Elgin Theater  

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"In December 1970, Jonas Mekas was organizing one of his periodic festivals of avant-garde films at the Elgin Cinema, a rundown six hundred seat theater, not unlike the Charles, on Eighth Avenue just north of Greenwich Village. Although the program was laden with major avant-garde figures, the most widely attended screenings were those on the three nights devoted to the films of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The Elgin management took advantage of the hippie crowds to announce an added feature-Alexandro Jodorowsky's El Topo to be shown at midnight because, as the first ad announced, it was "a film too heavy to be shown any other way."" --Midnight Movies (1983), page 80

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Elgin Theater opened in 1942 on Eighth Avenue in New York City. It was designed in the Art Moderne style by Simon Zelnik and was a popular movie house for decades seating 600. It served as a home to cult films and revivals and, later in its career, as an adult theater. In 1978 the community forced it to close. Even while it was an adult theater, it still kept up its program of showing midnight movies. The Elgin is credited inspiring other New York theatres to show midnight screenings. In 1970, the managers showed Alejandro Jodorowsky's 1970 surrealist western El Topo at midnight with the idea spreading midnight showings to other New York theaters.

Contents

1970s

The Elgin was the name of a six hundred seat movie theater in New York run in the early 1970s by Ben Barenholtz. It had a screen wide enough for CinemaScope and was used in 1970 by Jonas Mekas for his periodic festivals of avant-garde films. The most widely attended screenings were those on the three nights devoted to the films of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The Elgin management took advantage of the hippie crowds to announce an added feature, Alexandro Jodorowsky's El Topo to be shown at midnight because, as the first ad announced, it was "a film too heavy to be shown any other way." John WatersPink Flamingos, and Perry Henzell’s The Harder They Come would follow. The midnight movie was born.

Notable Midnight Films

A list of films played at midnight during the 70's at the Elgin

Joyce Theater

It was returned to service as the Joyce Theater in 1982 and it is now a 472 seat Dance and Performance theater. The interior was completely gutted and the structure restored by architect Hugh Hardy. Hardy also preserved the marquee and façade outside. The theater hosts nearly 140,000 people a year and serves as a popular Dance venue in the city. The new name is in memory of the late daughter of LuEsther Mertz, who made possible the purchase of the theater in 1979, at a cost of $225,000.


Similar contemporary movie theatres




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