The Return of Indie Theater? New Group Looks to Fill Void Left By Lincoln Plaza Closing; Philip Roth Retrospective Coming

The closure of Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in January was a devastating blow to film lovers on the Upper West Side and throughout the city.

But a new group is looking to harness the energy and money of all those film fans. The Coalition for a New Plaza Cinema wants to screen some of the same films that would have been shown at Lincoln Plaza, and to eventually open a new theater in the old location or a new spot.

“We’re working to find a more permanent venue which will offer first run and independent films,” said Norma Levy, founder of the Coalition for a New Plaza Cinema, in a statement sent out by the JCC.

First things first. Starting this month, the group is partnering with the JCC on 76th and Amsterdam to screen first run and independent films this summer, starting on June 24. The following week, they plan to showcase films based on the work of Philip Roth. The JCC has a 250-seat theater that it is allowing the group to use for screenings.

Toby Talbot, who co-founded Lincoln Plaza Cinema with her late husband, Dan Talbot, is supportive of the new group. “Dan and I worked together for more than 30 years to develop a cinema devoted to the highest quality independent films in the U.S. and around the world,” said Talbot in the statement. “Although Dan is no longer with us, I’m sure he would have been heartened—as am I—that a band of devoted theater goers have taken upon themselves the arduous task of creating similar cinema anew. I fully support their effort and look forward to their ultimate success.”

We’ve reached out to New Plaza Cinema to see how far along they are in the process of finding a permanent home, and whether they’ve made progress with Milstein Properties on leasing the former home of Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.  The Milstein company had said they plan to renovate the space and eventually lease it to a new theater.

The New Plaza Cinema website is here. The JCC Film site is here.

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    1. Karen says:

      Can only hope that this is true… desperately missing Lincoln Plaza Cinema – we are hoping it’s possible to find a new home.

    2. Fay Barrows says:

      We miss openthis theatre and wish it would re-

    3. ann bluestein says:

      use the old Metro on Broadway

      • Camille says:

        I agree with all the posters who suggested the Metro at 99th and Broadway. It has space for multiple screens and is just sitting there empty.

    4. Jerry says:

      Kudos to all involved in restoring a proper cinema for independent films to the West Side to fill the void.

      Please note, however, that the JCC is not a substitute for the loss of Lincoln Plaza and it’s five screens.

      For one, we should be able to go to a movie when we want and anytime for the duration of its run.

      For another, I am concerned that an arrangement with the JCC will not serve West Siders with deafness and hearing loss. I personally worked with Linc Plaza’s manager Ewnetu on the introduction of closed captioning systems in each of its auditoriums and lauded the cinema for providing open captions on screen at the first show time of the day,

      In contrast, the JCC has shown little interest in the needs of people with hearing loss – refusing, for example, for years to install a hearing loop in its auditorium.

    5. uwsider says:

      What about the abandoned movie theater on 99th and Broadway?

    6. Lin says:

      Hopeful news for a change. Thanks to those working on this.

    7. reed says:

      Why not re-locate to the wonderful Metro Theater on Broadway and West 99 Street? It has been an abandoned eyesore for years and certainly it would be a welcomed cultural gem above West 96 Street.

      • Minx says:

        From everything I have read on here the Metro has been gutted. Moreover, the Alamo Draft house attempted to set up shop here a few years ago and ran into permitting issues with the city – which is a real shame as it would have been a great boon to the neighborhood and really brightened up this stretch of Broadway.

    8. BillyNYC says:

      Still not going there.

    9. Roger Wolfe says:

      The loss of Plaza Cinema has left a considerable void both in the community and individually. I hope that this endeavor succeeds.

    10. Joan says:

      The Metro theatre on Broadway & 99th would be such a great spot. It has been vacant for years.

      • Richard says:

        If the Metro – an obvious choice – is not in the plans, there must be a good reason. The owner of the property – or a prospective new owner – must have other plans that don’t involve a cinema. Duh.

      • Debbie says:

        Hi Joan,

        I have been working with Al Bialek (the Metro Movie Theater) for months, along with investors, actors and architects and Mark Levine.
        I have been trying to reach out to your group for months.
        Please contact me:

      • metro neighbor says:

        the Metro was gutted inside years ago. Would take millions to renovate it and recreate a theater, which is just not going to happen, it seems.


      This is the best news to come in a grim UWS, with no first-rate cinema replacing Lincoln Plaza. We are overcrowded,traffic-jammed–almost unlivable. Some good films would help!!
      Dr. G.

    12. F. Ames says:

      The Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Elinor Bunin Film Center Theatre has taken up the loss of the Lincoln Plaza
      with outstanding art films.
      If you don’t know about this resource, please check it out.

      • Jay says:

        The metro theater is only a facade. There is no theater behind the sign, so it’s unlikey that another theater will move in.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          Jay said:

          “The metro theater is only a facade. There is no theater behind the sign, so it’s unlikly that another theater will move in.”

          tell that to the owner:

          it’s worth a try. most UWers are tired of endless ultra-high priced condos.

          • Jay says:

            If the owner couldn’t work something out with Alamo Drafthouse, what makes you think that this proposal (which is pretty threadbare as far as business plans go) will change anything?

            How about you stop pretending you speak for the Upper West Side while you are at it?

          • Sherman says:

            Hi Bruce

            “Most UWSers are tired of ultra-high priced luxury condos”


            I guess you know this because you took a poll according to the strictest scientific methods.

            The folks who buy these allegedly “ultra-high priced luxury condos” are the people who support and subsidize NYC’s cultural institutions for all NYC residents. The folks living here off entitlements are likely not big charitable donors to the cultural scene.


      • dannyboy says:

        Thanks. I am off to see a film there today.

    13. Charlie Bates says:

      “The following week, they plan to showcase films based on the work of Philip Roth.”

      That should be appreciated by those nostalgic for the old Times Sq….

    14. Phil Hall says:

      So glad!

    15. FilmBuff says:

      I miss Lincoln Plaza terribly and I encourage the establishment of a New Lincoln Plaza. I look forward to supporting this endeavor. I hope the selection of future films will be on a par with the sensitivity,intelligence and artistry that Toby and Dan Talbot exhibited.

    16. robert miller says:

      The Metro theater on the inside has completely Gutted many years ago & nothing is left for the use of movie theater. Only the outside was not destroyed.



      • Sean says:

        What a bunch of absolute nonsense? The UWS isn’t dying. Get a big screen TV and Netflix and invite a few friends over.

    18. I have been working with Al Bialek and the Metro Movie Theater as well as the likes of Mandy Patinkin and investors for months and have been trying to reach out to all of you without any success.

      Please contact me:

    19. I have been working with Al Bialek, actors in the area and investors and have gotten farther than anyone expected and I have been trying and trying to combine efforts with the Lincoln Plaza Group, but to no avail.

      Can someone PLEASE contact me.
      We can really to this together.

    20. Gretchen says:

      The new Landmark Theater at 657 W. 57th St. (between 11th & 12th Ave.) is also a great place for indie films. Even though it’s a little further away, it’s easy to get there via the M-57 bus.

    21. Hi,

      I have been working with Al Bialek for months in the hopes of resurrecting the Metro Movie Theater. The hope is to have an indie theater and performance space
      that will reinvigorate the UWS and be the very theater the Lincoln Plaza was and more. In this case, we have the support of the owner and the community is strong. I am hoping we can pool our resources, but have had a hard time reaching the group. The Metro Movie theater even has architectural plans in place and a few investors. Can we get together on this? Can someone reach me? Debbie Rosenberg 917-319-1379

    22. Harriet Feldman says:

      I have friends in the neighborhood and others spread throughout the city, we all greatly miss our “Lincoln Plaza “. We hope we will soon have a theatre that will provide us with comparable joy.

    23. Carol Brier says:

      I’m all in for this. The loss of the Lincoln Plaza theater was devastating.