Bronx’s Multiplex Cinemas closure means there’s only one commercial theater in the borough left standing

The Multiplex Cinemas, located inside the Concourse Plaza on 161st Street.
The Multiplex Cinemas, located inside the Concourse Plaza on 161st Street.
Photo ET Rodriguez

The Bronx’s Concourse Plaza Multiplex Cinemas — one of the borough’s last standing movie theaters — had its final showing this week before closing its doors permanently.

According to Multiplex Cinemas, located on 214 East 161st St. just a few blocks east of Yankee Stadium, the establishment shuttered “due to a business decision” on May 28.

“We are sad to let you know that Concourse Plaza Multiplex Cinemas is closing. It has been our pleasure to serve the Bronx community with great movie-going for many years,” officials wrote on the Multiplex Cinemas website. “We truly thank you for your dedicated patronage and hope you’ve created special movie memories with us.”

The closure is significant, since Multiplex Cinemas is one out of just a handful of operating movie theaters left in the Bronx — and the second-to-last commercial theater. Now, the AMC Bay Plaza Theater 13 in the Baychester/Co-Op City area is the borough’s last commercial theater.

‘The movie theater is a dying brand’

Trey Jenkins, the director of the 161st Street Business Improvement District (BID), told the Bronx Times on May 30 that the Multiplex Cinemas closure is “disappointing.”

“The movie theater is a dying brand, to be honest,” Jenkins said, noting that places that seem to do well are newer-age cinema houses with full-service experiences like the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain.

The Bronx Times delved into the Boogie Down’s lack of cinema spaces last year, finding that some Bronxites seemed unfazed by the shortage — citing popular streaming services, which tend to acquire even the most recent box office hits.

Director Christopher Nolan’s 2023 film “Oppenheimer” — which cleared house at this year’s Academy Awards with multiple accolades including best picture, best actor in a leading role and best cinematography — is currently available on NBC’s streaming service Peacock. Director Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” — widely regarded as the movie of summer of 2023 and the film with the 14th-highest gross sales of all time according to Variety — is streaming on (HBO) Max. “Dune: Part Two,” one of the most hyped movies of this year so far that was released on March 1, is also already streaming on Max.

The Bronx’s Whitestone Multiplex Cinemas at 2505 Bruckner Blvd. closed in 2013, as did the American Theater at 1450 East Ave., and the former Garden Theater on Webster Avenue still has its awning despite being closed as a movie house since 1926.

On the Grand Concourse near Fordham Road sits the ornate, grandiose and desolate Loew’s Paradise Theatre. Opened in 1929, the architecture is meant to evoke the Baroque and Renaissance periods with its large clock on the façade, gold embellishments and ornate structure – the building screams vintage cinema. The theatre closed in 1994, received landmark status in 1997, reopened in 2005 as an entertainment venue, then closed again in 2006. In 2012, World Changers Church leased the venue, but the theater has been vacant for years.

The landmarked and defunct Loew's Paradise Theatre sits empty on the Grand Concourse.
The landmarked and defunct Loew’s Paradise Theatre sits empty on the Grand Concourse.Photo ET Rodriguez

There are a handful independent movie houses in the Bronx, one of the most known being Cinema on the Sound located on City Island, which opened in 2022.

“Because movies are communal, it’s much better to watch a film with a crowd rather than by yourself in your home,” Cinema on the Sound founder Peter Gennari told the Bronx Times last year.

Independent movie house Cinema on the Sound opened in an old antique shop in City Island in May 2022.Photo ET Rodriguez

‘We’re going to fight this’

Even though some Bronxites claimed streaming services quenched their thirst for cinema, others said they’re working to address the lack of movie theaters in the borough.

One of those is the nonprofit Bronx Independent Cinema Center (BICC), which aims to not only screen indie movies but also serve as a community and educational space.

Gregory Hernandez, the executive director of BICC, told the Bronx Times on May 30 that the Multiplex Cinemas’ closure this week is “extremely frustrating.” A product of 165th Street and Jerome Avenue, Hernandez said he grew up going to that theater starting in the 1990s.

“It’s really just like a punch in the gut,” he said. “We truly do live in a cinema desert.”

Only in its second year of operation, BICC supports local filmmakers and film lovers by providing screenings, networking events, workshops, industry talks and mentorship opportunities, among others. BICC and the 161st Street BID are planning free screenings this summer — the first, the hip-hop movie “Beat Street” at Joyce Kilmer Park on June 14.

Hernandez compared the mass movie theater exodus in the Bronx to the Barnes & Noble bookstore closures a few years ago, saying it’s “embarrassing” that many Bronxites have no choice but to leave their own borough to catch a new flick. The borough’s only remaining commercial theater — AMC Bay Plaza Theater 13 — doesn’t sit on a subway line and is in one of the furthest northeast sections of the Bronx. The closest commercial theater for many residents of both the west side of the borough and South Bronx is probably actually the AMC Magic Johnson Harlem 9 location on Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Central Harlem.

Hernandez argued the arts need to be prioritized in the Bronx especially, since the borough has historically been the most disadvantaged in the city — the South Bronx specifically, as the country’s poorest congressional district.

“We don’t have outlets to get away from the lives that we live,” he said, emphasizing that it’s “ironic” that the Bronx Ball took place at the former Whitestone Multiplex Cinemas on May 18, just 10 days before the Multiplex Cinemas’ final show.

The BICC executive director said that while his nonprofit doesn’t have the capital to take over a multi-screen operation like Multiplex Cinemas at the moment, he hopes to work with the property owners to find a way to host pop-up screenings at the location as a way to keep movies in the Bronx.

Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson also said in a statement on May 30 that the landlord of the now-shuttered Multiplex Cinemas was “committed to installing a new movie theater tenant as soon as possible.”

Hernandez said development in the Bronx, especially the South Bronx, should be enacted through a community wellness lens. He argues that cinema is so special because it’s an amalgamation of all other art forms.

“It’s a precarious situation and we’re going to fight this,” he said.

If you want to share your experiences at the Multiplex Cinemas in the Bronx, email us at 

This story was updated at 4:24 p.m. on May 30. 

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