Southampton Cinema Getting Ready to Raise the Curtain Once Again

Southampton Cinema
The Southampton Cinema under construction in September
Taylor K. Vecsey

After rampant speculation and rumor-mongering, it appears that the Southampton Cinema will reopen as a commercial movie theater once renovations are complete on the building.

When billionaire developer and East End homeowner Aby Rosen purchased the theater for $8 million in 2022, it was reported in the New York Post and other media outlets that Rosen might be planning to transform the historic Southampton Village institution into some type of private movie club for his well-heeled friends and colleagues.

If a recently released statement from the property’s parent company is any indication, Hamptons movers and shakers will have to buy a ticket just like everybody else to see the latest blockbuster or quirky indie release at the soon-to-be-restored theater on Hill Street in Southampton Village.

A new post on a sparse, single-page website at and bearing the name Hill Street Cinema, LLC, says the following:

Dear Community Members,

The Southampton Cinema has been one of the main anchors of the Village Center and an important cultural landmark. We are committed to returning that tradition and bringing back a better cinematic, entertainment, and community experience to the newly restored and improved theater.

The Southampton Cinema will continue to be a venue for today’s box office hits and offer the best of new, old, and independent films. The theater will serve as a community playhouse and provide an exciting variety of programmed events. It is important to us to create a venue that honors the tradition of Southampton Village and brings new energy and vitality to the heart of the Village Center for all to enjoy.

We look forward to sharing our vision and plans with you as they develop.

The theater has been scaffolded since September – and the rumor mill has churned. Rosen has been conspicuously silent about his plans, and until recently, Southampton Mayor Bill Manger was not willing to share what he might or might not have known about the future of the venue. 

Rosen’s representatives did not respond to repeated requests for comment, and in October, Manger’s office told Dan’s that, “It might be best to reach out to Aby Rosen as the full plans for the movie theater have not been shared with the Village yet.”

Southampton movie theater, Southampton Cinema
The Southampton movie theater has a new owner.Hill Street Cinema LLC

As Dan’s went to press, Rosen’s office still had not supplied a comment beyond the statement on the website. However, Manger strongly indicated that he expects the theater to eventually be open to the public. Specifics about the renovations – which are being performed by builder/developer Jay Bialskyand the timeframe for a grand reopening have not yet been revealed. But Manger is rooting for the cinema to be ready for the coming Summer season. 

“Many in Southampton and I are excited about the prospect of going to the movies again in the Village,” Manger says. “Having a movie theater in the Village is a great asset and I am hopeful that it will be open for Summer 2024.”

Shuttered since the pandemic in March 2020, the Colonial-style 17,859-square-foot venue was declared a local landmark by the Southampton Village Board of Architectural Review and Historic Preservation in January 2023.

The theater has stood at the gateway of the Village Business District since 1932, when it was built by Michael Glynne and opened as Glynne’s Southampton Theatre, a 1,000-seat movie house featuring what was described in historical documents as “an opulent auditorium known for its massive chandelier.”

In the 1990s, the United Artists company dismantled the auditorium and transformed the theater into a four-screen multiplex. Until 1995, there was also a fifth screen in what was originally a basement dressing room. 

Before Rosen’s company purchased it in 2022, the Cinema was most recently operated by Regal Theaters, though it bore the United Artists brand name until the pandemic forced its closure.

Regal currently operates a theater in Hampton Bays, about 7.5 miles east of the Southampton Cinema. To the chagrin of many locals, CVS, the giant pharmacy chain, has been in extended talks with the property owner and the Southampton Town Planning Board to replace the Hampton Bays theater with one of its eponymous drugstores. The status of those negotiations was still in flux as of last summer.

With in-person movie-going on the upswing and the actors’ and writers’ strikes firmly in Hollywood’s rearview mirror, theater owners are feeling bullish about their futures. A lot of Southamptonites hope the momentum continues.  

“Assuming the Southampton Cinema reopens to the public and not as a private club, it’ll be great for the town,” says Lisa Cohen, a Hampton Bays resident who lives roughly equidistant between the Southampton and Hampton Bays theaters. “To me, a renovated movie theater in Southampton would be another sign that the community has come all the way back from the dark days of the pandemic.”   

Email with comments, questions, or tips. Follow Behind The Hedges on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.