Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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Showing 301 - 325 of 3,937 comments

SethLewis on May 5, 2012 at 11:44 am

If Cablevision is looking to sell off Clearview, our concerns should also range to the number of small community cinemas (lots of ex UA houses in there) that could be endangered too (Manhasset, Mt Kisco etc)

The Ziegfeld should be landmarked for purpose only but I like the idea of Disney buying it!

The reality is that Manhattan is badly underscreened and needs a couple of modern plexes like the ArcLight.

I grew up on the UES in the 60’s and 70’s in a lot of now defunct houses – the Tower East, Plaza, 68th St Playhouse, Fine Arts…and when we needed to cross town or head downtown the Symphony, Thalia, Regency, Lincoln Art, Embassy 72nd and 8th St Playhouse

CSWalczak on May 5, 2012 at 7:17 am

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Cablevision has hired Citigroup to advise and coordinate the sale of Clearview Cinemas.

CSWalczak on May 5, 2012 at 1:12 am

I think that the best answer to bigjoe59’s question is probably “Nobody knows at this point.” Like almost everyone else here, I hope for the best. But from an economic standpoint I do think there is reason for caution (leading, I would hope to organized watchdog/ preservation action), if not some pessimism.

IMHO, if Clearview is bought as a package by an entity other than a theater operator, then I think the theaters will be sold off as real estate. Even if it is a theater operator, the situation could be similar to the situation Landmark has been in for several years; it has been gradually divesting theaters it is no longer interested in orfind profitable, or the chain gives them up when the lease runs out (Landmark has been on the block for a couple of years too). It would be great if Robert Redford’s Sundance Cinemas might be interested, but all of theaters they hav acquired so far are multiplexes. I have read that Arclight is thinking of operating cinemas outside of California, but I would imagine they, like Sundance, wold only be interested if an addition to the theater could be built that would house multiple screens.

An acquisition by Disney might well be the theater’s best chance of survival as a large single screen cinema. As for landmarking, I don’t know; like Ed Solero, I’m not sure the Ziegfeld’s architecture is all that distinguished. And, worse, while a landmark designation certainly helps, it never has been an absolute guarantee of preservation (and acquiring or attempting landmarking to save theaters in NYC has, shall we say, not always been successful?). But landmarking sure could not hurt at this point; better now than later after a sale has gone through.

bigjoe59 on May 4, 2012 at 11:03 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 on May 4, 2012 at 9:42 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 7:58 pm

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 7:35 pm

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 on May 4, 2012 at 7:27 pm

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 6:27 pm

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 6:24 pm

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 4:10 pm

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 on May 4, 2012 at 3:26 pm

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!


mhvbear on May 4, 2012 at 3:16 pm

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 on May 4, 2012 at 3:16 pm

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

AlAlvarez on May 4, 2012 at 3:05 pm

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

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 4, 2012 at 2:10 pm

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 on May 4, 2012 at 6:32 am

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

ZiegfeldMan on May 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm

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

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 2, 2012 at 3:47 pm

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 2:05 pm

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 2:01 pm

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 on April 30, 2012 at 10:09 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 4:50 pm

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

bigjoe59 on April 30, 2012 at 4:41 pm

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 on April 30, 2012 at 2:54 am

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.