Radio City Music Hall

1260 6th Avenue,
New York, NY 10020

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VincentParisi
VincentParisi on May 24, 2004 at 8:26 am

I’ve said somewhere on this site that when I saw Singin in the Rain here in ‘75 the image was surprisingly small and there is an old Hitchcock where there is a chase through the Music Hall during the film presentation and the image is that small. So I guess from when the Music Hall opened to the 50’s people were watching a pretty small screen. So what was that like for the audiences in the second and third mezzanines during this era when the Hall frequently filled up? Their powers of concentration must have been enormous.
Unfortunately when the screen is opened for the Magnascope lenses the image becomes fairly grainy.

joemasher
joemasher on May 23, 2004 at 4:29 pm

The booth is still the same today. In fact, today, Sunday 5/23/04, RCMH is hosting the World Premiere of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azcaban”.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 23, 2004 at 2:46 pm

The aspect ratio was correct during Casablanca, but the image was small in relation to the proscenium. When the Music Hall showed films on a regular basis, did they really use so little of the available space?

As to the sound, I did see several movies there during the movie/stage show era, and don’t recall any sound problems.

I think that when theaters aren’t regularly showing films, but do show the occasional movie, when they do play a movie the equipment and the projectionists aren’t always up to speed. If a projectionist comes in and find that the bulb isn’t bright enough, or the speakers aren’t working right, there is very little he or she can do about it.

Vito
Vito on May 23, 2004 at 2:32 pm

The image was true to the original 1.33 ratio which made the picture look small but it was shown the way it was meant to be seen and how it was presented originally. As for the sound I think perhaps you have gotten used to modern day Dolby sound and have forgotten or are too young to remember what is what like back then, Warren, William, Vincent…
any comments?

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 23, 2004 at 12:18 pm

I saw Casablanca here during a film festival a few years ago, and the image seemed small to me, considering the space available, and the sound was terrible. It was all echoes and tinny, and if I didn’t already know the movie so well, I wouldn’t have known what all the Casablanca fuss was about.

Vito
Vito on May 23, 2004 at 6:57 am

Has anyone ben in the Music Halls projection booth lately? I visited the booth several years ago when there were five projectors,
three Simplex 35/70 with Dolby Digital capability as well as magnetic penthouses, and two Simplex XL 35mm with optical capability only. There were no platters, thankfully, although I was told that “Lion King” was presented in 70mm, but not with standard 70mm six track magnetic sound, a seperate 35mm Dolby Digital sound print was interlocked using platters. What is in the booth today?

Vito
Vito on May 23, 2004 at 6:47 am

I was very interested in Williams notes about the Hall’s 70mm presentations. I knew the 35mm prints were made a little lighter because I worked at Deluxe labs in New York during that time. I believe before Dolby came along many 35mm prints were struck with magnetic stereo tracks and although after 1960 such prints were hard to come by, Radio City still played a lot of films in 35mm 4 track magnetic. Anyone know more about this?

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on May 20, 2004 at 10:30 am

But this is the height of the tourist season in July!
Considering how the Music Hall is used now I guess Andrew Stein’s idea of turning it into the NY stock exchange back in the 70’s wasn’t much different.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on May 20, 2004 at 10:30 am

But this is the height of the tourist season in July!
Considering how the Music Hall is used now I guess Andrew Stein’s idea of turning it into the NY stock exchange back in the 70’s wasn’t much different.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on May 20, 2004 at 9:46 am

How do people who make these decisions get their jobs?
I assume they’re recruited from the FBI and the CIA. Nothing else seems to explain such waste and staggering incompetency.

William
William on May 20, 2004 at 9:39 am

The scope screen is 69' x 31' and full ratio 70MM screen is 69' x 34'. I was typing to fast on that post. All three films “Darling Lili”, “Scrooge” and “Tom Sawyer” were all 70MM blow-ups. “Airport” looked fantastic on the big screen.

RobertR
RobertR on May 20, 2004 at 9:26 am

This is another example of NY theatres not being respected. This is one of the most degrading things to ever happen at The Music Hall. ANyways how can basketball be played on a stage>?

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on May 20, 2004 at 9:02 am

William what is the size of the of the cinemascope screen? From what I remember from seeing 7 Brides there in the late 70’s it is larger than the 70mm screen. Also was Darling Lillie a blow up like Scrooge or real 70mm? Blow-ups never looked good at the Music Hall. Both Scrooge and Tom Sawyer were somewhat grainy and washed out but Airport in Todd AO with those old fashioned glossy Ross Hunter production values looked sensational.

William
William on May 19, 2004 at 3:42 pm

The Music Hall was relatively late in installing 70MM projection equipment because of the necessity of accommodating the stage show that accompanied the film. The Music Hall show always ran between two and three hours including the stage show which varied in length depending on the length of the feature. Since the initial 70MM attractions were all Roadshow presentations, it was felt that they were too long to be played at the Music Hall. Then in 1970 Ross Hunter, the producer of “Airport” insisted that film be shown at the Hall in 70MM. The Music Hall would run two other 70MM featuresthat year “Darling Lili” and “Scrooge”. Since 1970 approximately twenty-two features have had 70MM presentation at the Hall, either as part of the movie.stage show policy or as premieres and special presentations. The screen at the Music Hall is 69 ½' x 34 ½'. The regular 35mm 1.85 ratio use is 48' x 26' and the 70MM Full screen is 69' x 31' and spherical 70MM (1.85 blow-up) is 63' x 34'.
The size of the auditorium presents a number of unique projection problems. Often prints are tailored to the theatre. This usually means printing them a little lighter in density to increse the apparent light on the screen. since the projection throw is about 185' to the screen, if the sound is in sync with the picture at the screen it is four frames out-of-sync at the back of the third mezzanine.

William
William on May 19, 2004 at 3:38 pm

The Music Hall was relatively late in installing 70MM projection equipment because of the necessity of accommodating the stage show that accompanied the film. The Music Hall show always ran between two and three hours including the stage show which varied in length depending on the length of the feature. Since the initial 70MM attractions were all Roadshow presentations, it was felt that they were too long to be played at the Music Hall. Then in 1970 Ross Hunter, the producer of “Airport” insisted that film be shown at the Hall in 70MM. The Music Hall would run two other 70MM featuresthat year “Darling Lili” and “Scrooge”. Since 1970 approximately twenty-two features have had 70MM presentation at the Hall, either as part of the movie.stage show policy or as premieres and special presentations. The screen at the Music Hall is 69 ½' x 34 ½'. The regular 35mm 1.85 ratio use is 48' x 26' and the 70MM Full screen is 69' x 31' and spherical 70MM (1.85 blow-up) is 63' x 34'.
The size of the auditorium presents a number of unique projection problems. Often prints are tailored to the theatre. This usually means printing them a little lighter in density to increse the apparent light on the screen. since the projection throw is about 185' to the screen, if the sound is in sync with the picture at the screen it is four frames out-of-sync at the back of the third mezzanine.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on May 19, 2004 at 1:52 pm

Airport opened at the Music Hall not at the Warner.Except for a few films in the 30’s the Music Hall always opened a film in NY until the mid 70’s.(Though they probably should have taken 2nd run a few roadshow films like Gigi and Millie.)

William
William on May 19, 2004 at 1:17 pm

“Airport” was not given a true Roadshow release be Universal. It was one of the last features tobe filmed in 65mm. It got major showcased release.

RobertR
RobertR on May 19, 2004 at 1:03 pm

Under the list of Roadshows they list Airport, but this was really a moveover from the Warner Cinerama. Was it really roadshow even at the Warner? Also Didnt Mary Poppins play roadshow except in New York where it opeded at the Music Hall?

William
William on May 19, 2004 at 10:49 am

On the front page of this site under Theatre News it reported that movies were coming to the Music Hall, but Tarrytown, NY. They have the article from the “Journal News”, Westchester. On June 25-27, a series of films return to that screen. “Cinema Paradiso”, “Some Like It Hot”, “Being John Malkovich” and “The Wizard of Oz”.

RobertR
RobertR on May 19, 2004 at 9:15 am

Did everyone hear movies will be returning to the Music Hall this summer !!!!!!!!!! It was in yesterdays daily news. I am not thrilled with some of the films they mentioned, where are the epics????

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on May 5, 2004 at 4:32 pm

Well I think now it’s time for a comprehensive list of all theaters in NY, their hardticket films and dates of opening and closing and the date when a film at same theater(if this being the case) switched to continuous performances.
Please list under this page of the Astor Plaza.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 5, 2004 at 4:30 pm

Brucec makes an excellent point here. In 1989, the first New York showing of “The Abyss” was at the Music Hall, for one night only, and it looked like every seat was taken.

Warren, sorry for going off-topic and off-theater so much, but I think the Music Hall was used for a roadshow attraction at least once, and recently too: “The Lion King” in 1994. I remember having to order tickets in advance. Not technically a real roadshow, I guess, but close.

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on May 5, 2004 at 4:15 pm

Warren this is correct. The current Radio City owneres haven’t even tested the viability of a limited stage and screen series during the summer. There could be a cross promotion between Cablevisions AMC movie channel and Radio City. Is the Disney Company the only distibutor left that knows a little bit about showmanship take a look at the small scale stage and screen at the El Capitan in Hollywood. Since the distributors make more money on DVD’s than the theatical run of the movie the Music Hall could be used for the new releases of classics and newer films as part of there promotion.Its amazing to me that two of the most successful movie palaces of all times Radio City and the Chicago Theatre are not being utilized to there full potential.The Music Hall could even be used for 1 week on the release of a new film such as Troy, Spiderman,Harry Potter,Alexander,Phantom of the Opera etc.This could be done without the stage show if necessary,because the distributor would want 90 per cent of the Box Office after the house expense. The point is the current owner Cablevision needs to try different things some may work and some may not.brucec

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 5, 2004 at 3:26 pm

To add to William’s excellent list, here are a few more Times Square roadshows from the final years of the roadshow era:

“Funny Girl” at the Criterion
“Oliver!” at Loew’s State 1
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” at Loew’s State 2
“Star!” at the Rivoli
“Tora! Tora! Tora!” at the Criterion
“Nicholas and Alexandra” at the Criterion
“Fiddler on the Roof” at the Rivoli

RobertR
RobertR on May 5, 2004 at 12:25 pm

I could have sworn I saw Patton at The Rivoli?