By Steven Goodstein
A staple of the Douglaston community will be closing down next month.
Family-owned movie theater MovieWorld, located within Douglaston Plaza at 242-02 61st Ave., will shut its doors and turn off the big screens for good after more than 35 years because the terms of its lease have forced the cinema to close.
The movie theater will host a Customer Appreciation Party Monday, July 2, the day before it officially closes down. The party will celebrate the history and memories of the theater as well as the diversity of its customers.
In an attempt to go out with a bang, MovieWorld reached out to the mayor’s office on Twitter last week, tweeting @NYCMayorsOffice: “Any chance the Mayor (Bill de Blasio) can stop by on the day we close down our theater forever?”
The tweet further read, “We are throwing a celebration of diversity. MovieWorld has been a place of acceptance and diversity for 35 years and we celebrate our luck to have been in Queens, the most diverse place on earth.”
If not the mayor, the movie theater hopes to receive a visit from Gov. Andrew Cuomo or U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on the final day of operations. As of press time, the mayor’s office had not returned a request for comment about a MovieWorld visit
“The last 10 years have been very special and it’s unfortunate that we can’t continue the run of this historic movie theater,” said general manager Russell Levinson, whose father Irwin has owned the theater since 2008. “This is a major loss for the borough and we are sad to leave it behind.”
Levinson, who reminisced about the audience, from families and couples to seniors and students on field trips, emphasized diversity as one of the main reasons why MovieWorld was so successful in the past, describing the different ethnicities who would visit the theater from all across the borough and even travel from Long Island and Manhattan.
With the upcoming closing of MovieWorld, Levinson said it will be tough for customers to find a theater with the same affordable prices that his had.
Russell also added that even though his family was being forced out, he and his father were still looking to purchase another movie theater in the borough if the opportunity presents itself.
MovieWorld’s Customer Appreciation Party will include reduced movie ticket prices (from 1983 PRICE???), a display of poster-size photos showing memorable customers, whether they were families, couples, seniors, students or church groups.
MovieWorld opened in 1983, only a few years after E.J. Korvette’s department store went bankrupt and closed down . In 2008, Irwin Levinson purchased the movie theater, following a similar life path of his own father, who was a film distributor.
Macy’s was also located within Douglaston Plaza for more than 15 years before closing down at the beginning of 2017.
The movie theater was known for its Senior Day Mondays ($6 for Seniors over 62) and its Wacky Wednesdays ($6 for everyone). MovieWorld even screened Indian and Filipino films – only adding to the diversity of the movie theater’s audiences.
On its Facebook page, MovieWorld recently posted a photo of a movie theater flier from the first month the theater opened back in June 1983.
The theater is expected to be demolished sometime in the near future, after it shuts down on July 3.
As of press time, the mayor’s office had not returned a request for comment about a MovieWorld visit.
Reach Steven Goodstein by e-mail at sgood