Durst organization sues Landmark theaters for $ 48 million

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

Landmark Theaters may have played his last movie in his Upper West Side theater, but he’s now starring in a horror flick of his own.

The Durst Organization is suing the arthouse 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, Durst spokesman Jordan Barowitz said. However, the tenant sought to renegotiate the terms after real estate mogul and movie buff Charles Cohen’s Cohen Media Group acquired the company in late 2018.

Durst and Landmark could not agree on new terms and the relationship deteriorated. The lawsuit alleges that Landmark removed ticket kiosks, lights and 700 seats from the theater when it left, even though they were not to be taken by Landmark. Durst estimates the related repairs will cost $ 1.6 million.

Durst also wants $ 46 million in rent he would have earned from the contract, and over $ 1 million in accumulated arrears from January 2020 (when Landmark allegedly stopped paying rent in full) until September, date to which 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 transport stops, the luxurious eight-plex struggled to attract enough customers to pay the bills.

“It was a troubled theater, beautiful as it was,” Landmark COO Paul Serwitz told Deadline at the time of the shutdown. “We inherited a difficult theater that has proven to be very financially unsustainable due to its rental obligation.”

In addition to his media business, Cohen runs Cohen Brothers Realty, which owns over 12 million square feet of commercial properties 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 looks like he’s in the hot seat to take one down.


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