Kew Gardens Cinemas

81-05 Lefferts Boulevard,
Kew Gardens, NY 11415

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Kew Gardens Cinemas (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Rugoff & Becker, United Artists Theater Circuit Inc.

Architects: Charles A. Sandblom

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Austin Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 718.441.9835

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News About This Theater

1970's photo as the Austin courtesy of Robert's World Facebook page.

Built in 1935, this neighborhood house originally opened as the 600-seat Austin Theatre and has had ‘more faces than Eve’. Spent years as a second run double feature house, until being taken over by Rugoff & Becker by 1943. They were still the operators in 1950. Art films were played for a few years catering to the affluent area and nearby Forest Hills.

For a few years it played mostly move-overs and booking midnight shows every Friday and Saturday night. It became a XXX house and was extremely profitable. The owner even played the midnight shows of regular movies for awhile. It then went all porno, later being taken over by the same owner of the Polk Theatre until it was shut down by the city (a story in itself).

The story has a happy ending:New owners bought the place, stripped it down to its minor Art Deco style origins and made a mini version of the Angelika, reopening as a 5-plex on April 24, 1999. The huge lobby has a concession stand where you can get coffee and fresh cookies. Two theatres were made in the old loge and restroom area on the second floor. Downstairs are three screens, number 3 keeping the original mini stage and arch. The other four auditoriums are tiny, but have top notch sound and projection and rocking chair seats stadium style. On July 20, 2007 a sixth screen was added, formed out of an adjacent dry-cleaners store.

The Kew Gardens Cinemas is a total delight to attend, here’s hoping it survives forever.

Contributed by RobertR

Recent comments (view all 113 comments)

DavidZornig on April 17, 2015 at 6:42 pm

Google street view shows some type of addition over the roof as of October 2014. Link would not post correctly.

thebrat on October 25, 2016 at 6:14 pm

Underrated complex. The middle aisles are deplorable but considering its age, it’s doable. The Stage Accompany sound system is really the unsung hero with their ribbon driver speakers. DLP systems look great too.

markp on October 26, 2016 at 9:58 pm

When it was an adult cinema, it was operated by the same people who also operated the Polk in Queens, the Deluxe and Cinema Kings Highway, the Mayfair and several in central New Jersey.

zoetmb on March 4, 2018 at 8:52 am

The addition on the roof is to hold solar panels. And the big screen is not #1 – I forget what it is – it might be #3. It is six screens – you can easily see that by looking at the show times . The sound in the theaters is pretty good, but @thebrat is correct that the middle aisles in all but the big screen are pretty bad. Also, the big screen suffers from parallax distortion. When I saw “Darkest Hour” there on one of the smaller screens, the left channel was missing. I do like seeing arty films there, but for bigger films, I go to a better theater in Manhattan.

One thing I don’t like about the theater is that the elderly audience who patronizes it always has someone who lets their phone ring and doesn’t know how to shut it off and they also tend to talk a lot during the film. They’re worse than the kids.

The MTA is threatening to tear down the bridge and isn’t renewing leases on the stores. This theater isn’t quite over the bridge, but anyone know if that construction is going to negatively impact the theater?

Daysleeper95 on July 23, 2018 at 8:39 am

In response to zoetmb’s comment, the LIRR announced recently they’re actually going to repair the bridge’s platform structures and the work is supposed to be over by the end of 2019. What this means for the theatre remains to be seen. I agree with your point about elderly patrons, but that also depends on when you go. I live right around the corner and go a lot at night, when it’s a younger crowd.

ridethectrain on August 29, 2019 at 8:10 pm

Please update, the Kew Gardens Cinemas open on April 24, 1999 as a five plex. Theatre 1 was not stadium seating when the theatre open, he converted it to s tadium seating in 2002-2003.

ridethectrain on November 10, 2019 at 12:32 am

Just posted photos from my collection of each screen and the layout of the theatre

ridethectrain on June 14, 2021 at 9:55 pm

Please update, the six screen opened July 20, 2007

robboehm on June 15, 2021 at 8:05 am

Nice photos ridethetrain. I wonder what the seating capacity was when it was a single screen theatre.

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