City Cinemas Cinema 1, 2, and 3

1001 3rd Avenue,
New York, NY 10021

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Showing 251 - 275 of 282 comments

br91975 on December 1, 2004 at 9:00 am

With apologies to Sheryl Crow, apropos of nothing, the Cinema 1-2-3, located, of course, diagonally from the former Alexander’s site on the southeast corner of 3rd and 60th, is currently showing ‘Alexander’. (Weird, little, ‘fun’ useless fact for the day…)

irajoel on November 28, 2004 at 10:14 am

I vividly remember these two cinemas, it was a big deal, think they were the first to be built from scratch in a long time. As a teenager when they opened I loved the look of them, so modern looking and comfortable. What stands out for me is the large display case that would have 3-D and quite nice displays for the film showing. Don’t think this kind of display retailing had ever been done before, but I could be wrong. Also felt very sophisticated going there to see a movie.

dave-bronx™ on November 27, 2004 at 6:57 pm

BTW, they also changed the marquee signage (but thats a minor problem) – the Cinema 1 Cinema 2 Cinema 3 along the side is gone and replaced with Cinema 1, 2, 3 along the top edge in thin letters that you can barely see from across the street. The Cinema 1 2 3 is the last owned property City Cinemas has in New York – the other 3 are leased. And the primo location on Third Ave. opposite Bloomingdales will command huge bucks if it were to come on the market. I wonder if it is possible to get it landmarked as it is now and then order them to restore it?

RobertR on November 27, 2004 at 11:26 am

These people are a bunch of greedy low lifes, this is a sure sign the cinemas are goners. Not that they have many locations left, but I stopped attending any of their theatres after the Sutton fiasco. I guess they dont care, they can laugh all the way to the bank with the millions they will get from putting another skyscraper there. Any class the cinemas had anyways were destroed with the triplexing and their bookings are no better then a Long Island UA.

stukgh on November 27, 2004 at 9:37 am

It’s very sad to read of the progressive degradation of these once fine theaters. My relationship with these theaters got off to a rocky start though. On Christmas 1965 I was lured from Queens to my first Manhattan movie because that was the only way to see “Thunderball”, and I was a James-Bond-crazed 13-year-old kid. After a childhood of movie houses that ranged from generous to grand, I was shocked at the size and minimalism of the Cinema II. There was no curtain! And I has never seen a movie screen so small, or a theater so narrow. The fact that the screen was recessed into a slot in the wall made everything seem even punier. The dad of a frind of mine regularly showed 35 mm slides of his trips in the basement of his house, and I vividly remember the feeling that this theater felt just like that basement. (And the experience wasn’t helped by the fact that Thunderball was the first Bond film that left me badly disappointed.)
As I grew up, though, I learned to appreciate the wonderful selection of films that the Cinemas showed, and the clean, modern feel of the theater. The Saturday night ritual of standing in a long line with my girlfriend, patiently and eagerly anticipating a film treat, along with hundreds of like-minded fans, is something I’ll always remember. Even when it was cold, it was fun.

br91975 on November 27, 2004 at 9:29 am

Perhaps City Cinemas has caught wind of a possible renewed attempt to landmark the property. The last thing the neighborhood needs is to lose another movie theatre, even one that’s lost a bit of its luster over the years…

dave-bronx™ on November 27, 2004 at 8:53 am

Well, City Cinemas is at it again – they are destroying the Cinemas. I went past there last night and the blue tile area above the windows (see the photo above) has been plastered/stuccoed/cemented over – it is now just plain white and no evidence of the columns rising to the roofline. Also, from outside it appears that the copper ‘artichoke’ chandeliers in the upper lobby are missing – God knows what these clowns are doing to the place and what other horrors they may have committed on that building.

I am trying to get in contact with an insider I know to find out what the hell they are doing….

dave-bronx™ on October 23, 2004 at 5:40 pm

I think it was the fall of 1993 that he left to start his own booking service. I’m not sure when he retired from that and went to Florida. His wife was another very nice person, and would come to premieres and company events. Mr. D. seemed to know everybody in the business. I don’t recall meeting his children, they were grown up and married during the time I was around there.

alex345 on October 23, 2004 at 12:27 pm

Why did he leave? Or did he just retire? Did you know his wife and family? If so, what happened to them?

dave-bronx™ on October 23, 2004 at 9:20 am

Yup, he was (is) a class act. When I met him there I was impressed that the president of the company came in and stopped to chat with the staff – he knew their names, inquired about members of their families (by name) and was very pleasant and personable. It was a surprise because I had come there from General Cinema where the company executives who came around barely acknowledged the manager and the staff was just furniture in the lobby.

longislandmovies on October 23, 2004 at 4:40 am

Ralph Donnely allways a class act.

dave-bronx™ on October 23, 2004 at 12:25 am

Cinema I and II
(now Cinema 1, 2, 3 Third Avenue)
1001 Third Avenue
Date Completed: 1962
Builder: Rugoff Theaters
Architect: Abraham W. Geller Associates
Consulting Theater Architect: Ben Schlanger

This award-winning art film theater was the first duplex, “piggy-back” movie theater built in the United States. The piggy-back idea was developed by Ben Schlanger, who had pioneered a back-to-back duplex theater for the Information Center at Colonial Williamsburg. Cinema I and II was built by Rugoff Theaters to serve as the core of an East Side International Film Center and as a crosstown complement to Lincoln Center, which was being built at the same time but did not include a movie house.

Artwork was an integral part of Abraham Geller’s International Style design. The interior spaces designed by Geller, James McNair, and Norman Ives include a sloping barrel-vaulted ceiling, Danish copper-leaf chandeliers in the upstairs lounge, and an abstract mural by Ilya Bolotowsky in the ground-floor lobby. In 1983, Geller was again hired to divide the larger upstairs auditorium into two, making the theater a triplex.

alex345 on October 21, 2004 at 7:21 am

Thanks for responding – too bad you do not have a city in Florida?

dave-bronx™ on October 20, 2004 at 7:17 pm

I heard he retired to Florida somewhere….

alex345 on October 20, 2004 at 4:34 pm

Does anyone know how to get in contact with Ralph Donnely?

dave-bronx™ on August 23, 2004 at 8:58 am

Nope, wasn’t Ralph…. it was above him. Although I never heard him say so, I don’t think he agreed with certain things that were done there. If he’d had the last word on things, there would have been less radical changes. The Cinemas had a reputation for both programming and design, and nobody was more aware of that than him – he was the one who brought in the original architect to maintain the character of the theatre. However, once the design-phase was underway, higher-ups from out-of-town had other ideas. It used to be a very special place, but with the general-release dreck they play there now, it’s just another plex.

RobertR on August 23, 2004 at 7:36 am

That “someone” talked about above must have been Ralph Donnely.

dave-bronx™ on August 22, 2004 at 1:17 am

BTW, it was built at a cost of $750,000. in 1962, and it was sitting on rented land. The 1988 ‘adjustments’ cost $3 million. In the past few years they finally bought the land underneath it.

When they get the photo function working on this site, I have architects photos of it both when it was completed in 1962 and after the 1988 ‘adjustments’ and will post them.

dave-bronx™ on August 22, 2004 at 12:59 am

Although I worked there at the time, I would agree with ‘fornasetti’ that the place was ruined with the 88 renovation. All it needed was new carpet, wallpaper, new seats and the restoration of the artwork. But the guy in charge at the time just had to have a third screen and one common lobby like a real triplex. Aside from that his only concern was ‘how big is the screen?’ and ‘how many seats?’ If someone is trying to get it landmarked I would suggest they continue their efforts – these people who run it now would sell their mothers for fifty-cents – after all, look what happened to the Murray Hill and the Sutton…..

barrywerks on August 21, 2004 at 11:28 pm

I attended the first showing of “Boccaccio ‘70” in 1962, which was the innaugural attraction at Cinema 1. I was struck by the odd screen which was recessed in a white shadowbox. Black straps were lowered to mask the screen for standard or wide screen showings. Stanley Kubrick later complained that the white walls around the screen caused a reflective glare and he ordered them painted black before he would allow “A Clockwork Orange” to open there in 1971. Also, the theatre was unique in it’s advertising displays which used a three dimensional window (much like a department store) rather than a poster.

br91975 on August 21, 2004 at 9:40 pm

Shortly before the demolition of the Baronet/Coronet commenced in August of 2002, some Midtown East residents launched an effort to gain landmark status for the interior and exterior of the Cinema 1-2-3 property, but little came of it.

fornasetti on August 17, 2004 at 9:01 pm

Cinema 1 and 2 were probably the most prestigious screens in NYC during the 60’s and 70’s. If you got an exclusive run there, your film was set to be noticed.
The 1988 renovation was shameful. Not only has the architecture been destroyed but the current management has changed the fare to much more commercial viewing.
As for the above comment, Nashville was a Cinema 2. I saw it there in the summer of 1975. The first film I saw at Cinema 1 was A Clockwork Orange in January of 1973

dave-bronx™ on July 26, 2004 at 4:59 pm

1001 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Opened 1962 – Abraham W. Geller, Architect – Donald Rugoff/Cinema 5 Ltd, owner – considered to be the first commercially viable two-screen cinema built in the US – Cinema I 700 seats, Cinema II 291 seats – technically not a “twin cinema” – Cinema I is a orchestra-stadium type auditorium on the 2nd and 3rd floor levels of the building with the screen on the east wall, Cinema II, a standard orchestra-type auditorium, nestles sideways underneath in the basement and first floor levels, screen on the south wall. Seperate marquee, entrance, box office and lobby for each cinema. It also operated as two seperate theatres – 2 unit numbers, 2 payrolls, 2 concession inventories etc. Lobbies decorated with modern paintings and other artwork. Specialized in art-house product. Renovated 1988 – Abraham W. Geller, Architect – the large upper theatre was divided by removing front 6 rows of seats, moving screen forward and inserting small cinema in the resulting space, screen on the north wall. Marquees, entrances, boxoffices and lobbies combined to operate as a triplex – new seating installed, rest rooms enlarged, original artwork restored – New seating capacities – Cinema I 532 – Cinema II 290 – Cinema III 165 – presently operated by City Cinemas/Reading Entertainment.

HomegaMan on June 22, 2004 at 8:41 am

I remeber seeing Lawrence Kasdan’s “Grand Canyon” there and thinking it was a masterpiece. My friend Frank and I went to go see it again but the second showng was sold out. The theater was beautiful and you could see where the old majesty of what once was on the ceilings and the sides but I haven’t been there since.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on March 24, 2004 at 8:57 am

Yes, they definitely were.