Radio City Music Hall

1260 6th Avenue,
New York, NY 10020

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delamare on April 26, 2004 at 8:10 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 1:06 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 12:57 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.

RobertR on April 20, 2004 at 12:11 pm

Normally with classics its a sliding scale around 35-40% but theres usually a guarantee.

VincentParisi on April 20, 2004 at 11:27 am

What about for rental on film classics? Do they work the same way?
Would they charge the same for Singin' in the Rain as they would for the new Kidman movie?

William on April 20, 2004 at 9:37 am

Today the main cost is labor to put on a live show and maintain the theatre. Today the distributor’s percentage of the weekly gross is 90% and works it way down for following weeks of the engagement.

William on April 20, 2004 at 8:02 am

Well look at the price of a Broadway show back in the 70’s, it was around $15-20 for a ticket. Now it is around $80-100+ for a top show. The cost to put a live show has gone up so high because of All the people you have to pay. The Music Hall is a Union shop, so you have the stage hands, lighting, sound, orchestra, dancers, ushers, security, concessions, box office personnel, managers. So if your selling out 6-7 live shows a day. That uses the theatre to the fullest. So if you place a 90-120 minute movie with the show, that would make a better show package for the price. But the company Cablevision knows it could sell out the live show more than the movie. And you could add more shows and make more money. As for concerts it could be booked better. Depends may be on the artist. Because the Beacon is a medium sized theatre and has a good booking history. The Music Hall is a classic, but is a little large for some artists. The Garden get all the giant shows because of the size. You might have to play 3-4 night at the Music Hall for one night at the Garden. So the cost of putting on the show or shows is a factor.
I would love to show films return to the Music Hall in some form.

Remember sometime in the 70’s the Music Hall was going to closed because it was not making any money. But they found away to keep it going.

RobertR on April 20, 2004 at 6:38 am

Not only is the production the same every year, they are paying no film rental out to a film company.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 19, 2004 at 2:19 pm

I recall my first trip to the Music Hall, age 7, to see “That Touch of Mink” with Doris Day and Cary Grant. The ticket price was 99 cents if you sat in the balcony before noon. Talk about your bargains.

VincentParisi on April 19, 2004 at 2:08 pm

Well, you got a movie and a stage show for that five bucks. Which is what you paid for a first run movie at the time. Now a top movie is 10.25. So we’ve got a little over a 100% increase. So lets do the math. How much did the cost of the Music Hall Christmas show ticket go up? And they use the same production every year!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 19, 2004 at 2:04 pm

The overcharging for the Christmas show wouldn’t be so bad if it helped subsidize some classic movies being shown. And like I said before, the audience is out there. What a thrill it was to see “Psycho” in a theater that size with not an empty seat to be had.

RobertR on April 19, 2004 at 1:59 pm

Whats shocking is the top ticket price for the golden circle is over $100. The last movie Chjristmas show was still only $5 now inflation has note gone up that much since 1979.

VincentParisi on April 19, 2004 at 1:41 pm

This is so amazing that the Music Hall has already started selling the Christmas show in mid April. It now take them almost a year to sell seats for this thing and then they end up giving away thousands of tickets through the Daily News or the Post. Maybe this is because people are sick of the same lame production numbers and the same children’s TV show sets and costumes every year. Except for the Rockettes this is amateur night on a grand scale.
Bruce I love your list but can we throw in a few RKO classics?

bruceanthony on April 19, 2004 at 1:08 pm

I still think if done properly the classic film series along with the Rockettes and stage show could be a big draw. Did you know that I was looking at theatre grosses and found that the Detroit Fox has out grossed the Music Hall the last few years. The Detroit Fox has better bookings and even has The Radio City spectacular during the Holidays. This tells me that the Music Hall is not being used to its full potential. The Fox in Detroit,St Louis, and Atlanta also has film in there programming mix. The Music Hall on its big Screen could show films like Titanic, Gladiator,Funny Girl, Oliver, The Longest Day, Pillow Talk, Dr. Zhivago, 2001 , Planet of The Apes, Star Wars, The King and I, Anastasia, To Catch A Thief, The Sundowners, Charade, The Sound of Music. Patton, Magnificient Men in Flying Machines, How The West Was Won, A Star is Born, Lawrence of Arabia, The Ten Commandments, Bridge on The River Kwai, The Odd Couple, Giant, El Cid, Goldfinger, Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang, No Business Like Show Business, The Bandwagon, How To Marry a Millionaire , Auntie Mame, Ivanhoe, The Time Machine, Day The Earth Stood Still, Out of Africa, Close Encounters, E.T., Its a MAd Mad World, North By Northwest, Gigi, My Fair Lady etc just to name a few. Make the presentation of these features a big Event that can’t be duplicated on TV and the Megaplex on the Music Hall Giant Screen.Note I focused on the Wide Screen Movies.I think this could be a big draw if done correctly plus the stage show.Brucec

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 19, 2004 at 11:47 am

I hope some Cablevision executives are looking at these comments. It would be so great to have classic films at the Music Hall again. When they had the week of WB classics a few years ago, they advertised it as the First Annual Radio City Classic Film Festival. The Friday night showing of “The Exorcist”, hosted by Ellen Burstyn and William Friedkin, was a complete sell-out and a real blast. Then the next year they showed films from Universal: “Psycho”, “Jaws”, and “Animal House” all played to 5,000+ people. Unfortunately, there haven’t been any showings since then, and the recent 40th anniversary showing of “West Side Story” was invitation-only and not open to the public. Why not give the people what they want (and make lots of money besides) and do something like the Classic Film Festivals every year?

Vincent, I waited many hours to see “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” in January 1970. It was a Friday and I don’t remember the exact length of time, but it definitely took most of an entire day to get in. We got there in the morning and it was dark outside when we came out (and it was a very short movie).

Vito on April 3, 2004 at 4:11 am

Well actually Sinatra played there just recently, yes I know he’s dead but he performed anyway. Anyone see that show or know anything about the process used to create it?

porterfaulkner on April 2, 2004 at 9:53 am

Brilliant Michael, you are fool for this April and any other time of the year!!!!!!

RobertR on April 2, 2004 at 6:50 am

yes he has and your point?

mediagy on March 18, 2004 at 3:49 pm

Yes, in response to Vito’s questions in February, there WERE two theaters…the Roxy and the New Roxy which quickly was renamed the Center. The Center Theater was the sister theater of Radio City Music Hall…built around the same time as RCMH and operated by RKO as well. It wobbled around a lot….from movie theater to legitimate theater. The stage show of THE GREAT WALTZ played there as well as other massive extravaganzas. But it was so huge (though slightly smaller than RCMH) that it had difficulty competing financially. In the forties it became home of the ice shows you remember….for about ten years. HOWDY, MR. ICE, that kind of thing, etc. In the early 50’s it became an NBC radio and television studio. THE BIG SHOW with Tallulah Bankhead was broadcast from there….and the BUICK BERLE HOUR, some of YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS, some LUCKY STRIKE HIT PARADES, and some FOUR STAR REVIEWS among others were telecast from there…..and then, what a shame…by the mid 50’s….it was gone forever. A great loss.

RobertR on March 10, 2004 at 6:44 am

I remember that engagement they ran Gone With The Wind and Dr. Zhivago that year also, it was an MGM revivial year. Does anyone remember the hoopla the time the Regency got a new IB technicolor print of “The Gangs All Here”? Carmen Miranda & Alice Faye in Technicolor so rich it dripped off the screen :)

VincentParisi on March 10, 2004 at 6:29 am

By the way, the presention of Rain was so wonderful in fact that Vincent Canby wrote a piece about it in the Sunday Art’s and Leisure section at the time which you can read if you have access in a library to the microfilm archives of the New York Times.

VincentParisi on March 9, 2004 at 2:18 pm

When the Music Hall started showing classics in the mornings at 11AM for a brief time in the late seventies(as discussed above) they showed some of the films in the ratio 1:33(I believe it is) in Magnascope. I saw Showboat and Good News like this. Though the screen was large the grain was pretty bad. When I saw Singing in the Rain however in ‘75 the screen was surprisingly small(like a postage stamp as an usher there remarked) but the technicolor was astounding. I’ve never seen it more magnificently presented, like a brilliant jewel against plush black velvet.

RobertR on March 9, 2004 at 11:53 am

My parents are always talking about how the Valencia in it’s day was like seeing a movie in Manhattan. I guess if they had something that few theatres had back then like “Magnascope” it must have been special.

Vito on February 14, 2004 at 5:14 am

Warren, the way I understand it, the Magnascope lens was a wide angle lens, about 7" that increased the size of the picture dramatically but also increased some of the grain, but was fine for projecting a special event in a movie such as the train wreck in “The Greatest Show on Earth” which was on a reel by itself and a changeover (remember those?)was made to one of the projectors installed with the Magna lens. Magnascope was actually invented back in the 20s and installed at New York’s Rivoli theatre in 1926 for the engagement of “Old Ironsides” It was billed as “The biggest screen in the world”

VincentParisi on February 13, 2004 at 1:02 pm

By the way I believe, though the name is not mentioned, Random Harvest is the film Holden sees at the Music Hall in Catcher in the Rye.