Sunshine Cinema in No “Imminent Danger” of Closing, But Long-Term Future Still Bleak

Sunshine Cinema. Photo via: Cinema Treasures.

Sunshine Cinema. Photo via: Cinema Treasures.

Our hearts sank in 2015 when it became known that brokers were trying to sell the historic 1898 property currently housing the Sunshine Cinema. The building at 139-143 East Houston St. has not yet attracted a buyer. IndieWire has an update on the situation today, including an interview with Ted Mundorff, president and CEO of Landmark Theaters.

Property owner Steven Goldman reportedly wants $35 million for the development site (the lot could accommodate a 56,000 square foot residential building). Mundoroff said, “It would take years for anyone who’s going to pay the kind of money they’re looking for to demolish [the building] and construct something… At this point I don’t see any imminent danger of us leaving the property.”

Back in 2012, Community Board 3 rejected an application from Landmark Theaters for a liquor license at the Sunshine. The permit would have allowed the Sunshine to offer food and beverage service in the theaters, boosting revenue. Mundorff told IndieWire, “That was pretty shortsighted of folks… It’s not like theaters that have alcohol have people falling down [drunk].”

While the Sunshine appears to be safe for now, most industry insiders believe it’s just a matter of time before the property is sold and the independent cinema is forced from its Lower East Side home. The current lease expires in 2018.