The first movie theater in City Island dates back to early 1900s. The Nickelette was a silent movie theater where Crab Shanty now sits. The big kahuna, however, was the Raymond theatre, established in 1926. The theater had several transformations, shutdowns and reopenings, and it also operated as a playhouse. Then, sometime between 1976 and 1977, the Raymond theater closed. The sign read: “This movie house has closed because United Artists has refused to give the picture Rocky to us which was promised four weeks ago.” Now, for the first time in almost 50 years, City Island has a movie theater once again.
Cinema on the Sound was opened in late May by owner Peter Gennari and filmmaker, Jerry Landi, who is the theatre’s manager and curator. Gennari owns Clipper Coffee right next door where he was already doing events like poetry night and movie screenings. “We were finding a lot of Bronx-based artists, filmmakers, creators that needed a space to do things for the Bronx and present their work,” says Gennari. “So we were doing a lot of that in the coffee shop and it’s just seemed natural when this space opened up to move here and do it on a grander scale,” he adds. And thus, Cinema on the Sound was born.
The 50-seat theater has a wall projector and is fit with a small concession stand and a popcorn machine. On Saturday nights one can see independent movies and documentaries for $10 and on Sunday afternoons they have a $5 matinee where they show classics like John Wayne movies and Betty Boop cartoons. They are also working on a Fringe Friday where they will screen “really out there” movies. The theater occupies the former JW Foley Rarities and Obscurities antique shop at 270 City Island Ave.
The antique shop had closed for renovations in January 2022. By February, Foley began posting about delays on reopening due to health issues. On March 10 Foley wrote his last Facebook post to the community:
“To the best clientele anyone could ask for in the strange, weird world we inhabit, I send nothing but my love & thanks. Unfortunately, I spoke too soon earlier as my health issues have taken an unanticipated turn for the worse and nothing but every bit of strength left within me must go toward recovery, as such the brick & mortar is no more.”
He signed off with #keepitstrangeanddark and #thatweirdsh-t. Foley died in April at the age of 42.
Clipper Coffee and JW Foley antique shop both opened in 2018. “I talked and laughed with John every day. His passing was quite sad,” Gennari says. As an homeage, they are keeping the original windows. On either side of the theater entrance are two windows. Both are blacked out and have gold writing on each, Obscurities on the left and Rarities on the right. And in keeping with Foley’s hashtag, Landi and Gennari are keeping it strange and dark.
In keeping with the movie houses before them, they are presenting their first live stage play, “5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche,” written by Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgoos and directed by Tygar Hall. The story that takes place in the 1950s as five women who are part of the Susan B. Anthony club prepare for their annual quiche breakfast when suddenly, a nuclear war breaks out and the farce ensues. The comedy will play at Cinema on the Sound Saturday, August 12.
The space is also available for rent. Whether you’re an indie filmmaker looking to screen your own movie or a parent trying to find an affordable event space for your kid’s party or an older adult’s center looking for an outing, Landi and Gennari say that prices are fair and flexible and that the purpose of the theater is more about creating community than it is about making money.
They are currently working on a lounge in the back which leads to a sprawling backyard which will be shared by both, the theater and the coffee shop, negotiations permitting. There’s even talks about a possible Rocky Horror Picture Show screening this Halloween.
Check out their movie schedule on their Instagram page, Cinema on the Sound and buy tickets at ticketleap.com
Reach ET Rodriguez at email@example.com. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes