Where It's Really The Last Picture Show
[New York Times,
11 December 2005]
By RICHARD MORGAN
When Manhattanites gripe about their local cinema closing, it can seem like whining. The borough is so flooded with theaters, to complain about the loss of one would be like bemoaning the closing of a local Starbucks or the breakup of a Brooklyn band.
For comparison, consider what is happening in Ozone Park, Queens, where the Cross Bay II theater, right by the Rockaway Boulevard stop on the elevated A tracks, will close its doors on Jan. 2. The closing was first reported in The Queens Chronicle.
''That's it for South Queens; show's over,'' said Carla Davis, a neighborhood resident, as she watched her 9-year-old son, a Harry Potter fan named Anthony, practice casting spells in the theater's lobby on Monday afternoon.
Next month, the theater nearest to Ms. Davis will be a multiplex on Linden Boulevard and Drew Street in East New York, Brooklyn, 40 minutes away by foot and subway. It did not loom as an attractive option. ''Linden Boulevard is a hike,'' she said, ''and I don't want to hike with my kids, you know?''
Cross Bay II's planned closing day is a Monday. ''The corporate office knows we can't close on a Sunday,'' said Rahat Khan, an assistant manager at the theater. ''So at least they're giving us that.''
Cross Bay II's closing comes on the heels of the demise of Cross Bay I, a sister theater with a handsome facade that opened in 1925 and shut its doors in August.
Judging by its exterior, Cross Bay II is something only a local could love: an unimpressive six-screen space wedged between a library and a parking lot with a barbed-wire fence. The parking lot has 11 spaces and room for a trash bin. The only sign that movies are shown in the building is a tarnished sign bearing the United Artists logo.
But despite the unimpressive exterior, it has been a crowd-pleaser. Framing the ticket window are half a dozen shiny red plaques commemorating Cross Bay II's ''high theater performance,'' the corporate parent's equivalent of plastering a child's straight-A report card on the fridge.
In February, Cross Bay employees will report to Atlas Park, a mall three miles away in Glendale, Queens, where they will go to work at a new multiplex with 8 screens and 1,600 seats.
Danny Red, an Ozone Park resident who loads milk trucks, will not follow in their footsteps. ''You can get five DVD's for three days from the library for free,'' Mr. Red said. ''I can wait for the movies.''
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