Radio City Music Hall

1260 6th Avenue,
New York, NY 10020

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William on May 19, 2004 at 4:38 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 on May 19, 2004 at 2:52 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 on May 19, 2004 at 2:17 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 on May 19, 2004 at 2:03 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 on May 19, 2004 at 11:49 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 on May 19, 2004 at 10:15 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 on May 5, 2004 at 5:32 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 5:30 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 on May 5, 2004 at 5:15 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 4:26 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 on May 5, 2004 at 1:25 pm

I could have sworn I saw Patton at The Rivoli?

William on May 5, 2004 at 12:40 pm

You might find the answer about why “The Sand Pebbles” was not a Todd-AO film in the documentary about the making of “The Sound of Music” in Special Edition DVD. I think Robert Wise talked alittle about it. Right before the engagement of “The Sand Pebbles” United Artists Theatre installed the D-150 screen into the Rivoli Theatre.
But the only two D-150 films were booked into other Times Square theatres. “Patton” opened at the Criterion Theatre and “The Bible” opened at the Loew’s State Theatre.

William on May 5, 2004 at 12:32 pm

Here are a few of the 70MM Roadshow engagements for Times Square area.
(List not by date)
“Oklahoma” at the Rivoli (51 weeks)
“Around the World in 80 Days” at the Rivoli (113 weeks)
“Can Can” at the Rivoli
“Cleopatra” at the Rivoli
“Sound of Music” at the Rivoli
“Star” at the Rivoli
“Hello Dolly” at the Rivoli
“The Big Fisherman” at the Rivoli
“West Side Story” at the Rivoli
“The Last Valley” at the Rivoli
“South Pacific” (open Criterion for 29 weeks, move-over Rivoli for 25 weeks more.)
“My Fair Lady” at the Criterion
“Agony and the Ectasy” at the State
“Ben-Hur” at the State
“Mutiny on the Bounty” at the State
“King of Kings” at the State
“Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang” at the State 2
“Porgy and Bess” at the Warner
“Greatest Story Ever Told” at the Warner
“Battle of the Bulge” at the Warner
“Exodus” at the Warner
“How the West Was Won” at the Warner
“Hallelujah Trail” (premired at the Warner)opened at the Capital
“Spartacus” at the DeMille
“Those Magnificent Men in there Flying Machines” at the DeMille
“2001” at the Capital
“Grand Prix” at the Warner
“Airport” at the Radio City Music Hall (1st 70MM film)
“Krakatoa, East of Java” at the Warner
“Song of Norway” at the Warner

Those are just a few of the original 70MM Roadshow films that played in the Time Square area over the years.

RobertR on May 5, 2004 at 11:31 am

What house did they move the Sound of Music to when it left The Rivoli?

VincentParisi on May 5, 2004 at 11:30 am

Is that possible? Did it really run that long? I thought the record breaker there was the Sound of Music which I believe was 88 weeks which the theater wanted to keep longer and Fox pulled it to put in Sand Pebbles(Made strangely enough in Panavision and not in Todd AO.I’d love to know why.)

William on May 5, 2004 at 11:10 am

“Around the World in 80 Days” was not a Cinerama film, it was the second Todd-AO feature. It would’ve been nice engagement over at the Rivoli Theatre. It opened at the Rivoli on Oct. 17th 1956 and ran Roadshow till Oct. 5th, 1958 for a total of 113 weeks.

umbaba on May 5, 2004 at 10:02 am

You nkow, they have remastered and are releasing Around World in 80 days to DVD this month or next. I’m wondering if any of the big theaters are planning a special engagement screening. It won’t be in Cinerama, that’s for sure, but wouldn’t it be grand if RCMH, or Zeigfeld or Astor Plaza played the film…I doubt they will though. It would interfere with the Will Smith flick…..oh well

JimRankin on May 5, 2004 at 8:21 am

Rhett brings out a good point: in some smaller locations, it is possible for a non-greedy owner to put on successful shows and vintage films and still keep the theatre alive, but that option is gone for megalopolises such as New York City. In such places the property values and attendant taxes upon them are so huge as to make any enterprise strain at the need to bring in the maximum possible dollars per square foot, and believe me when I say that every theatre is calculated as being worth so many dollars per square foot in income. Overarching greed is everywhere, but some places such as NYC are so unfortunate as to have a business climate that does not much allow any property to be ‘marginal’ as to profits. I hope the LAFAYETTE continues in its success, but I am afraid that it cannot be easily transported to the much, much larger Gotham.

umbaba on May 5, 2004 at 7:22 am

Jim, you should go to the Lafayette theater in Suffern NY, they show classic movies on the big screen, it’s an old vaudeville style single screen movie house and the owmers love movies, they put on quite a presentation. Go to…

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 4, 2004 at 1:04 pm

That’s very sad, Jim, but I’m sure you’re right. It sounds like all the dire predictions about corporations that Paddy Chayefsky made in NETWORK have come to pass.

JimRankin on May 4, 2004 at 9:13 am

Many of the comments here maintain that BIG shows on stage will certainly bring back the big audiences and maybe could be combined with films, vintage or current. Sad to say, none of this works today from the standpoint of the operators of RCMH. Times have changed; theatres are no longer temples of amusement, and movies and shows are not produced by impassioned impresarios. Today everything is controlled by conglomerates which own the studios, film distributors, and often the theatre operators. A conglomerate is not interested one little bit in the nature of what it owns or its history; they exist solely for the acquisition of MONEY and all the power that comes from more and more MONEY. As one previous post said, the ‘nut’ (total operating expenses) for RCMH is too large to permit much more that the least expensive fare the management is able to find, and that fare must be so inexpensive to allow the ultimate owners, the conglomerates, to get as much PROFIT as possible, since that is their raison d'être. The Music Hall and thousands of other businesses are simply pawns in the international competition of one conglomerate to another to gain market dominance, and thus more power and MONEY, the real god of most people today. Shed a tear for our theatres and showmanship heritage, for less and less of it will remain in our future filled with ever increasing greed, corporate and personal. As God’s word the Bible says at 1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things…”

umbaba on May 4, 2004 at 8:41 am

Bill..I saw Psycho, Jaws and The Sting at the Music Hall in 97. It was awesome. The year before, I saw Bonnie and Clyde. I thought they’d have a yearly festival too, but I guess gave in to the demands of MTV and the hiphop youth culture. I can’t believe they didn’t make money on the flicks, as they were all sellouts and a success.

delamare on April 26, 2004 at 11:10 am

My first travel to New york was decided after receiving a post card with the picture of the radio city music hall in 1981.
Two weeks later i was waking up in a Time Square hotel and after a short walk i discovered the facade of the radio city and took a ticket for a tour .Of course i was amazed by the grandeur of the place,and the day after i had my ticket for “America” the summer show.
I had heard so much about these shows but it was far more what i imagined.Entering the stalls the pipe organ sound gave me such an emotion that i was near to cry and everything was exactly what i dreamed before.i saw the show twice that summer.
Years later i saw the Christmas show with the same pleasure and i hope a future travel will give me the opportunity to see the result or the restoration.The Radio City music hall of NY and the Tuchinski in Amsterdam are the most beautifull theatres i know.

RobertR on April 20, 2004 at 4:06 pm

Actually in the days when I was in the theatre business I found that the studios were usually generous when you needed a print for a fund-raiser or for a charitable organization. Sometimes all they charged you for was a shipping charge, or at the most a flat $100.

William on April 20, 2004 at 3:57 pm

It depends on what type of screening. Like if it’s a one time festival screening or a theatre booking the as a filler or midnight. The rental might be, say a flat fee rental plus a percentage of the box office. We ran a few pictures with booked from MGM and Warner. They charged depending on title $125-150 flat fee + Box office percentage. While Warner charged $500 + box office percentage. Or what the studio wants to charge for the booking. Those numbers look small in size. But it depends on how much you want tickets to be and what is the cost of running a film in a large theatre as the Music Hall. Look at your payroll: Projectionists, Managers, Ushers, concessions, security, box office personel and maybe a stagehand.
Over at Loew’s Jersey City Theatre it’s a different. The people over there are volunteers and the Friends of the Jersey City are a non-profit company. So the studios might give them a break in fees.