In New Short Film, Moviegoers Explain Why They Love Lincoln Plaza Cinemas; Here’s How to Attend the Farewell Event

Lincoln Plaza Cinemas at Broadway and 62nd Street is planning to close on January 28 after being forced out by landlord Milstein Properties, which is planning to make renovations to the space. Lincoln Plaza has been around for 37 years, and is one of the last remaining independent art-house theaters in New York.

Filmmaker Christopher Ming Ryan interviewed theater-goers and employees about their experiences, and what they’d like to say to the landlord. He explained to us why he made the film.

I’m not taking the news of the imminent demise of Lincoln Plaza Cinemas well. I know I am not alone. For over 30 years, this movie theater has been the Upper West Side neighborhood place to see quality films in a friendly warm environment. It has survived while other neighborhood theaters have vanished: The Regency, The Olympia, The New Yorker, The Metro, Cinema 1&2… I can go on and on.

This movie theater’s run ends on January 28, 2018. I want to speak to the landlord of this theater directly and tell him he’s making a mistake that he can fix.

With camera in hand and on a mission to find like minded folk, I found Upper West Siders and New Yorkers as angry and sad as I am.

I was struck by the passion and feelings people have for this theater. Also, somehow, I missed over the years the unique curves and beauty of the space (probably by scurrying quickly to find good seats).

We have a message to the landlord, Howard Millstein: make capital improvements on this space, but keep the people who run this theater by offering them an affordable lease. Toby Talbot deserves to stay. I want to enjoy the films they hand pick and continue to support the wonderful staff here– for a very long time. Do the right thing.

Disappearing NYC: Lincoln Plaza Cinemas from Wheelhouse Communications on Vimeo.

There will be a farewell for the theater on Sunday, January 28th, at 11 a.m. (come by 10:30.) There will be 200 invited guests in the large theater, including family, friends, and industry people. (Who will come and who will speak will be a surprise.)

The public will be allowed in on a first-come, first-served basis. If the first theater is full, they will open a second and a third, etc., where they will stream the event live on the screens. House Manager Ewnetu Admassu said they will do their best to “accommodate everyone.” Admassu also made the montage of photos of the theater below.

NEWS | 41 comments | permalink
    1. Ground Control says:

      Mr. Milstein should learn that when you die you take absolutely nothing with you. It’s your good deeds or your bad ones that remain.
      The greed that is destroying this cultural institution loved by so many will not soon be forgotten.

      • Woody says:

        The Milsteins are pretty philanthropic. I don’t think they need to learn from you what they should do with their money. You probably don’t have what it takes to make a good business decision so that you can sustain a robust business that provides funds for philanthropic causes.

        • Ground Control says:

          Ah yes, Woody the Ayn Rand worshiper. For your information, Mr. Milstein has made millions from the residents of and the city of New York. He has been appealed to by a slew of NY politicians and over 10,000 people to sign a new lease with the family on Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and he has at least to date, failed to do so. A good businessman would care about his community and the cultural character of New York.

          • Woody says:

            He’s made millions from doing business with residents of NYC – so what? That doesn’t make him any more responsible for maintaining cultural venues than any other businessman, of which there are plenty. You act like he’s kicking a viable business out from premier retail space. There is nothing special about underground space. The whole real estate business is hit-and-miss and a landlord never knows when a turn in the market will wipe out years of earnings and asset values. But you’re an expert at dictating what others should do with their money for your benefit. Politicians appealed to the Milsteins…what a surprise. I bet they got your vote now. 10,000 signatures…how hard is it to get someone to sign a worthless piece of feelgood paper.

    2. Sid says:

      Went last night to see a film. I remember coming here as a teenager, and saw a lot of great films growing up here. Such a shame.

    3. Jim says:

      Big Box store coming to this location you heard it here first

    4. Elaine says:

      I’m sick over the closing. I LOVE Lincoln Plaza Cinema! My heart and soul, where will it go for quality movies?

    5. An Upper Westsider says:

      Landlord sits on so-called Lincoln Center Business Improvement District board and Monica Blum has nothing to say about another closing of a business in the bid district or has anything to say about her REBNY board who leave empty store fronts all over the area.

    6. MJ says:

      The NYC we know and love is gone. When are these landlords gonna get it? Why can they build condos and charge premium prices? Because of independent places like this!! And mom and pop stores and everything else that makes NY different from everywhere else.

      They’ll knock this down now and in 5 years a phoney remake of this by some BS business person or restaurant team will be in its place.

      • Woody says:

        Mom and pop certainly don’t make NYC different than everywhere else. If anything, it’s just the opposite. Everywhere else has the mom-and-pops.

    7. 69th St. Dude says:

      Great short film. Also, a vacancy tax and other suggested ideas would be so great if we could pass them. With the amount of large retail spaces currently available and sitting vacant now for years, I’m afraid that post renovation, the location will just be another empty shell.

    8. kskorman says:

      A neighborhood gem – we’ve been coming here for over 30 years knowing that the quality of the films will be well vetted and inevitably we’d meet up with friends. Beyond sad….

    9. Wendy Sherman says:

      Please re-open this theater when your work is done. We who live here and love film deserve it and we will be grateful to you.

    10. Bill Scher says:

      I’m not sure why this comfortable old shoe of a theater can’t be spruced up a bit and continue its unique function of bringing quality films with narrower appeal to an obviously enthusiastic audience. A real shame, if it can’t be saved.

    11. Gerald Lynas says:

      Thanks Lincoln Plaza. So sorry to see you go. I have appreciated you since you opened.

    12. Ann Logan says:

      Very sad to see them close. Have gone there often for their terrific selection and wonderful people.

    13. Sad Upper West Sider says:

      A noble attempt, but I highly doubt it will be
      enough to cause Howard Milstein to
      reconsider. He is extremely well off, has only
      one child, but as is usually the case with greedy 1%ers, it’s apparently never enough. It is indeed sad that someone who’s been so fortunate as to inherit a real estate empire won’t consider making a few less dollars when it means so
      much to the folks who’ve patronized this theater for years. Landlords like Milstein are ruining NYC. I find it laughable that he and his wife are often feted for their charitable contributions to NYC institutions when in reality they couldn’t care less about their fellow NYers.

    14. Elizabeth Timberman says:

      Are any elected officials trying to help: Helen Rosenthal,
      Corey Johnson, Gale Brewer-?
      Is it because the theater attracts a largely older audience that it’s being closed? Has the landlord explained why he closing in view of the community upset?
      What is the landlord putting putting in place? – Can we prevent him from getting tax relief?

    15. Irak says:

      Maybe we be luck and get a Bennington.. Oh wait That’s over

    16. Jana Klenburg says:

      TERRIBLE TERRIBLE TERRIBLE!!!!There are many of us seniors that go to LINCOLN PLAZA CINEMA 2,3 times a week.You are taking away for both young and old the previledge to see important and meaningful art…!
      This are usually small production movies that won’t have a place to be shown or enjoyed! Making more money for the owners is important yes,but to what cost ?.
      I hope the owners will have a talk with their conscious and decide…..

    17. Julia says:

      To the Landlord:

      Lincoln Plaza Cinemas has been an extension to my home for several years. It would be a tragedy for Upper West Side movie lovers to close this movie theater. You will find nothing equivalent to this “Jewel” to occupy its place. Please have mercy on the people who love Lincoln Plaza and renew its lease at a reasonable price. There are more important things in life than to make money! Do the right thing! Julia

    18. Emily Zohara Taragin says:

      We are devastated by the news of the demise of the theater and literally beg the landlord to reinstate it at an affordable lease as soon as possible. This theater is a mainstay of Upper West Side culture, serving a wide range of populations with the greatest that cinema has to offer. It’s an entertainment center unparalleled and we know we are not alone in our deep desire to see the theater continue…

    19. Julia says:

      There’s a placard in the lobby (or was a week ago) that Toby died on New Year’s Eve.

    20. BillyNYC says:

      Just close and get it over with! Hate that dumpy old run down THEATER. Mice all over the place .

      • Cat says:

        There are mice at Loew’s as well. I’ve been seeing them for years and last week teens were throwing popcorn to the mice. Should we shut that theater down too?

    21. Ruth altman says:

      Just another selfish greedy landlord contributing to the ruination of Manhattan. I feel sick about the closing of Lincoln Plaza. People came to it from all over the city so it is not just upper westsiders who love it there. Mr. Mill stein should not do this to us, should not contribute to the dumbing down of NYC. How much money do these obnoxious landlords need at the expense of people who like to have one place in this desert where intelligence prevails. I wish he would reconsider and do something good for NYC. What a surprise that would be!!!

    22. Sherman says:

      Some of these comments are beyond stupid.

      The building belongs to Mr. Milstein. He is running a real estate business, not a charity. As such his objective is to maximize his profits, not provide some kind of community service.

      If he believes he can find a new tenant willing to pay him more than LPC he’s 100% justified in canceling LPC’s lease.

      That’s life. There’s nothing “greedy” or illegal or even immoral about what he’s doing.

      These people should stop whining about how evil Milstein is. They should also stop carrying on about some superhero who’s going to swoop in and force Milstein to keep LPC.

      I personally like LPC and I’m sorry it’s going but the neighborhood changes. Get over it and get over your entitlements.

    23. Simon Koziel says:

      I always considered the Lincoln Cinema as the my favorite movie house. The diversity of movies from so many different countries enriched the knowledge base of the outside world. It’s a real shame that real estate profits destroy the cultural contribution to our great city

      • Woody says:

        Milstein is actually a financial partner in the theater. Is it also that hard to comprehend that with the death of one of the owners and the advanced age of the widow that he needs to take action to keep that space viable after the reconstruction. It’s unlikely that the widow would be able to continue operating the theater and being profitable for the many years locked up in a new lease. Has the widow actually expressed that she would like to continue operating the theater? It’s not the type of business that someone just walks into and starts running.

    24. gloria levitas says:

      Not only us westsiders, but the STAFF at the theatre are suffering a great loss. Dan and Toby treated their staff like family, and in turn, the staff treated the moviegoers like welcome guests. My husband and I recently left the west side but the closing of the theatre has broken our hearts. Millstein is a greedy l percenter who could easily change the fate of the theater but won’t and will be remembered as infamous by all of us who loved Lincoln Plaza, its staff and its owners.

    25. Irena Klepfisz says:

      This is one of the best CULTURAL institutions in NYC, why are people who want to make more money than they need or can use allowed to shut it down?This follows in the footsteps of Trump’s mandate to shut down immigration to this country. The Lincoln Plaza allowed us to engage with people and cultures across the world and across the US. And now this avenue is being cut off…because of money for those who don’t need it.

    26. naro says:

      Make it an online cinema where we could watch the films at home. Movie houses are a relic of the past.

      • lynn says:

        You’re missing the point. For 30 years (?) films from all over the world were screened, selected, and then made available to us here. Who is going to take the time to do this, presumably in a generation that believes movie houses are ‘a relic of the past,’ (unless it’s Star Wars or Planet of the Apes). I have yet to find anyone who provides NEW foreign and indie films available online.

    27. Maria Arias says:

      Lincoln Plaza Cinema has been my refuge and delight throughout the 32 years of existence. It is such a landmark!
      How can its demise be allowed? I also think of the wonderful people working in it, (where would they go?); the superb raspberry muffins, a well served, last minute coffee, and the sitting space to wait for the films to start.
      It is to be regretted. Lincoln Center will not be the same!

      Congratulations and best of wishes to all who worked there because you did a fine job throughout the years!


      • Zoe says:

        Ah yes charitable contributions and philanthropic. Millstein certainly is that. We wish it was pure altruism, but alas it’s greed as benefits and deductions are the reward for such ‘giving’. But giving it is not. Giving is supporting the community, the arts for the masses, the quirkyness used to be the fabric of NYC. Not the financial gains or to impress the silk penguin crowd. Artistic altruism and creativity for the masses is lost on that crowd if it doesn’t finance another home. We must remember that Millstein owns the building that he has been converting to uber-luxe condos that sell for $1million per room. He already kicked out all the other storefronts in the building to be replaced by a bustling Breads bakery that everyone seems to enjoy. Are we surprised this theater is no more?

        Such a shame as the whitewashing of this city continues.

    28. Francesca Turchiano says:

      We, too, are sad. At the same time, we want to encourage Millstein to house a theatre dedicated to quality cinema. We do not want to scold them. They likely know that the UWS is dense with older, arts-centric people who avoid the Disney-like annoyances of the nearby AMC. They likely know that there are countless younger artsy people associated with Jullliard, Lincoln Center, and NYC in general. I cannot speak for 89 year old Mrs. Talbot, but am certain it would be a tribute to them to continue their legacy. It would also be a smart Millstein decision.

    29. Say what says:

      Theatre closes in the Lincoln Center BID District and Milstein is a board member of this BID, and Monica Blume the alleged head of the Lincoln Center BID has nothing to say about another business closing in the BID district she is the head of.