It was a sad start to the week for some Queens residents who are losing one of their local entertainment hubs. After a quarter century, the College Point Multiplex Cinemas is shutting down. Their last day of business is Tuesday.

What You Need To Know

  • College Point Multiplex Cinemas will shut down for good, with their last day of business being Tuesday, May 7

  • Queens residents are sad to see their neighborhood entertainment hub go after 25 years, including moviegoer and self-described "cinephile" Justin Morales, 30, who has fond memories of coming to the theater since he was a child

  • Published reports say the property owner, Triangle Equities, secured a $50 million loan to tear down the movie theater to build a massive warehouse that can serve as a distribution, shipping and transport center

“I’m 30 now, I was 5 years old the first time I came here, and the first movie I came here to see was with my uncle. We went to see 'Star Wars: The Phantom Menace,' and I still think that’s probably the best, happiest memory I have of this place,” Justin Morales said. 

Memories at the College Point Multiplex Cinemas turned into a passion for Morales.

The Hofstra University film major is a self-described “cinephile,” with his own YouTube channel where he reviews movies, especially cult classics.

After 25 years of serving up buttered popcorn and the latest blockbusters Morales’ neighborhood entertainment hub is shutting down, for good.

“I was shocked and devastated when I heard that this theater was closing. I actually cried, it was very heartbreaking for me,” Morales said.

For him, and many other movie fans in and around the College Point community, its a major loss.

Published reports say the property owner, Triangle Equities, secured a $50 million loan to tear down the movie theater to build a massive warehouse that can serve as a distribution, shipping and transport center.

“We’ve laughed here, we’ve cried here, and it’s a very nostalgic place,” Morales said. “This is a slap in the face to the community, to our history here, to our culture here.”

The movie theater’s website displayed a note of thanks to its loyal patrons.

“We are sad to let you know that College Point Cinemas is closing," the message begins. "It has been our pleasure to serve the Queens community with great movie-going for many years. Due to a business decision, May 7, 2024 will be our last day of cinema operations. We truly thank you for your dedicated patronage and hope you've created special movie memories with us.”

Movie theaters across the U.S. have been on a steady decline for more than 20 years. According to the online data company Statista, in 2000, there were nearly 7,000 movie theaters in the U.S. In 2020, there were around 5,800 theaters in the country. That number is likely lower now since the COVID-19 pandemic made things worse.

NYU Cinema Studies Professor Dana Polan said the movie-going ritual has changed over the years, especially with the rise of streaming.

“Today, if we go out to a movie it has to be for a special reason – either that we’re beating everybody else, and we’re seeing it first, that it’s on IMAX and we’re going to see it in a special format, that the movie theater has amenities we might not get elsewhere,” Polan, who’s Chair of the Martin Scorsese Department of Cinema Studies, said. “Now you can do a lot of repeat viewing at home, you can do it in segments, you can do it when you want.”

With the popularity of streaming services and the rising price of movie tickets, Morales said he can understand the decision because some people are choosing to stay home. However, he said the movie-going experience is one that can’t be replicated anywhere else except in the theaters.

“There’s something to be said about the immersion factor from the big screen, from surround sound, being in a dark room with other people experiencing something new for the first time, it’s almost spiritual,” he said.

And it's not just the Queens community that's reeling. National Amusements, which owns and operates the College Point Multiplex Cinemas, is also shutting its Bronx location. The Concourse Plaza Multiplex Cinemas will close in a few weeks. The last day to catch a movie there is May 28.