2016-06-22 / Front Page

UA Will Continure To Reel 'Em In

BY LIZ GOFF


Contrary to recently published reports, United Artists Kaufman Astoria Cinemas, the theater complex on 38th Street and 35th Avenue in Long Island City will continue screening hits like “Finding Dory” and “Independence Day: Resurrection” under a recent buyout by the Kaufman Astoria Studios. 
Photo Vinny DuPre Contrary to recently published reports, United Artists Kaufman Astoria Cinemas, the theater complex on 38th Street and 35th Avenue in Long Island City will continue screening hits like “Finding Dory” and “Independence Day: Resurrection” under a recent buyout by the Kaufman Astoria Studios. Photo Vinny DuPre Start spreading the news – the United Artists Kaufman Astoria Cinemas 14 won’t be facing a wrecking ball any time soon.

Contrary to recently published reports, the theater complex on 38th Street and 35th Avenue in Long Island City will continue screening hits like “Finding Dory” and “Independence Day: Resurrection” under a recent buyout by the Kaufman Astoria Studios.

Kaufman paid $45 million for the home of the only remaining movie theater in the community.

“The theater is important to the neighborhood, so there is no reason to believe we would close it,” studio President Hal Rosenbluth said. “The theater has a lease, it is doing well and there are no plans to make changes or close it,” Rosenbluth said. “We are thrilled to bring it back into the family.”


United Artists Kaufman Astoria Cinemas. 
Photo Vinny DuPre United Artists Kaufman Astoria Cinemas. Photo Vinny DuPre Kaufman Astoria Studios purchased the property in 1997 with the intention of building a cineplex at the site, but instead sold the property to Forest City Ratner in 1998.

Ratner completed the 84,000-square-foot theater in 1999.

The theater was called the Regal Kaufman Astoria 14, until 2001, when United Artists took over the multiplex after Regal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

United Artists also operated the iconic Astoria Theater, which served the community for more than 70 years at Steinway Street and 30th Avenue. United Artists closed the Astoria Theater soon after acquiring Cinema 14.

Rosenbluth said the theater is an important part of the Astoria Arts District. The theater, along with the Museum of the Moving Image and the Frank Sinatra School for the Arts helps to foster a connection between the studio and the community. The theater was also a major factor in a renaissance that took place recently along 35th Avenue and in the surrounding neighborhoods, he explained.

Rosenbluth said he sometimes stands at the corner of 36th Street and 35th Avenue, remembering the condition of the neighborhood in 1982, before George Kaufman purchased land for the studio from the city.

“I look left and right, and feel proud that the studio has been a major part of the rebirth of the neighborhood,” he said.

Premature reports of the theater’s closing may have been connected with Kaufman’s plan to build two new stages at the studio complex, real estate experts said.

The studio recently announced plans to build a new, four-story building on a parking lot at 34th Avenue and 36th Street that will house two production stages, measuring 1,500 and 8,500 square feet, that will also feature office space on the top floors and an underground parking facility.

The new studio development is a direct response to booming entertainment production in New York City, sparked by a $420 million annual tax credit provided by the state.

When construction is completed, the Kaufman Astoria Studios will boast 12 sound stages, including the city’s only outdoor film lot, opened in 2014.

“There is no better place to make a movie or TV show than New York City,” Rosenbluth said. “With the tremendous growth of the entertainment industry here, our stages are constantly occupied, and we’re thrilled that with the new stages we will be able to expand the number of productions that call New York home.”

The project will break ground this fall and is expected to take 18 to 24 months to complete.

The studio complex was built in 1920, and was the original home of Paramount Pictures. Owner George Kaufman purchased the studios from the city in 1982, after the military abandoned the old Army Pictorial Center.

Kaufman promised to fill stages at the new studio with the same magic spawned by the Lansky players, the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields and other great artists who graced stages at the facility in the 1920s and 1930s.

The studio recently expanded into residential development with the debut of “The Marx,” at 34-32 35th St., featuring units selling for between $500,000 and $1 million.

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