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Survey No. 5: At the Movies

When the film "King of Kings" came out in the early sixties, I wonder how many people saw it at The King (of Kings County). Going to movies was certainly the most popular form of entertainment for those of us who grew up in the boroughs, and theaters like the Rialto and the Oriental, with their large screens and enormous auditoriums hold a special place in the hearts of many. This poll received a very spirited response and has shown the neighborhood movie theater to be as important a part of Brooklyn culture as any other. In the days before the multiplexes, before the micro-screens and the thundering Dolby stereo sound, there were the single-screened, second-run local movie houses. These were our escape routes from the hot summer days and nights. For a quarter we got two features, a newsreel, cartoons, and coming attractions. Can you imagine growing up in Brooklyn without it? Based on the results, none of you can. However, several folks admitted that they'd have a hard time sitting through that much movie fare, assuming we'd have that big a block of time to spend anyway.

As usual, I leave it to you to render your own analyses based on the returns. Thanks to everyone who participated.

The total number of unique, usable responses was 111.

When you lived in Brooklyn, how frequently did you go to the movies?

Rarely (less than once/month)98%
Regularly (once or twice/month)6559%
Often (once/week or more)3733%

Where was the theater that you usually went to?

Right around the corner1816%
In the neighborhood7870%
A short ride away109%
On the other side of Brooklyn22%
In another borough22%
Out of town11%

What was the name of the movie theater in Brooklyn that you most frequently attended?

We received an enormous number of different responses for this question, so rather than provide counts, I'll just list the theater names. I can't verify that all of these theaters existed or were located in Brooklyn, so forgive me if any don't belong here.

KentKenmoreKinemaLoew's King
MarlboroMeseroleNassau AvenueNostrand
OceanaLoew's OrientalPalaceParamount

What was the name of your favorite Brooklyn movie theater?

In hindsight, I realize that this question could've been phrased "If your favorite theater wasn't The Loew's King, what was it?". More than half of all responses listed that theater as a favorite. The top five theaters of all the responses were:

  1. Loew's King
  2. Loew's Oriental
  3. Rialto
  4. Fox
  5. Kingsway

Did you typically go to a specific movie theater because a particular movie was playing, or did you simply go and see whatever was playing?

Went because a particular movie was playing5952%
Went "just to go" and see whatever was playing3532%
Sometimes one, sometimes the other1312%
Not Sure44%

Did you typically find out the schedule and arrive for a complete show, or more often arrive "in the middle"?

Usually went according to the schedule4036%
Usually went at whatever time was convenient6962%
Not Sure22%

What features of your favorite Brooklyn movie theater made you like it so much?
(Multiple answers were allowed, so the sum of percentages will exceed 100.)

that agreed
Price of admission8980%
Ambience and atmosphere6559%
Variety of movies, shorts, cartoons, etc.4238%
Proximity to home9989%
Matrons and Ushers11%
Candy counter6054%
Air conditioning5953%
Sitting in the balcony3128%
Screen size3834%
Comfort of the seats4238%
Opulence of the interior6054%

Here's a sampling of some "other" favorite attributes:

Do you think local Brooklyn movie theaters were different from local theaters anywhere?


Here's a few reasons that accompanied the "Yes" responses:

If it were available today, do you think you could sit through two features, coming attractions, shorts, catroons, and a newsreel?

ResponsesPercentage (of responses)
Not Sure33%

One issue that no one brought up when discussing the attributes of their favorite theaters was that you could see the movies over again if you wanted to. That's where the phrase "This is where we came in" originated, isn't it? I wonder what would happen now if I hung out after the end of Men In Black and told the guy with the Jimmy Fund can that "I missed the first five minutes and I'm waiting for the next show to start"...

Thanks again for participating. Our next survey topic will be Street Games.

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