Astor Theatre

1531 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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patryan6019 on October 6, 2014 at 10:37 pm

bigjoe59….About your 9/29 Quo Vadis comments—the program is wrong. Tickets cost 25 and 50 cents, which you can see for yourself in Astor photo #19. Also, there were no feature films before QV.

bigjoe59 on September 30, 2014 at 3:10 pm

to Howard B. –

i thank you for your take on the statement made in the doc. and the souvenir program. you have to admit said statement could have been worded better since it does give the impression that there were purpose built movie theaters in Manhattan prior to the Spring of 1913.

HowardBHaas on September 29, 2014 at 1:30 pm

The implication I would get from the above language is that the film was the 1st to open at a theater primarily still being used as a legit theater. Other theaters may have switched full time to movies, or built as nickelodeons.

bigjoe59 on September 29, 2014 at 12:04 pm


I recently watched the Blu-ray disc of Quo Vadis from 1951 and own the souvenir program. now both contain a bit of info that doesn’t make sense hence my question.

both the doc. on the Blu-ray disc and the souvenir program state something about the 1912 Italian version of Quo Vadis that doesn’t make sense. both state that the 1912 Italian version which opened in New York in 1913 was the 1st feature film to charge a $1 and the first to open at a legitimate theater. this would imply whatever feature films opened in Manhattan previous to the Spring of 1913 opened in actual purpose built “movie theaters”.

so what purpose built movie theaters existed in Manhattan previous to the Spring of 1913?

Cimarron on April 5, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Pic upload of 1936 Ad “The Great Zigfield” see Photo Section.

Tinseltoes on August 21, 2013 at 11:33 am

After “Quo Vadis?” in 1913, the Astor returned to the “legit” fold. Although it had some film bookings after that, it was primarily a stage playhouse until 1925, when it closed for the summer for revamping into a cinema. The Astor re-opened on September 6th, 1925, with a reserved-seat roadshow of Universal’s Lon Chaney epic, “The Phantom of the Opera,” and remained a cinema for the rest of its existence.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 18, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Here’s a curious ad for “Quo Vadis?” from October, 1913, when the picture was making its rounds in markets much smaller than New York City. This particular ad is for a small theater, in a tiny western New York state hamlet, and it exclaims the feature was to be shown “in Talking Pictures.” I imagine this bit of showmanship was accomplished by having actors speaking the lines (and perhaps with a few select sound effects produced) from behind the screen, in accompaniment with the exhibition. I wonder if this gimmick was featured at any time during its engagement at the Astor – or if it was dreamed up by exhibitors on the road for secondary and tertiary markets (and beyond)?

Tinseltoes on August 18, 2013 at 10:49 am

April 21st of this year marked the 100th anniversary of the first movie to ever be booked into the “legit” Astor Theatre. The Italian-made “Quo Vadis?” was shown in three acts, which took more than two hours including reel changes. “Incidental music was provided on a mechanical orchestral player,” according to a report in The New York Times. “If a feature moving-picture production can fill a Broadway theatre, ‘Quo Vadis?’ ought to be able to do it.”

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 29, 2013 at 10:36 am

16 of the 17 theaters listed in the Dr. No ad are gone, except for the Roosevelt Field, which is now a multiplex. (The Green Acres was around until last year, though.)

Tinseltoes on May 29, 2013 at 8:17 am

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Greater New York-New Jersey “Premiere Showcase” launching of UA’s “Dr. No,” which included the Astor and Murray Hill as the exclusive sites in Manhattan. I’ve posted an ad in the Photos Section.

RichHamel on February 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Interesting article. I wonder what a post-war, 6,000+ seat movie palace in Times Square would have looked like?

Tinseltoes on February 1, 2013 at 9:05 am

Astor Theatre versus Hotel in 1947 “War of Nerves”: Boxoffice

Mikeoaklandpark on October 10, 2012 at 11:00 am

Great pictures Tinseltoes. Where did you find them? I didn’t realize that theater was so large. The first time I went to NYC in 1975 it was a flea market but I dont; rememebr seeing the two balcony’s

Tinseltoes on October 10, 2012 at 8:24 am

In the Photos Section, I’ve posted images of the Astor’s original auditorium and the 1959 modernization. In the interim, the original design with boxes and two balconies remained, but with periodic refurbishments of decor and seating.

Tinseltoes on September 14, 2012 at 10:23 am

Featured in this 1941 trade ad: Boxoffice

Tinseltoes on August 20, 2012 at 6:57 am

Sixty years ago tonight, WB’s “The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima” had its gala world premiere at the Astor Theatre. The next day, the WarnerColor religious epic started regular continuous performances at the Astor and a reserved-seat run around the corner at the much smaller Bijou Theatre. The Bijou gave one performance nightly, with matinees added on Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday, and holidays.

Tinseltoes on August 4, 2012 at 7:00 am

Times Square area growing shabbier by the time of this billboard in late 1975. Scroll to bottom of page for photo: Boxoffice

Tinseltoes on July 30, 2012 at 10:27 am

Summer of 1971, with “Wild Rovers” at the Astor and a Disney reissue at the Victoria: Boxoffice

Tinseltoes on July 27, 2012 at 8:14 am

“Largest Piece of ‘Pop Art’ in the World” claimed for this 1968 monstrosity: Boxoffice

Tinseltoes on July 16, 2012 at 7:34 am

Modernization described in this 1960 trade article: boxoffice

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 16, 2012 at 5:46 am

Did they really bridge the two marquees to appear as one, as depicted in the sketch? I’d love to see a photo of that treatment. Also an interesting item in the lower right regarding the reduction of seating at the Roxy Theatre, during renovations for Cinemiracle exhibition.

Tinseltoes on July 15, 2012 at 11:26 am

Here’s a sketch of the spectacular block-wide signage for UA’s “The Vikings” during its dual engagement at the Astor and Victoria in 1958: boxoffice

Tinseltoes on July 4, 2012 at 9:01 am

Featured in this 1949 trade ad for MGM’s “Battleground”: boxofficemagazine

MrDavid on June 30, 2012 at 1:17 pm

This is not really about shows, but I have become the proud owner of a stained glass window that came out of the Astor theater…the men’s smoking lounge I’m told. The design is one of Christopher Columbus' sailing ships. Does anyone remember seeing these lovely pieces of art before the theatre’s demise??

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on June 30, 2012 at 7:54 am

That’s nearly five sold-out shows (at 1500 seats) per day for 21 weeks. I wonder…