Family-owned MovieWorld theater in Douglaston will screen its last films this July

MovieWorld (3)
Photo by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS

A long-standing Douglaston movie theater will soon go dark to make way for a big box retailer.

MovieWorld, which is located within the Douglaston Plaza shopping center, is projected to screen its last picture show on July 2, according to general manager Russell Levinson. The storefront, along with the former site of Macy’s, will be assumed by a new tenant: Lowe’s Home Improvement.

“We’re really sad to have to leave,” Levinson said. “We think it’s not really a positive for the community and we do hope to find a new home. We love what we do and we’re trying to find something close.”

In January 2017, news first emerged that the family-owned business may have to vacate its storefront within the shopping center, located at 242-02 61st Ave., to make way for the home improvement retailer. In the following weeks, an online petition to save the theater was created and circulated by residents. It is just short of its 1,500-signature goal.

Levinson previously told QNS that, though MovieWorld would like to stay at the location, the landlord does have the option to buy out the lease. The Douglaston Plaza shopping center is owned by Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation (AAC).

This year, a number of locals on both sides of the issue spoke out about the developer’s plans at Queens Community Board 11’s February meeting, where developers were presenting a proposal for a variance that would make the Lowe’s project a reality. Some argued that the displacement of MovieWorld would present too large a loss on the community, while others claimed the big box chain would bring much-needed life back into the struggling shopping center.

After a close vote, the advisory board gave Lowe’s the green light it needed to alter and move into the massive Douglaston storefront.

The theater was established in 1983 and closed for a short time in April 2008. In June, the theater re-opened under current management and underwent renovations in 2012 and 2013.

Levinson said the theater plans on holding a celebration on its final day of operations as a way to thank the community for its patronage over the years. Further details will be shared on Movieworld’s website and Facebook page in the coming weeks.

Tom Pinto, who serves on the board of directors for the Douglaston Manor Civic Association, said the theater will be missed.

”The movie theater is really a gem in the area,” he said. “It’s one of the most inexpensive ways to go to the movies. A lot of people in the area go to the movies there and a lot of senior citizens go. It’s not too crowded and it’s affordable.”