved screen with a gorgeous proscenium arch. The theatre had a balcony too. In the lobby there was a huge art deco type chandelier and a beautiful stairway up to the balcony (which already had partial stadium seating). That same year (1982) “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” was released to this theatre. This was the first movie I viewed multiple times here. While E.T. is in my top 3 favorite movie list, the first time seeing it at Babylon was perhaps the single best theatre experience I ever had.

Then in 1984/5 tragedy struck the Babylon and it was divided two three screens. The large auditorium was divided into two and the balcony became the third screen. Much of the beautiful ornamentation in the theatre was gone. The chandelier still remained though. Gone was the large curved screen and it’s beautiful proscenium. Instead you had just simple rectangular screens on a simple black background.

The first movie I saw after the conversion was “Cocoon” (1985). It was shown on the balcony screen. However, the conversion wasn’t completed and the air condition wasn’t running yet…it was mid summer! Needless to say, my first viewing after the new conversion wasn’t a pleasant one.

Afterwards I have seen many more movies at this theatre which include: “Alien 3”, “Back To the Future II & III”, and many others. The balcony screen is the best of the three.

When the movie theatre changed hands from UA to Clearview, I pretty much stopped going there.

As Bway pointed out above, the outside of the theatre hasn’t changed much since 1983 despite the drastic changes inside. One major plus though, is that the theatre has retained it’s large neon vertical sign on the front.

For those visiting the theatre, there is a small parking lot to the right of the building, but it fills up fast. Street parking is metered, so you would have to use a municipal lot across the street, behind the Main St. buildings.

It is still a good visit to check out, but it definitely has lost quite a bit of it’s luster from when it was a single screen. I only enjoyed this large screen for 3 years, but still to this day the single screen version of this theatre was my favorite.

wally 75
wally 75 on May 4, 2012 at 1:32 am

Who will pick up the Clearview Theatres? Any ideas..

jpark377 on January 1, 2011 at 5:58 pm

It’s rather amazing how many years they got out of those Heywood-Wakefield seats that were in those auditoriums. When UA sold that theater in the mid-nineties, it still had those old HW seats, though I know they were re-covered and painted many times. I really liked the “finger” design that HW used on the seat pans: it made them really easy to remove from the floor standard for service (didn’t need a wrench). The HW achilles' heel was the use of springs below the cushions for support, and the use of springs for the pan riser function (the better seats of today are “gravity risers”, hence no springs to break). The riser springs would fatigue and break, and the seat pan would then flop down; but I guess that was better than a malfunctioning cushion spring that would pop through the seat upholstery and snag a patron’s clothes. An argument could be made that if the seats weren’t used in excess of their normal service life (I don’t know, perhaps 20 years or so?), these malfunctions probably wouldn’t happen. All this being said, when you look at old pictures of auditoriums from the 50’s and 60’s, chances have it that the seats were Heywood-Wakefield. I can’t even imagine what HW’s market share was in their peak years!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 23, 2010 at 12:31 am

I misspelled the architect’s surname in my previous comment (as did the Heywood-Wakefield ad.) It should be Sornik.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 23, 2010 at 12:13 am

The mid-1950s rebuilding of the Babylon Theatre was designed by architect Maurice D. Sornick. A few photos appeared in an ad for Heywood-Wakefield seats in Boxoffice of January 7, 1956.

A photo of the auditorium was on the cover of Boxoffice, June 2, 1956. The Babylon was operated by Associated Prudential Theatres.

Bway on April 20, 2009 at 11:31 am

Here’s a photo of the Babylon in 1983. It really hasn’t changed all that much.

View link

robboehm on February 28, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Also, somebody mentioned the last theatre with a vertical. What about the Fantasy. And, in recent years they added one to the Greeport when they split up the old auditorium into a handful of theatres. As far as the simple neon style I believe the old Cambria and Laurelton had these. The big guns of, course were the Queens, Floral, Triboro, Valencia, Astoria, etc.etc,

robboehm on February 28, 2009 at 3:54 pm

My only experience at this theatre was a performance of Rocky. Although I don’t usually see movies first run this was an exception and, as a result, I had to stand on line. I couldn’t believe the audience got so worked up during the big fight scene that they were out of their seats cheering. Talk about a movie grabbing you.

jpark377 on May 28, 2008 at 6:03 pm

I appreciate this website, but they have to work on running correct initial desciptions of the buildings. This was a UA Theater before Clearview took it over in the mid-90’s.
When Lee was the manager here in the 80’s, you could quite literally eat off the floors. It’s was one of the cleanest theatres I’ve ever worked in. Her husband Joe was also an incredible theater manager. Real theater people like that are tough to find today.