Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Film Center

36 E. 8th Street,
New York, NY 10003

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: B.S. Moss Enterprises, RKO, Rugoff & Becker

Architects: Thomas White Lamb

Functions: Movies (Film Festivals), University

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Previous Names: Art Theatre, Movieland 8th Street Triplex

Nearby Theaters

Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Film Center

This onetime Greenwich Village favorite on E. 8th Street near Broadway deserves to have a listing apart from the Art Greenwich, which was much further west. The Art Moderne styled Art Theatre first opened on October 7, 1940. and was built by the Rugoff & Becker circuit. Thomas Lamb is credited as architect, though it was more likely someone in his company since he was semi-retired by that time.

The Art Theatre started out as a late-run showcase for American and foreign movies, but became a first-run in the late-1950’s. It eventually fell into the clutches of the RKO-Stanley Warner-Century combine, which let it fall into disrepair and finally closed it around 1985-86. RKO then took the name Art Theatre and attached it to the Greenwich, which it also operated.

After closure, the Art Theatre was taken over by B.S. Moss, which turned it into a triplex as the Movieland Triplex on June 20, 1986. Moss later closed its Movieland at Broadway and 47th Street (the last of many names for the 1918 Central Theatre). Movieland seems an inappropriate name for bohemian Greenwich Village, which is perhaps one of the reasons why the theatre didn’t have a long or successful life. It was closed on December 28, 1995.

Its sale to NYU seemed inevitable, since the university may be the Village’s largest property owner. In 1997 they employed architect Davis Brody Bond to renovate the building. It is now known as the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Film Center.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on August 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Ed, it mostly played second run in the late seventies.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 31, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Been searching the google archive of Village Voice and New York Magazine back issues to try and figure where in hell I saw a triple feature of the Beatles' “Magical Mystery Tour” along with “An American Band” (a short, almost coporate bio-reel about Grand Funk Railroad) and Jean Luc-Godard’s “Sympathy for the Devil” back around late December 1977 or January 1978. I know it was downtown somewhere, but I can’t recall exactly where, as my dad took me via a couple of subway lines and I wasn’t paying much attention. The theater definitely had a balcony, which is where we sat. Maybe I’m wrong about the date, but it was definitely while the Mel Brooks' movie “High Anxiety” was early in its release. Just been a personal quest of mine to figure out where I saw films with my dad – and this one has been a bitch to nail down!

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on August 31, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Ed, in December 1978 the Cinema Village was showing something called “Beatles Around the World”. Could that have been it?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 1, 2011 at 9:58 am

No, that wasn’t it, Al… but thanks for the suggestion. I remember my folks had just seen “High Anxiety” during its initial release. My dad promised to take me to the movies and I really wanted to see the Mel Brooks film, but also wanted to go see (finally) “Magical Mystery Tour.” Since he had just seen “High Anxiety,” he agreed to trek into the city to take me to see the Beatles' movie. It wasn’t a program of Beatles films, just “Magical Mystery Tour” and the other two rock-music related movies. And definitely a theater with a balcony. I wish the old Cue Magazine was imaged online like the Voice and New York Magazine. I’m almost positive that’s where I found the listing for those films.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on September 1, 2011 at 10:57 am

Ed, this theatre was running some daily changes in late December 1977. If you can find listings for December 21 or 22 you may have the answer. By December 23 they had opened “OUTRAGEOUS!” for a week.

ram4553 on September 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Wow. Memory lane time. Never much for balconies, but when I think of triple-bill, dirt-cheap days in the dark I recall fondly St. Marks Cinema in East Village, Elgin in Chelsea, and…Art and perhaps 8th St. Playhouse, also Village locations. I also loved the Fifth Avenue Cinema, but don’t recall triple bills there.

randytheicon on June 1, 2016 at 8:40 pm

The Art in 1984 was a beautiful, single-screen house with a balcony. It’s where I saw Prince’s “Purple Rain” in August 1984. BS Moss VERY crudely turned it into a triplex, with two narrow theatres on the ground floor and a somewhat decent room on the upper level. In 1988 the entire Moss chain was acquired by United Artists, which closed the theatre in November 1995 (“Rocky Horror” was the last movie to play there).

Movieholic on June 22, 2016 at 6:17 pm

“Tootsie” was the sole movie I saw here when it was The Art. After it was converted into the Movieland 8th Street Triplex, I saw many more, including “Wall Street,” “Joe Versus the Volcano,” “Glory,” “Revenge of the Nerds II,” just to name a few. I agree with randytheicon the upstairs theater was decent but the downstairs ones were narrow with somewhat small screens. Seeing a summer blockbuster like “Batman” for the first time in one of them wasn’t ideal but it was the most convenient Manhattan location for my dad and I at the time.

ridethectrain on July 3, 2021 at 12:51 pm

It became the Movieland Triplex on June 20, 1986, it closed on December 28, 1995

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