Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on May 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Hello Again-

interesting discussion. as i said i saw the theater’s debut film “Marooned” in its roadshow run. i still have the souvenir program. therefore this theater has always held a special place in my heart. to which a question- is there any real danger of the theater closing anytime in the near future? or is it just rumors/hearsay? in other
words are we perhaps being a bit on the pessimistic side about its future?

LuisV
LuisV on May 4, 2012 at 1:42 pm

All landmarks stand a better chance of approval when it has both architectural merit AND Cultural significance. There is no doubt in my mind that The Ziegfeld qualifies on both. The Movie Palace changed over the years and came in many different styles. The New Amsterdam and Radio City are both palaces but I really can’t compare the two as they are so different. The Ziegfeld is not anywhere near the same league as those two but it is significant nonetheless as the final incarnation of the classic movie palace before they morphed into multiplexes. It is the only one left. It may not be everyone’s taste, but it doesn’t have to be to be a landmark. New York will suffer a tremendous loss if the Ziegfeld closes.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 4, 2012 at 11:58 am

I’ll give you this much… that it is certainly not a mere unadorned box, like most theaters built after it (including its one-time rival, the Loew’s Astor Plaza). Over the years, I have come to better appreciate the theater’s appointments, and did not necessarily intend to denigrate it’s architectural merits – which are not particularly to my own liking. I suppose I’m not enough of a modernist enthusiast to have much of an informed opinion, but it doesn’t seem to me that the Ziegfeld’s design and decorative motifs will make the basis of a strong landmark case. I believe that its significance and worthiness of preservation go beyond the mere brick and mortar.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 4, 2012 at 11:35 am

Luis, I hope you are right about the billionaire! I was just going to say we need a billionaire to come to the rescue the way Microsoft’s Paul Allen saved the Seattle Cinerama Theatre. Heck, if I were a billionaire, New York City would have a permanent Cinerama installation at the Ziegfeld.

Click here to see a photo of the Ziegfeld from the 22nd floor of the New York Hilton across the street. Behind the Ziegfeld, you can see the front of another survivor, City Center.

LuisV
LuisV on May 4, 2012 at 11:27 am

Thanks Ed for your comments. I do count the Ziegfeld as a palace; though one from the last phase of Movie Palace history. This was a “modern” theater that evoked elements of the past but with mod flourishes. It was the last true significant single screen theater built in Manhattan. It’s chandeliers, red velvet walls and large screen still make it a wonderful place to see a film. Its cultural importance as the last of its kind (both in terms of construction as well as in its current use) cry out for it to be preserved. It’s safe to say that hundreds of films have premiered here. I think a very good argument could be made for Landmark status. I also believe (i could be wrong) that a billionaire owns the land under both the Ziegfeld and the Paris theaters and that he wants them to remain as theaters. If he didn’t the Paris would have been converted into retail many years ago. This story is just getting started.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 4, 2012 at 10:27 am

And, as usual, Al brings up a good point regarding how long Cablevision has been looking to bail on the theater chain. It may well be several years before any deal is completed. And what of the 15 year term remaining on the lease? I suppose a lease could be bought out, if it came right down to it.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 4, 2012 at 10:24 am

I would probably stop well short of calling the Ziegfeld a palace (perhaps, at best, an ersatz palace), but that doesn’t mean I don’t support a full court press to try and save it from closure. Pale as it may compare to the legion of true palaces that have been pounded to dust just around the corner along Broadway and Seventh Avenue, it does stand alone, sadly, as the sole surviving single screen premiere house in New York City (like LuisV, I discount the art-house Paris, too). If it were to be proposed for landmark status, I’m not so sure anyone would be able to rest its case purely on its architectural merits.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 4, 2012 at 8:10 am

Jeff: Looks like you’re right. Yellow Submarine on 5/5 will also be a DCP.

Luis: Your idea about landmark status for the Ziegfeld might be the only way to save it. I should’ve known this day would come sooner or later.

LuisV
LuisV on May 4, 2012 at 7:26 am

This theater is in danger. Does anyone know why this theater has not been landmarked? It seems to fit the qualifications. It is over 40 years old. It is the last of the Manhattan Movie Palaces to be built and a stunning example of 1960’s “Modern” theater construction. It has substantial cultural significance as the number of films that have premiered here is probably second to none in New York and it is New York’s sole remaining operating movie palace (with all due respect to the Paris which, though lovely, is much smaller). This theater must be saved!

http://therealdeal.com/blog/2012/05/04/tenant-turmoil-means-uncertain-fate-for-famed-ziegfeld-theater/

mhvbear
mhvbear on May 4, 2012 at 7:16 am

It would be nice to see Disney take over operation. That is the only way that the Ziegfeld would be able to obtain exclusive Manhattan engagements of films like the El Capitan does.

JeffS
JeffS on May 4, 2012 at 7:16 am

Bill, you should expect every classic presentation to be in DCP from this point on. Film for classic films is dead.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on May 4, 2012 at 7:05 am

Cablevision has been peddling the Clearview chain for over seven years.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 4, 2012 at 6:10 am

That great Post fact-checking apparatus at work… 3000 seats?

Anyway, does anyone think a conversion to IMAX is realistic? The place is configured all wrong for IMAX. Seems way too long and narrow, neverming that there’s no significant rake to the majority of the seating. Unless a sympathetic benefactor picks up the pieces of Clearview, this doesn’t bode well at all. I would also fear for the fates of the “art-house” locations along the chain, such as the Roslyn and Manhasset Theatres.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on May 3, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Trouble ahead perhaps for the Ziegfeld? Cablevision is putting their Clearview Cinemas chain up for sale according to this article

ZiegfeldMan
ZiegfeldMan on May 2, 2012 at 9:09 am

Will be there Sunday night for “The Beatles-Lost Concert.” Looks Great!!!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 2, 2012 at 7:47 am

Giles: I saw “Tommy” on Monday night and it was a DCP, but it looked and sounded great. I felt like I was back in 1975, when I saw that movie three times at the Ziegfeld, in “Quintaphonic Sound”.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 2, 2012 at 6:05 am

I should amend that last comment to read that nothing taller could be built on the Ziegfeld’s site UNLESS the prospective developer were to apply with the Department of Buildings for a variance of some sort. Such variances and exceptions have been known to occur, since all such decisions are driven by matters of money and revenue – particularly in mid-town Manhattan!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 2, 2012 at 6:01 am

That’s exactly right, bigjoe59. If the air rights for the theater were used by the developer to build a bulkier and taller neighboring edifice than zoning regulations would normally allow, then nothing taller than the structure that currently exists could be erected on the Ziegfeld’s site.

The building in question, by the way, is the Burlington House (not sure if that is still its name), a monolithic, black glass tower that sits right on Sixth Avenue, between W. 54th and W. 55th Streets. The southern half of the tower, closest to W. 54th, actually occupies the space of the original Ziegfeld Theater, with the current incarnation sitting back aways off Sixth Avenue, behind the skyscraper.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on April 30, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Hello Again-

what neighboring tower are you referring to? if the air rights were already sold a while back does that mean if God forbid the land was redeveloped they could only build a new structure the same size/height as the theater?

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 30, 2012 at 8:50 am

I wonder if the air rights/development rights were already sold when the neighboring tower was constructed.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on April 30, 2012 at 8:41 am

i thank my fellow poster for the reply to my post. well at least i have an answer as to why the Ziegfeld has never been twinned. this could easily have been done by separating the elevated rear section of the orchestra. so my other question is simple. why haven’t the owners of the theater sold it? i wholeheartedly thank them for keeping the theater open but i’m guessing they could could get a huge truck load of cash even in today’s economy if they decided to sell the theater and the land for redeveloping.

Giles
Giles on April 29, 2012 at 6:54 pm

I see that the Ziegfeld is showing ‘Tommy’ ‘The Song Remains the Same’ ‘The Last Waltz’ ‘U23D’ ‘Shine a Light’ ‘Stop Making Sense’ – are these 35mm prints or DCP’s?

On Saturday May the 5th – the recent 4K restoration/transfer of ‘Yellow Submarine’ is being shown as well as ‘The Beatles: Last Concert’ on Sunday.

cinscope
cinscope on April 28, 2012 at 7:45 pm

I used to work at the Ziegfeld, and the building is part of the complex including the skyscraper facing 6th Ave. It used to be Burlington, I don’t know if it still is. Clearview only rents. Burlington would never allow it to be twinned, so that is probably why it is still a single screen.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on April 24, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Hello-

i have been a big fan of this theater since seeing its debut engagement the Dec.1969 roadshow run of “Marooned”. its always a joy to see a film here. a simple question- the land under the theater must be worth a bzallion dollars even in today’s economy so how has Clearview Cinemas been able to keep it open? has the chain promised to keep the theater open and never sale it or tear down. i have wondered this the last few years especially since this theater and the Paris are i believe the only single screen movie theaters left in Manhattan.

LuisV
LuisV on April 4, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Agreed Saps! The Ziegfeld deserves to and SHOULD have the biggest screen in the city and not just barely. It should be significantly bigger and I think it would draw many more people if it did.