Durst sues Landmark Theatres for $49M in damages, unpaid rent at UWS cinema

After shuttering last year, the arthouse chain stole 700 seats from the theater, landlord alleges

New York /
Aug.August 04, 2021 02:20 PM
Clockwise from top left: Charles Cohen, Douglas Durst and 657 West 57th Street Avenue (Getty, Google Maps)

Clockwise from top left: Charles Cohen, Douglas Durst and 657 West 57th Street (Getty, Google Maps)

Landmark Theatres may have played its final film at its Upper West Side cinema, but now it’s starring in a horror movie of its own.

The Durst Organization is suing the arthouse theater chain for $49 million in damages and unpaid rent at its Landmark 57 West location. Landmark signed a 20-year lease for the space in 2016, says Durst spokesman Jordan Barowitz. However, the tenant sought to renegotiate the terms after real estate mogul and film buff Charles Cohen’s Cohen Media Group acquired the company in late 2018.

Durst and Landmark couldn’t agree on new terms, and the relationship soured. The lawsuit alleges that Landmark removed ticket kiosks, light fixtures and 700 seats from the theater when it left, even though they weren’t Landmark’s to take. Durst estimates the related repairs will cost $1.6 million.

Durst also wants $46 million in rent it would have earned from the contract, and over $1 million in arrears accumulated from January 2020 (when Landmark allegedly stopped paying full rent) through September, when Durst terminated the lease. IndieWire first reported the news.

Landmark closed the theater last August, just three years after it opened. Steps from the Hudson River and far from any convenient transit stops, the luxurious eight-plex struggled to pull in enough customers to pay the bills.

“It was a troubled theater, as beautiful as it was,” Landmark COO Paul Serwitz told Deadline at the time of the closure. “We inherited a tough theater that proved really not financially viable because of its rental obligation.”

In addition to his media business, Cohen heads Cohen Brothers Realty, which holds over 12 million square feet of commercial property across the country. Cohen Media Group, formed in 2008, specializes in foreign-language releases and restored classics. The company did not respond to requests for comment. Cohen has restored theaters in New York and Los Angeles, including the Quad Cinema in Greenwich Village, but now it appears he’s in the hot seat for taking one apart.





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