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Sunshine Cinema, once beloved LES staple, now covered in graffiti

Sunshine Cinema closed in January to make way for a mixed-use office and retail redevelopment, according to the building’s owners.

Graffiti covers the empty Sunshine Cinema movie poster

Graffiti covers the empty Sunshine Cinema movie poster frames on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. Photo Credit: Rajvi Desai

Sunshine Cinema has been shuttered for less than a month, but you would never know it by the graffiti that has piled up on the outside of the building.

The beloved neighborhood staple on the Lower East Side, formerly operated by Landmark Theaters, held its final screenings on Jan. 21.

It’s unclear when the graffiti first appeared, but tags were seen scrawled across now-empty movie poster frames and more coated the rolling security gate on Wednesday, just 17 days after the theater closed for good. The graffiti was first reported by blog EV Grieve on Tuesday.

Ken Wu, of Queens, said he visits a friend near the building regularly but hadn’t noticed the graffiti until now.

“It’s dirtying up the outlook of the building. If they like to do it, they should do an appropriate picture,” Wu, 38, said.

Lower East Side resident Dermot Burke, 54, called the tags “ugly” and said they added no artistic value.

“I’m not happy to see the cinema go,” Burke added.

Some of the graffiti was removed Wednesday afternoon, but not by the owners of the building. A spokeswoman for the long-running NBC drama “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” said the show was given permission to paint over the rolling security gate for filming purposes.

“We don’t want it in the shot,” Jim St. Clair, working on behalf of “Law & Order: SVU,” said as he painted over the graffiti — a scene made even more dreary by the rain and chilly temperatures on Wednesday.

Requests for comment from the building’s owners, East End Capital and K Property Group, regarding the remaining graffiti were not immediately returned.

In January, moviegoers who lined up to catch the final screenings at the theater also lamented its closure, and some questioned whether the revitalization of the neighborhood was becoming more “corporate-ification.”

Landmark Theater had announced the cinema’s closure about a week before its final screenings, citing “recent developments.”

The theater’s lease was set to expire in “early 2018,” according to East End Capital, and the building is being redeveloped into a mixed-use office and retail space. Ground was expected to be broken on the project this spring, per East End Capital’s website.

A spokeswoman for Landmark Theaters declined to comment on the state of their former theater.

With Rajvi Desai, Meghan Giannotta and Alison Fox


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