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The Pavilion Makeover: An InFIPStigative Report

The Park Slope Pavilion has been taken over by Israeli Mossad agents or possibly a revival of Candid Camera, or Punk’d. 

In exchange for swearing a blood oath of silence about the names of the buyers and their company, FIPS was awarded the scoop on the long-awaited, much hoped for and shockingly spectacular restoration lame-ass renovation of arguably the WORST movie theater in NYC.

I headed over to the Pavilion (I dragooned my friend Tony to come with) for my "exclusive" grand tour with high(ish) hopes. Let’s face it, the Pavilion really has nowhere to go BUT up at this point.

The owner had already regaled me with details of the extensive renovation going on inside and out. I thought of heeding Jake Dobkin's advice to don some kind of giant prophylactic but Macy's and Rite Aid didn't have anything that would work. And I had been assured that the bedbug sitch has been taken care of, though I'm still waiting on some actual evidence to back this up.

Him: There will not be any bedbugs. We have already sanitized five auditoriums and are changing seats on four auditoriums. No bedbugs, I promise. 

Me: Were there bedbugs found?

Him: No comment.  

Me: Can you provide us with some sort of seal of bedbug freeness? An invoice from the exterminator? A company name so we can verify this?

Him: (Silence).

So began my acquaintance with the thickly-accented and hilariously cagey new owner, one of two brothers who are promising not only to show good, first-run movies and to eradicate bedbugs, but also to cure kids cancer.

My tour guide was so bent on getting good press that I could not for the life of me understand WHY THE FUCK he would come to a website called Fucked In Park Slope for his puff piece.

Let’s just say that the hard sell did not quite align with what my eyes were seeing. The place looked like even more of a shithole than usual, which is understandable because they’re under renovation except… why are they open in the midst of this mess? A question later echoed by a Park Slope Patch commenter...

At one point, our escort took Tony and I into a darkened theater and we only realized that there was actually a screening in progress when the owner turned the lights up and there were five or so pissed off moviegoers wondering why we were intruding upon the sanctity of their coming attractions. One woman demanded that they start them again.

While I cannot say that there is much call for rejoicing in the aisles at this point, I can tell you that: 

Verily, the seats will soon no longer recline into the crotch of the moviegoer behind you. Yes, those purple, urine-soaked, bedbug-ridden, broken-down seats of old are getting replaced by “fine Corinthian black leather” seats—not pleather, not vinyl—but genuine, 100% leather.  Well, in four theaters anyway. The others, I was told, had seats replaced in the last few years by the previous owners. They did? Okay, I'll take your word for it.

These are going out.

And these are going in. 

I thought at one point if I didn’t "ooh" and "ahh" at the new color scheme (bordello red, chartreuse and sunray), the owner might just put his cigarette out on my forehead. It will be “bright, clean, and new,” claimed our tour guide.

Fine, whatever. I don't really care. Just tell me there are no bedbugs and the bathrooms will be clean!

In addition to the seats and new paint, I was told the theater is getting new carpeting throughout.

The vinyl tile is being replaced with new vinyl tile.

The curtains are all being replaced with new ones.

The building exterior is getting spruced up (how I don't exactly know).

The concession stand on the first floor is getting a makeover as are bathrooms.

And the owners are in negotiations on new fancy, replacement I-MAXish screens though that's not a done deal.

The cafe will remain closed for the moment. The owners are seeking a deal for an as yet unnamed franchise concession to take it over. 

Ticket prices will stay the same.

The work will be done hopefully by the end of June at which point there will be a grand re-opening. And you heard it hear first. The owners are hoping kids with cancer will be able to attend. Because, yes, they are philanthropists too:

Him: We will be making big donations to children’s cancer hospitals.

Me: Oh, that’s nice.

My friend Tony: St. Jude’s?

Him: All the hospitals. All will be revealed.

Us: Uh, okay.

Me (later): You mentioned donations to local children’s cancer care units? Can you elaborate with some details of who, why, and how much?

Him: Will inform later.

Me: Okay. Let me know.

Him (later): Donation will be send to children cancer hospitals in park slop (Brooklyn era) for kids with long term illness, to serve the community for their needs.

Me: WTF. I mean… Is there a dollar figure and name for these recipients and have they happened yet or are they hypothetical?

Him: Will be informed when that happen. Have a nice weekend.

Hmmm. I decided it would be prudent to look up the other theaters the company has recently taken over and found that each opening was accompanied by a feel-good article about the resurrection of said movie house. And comments like these.

and another theater

and another

and this one.

Oh well. It was good while it lasted.

Here's my final question. Does the Pavilion have any sprinklers, smoke detectors or fire alarms in place? According to a February Pavilion inFIPStigation, orders from the Fire Department (FDNY) to install a sprinkler system were ignored by the previous theater owners. The landlord actually sued the cinema owners in 2008 to break the lease because they weren't following fire safety codes.

In 2006, the owners put in an application to the Department of Buildings (DOB) "to install individually coded interior fire alarm system with public address." The job was never signed off or closed out. Did the work actually happen? And then last August, an application was submitted to the DOB to install a sprinkler system. It was approved in February, right around the time of the sale. Again, the file is still open and the engineer listed hasn't returned my call yet.

So, what's happening with that? Silence from my owner dude on this one too. I've got to say, this issue gives me more agita than the bedbugs and I didn't think that was possible. Can you really have shitloads of kids and people in a place of public assembly with nothing but steep stairways and NO SPRINKLERS or SMOKE DETECTORS????


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