Rosemary Theater

133 Canal Street,
New York, NY 10002

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Functions: Religious Services

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A conversion of an already existing building, the Rosemary Theater, located in Chinatown on Canal Street between the Bowery and Chrystie Street, was opened in May 1982. Seating was provided 534 in orchestra and 129 in the balcony. It was closed in 1996. It was showing Chinese & adult films at the time. The theater is now home to the Mahayana Buddhist temple.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

br91975 on July 3, 2005 at 6:24 pm

To follow up on my post from this past February 3rd at 11:28 pm – I FINALLY remembered yesterday afternoon to keep my eyes peeled when walking by the intersection of Canal and Mulberry and it appears the building which housed the Jade Theatre is no more (the Wah Dor and whatever may have been the ‘other’ Canal Theatre seemed to have met the same fate); the only logical place the Jade could have been located was the southeast corner of Canal and Mulberry, and that area is presently occupied a rather typical (for Chinatown) building covered in faux-dark gray marble tiles. Meanwhile, the former Music Palace is still standing, its basement floor occupied by a food supply store (with relatively new signage). Why nothing has been done with the Music Palace space (if, as it turns out, there are, as it seems obvous there aren’t any longer, plans to tear down the building) is a continual mystery to me…

gwailo on September 26, 2006 at 11:47 am

The Rosemary was one of three theatres in NY Chinatown that were still oeprating through most of the 90’s.

It had less of a seedy atmosphere than the Music Palace, around the corner on the Bowery (less cigarette smoking and gang activity). But as someone mentioned, they did show a lot of Category III (porno) movies. They’d alternate weekly between kung fu flicks and porn. I got the impression most of their revenue came from the porn.

And ironically, it’s now the largest Buddhist temple in NYC.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 26, 2006 at 1:05 pm

Does anyone know much about the history of the Rosemary? When did it open? Was it purpose built? I remember taking note of the large marquee while driving through the area back in the early ‘90’s and vaguely recall a rather large tan facade facing Canal on the north side of the street (I seem to remember it being on a bit of an angle, though that might just be the cut of the street as it turns towards the Manhattan Bridge). I wondered how long it had been around and what sort of movies it played. Is there a cinematic history prior to the 1982 C of O Lost Memory refers to above? My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I would have thought the place was bigger than just 473 seats and might possibly have held a balcony.

Ethnica on October 11, 2006 at 8:34 am

Re: the Rosemary / Mahayana Temple: When passing nearby the other week, it looked as if the facade – the great green and brown pagoda marquee – was being torn down. I couldn’t stop to look closer. Can anyone else confirm or deny?

I held out faint hopes that if the distinctive Rosemary facade stayed up, perhaps one day we’d have an Asian cinema in Chinatown again. Also, it was just so emblematic of the area (huge, gorgeous pagoda at the top of Canal Street which remained after the the theatre was converted into a temple), it would be a shame if it were gone.

br91975 on November 30, 2006 at 3:12 pm

I walked by the Rosemary the other night and got the sense that it’s either in line for a pretty extensive renovation project or is being prepared for demolition. I thought I saw some permits posted, but didn’t stop to read them; I’ll do so soon and see if I can provide some more definitive details.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 1, 2006 at 12:57 pm

I still wonder about the previous history of this building. Does that 1982 C/O represent a conversion of previous use to theater? Or was this a theater before that? I see no older C/O’s on the NYC Buildings Department site. Lost provided a total 483 seats per that C/O – just to clarify, it breaks down to 354 on the ground floor and 129 in the “mezzanine.”

I was also able to find some history of deed transfers that shows that Rosemary Enterprises acquired the property via deed dated in 1978. Prior to that, there’s a series of individuals and other corporations, but no indication as to use prior to that ‘82 C/O.

kencmcintyre on July 17, 2008 at 9:50 pm

There is a photo of the temple on this site:

everit on December 20, 2010 at 3:42 am

it was not called the Rosemary. Had distinctively chinese culture name. Yes the photo looks authentic yet may be copying the name to match a deed or building file- false ambition.

richardkoenigsberg on September 10, 2017 at 2:59 am

Yes, that’s the Rosemary Theater. I saw approximately 100 movies there. I’d come from the Upper West Side—to relax. Sit there for 3-4 hours (often double features). Chinese movies are unique and special. I was there before there were other “gweilos.” I knew Chou Yun Fat before an non-Chinese Americans.

The term “porno” movie is not accurate when talking about Chinese movies. The sex is INTEGRATED with a plot: never a special focus on sex alone. There is no “mind body” split. But yes, a lot of politically incorrect stuff goes on…wouldn’t be acceptable uptown.

Yes, the Rosemary was somewhat more elegant than the other 3 Chinese movies that were there at the time (my movie going days were 1984-1986, that would be 33 years ago.

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