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Sunrise Multiplex theater offers last picture show; closes for mall expansion

Shoshana Schultz, 36, of Woodmere, with her sons

Shoshana Schultz, 36, of Woodmere, with her sons from left: Ariel, 12, Maor, 11, and Chanan, 7, standing outside Sunrise Cinemas after seeing a movie, Jan. 15, 2015. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Sunrise Multiplex Cinemas, which has operated in Valley Stream since 1979, will offer its last picture show Monday, according to a notice recently mailed to movie pass holders.

Theater officials, locally and at the office of its owners -- Norwood, Massachusetts-based National Amusement -- did not respond to telephone calls or emails seeking comment.

The notice reported: "We're writing to let you know that our Valley Stream -- Sunrise location (adjacent to Green Acres Mall) will be closing after the last show on Jan. 19, 2015." The last movie scheduled for today is the 10:10 p.m. showing of "Into the Woods."

Santa Monica, California-based Macerich Co. acquired the Green Acres Mall for $500 million in 2012 and later purchased the adjacent Multiplex site for $22.5 million for mall expansion.

Dawn Simon, a spokeswoman for Macerich, said in an email that "plans are in with local governance to make way for a fresh new two story retail experience with neighborhood friendly brands, which will create a multitude of employment opportunities."

Valley Stream Mayor Ed Fare said Friday that Macerich representatives had told him upscale boutiques and a small, possibly two-screen, theater would go up at the site.

"The updating and downsizing is a sign of the times," he said, adding that the closing "won't hurt the village and soon should help it."

But some people will miss the multiplex, sometimes called the "murderplex" because of the history of violence, especially after 25 shots were fired at the 1990 Christmas Day premier of "The Godfather: Part III", killing one person and wounding three.

That shooting led to one of the nation's first use of metal detectors at a theater and a bevy of video cameras inside and outside the multiplex, which remained somewhat popular with some Nassau and Queens residents.

"I remember when it was a drive-in," Charles Eato, 73, of Far Rockaway, said last week outside the theater. The Sunrise Drive-in operated from 1938 to 1978.

Mick Leconte, 43, and Sean "Shaz" Smalz, 33, both of Queens Village, said the theater held memories from childhood.

"In my neighborhood, if you didn't have a car, this is pretty much where you went. I took two buses [then]," Smalz said.

"I took my first girlfriend here," Leconte added.

Shoshana Schultz, 36, of Woodmere, left the 14-screen theater smiling on Thursday. "The movie was great," she said, referring to the 92-minute "Penguins of Madagascar." Her three sons -- Chanan, 9, Maor, 11, and Ariel, 12 -- agreed.

Schultz said she was disappointed to learn the theater was closing. "I was just thinking how much I liked this outing to the movies," she said noting that she moved to Long Island with her family from Brooklyn about two months ago.

Longtime Sunrise theatergoer Jeannette Aponte, 33, of Valley Stream, said in a telephone interview Friday that she and her husband, Emilio, went to Sunrise early in their dating and now take their three children, ages 4, 6 and 8.

"I'm so disappointed it's closing," she said. "It's the end of an era."

With Alfonso Castillo

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