It’s the pictures that got small

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This is the old RKO Kenmore, on Church Avenue, in Flatbush (right across the street from the much, much older Dutch graveyard).

When its doors opened in 1928, the Kenmore had 3,025 seats, almost three times larger than the Ziegfeld, the city’s largest remaining moviehouse. The Kenmore was quadded in the 70s, according to cinematreasures.org, and shuttered in 1999 after a man was killed in a shooting during a screening of Eddie Murphy’s Life. “Several people who had watched the movie The Matrix emerged afterward into the surreal real-life scene of a lobby criss-crossed with yellow crime-scene tape and crawling with uniformed officers,” the Times reported.

A cinematreasures commenter presents a working theory on how the theater managed to stay open as long as it did: “Much of the Kenmore income came from the dubious tenants along Church Street, not the box office. I say dubious because the jeweler barely had any jewels and the bridal shop never paid the rent. The fish store in the corner often had as many cats as fish on the premises.”

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The even larger, more lavish Kings Theatre, just a few blocks away on Flatbush Avenue, reopened last month as a “live-music venue,” rehabilitated by ACE Theatrical Group of Houston with more than $50 million in public money, and millions more from the folks at Goldman Sachs. It’ll be showing oldies acts for top dollar, plus ticketmaster surcharges. Franki Valli on Saturday, Björk tomorrow night, but as the marquee says, she sold out.