Ziegfeld Theatre

141 W. 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on January 23, 2016 at 1:42 pm

Some of my favorite Ziegfeld memories:

My first time there, a 5 ½ hour double feature of West Side Story and Around the World in 80 Days, in 1970.

First time seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey there, in 1974. It wouldn’t be the last.

The roof-raising Quintaphonic Sound presentation of Tommy in March 1975.

Seeing a 1 AM showing of Close Encounters after waiting on line outside for several hours in bitter cold on Thanksgiving night, 1977.

Getting yelled at by the guy in front of me for unconsciously kicking his seat in time to the music from Fame, May 1980.

Seeing Gandhi on the night of a terrible blizzard in February 1983. The house was sold out!

Angry Christian groups marching on the theater with banners flying to protest The Last Temptation of Christ, August 1988.

People frantically searching for seats at a sold-out showing of Lawrence of Arabia, 1989.

My mom meeting Shirley MacLaine in the ladies' room during the intermission of Spartacus, 1991.

Seeing Independence Day at 6 AM on the 4th of July 1996.

Seeing Kim Novak and Pat Hitchcock outside the theater at the premiere of the restored Vertigo in 1996, then seeing the film itself two days later.

Being on the concession line with Isabella Rossellini and her kids at the special edition of The Empire Strikes Back, 1997.

Seeing the following classics there in 2006: The Godfather Part II, Ben-Hur, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, North by Northwest, Doctor Zhivago, Citizen Kane, Jaws, E.T., The Birds. How I wish they’d do something like this now, so the Ziegfeld could go out with a bang.

The free-admission TCM Road to Hollywood shows, all with every seat taken: All About Eve, To Kill a Mockingbird, Cabaret.

alps
alps on January 23, 2016 at 1:10 pm

Saddened but not surprised. The first time I went to the Ziegfeld was in the summer of 1979, Apocalypse Now, with assigned seating, and it was magnificent. The last film I saw there was Hugo. Even New York has changed so much, I don’t recognize it anymore. I get up there about every other month, the tourists are ruining it. In Philadelphia, we just suffered the mindless destruction of the Boyd Theater, which could have had a second act as a Broadway touring theater instead of the unsuitable Academy of Music.

The failed Hateful 8 70mm experiment, is the death knell for the motion picture theater experience, most people just don’t care enough about it. I wish the Ziegfeld would have gone with a 70mm Road Show spectacular, with Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, which I saw there, one of the best cinematic experiences I’d ever had. I appreciated the craftsmanship of the theater, the curtains, the valor seats, and the staff; I wish it well as it transition into a ball room.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on January 23, 2016 at 12:31 pm

I also attended yesterday’s 12:45 PM show of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Both curtains are being used after the film credits.

Yesterday was my 43rd movie at the Ziegfeld, more movies that I’ve seen anywhere outside of the Philly region other than the DC Uptown and NYC Paris. I started in 1995 with 2 period epics about Scotland, Rob Roy and Braveheart. In 1996, I enjoyed another costume drama, Moll Flanders. Reserved seating began following renovations which resulted in theater’s 1997 reopening for the restored 70mm Vertigo (which I saw at the DC Uptown). In 1998, I saw another costume drama, Great Expectations, followed by 2 WW2 epics: Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line (sold out as it was only in LA & NYC’s UA Union Square). In 1999, the curtains were still used but the slide show began and I saw Pushing Tin and in 2000 another costume drama, Anna and the King.

In 2001, I saw another WW2 epic, Enemy at the Gates, then Moulin Rouge (which had a 2 week East Coast exclusive at the Ziegfeld & is my favorite new movie musical seen at the Ziegfeld), the restored 35mm roadshow of Funny Girl which was awesome to see, and the fun Ocean’s Eleven (digital projection). In 2002 I enjoyed the incredible, restored Metropolis and Solaris. In 2003, I saw Chicago, the forgettable Down With Love, the 30th Anniversary of The Way We Were, and the sea drama Master and Commander. In 2004, I saw The Day After Tomorrow and Ocean’s Twelve. In 2005, I saw the Raging Bull (which had its 25th Anniversary gala premiere at the Ziegfeld, besting the original at the Sutton), War of the Worlds, and The Great Raid (but went to the Paris to see a movie until the Ziegfeld’s projection booth exhaust fan was repaired, which it fortunately was that day)

In 2006, I saw Triston and Isolde and then had one of the greatest movie experiences of my life when during the classics festival, I saw The Godfather and Part II with a half hour break, this being the 1st time I saw Part II on a movie screen. I also saw Casino Royale (James Bond) in 2006. In 2007, I saw Dreamgirls, then the excellent Zodiac, Ratatouille (one of my favorite animated movies) and Enchanted. In 2008, I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and in 2009, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Preferring 35mm to digital projection, I went elsewhere until everywhere was digital and in 2012 saw The Bourne Legacy (which unlike the original trilogy, I disliked), then The Master in 70mm (the 70mm resolution was outstanding). In 2013, I saw 42, then Captain Phillips. In 2014, I saw Jersey Boys, Gone Girl, Interstellar (in 70mm and photographed & wrote about it in the 70mm newsletter), and Into the Woods. In 2015, I saw Mission Impossible-Rogue Nation.

I’ve added more photos, from yesterday. I’ve written text describing the theater’s design, that will be added to the Introduction above. Thanks to Walter Reade, Cineplex Odeon, Cleaview, and Bow Tie for operating the Ziegfeld for all these years! It was built to showcase movies at a time when the same movie was not playing blocks away in multiplexes and sadly NYC does not have the common sense to find a way to keep it to showcase movie premieres & special events!

JSA
JSA on January 23, 2016 at 12:10 pm

A few years go, while on vacation in NYC, I took a break from the usual tourist schedule, and headed to the Ziegfeld with my son. We had a great, wonderful time. The movie was “Up”, and the theater experience made it come alive. We took a few pictures, and chatted with some of the employees. I share the sentiment expressed by the comments here. It is a loss not only for Manhattan, but to all of us who love these places of wonder we simply call movie theatres.

JSA
Long Beach, CA

markp
markp on January 23, 2016 at 7:33 am

And thanks to Mike (saps) for the suggestion of the curtain photo. With that said, lets all leave it there now and forever, as this is how we want to remember our Ziegfeld.

cityscope
cityscope on January 23, 2016 at 12:21 am

In honor of the closing, is there any chance AL ALVAREZ is out there and can repost his amazing list of every movie that ever played the Ziegfeld since it opened in 1969? And possibly update it to include the most recent years? Actually, the last I remember, I know it was a very complete list for the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, but I’m not sure if he ever did up a complete list from 2000 and beyond.
In any case, that was such a valuable resource, and this thread is almost 200 pages long, so I can’t think of a better tribute in this sad last week of the theater’s existence as the last great movie showplace in New York City than to see that list once more.

cmbussmann
cmbussmann on January 22, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Went to the 12:45pm screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens to pay my respects and say goodbye. The house was fairly packed — more people than I’d seen in years and even more waiting to get in to the next screening. They drew the curtains after the final credits: a fitting and appropriate touch that those of us who lingered appreciated. I loved this place with all my heart. It was the best theater for epic blockbusters in Manhattan (the faded opulence always making even the most mediocre film a true experience) and its closure will leave a big void.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on January 22, 2016 at 11:11 am

(Can we all do multiple clicks on the closed-curtain photo on page 8 to bump it up to the overview page, where it belongs…)

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on January 22, 2016 at 11:04 am

It’s gone full circle — started as a Walter Reade theater, playing a sci-fi movie, and ends with Walter Reade on the marquee, playing a sci-fi movie…

LuisV
LuisV on January 22, 2016 at 11:03 am

This was the theater where I first saw Grease!, Fantasia, Chicago, Independence Day and so many others over the years including the best movie experience of my life: A sold out showing of Dreamgirls where there were THREE standing ovations during the film. I will never forget it and will never forget the joys this theater has given me. Tonight I am heading up to see Star Wars to enjoy it one last time.

mhvbear
mhvbear on January 22, 2016 at 10:41 am

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/22/nyregion/realization-at-ziegfeld-theater-only-name-is-constant.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=Moth-Visible&moduleDetail=inside-nyt-region-2&module=inside-nyt-region&region=inside-nyt-region&WT.nav=inside-nyt-region

A nice article about the closing of the Ziegfeld. Great picture of the marquee. Somehow it is fitting that the “A Walter Reade Theatre' is now showing on the marquee.

CConnolly1
CConnolly1 on January 22, 2016 at 6:34 am

Last film I saw here was “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” back in 2014. We were among a handful of people in the audience on a Saturday night around 8:00PM. It was kind of sad.

It’s location coupled with changes in movie going habits over the years spelled The Ziegfeld’s doom as far as being a movie theater. The neighborhood is mostly office towers. Alive during the day, kind of deserted at night.

I’m saddened by its closing but like many others hardly surprised.

movieguy
movieguy on January 21, 2016 at 11:34 pm

Call the theater box office today. Found out that they’ll be no special programming or special movies. January 28 Thursday is the last day that Star Wars was scheduled to play. According to the employee on the phone no other movies will be coming after that. So it looks like that will be the last day of operations January 28. I will definitely be there to see Star Wars once again. How very depressing and sad that such a great movie theater 1200 seats, big screen excellent projection fantastic Soundsystem a real great room to see a movie is going to be turned into some ridiculous ballroom for corporate bigwigs rich people

BobbyS
BobbyS on January 21, 2016 at 10:51 pm

I wonder why Radio City Music Hall doesn’t have a classic movie day once a month. When they did about about 25 years ago they had very good attendance. With so many dark days, you would think they would try. I also wonder if they still have the projectors. Biggest screen I ever saw anywhere and with the waterfall curtain lowering along with the side curtains closing it made even a more sensational event!!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on January 21, 2016 at 10:16 pm

I’ve seen 147 movies at the Ziegfeld over the last 46 years. Hope I get to see one more before the end, to say goodbye.

BobbyS
BobbyS on January 21, 2016 at 6:04 pm

When in NY years ago went to see “Jazz Singer” at the Ziegfeld. The matinee showing was almost filled! It was a wonderful experience and a beautiful movie palace. Not like the movie palaces of the past, but wonderful !! Sorry to see its passing…..

walterk
walterk on January 21, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Here’s a working link to New York Times article about the closing:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/21/nyregion/ziegfeld-theater-in-midtown-is-closing-to-become-a-ballroom.html?_r=0

I was in New York for the holidays and attended the morning showing of Star Wars on the 28th, I am not sure there were a hundred other people present. Sorry to see it close, but not surprised.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on January 21, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Hello-

I am confused, is the theater closing in the very
near future or is it already closed. if its already
closed what was the last day?

also what can they due with the property? they sold their air rights to the London hotel so if its torn down any new building can’t be any bigger than the Ziegfeld.

Movieholic
Movieholic on January 21, 2016 at 3:37 pm

Seeing Lawrence of Arabia in all of its restored 70MM glory in 1989 was the most enjoyable movie going experience I had at this theater. I was only fifteen at the time and my taste in movies hadn’t fully evolved but it was mesmerizing.

SethLewis
SethLewis on January 21, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Sadly it was bound to happen Was at the opening attraction Marooned in its second weekend…then plenty more over the years…The Last Waltz, Sleuth, Earthquake, Close Encounters, Lawrence of Arabia restored in 1998, Last Temptation of Christ, Mountains of the Moon, Dreamgirls At the same time it was an awkward design up the escalators…the red was somewhat tacky and the marquee never fully did it justice A shame a manageable main theatre and a couple of small sub-run theatres couldn’t have been carved out of it

Myron
Myron on January 21, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Many current films premiere at the Ziegfeld for the New York opening premiere. With the closing, where will the stars gather to celebrate new films? There are no other theaters available as far as I know and the Music Hall is no longer available. Where can I find a list of films that had a run at the Ziegfeld? I think the last film I saw there was Dreamgirls.

Movieholic
Movieholic on January 21, 2016 at 12:45 pm

I’m really sorry to hear this magnificent movie palace is closed but I can’t say I’m surprised. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to visit one last time before it closes its doors for good.

DARCYDT
DARCYDT on January 21, 2016 at 11:49 am

I remember going there in 1980 for a sneak preview of “Altered States” in December. I went to the ticket window and the ticket seller said “Merry Christmas” and let me in free.

AdamBomb1701
AdamBomb1701 on January 21, 2016 at 10:28 am

I’m saddened by the closing of the iconic Ziegfeld theater as well. I saw many movies there – “Earthquake” (in Sensurround), “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, the Neil Diamond “Jazz Singer”, “Raise The Titanic”, to name a few. One movie I did not see there was “Star Wars”. That movie did not play at the Ziegfeld during its initial 1977 run, despite a couple of people saying it did. “Star Wars” did play, for over a year, at Loew’s Astor Plaza. I should know, I saw it there.

cmbussmann
cmbussmann on January 21, 2016 at 9:51 am

So sad the Ziegfeld is closing. Can’t say I’m surprised but it hurts none the less for knowing it was inevitable.

Saw a lot of movies here since moving to NYC and am glad I made the effort to do so. I feel like a lot of people took this place for granted.