While it may come as a surprise to some that the 1.5-mile-long City Island is home to its own recently opened cinema, the island’s first cinema actually dates back to the early 20th century.
The Nickelette was a silent movie theater that stood where the Crab Shanty now operates and closed sometime in the 1920’s, although the City Island Historical Society cannot say exactly when. The big kahuna, however, was the Raymond Theater, founded in 1926. Remodeled, closed and reopened several times, the theater also served as a playhouse until it was finally closed sometime between 1976 and 1977 with a sign that read, “This movie theater has closed because United Artists refused to let us open before four.” promised film ‘Rocky’ for weeks.”
Almost 50 years later, City Island has a cinema again. The Cinema on the Sound opened on City Island Avenue in late May thanks to the efforts of owner Peter Gennari and filmmaker Jerry Landi, the theater’s manager and curator.
Gennari owns Clipper Coffee next door, where he has hosted events such as poetry recitals and film screenings, so the theater felt like a natural progression.
“We found many Bronx-based artists, filmmakers and creators who needed a space to do things for the Bronx and showcase their work,” Gennari said. “So we did a lot of that in the coffee shop and it just seemed natural when that space opened up to move here and do it on a bigger scale.”
And so Cinema on the Sound was born.
The 50-seat theater has a wall projector and is equipped with a small concession stand and popcorn machine. On Saturday nights you can see independent films and documentaries for $10. There’s a $5 matinee on Sunday afternoons where the cinema shows classics like John Wayne films and Betty Boop cartoons. There’s also a free Friday in the works to show “really out there” movies.
The theater is located in the former antique store JW Foley Rarities and Obscurities on City Island Ave. 270. The antique shop had already closed in January for renovations. Until February, owner JW Foley began posting about delays in reopening due to health issues. Then, on March 10th, Foley wrote his final Facebook post to the community:
“To the best clientele anyone could ask for in the weird, weird world we live in, I send nothing but my love and thanks. Unfortunately I used to speak too soon as my health issues have unexpectedly worsened and nothing but whatever strength I have left must go into recovery as the bricks and mortar are no more.
Foley died in April at the age of 42.
“I talked and laughed with (JW) every day. His death was quite sad,” Gennari said.
Clipper Coffee and Foley’s Antique Shop both opened in 2018 and the owners became instant friends. As a tribute, Cinema on the Sound retains the original windows that advertised Foley’s business. On either side of the theater entrance are two windows obscured with gold lettering – “Rarities” is written on the left window and “Obscurities” on the right.
In keeping with theaters before it, Cinema on the Sound presents their first live stage play, 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, written by Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgoos and directed by Tygar Hall. The story is set in the 1950s when five women who are part of the Susan B. Anthony Club are preparing for their annual quiche breakfast when suddenly nuclear war breaks out and farce begins. The comedy takes place this weekend on August 12th, 13th and 14th.
The premises can also be rented. Whether you are an indie filmmaker looking to screen your own film, a parent trying to find an affordable venue for your child’s party, or an older adult center looking for an outing, Landi and Gennari said the prices are fair and flexible – the purpose of the theater is more about creating community than making money.
They are currently working on a rear lounge that leads to an expansive backyard that will be shared by both the theater and cafe, negotiations permitting. And there’s even talk of a possible The Rocky Horror Picture Show airing this Halloween.
Check out her film schedule on her Cinema on the Sound Instagram page and visit ticketleap.com to purchase tickets.
Reach out to ET Rodriguez at [email protected]. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes