Park Slope

Park Slope’s Pavilion Theater closes

New Nitehawk Cinema to Open Fall 2017

November 4, 2016 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
An outside view of Pavilion theater. Eagle photo by Arthur De Gaeta
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The Pavilion, Park Slope’s only movie theater, had its farewell party on Nov. 1. The well-attended event marked the closing of the theater, which has been unspooling films in the neighborhood since 2006.

After opening in 1928 originally as the Sanders and lasting nearly 70 years before being shuttered in 1978, the theater reopened with three screens in 1996 as the Pavilion. It was then divided into nine screens by 2000.  

In 2011, the theater underwent a major makeover; it was furnished with comfortable leather seats, a fresh paint job and new carpeting.  A few years later, there was great concern that the building would become condominiums.  The community’s fears were almost realized last year when the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the construction of a six-story condo, which meant cutting the theater space back to house just three or four screens.

At the theater’s closing party, neighborhood resident Amy Peck, who is an archivist historian for the Prospect Park Alliance, spoke about the location as a historic site. Just across the street, trolleys used to run through Prospect Park West back in the days when the Sanders movie theatre was in its heyday. Peck also mentioned that her kids grew up going to the Pavilion.   

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Just when it appeared that a piece of Brooklyn history might be lost to the ages, the Nitehawk Cinema team entered the picture and leased the property. The first Nitehawk theater opened on Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg in 2011. The unique theater offers its audiences dinner and drinks, enhancing their movie-going experience.  

The Nitehawk team had looked at the Park Slope location in 2011, but with the Williamsburg theater opening that same year, the timing wasn’t quite right. John Woods, Nitehawk’s director of programming and acquisitions, told the Eagle, “It’s a wonderful theater, and it’s a wonderful spot for it. We [Matthew Viragh, Nitehawk Cinema’s founder and his team] kept tabs on it, and it worked out that we were finally able to enter a long-term lease with the new owners.”

Asked about preserving the integrity and structure of the theater, Woods explained, “As far as the interior, there’s not much to preserve, because it was redone in the ’90s. Of course, the building’s a landmark, so we’re not going to do anything to the outside of it.”

The new Nitehawk Prospect Park cinema will have seven screens and a total of 650 seats, two kitchens, two bar areas, an atrium overlooking the park and in-theater dining. It is scheduled to open in the fall of 2017 and will feature independent films, classic movies and children’s favorites. The full dining menu will also include beer, wine and cocktails.

Woods concluded, “It’s going to be great for the neighborhood. What we do is a lot of kids programming, a lot of good stuff that is going to fit in with the neighborhood. I live in the neighborhood; I have kids in school here, so I’m excited to finish what we do here for the people of Park Slope and Windsor Terrace.”


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