Avenue U Theatre

1602 Avenue U,
Brooklyn, NY 11229

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Rugoff & Becker

Architects: Joseph M. Berlinger

Functions: Bank, Retail

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Avenue U Theatre

The Avenue U Theatre was a small neighborhood house which was opened in October 1927. It was operated by Rugoff & Becker by 1943. They were still the operators in 1950. In the late-1950’s it was best known for it large CinemaScope screen. At one time it was run by the Cinema 5 chain and was sub-run.

It was a first run house, and then it became a dollar theatre. In its twilight days, it had a twin theatre policy of separate admissions for different movies, all shown in the same theatre.

When UA opened the Sheepshead megaplex, the owner resorted to XXX, but the community balked and the theatre closed for good in 1987.

It was gutted, the floor leveled and prepared for retail use. Yet the store was never rented and after sitting vacant for over a decade it was converted into a bank and retail use.

Contributed by philipgoldberg

Recent comments (view all 28 comments)

GaryCohen on January 8, 2010 at 4:49 pm

This was a relatively small, average theater that usually had long lines throughout the 1970s due to its dollar admission. My parents used to go there a lot and it was quite popular due to its low admission price. I saw several films there throughout the 70s: Live and Let Die (for the second time,) The Deep, The Great Gatsby, The Legend of Hell House, etc. I think the last time my wife and I were there was to see Hannah and her Sisters in the early ‘80s. As stated this was basically a small, unattractive neighborhood theater with nothing really distinctive to remember it by.

mp775 on May 24, 2011 at 12:53 pm

The Avenue U in 1970. Battle of Britain and Buona Sera Mrs. Campbell are playing.

Astyanax on May 24, 2011 at 1:14 pm

The vintage bus forces me to real;ize that the photo was taken over 40 yrs. ago. I remember when the new marquee was installed and the sense that the Rugoff chain was finally trying to spruce up the place.

dybbuk on October 8, 2011 at 9:59 pm

i worked at the avenue u at about the same time that kirk doulas’s lonely are the brave made its debut. what was most intriguing to me was the theater’s basement (near the bathrooms. which were downstairs, too.) where i found promotional items like tiny red dice sent rolling on a spinning circular platform, encased under glass and activated by a plunger you pushed with your thumb, as well as illustrated ticket stubs for a presentation of king kong.

bradmarcus on August 23, 2013 at 8:16 pm

In late 78 it started playing Rocky Horror on Saturday nights at midnight to packed crowds. My friends and I did the stage show in costume once. What a blast!

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 17, 2017 at 12:43 pm

The 1980 picture added to Photos

HomecrestGuy on December 30, 2018 at 4:53 am

Photo added to gallery, from the 1949 NYC Tax photos.

Ed Miller
Ed Miller on March 13, 2021 at 8:07 pm

I saw movies fairly often at the Avenue U in the late ‘70s, and I don’t recall it being a dollar theater. The films we saw there were all first-run, in Brooklyn, anyway: “Annie Hall,” “Murder by Death,” and the Italian “A Special Day,” starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni.

dallasmovietheaters on September 1, 2021 at 4:27 am

The Avenue U Theatre is listed as under construction in January of 1927 to open in October of 1927. As the theatre closed in 1987, that would time out with two 30-year leases so seems plausible. Also, it briefly switched to XXX adult films in 1984 (as noted) but - after protests - it returned to regular Hollywood fare closing on October 8, 1987 with Lou Diamond Phillips in “La Bamba.”

A plan - if not the plan - was drawn by architect Joseph M. Berlinger.

Willburg145 on September 24, 2022 at 9:36 am

Wish there were interior photos even if it was plain

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