The Paris Theatre, New York City’s last remaining single-screen cinema, has closed after 71 years.
Photos posted on social media show a goodbye note posted on the theater’s window that says the Paris’ lease has ended and is now closed.
End of an era: The Paris Theatre in Midtown has suddenly closed after months of speculation. Some people showed up today to buy a ticket for #Pavarotti and only learned the news when they arrived. #newyork #nyc @PIX11News pic.twitter.com/u1rlIGfz6f
— Summer Delaney (@Summer_Delaney) August 29, 2019
The move confirms rumors that the theater was set to be shuttered this summer, though its closure was unexpectedly delayed for two months, likely due to the run of its last film, “Pavarotti” — exactly the kind of high-end, older-audience pleasing fare that thrived there.
The theater’s significance for the art house scene is hard to overstate. The Paris was responsible for nearly 9% of the total domestic gross for “Pavarotti,” an astounding share for the Ron Howard-helmed documentary that played in over 300 theaters.
Reading International, parent company of Paris operator City Cinemas, did not immediately return a request for comment. The theater’s website displays a “page not found” notice before redirecting to City Cinema’s main site.
The 581-seat Paris was one of the oldest art-house theaters in the country and was the nation’s last remaining single-screen cinema dedicated to first-run platform release movies.
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IndieWire’s Tom Brueggemann wrote earlier this summer “it’s close to a miracle” the Paris has survived this long into the 21st Century, after multiplexes became commonplace, streaming came for theater revenue, and specialized releasing changed.
And The New York Times wrote over a decade ago that the theater’s survival — despite its very valuable location (read: retail or housing would be a way more lucrative use of the space) — was among the “great mysteries of New York life.” It’s across from the famed Plaza Hotel and down the street from Trump Tower, after all.
The property is owned by real estate mogul Sheldon Solow, who took a hands-on interest in the theater after he assumed control in the 1990s.
It’s unclear what the billionaire’s plans are now or exactly what led to the theater’s closure.
Word that Solow would convert the space into another use date back to 1990, when the theater’s managing director told the Times it was “obvious” he wanted to transform it into retail use.
Meanwhile, another Solow-owned theater, The Beekman on the Upper East Side, has also closed. The goodbye message posted on that theater’s window is identical to its siblings, according to the Vanishing New York blog.
Tom Brueggemann contributed reporting.