Little theater to expand

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The Brooklyn Heights Cinema, the last twin movie house in the borough, will soon add two screens.

In other words, roll the credits on a piece of Brooklyn movie history, the era of the twin grindhouse that was so popular when the cinema opened in the 1970s.

“We’re one of the last of the twins in New York, and we’re probably the last in Brooklyn,” said manager Amy Mascena. “The movie industry these days is built around the multiplex. So the fact that we’re even here is a miracle.”

Husband and wife owners Norman Adie and Kasey Gittleman have wanted to expand the Heights Cinema for years, but only recently hired an architect to redesign the building, which is located at the corner of Henry and Orange streets, Mascena said.

They’ve also hired a lawyer to keep them from falling afoul of the city’s Byzantine landmarks code. The theater, though not itself a landmark, is in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District, meaning that the couple is limited in what it can do with its building.

In addition to doubling the screens, the couple is planning to convert an old bakery in the basement into a wine bar and restaurant. That element would be similar to the Living Room café and restaurant at the Pavilion Theater on Prospect Park West, which was also owned by Adie and Gittleman until they sold it in 2006.

Even though the Heights Cinema is primarily an art house, it managed to stay afloat even after the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Fort Greene opened its movie theaters and arranged exclusive first-run deals on hot independent and foreign films.

Mascena credits the cinema’s loyal customers — many of whom come to see every show she screens in its 150-seat theaters — for keeping the place open long after twin theaters became an anachronism in American cinema culture.

“We’re still open because the neighborhood supports us,” Mascena said. “We see the same people every week. They come and see everything we have here. That’s because they’re very passionate moviegoers.”

Also patient moviegoers. The movie that opens on Friday was “There Will Be Blood,” which has been playing elsewhere since Dec. 26.

Updated 4:35 pm, July 9, 2018
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