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The 162 seat Evergreen started showing movies in early 1968 with FINNEGAN’S WAKE as an outlet for Grove Press Releases. It had previously run plays as the Renata. Its claim to fame was the opening of I AM CURIOUS (YELLOW) along with Cinema Rendezvous and it offered mail order reserved seats. The film played on and off for over a year. By 1970 Grove Press also moved into the Bleecker Street and temporarily renamed that the Evergreen Bleecker as well. It was caught up in a three cinema obscenity trial for showing the film CENSORSHIP IN DENMARK and by 1971 had reverted to live shows.
Don’t mistake full seats at discounted prices as profit. The Worldwide’s high rent killed any chance at profit. It was bad deal that should never have been made. It went subrun when the other Times Square theaters refused to play day and date. When it dated the same film as the National it did around 10% of the business and it took that from the National hence the discount attempt. Staffing costs and a sometimes violent crowd did not help matters. I understand the AMC Empire loses money as well.
Cineplex Odeon destroyed this cinema’s image by playing dumb mainstream comedies and move-over films instead of the specialised art films that worked so well. On films such as CROSSING DELANCEY and MY OWN PRTIVATE IDAHO that Plaza provided some of the highest grosses in the country.
Cineplex Odeon did eventually put a small concession stand in here near the end but it was the only in the circuit without postmix soft drinks. The popcorn was popped at the Plaza and brought over. Donald Trump wanted to use the area as a club and would not renew the lease.
The Cinema 3 was a primary outlet for German films for a while but that didn’t last. Cineplex Odeon booked it as a last run move-over house.
Walter Reade had its offices here until the New Ziegfeld opened when they moved there. Cineplex Odeon eventually moved their offices back here in the seventies and shut down the West 56th Street offices as well as the Ziegfeld office.
When I worked for Cineplex the basement was full of Continental Releasing film prints, Sterling Film 16mm documentaries and other relics of the Walter Reade era.
The Kenmore was in a war zone neighborhood that had shootings daily. The lobby was full of bullet holes and audiences talked right through the movie. The acoustics in the upper cinemas were appaling and the images had such severe keystoning that all ending credits looked like the beginning of STAR WARS. The staff could not stop the locals from jumping the candy counter and taking what they wanted so the mention of razor wire in the post above is not an unreasonable move. The exit corridor had barbed wire yet I personally saw a mother with a baby trying to sneak in by climbing over the wire.
In spite of its glorious past, beautiful chandelier, staircase and coal furnace (in the 90s!)the Kenmore’s more recent history involved two employees being shot, riots every time a “Chucky” film opened and a not surprising revolving door of employees. The theatres often sold out at half capacity as customers refused to sit next to strangers.
One 1980’s incident involved a naked hooker on crack running through a crowded screen, a guest of the Local 306 projectionist. This place was a bigger than life nightmare and Loews rightfully shut it down as soon as they took over Cineplex Odeon.
The landlord of the National had been trying to buy Cineplex Odeon out of the lease for years and Cineplex resisted as it wanted the Times Square presence. The Worldwide was unable to replace it as it was always unprofitable and attempts to triple the site (mentioned above) were aborted when the landlord refused to allow it at the last minute.
The National lobby was the best place to see the New Year in, a Cineplex Odeon yearly private party.
The Worldwide lost money from the day it opened to the day it closed and was the source of much grief within Cineplex Odeon. The lack of a replacement cinema at the former RKO Warner Twin site lead Cineplex Odeon to sign this loser deal which was about one block off way from the action.
Twin one projection (the old balcony) shot over the ceiling of twin two creating a fuzzy picture. The air conditioning and heat never really worked correctly, at least as a twin.
The entrance cove was a haven for the homeless until we were allowed to gate the front at the request of local residents. The place had a lot of character and was great arthouse even though Cineplex booked both this and the Waverly as mainstream.
LImovies, I was a regional manager for Cineplex Odeon. When were you there?
Does anyone you have any memories of the other Wometco house across the street, The Normandy? I saw SILENT MOVIE there in the seventies and it hosted the World Premiere of Jackie Mason’s THE STOOLIE.
Gerald, my point is that the Apollo, unlike any other New York arthouse, ALWAYS stressed the sex angle of its films even when there was none. Only the Apollo sold a war drama like BEFORE HIM ALL ROME TREMBLED as “earthy sexuality in great abundance”. It is common knowledge that foreign film distributors often used sex angles to entice American audiences to see them but these quotes rarely used on first-run and the Apollo used them weekly.
Forty second street theatres had a tradition of making promises of sex in films that did not deliver. My point is that the Apollo was the first to blatantly do this and probably invented the concept.
THE BICYCLE THIEF indeed was censored by the city of New York (trouble with the scene of the boy urinating in the street)and had many problems at the World 49th. BITTER RICE, OPEN CITY and THE IMMORAL MR. TEAS also had censorship probelms at the World 49. It is because of this that DEEP THROAT gained credibility as something to be protected by the first amendment. New Yorkers knew that the World 49 had faced this nonsense before.
The Apollo was eclipsed by more blatant sex films in later years but for proof that arthouse lead to porn you need look no further than the booking history of the World 49th and, of course, the selling of the films of Brigitte Bardot. The World 49 had nowhere to go after hard core.
Jerry Lewis Cinemas certainly helped spread porn to middle America. The franchise owners were losing their shirts with family films and switched to porn usually with DEEP THROAT. I do not deny the Apollo was a great house (I was never lucky enough to see it) but I think it should be duly noted, along with the World 49, for its important place in the history of film sexploitation marketing. I can assure you CHILDREN OF PARADISE, a fine film no doubt, did not exude sex appeal before or after its Apollo run.
Here are some samples of Apollo ad copy from the early 1948 New York Times.
CHILDREN OF PARADISE
â€œExudes sex appeal!â€
â€œViolence and plain sexiness!â€
â€œ A tale of illicit loveâ€
â€œA study of sex and sadismâ€
â€œStrips down to the bare factsâ€
Each one was accompanied by a drawing of a young lady in a low cut blouse. Yes, that MUST HAVE BEEN art the Apollo was selling!
Let’s not fool ourselves. The Apollo took the best of the then current crop of foreign of European film and turned them into sexploitation material. They did not revive films unless they had sex value.
I am not devualing the Apollo. I love sexploitation. But let’s not play stupid history games. The Apollo was the grandad of porn.
I know there is a lot of nostagia surrounding this theatre and it is indeed an impressive building but have you ever watched a movie here?
I saw THE SUNSHINE BOYS, the World Premire of THE ABYSS, and several other screenings in this barn. The acoustics and screen presentation can best be described as appalling. Long live the MUSIC HALL, but for movies give me the megaplex. Without the tacky live shows (camels on ice!)it is rather amazing this place is still standing.
To compare the real palaces around the US to this freak hall is not fair. Movies should never have played here and audiences made that clear. There, I’ve finally said it.
After many years as a listed building (even the battleship gray exterior was untouchable) this appears to have been demolished and replaced by an awkward glass fronted gym.
The Art Greenwich had poor presentation as a twin and was home to rats the size of cats. One particular rat (named Ben by theatre staff)had gray hair and used to sit on its hind legs and eat popcorn at the stand, sometimes on busy nights.
The basement boiler was a nightmare of disrepair causing several winter closings. The Art Greenwich had a lot a personality but was truly past its sell-by date.
The Gables had dressing rooms upstairs and a proper stage. It was always upstaged by the smaller but more modern Coral down the road, In spite of a tiny lobby and several run down years, it survived the adding of the Twin Gables (actually located on the Miami side) to serve the affluent Coral Gables market.
In it’s last years it was also home to the ABC Florida State Theatres South Florida offices, later becoming a Plitt Theatres.
The Gables hosted the exclusive South Florida run of STAR WARS in Christmas 1977 when the movie just wouldn’t go away that year.
Some of these megaplexes may lack personality and feel like train depots but let’s face it, they have saved the exhibition industry by giving the distributors a showcase for their DVD product. In many cases the presentation is superior to the old palaces. Anyone who has sat through a movie at Radio City Music Hall can tell you what an inadequate experience that really is compared to those new Loews with wall to wall screens and Digital sound. Credit goes to Kinepolis and Cineplex, not AMC.
Hey Chad. AMC rewrites history every few years and everyone repeats it.
AMC also claims the first twin in 1963 “in a suburban mall”. Mind you there were several twins already operating by 1960 in remote places like Manhattan.
The Eaton and several other cinemas had more screens but did they have “stadium seating”?
Well, Kinepolis Cinemas in Europe certainly had stadium seating and over 14 screens years before AMC copied that first one.
This once glorious roadshow Cinerama house was also the premiere showing of DEEP THROAT in Florida. Details of how that happened are outlined in the documentary INSIDE DEEP THROAT by the hilarious couple who made it happen. Although the Sheridan is never mentioned by name, locals who remember the era know that everything said in the documentary is true.
As a kid I saw KRAKATOA EAST OF JAVA, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY here. SONG OF NORWAY, MAN OF LA MANCHA, and GOODBYE MR, CHIPS (the musical)could be seen here usually preceded by a meal at the excellent nearby Forge Restaurant
I think the Rio was designed to keep the riff-raff out of the Flagler Street houses, much like 42nd street did in New York. The movie titles were sometimes so old you could also find them in the TV Guide.
The Olympia is a true palace. As a kid I would just stare at the walls and the ceiling when the movie got boring. I often went in at 11:00am and came out after dark having seen the same film over and over again. A smuggled in hoagie from the nearby Woolworths provided a meal.
This was the downtown home of most Disney and Doris Day films, the only ones I could get into. I often asked strangers to accompany me to R rated films and they willingly obliged in that more innocent age. I saw WILD IN THE STREETS, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, and BONNIE AND CLYDE this way.
The floating clouds and cool air conditioning made me a cinema buff for life. In the early 70’s the Miami Police shut down the 3-D soft core porn flick THE STEWARDESSES and arrested manager Jimmy Barnett.
For more information on Downtown Miami cinemas and Jimmy Barnett check out a documentary by University of Miami professor Corky Irick called A FEW THINGS I KNOW ABOUT MIAMI. It can be found at the Coral Gables public library on VHS.
I saw NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and several single projector Cinerama films here as a kid. As a black action house in the early 70’s the ABC Florida had a riot during a showing of THE BUS IS COMING that was quite sensationalized in the local news.
The interior was quite modern compared to the other downtown theatres. The Swedish cashier did not understand the M rating and kept chasing me away from the box office. Years later I became her manager at the Shores Theatre and we laughed about it.
Aside from almost being closed down by the city of Coral Gables for showing films such as WOODSTOCK and LAST TANGO IN PARIS, the Coral also hosted the exclusive premieres of Disney films such as THE LOVE BUG and BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS as well as foreign language classics such as DEATH IN VENICE, FELLINI SATYRICON and CRIES AND WHISPERS.
I snuck into the roadshow run of LAST TANGO IN PARIS while still under age by having my older brother buy my ticket a week in advance.
I can still remember the new car smell of the vinyl seat backs of the Bay Harbor when our school took us from Little Havana to the Bay Harbor to see OLIVER!. Years later I took a first date there to see the x-rated FLESH GORDON and she did not speak to me for days.
This was a deluxe Loews roadshow house for many years before Wometco quaded it and one of the nicest theatres in the Miami area. The Bay Harbor often played day and date with the ABC Coral in Coral Gables or the Wometco Dadeland Twins with long runs of THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT, BILLY JACK, and NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA.
I have seen some record books that showed the Metropolitan as a department store prior to becoming a cinema in the late teens. They were taken away from a “cinema historian” who visted my office in the late nineties and then disappeared with them.