Six months after shutting its doors against the COVID-19 pandemic, the Squire Cinemas in Great Neck has closed permanently, leaving Long Island with one less independent movie theater.
The theater’s Facebook page lists the business as "Closed Permanently." On Friday, Sept. 11, a post appeared of the theater’s marquee featuring the word "CLOSED" and its years of operation, "1935 2020."
The Squire enjoyed a long run as one of Long Island’s best-known art-house theaters. Thanks to a partnership with the nearby Gold Coast Arts Center, the Squire hosted many a sneak preview of foreign and independent films over the years. It also played host to live Q&A’s with filmmakers and critics.
"I am heartbroken," Regina Gil, founder of the Gold Coast Arts Center and the Gold Coast International Film Festival, said in a written comment. She praised the theaters’ 85-year history of providing "relief and entertainment" for local filmgoers. "It just couldn’t survive the ravages of the pandemic," she said. "It is a huge loss to the downtown, to the community, and to us at the Gold Coast Film Festival."
Gil added: "It is a dark time for film presenters."
Originally a single-screen venue built circa 1935, the Squire was converted into a triplex in the early 1980s, according to the website CinemaTreasures. It featured seven screens by the time Clearview Cinemas acquired it in 1998 as part of a 14-theater buying spree in the region. The Squire later became part of Bow Tie Cinemas. The theater’s current owners, who once ran MovieWorld Cinemas in Douglaston, Queens, took over the Squire in April of last year and renamed it Squire Cinemas in Great Neck. Calls to the theater and a message to the theater’s email address went unanswered.
Like so many businesses, the Squire initially headed into the pandemic with good cheer and determination.
The theater hosted "virtual" screenings online and donated massive bags of popcorn to workers at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, according to its Facebook page. Its marquee boasted the hopeful message, "This Too Shall Pass." As the pandemic stretched into summer, however, the Squire seemed to feel the pinch. In July, the theater began selling bulk quantities of Goobers, Twizzlers and other candies for $1. It also urged moviegoers to sign an online petition for a congressional act that would help shuttered theaters.
The Franklin Square Cinemas also reportedly closed in August. The 1933 Art Deco building had recently been officially designated as a landmark.