Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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BobT on March 21, 2005 at 12:51 pm

You MUST’VE been a Ziegfeld junky to sit through dreck like “Grease 2” and “Staying Alive” not to mention “Can’t Stop the Music” (you should be cited for your bravery, though).

Actually “Grease 2” was a treat because I got to go to the 70MM test run. They tested the print before the premiere. It was just a friend and I in the auditorium with the director Pat Birch and some producers in the back making sure things were working fine. I also got to go into the projection booth. Nothing like your own private 70MM screening at The Ziegfeld, which made it all the more sweet because I had been such a fan of the place. Like I said everything was better at The Ziegfeld.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 21, 2005 at 12:49 pm

RobertR: The paper I saw had all the movie showtimes listed in a separate column called Movie Clock or something like that, but that was probably set up to be printed before the assassination. I don’t know if the movie theaters actually closed, but I’m sure you’re right about not too many people going to the movies that day.

bruceanthony on March 21, 2005 at 12:44 pm

I like the Ziegfeld and it is the best remaining theatre in New York City still showing movies. It does lack the showmanship that the exclusive reserved seat attractions it use to show. I went with a friend to see the “Road to Perdition” and was surprised at the lack professionalism at such a high profile industry theatre. The curtains never opened and closed during the presentation and the theate wasn’t as clean that you would expect. My friend owns a theatre complex of his own with an Egyptian theme and curtains in each auditorium and was surprised that this was the one of the top screens in New York City.brucec

br91975 on March 21, 2005 at 12:43 pm

The Ziegfeld, when held in comparison to some of NYC’s past movie palaces, doesn’t hold up in the same league, but for what it is and for how much the filmgoing scene in the city (and in general) has changed in the last 30-40 years, it’s the closest thing to a ‘classic’ cinema treasure we have.

RobertR on March 21, 2005 at 12:41 pm

I have papers my mother saved from JFK’s assasination and I think most of the Broadway theatres were dark in memorial to the president. Did it mention anything about movie theatres? Everyone was glued non-stop to the TV.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 21, 2005 at 12:25 pm

Vito: I also recently saw a paper from November 23, 1963, the day after JFK was assassinated. I noticed the ads for the two great Cinerama features playing three blocks away from each other, and I wished I was as old as I am now when that paper was new, instead of being only 9 . I would have been going to see them on a regular basis. Another great ad I noticed: Fellini’s “8 ½” playing at the New Embassy 46th St. in Times Square.

Vito on March 21, 2005 at 12:01 pm

I was not sure where to post this, however since all of my Cinema Treasure friends visit this page I thought I would put it here
I came across and old newspaper movie listing from November 1963, if we had all decided to go to a movie that day we would have had quite a time decided where to go from the following choices.
Loew’s Tower East, played “Fantasia” in 4 track stereo sound
Radio City Music Hall,“ On screen "The Wheeler Dealers”
On stage “High Spirits”
Rivoli, reserved seat engagement of “Cleopatra"
Warner Cinerama, reserved seat engagement of "Mad Mad World"
Loew’s Cinerama, reserved seat engagement of "How the West Was Won"
Oh heck, let’s just take the weekend off and visit all those fabulous theatres.

chconnol on March 21, 2005 at 11:56 am

BobT: You MUST’VE been a Ziegfeld junky to sit through dreck like “Grease 2” and “Staying Alive” not to mention “Can’t Stop the Music” (you should be cited for your bravery, though).

If you look at the posts above, I too champion The Ziegfeld with much the same arguement that you make: that it may not compare well with the true palaces, it is at least comparable to some of the lesser ones such as The Mayfair/DeMille.

The place is maintained beautifully and it’s a great theater to see an event film.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 21, 2005 at 11:53 am

BobT: When I think back on the best soundtrack experiences I’ve ever had in a theater, one of the best of them all was “Tommy” at the Ziegfeld.

BobT on March 21, 2005 at 11:44 am

Wow Benjamin, who peed in your popcorn at The Ziegfeld? Gee, tough crowd when I’m defending this place. Hard to believe that I’m in the minority that considers The Ziegfeld a great theater. Is it a palace? No, I was cheated out of the great palaces. The Paramount, Capital, Roxy were all gone, The Rivoli, Criterion, & Warner were twinned when I came into my own as a serious moviegoer. I grew up on Long Island and as soon as I could, jumped on the LI Rail Road to the big city. The Ziegfeld was always considered first class. When you went there, it became an event. Rain or shine, you knew you were going to stand online down 54th Street and I gotta tell ya, no one complained. Getting online before you turned at the corner of 6th and you were guaranteed your favorite seat. In all my viewing, I can honestly say I never experienced a problem in any aspect of presentaion, and I can be a picky SOB.

I went to see films I had no interest in only because it was The Ziegfeld. If it was in 70MM I was there, a musical, I was there. I had the honor of seeing “Apocalypse Now” opening weekend. I still have the special program book with the full credits because the print didn’t have them. If the theater was good enough for Coppola, it was good enough for me and hot damn if those helicopters didn’t sound like they were above you. Musicals I saw there included, “Grease”, “Grease 2” “Tommy”, “Hair” “The Rose”, “Fame” “Staying Alive”, “Pink Floyd, The Wall” and yes (head down in shame) “Can’t Stop The Music”. But c'mon it was in 70MM at The Ziegfeld!!

Sci Fi was cool there too. “2001”, “Close Encounters”, The “Star Wars” Trilogy SE, 12 Monkeys. A piece of crap like “Saturn 5” was made better than it was by playing there. The thrill of 1100 people cheering when Apollo 13 landed safely, c'mon what more could you want plus fresh popped popcorn, take that Loews. Not going to continue boring you with all the titles, but I saw more films at The Ziefeld than my own neighborhood theater and I remember everyone of them too.

The last time I was there was for “Chicago”. Miramax played it right with the exclusive and it payed off. You would think studios would learn but they are so afraid of not getting that $20 million first weekend, they are blind that exclusives can and do work. I’ve been to The Grauman’s Chinese, been to London’s Empire but I’ll keep my Ziegfeld. Luxuriously comfortable seats with great sitelines, state of the art sound and projection, great bookings, it is a palace to me, with or without the gilded plaster cherubs.

Vito on March 21, 2005 at 11:42 am

Thanks Pablo, you mentioned “The King and I” had a Dolby Digital 4 track print. Dolby Digital is a 6 track process, which may explain the lack of surrounds. Perhaps only the stage speakers were used.
Generally the six Dolby Digital tracks are six descrete channels,

1.Left #2.center #3.right #4.sub woofer and #5&#6 are used for stereo surrounds,(left wall,right wall), and ex surrounds which create a rear speaker config. It still should have sounded great and I am sorry I missed it.

VincentParisi on March 21, 2005 at 11:35 am

There is probably as much chance of Fox properly presenting this film at the Ziegfeld as there is of the studio rebuilding the Roxy at 7th and 50th and showing it with its original stage show.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 21, 2005 at 10:56 am

We’re lucky that in New York City “art” releases and mainstream releases often share the same venue, as at the Clearview Chelsea, Loews Lincoln Square, AMC Empire, and Regal 14th Street. Even the Ziegfeld just played Raging Bull, a picture more likely to be found at the Film Forum. So it is conceivable that King and I could have an arthouse release plan, yet play at a big screen house in NYC and the art rounds in other markets.

RobertR on March 21, 2005 at 10:16 am

I would love to see this at the Music Hall during one of their dark periods, but I guess it’s just wishful thinking.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 21, 2005 at 10:05 am

I sure hope Vincent is right and they show it at the Ziegfeld. If Fox promotes it properly, they should get a really nice turnout. All of us will be there for sure.

VincentParisi on March 21, 2005 at 9:32 am

Pablo what does art theaters mean?
Cinema Village, Angelica, the Quad?
Maybe somebody at Fox has a functioning neuron in the brain(though I wouldn’t count on it) and they’ll show it at the Ziegfeld.

Butch on March 21, 2005 at 9:15 am

“The King and I” at the Lighthouse was a brand new restotation printdown to 35mm from the original 55mm negative. It was shown in a very wide aspect ratio with black bars at the top and bottom of the theater’s cinemascope (uncurved) screen. The sound was remastered in 4-track Dolby Digital stereo. Sound seperation behind the screen was excellent however I could not hear any surrounds,unlike the presentation at the Roxy, so many years ago. This theater has small speakers in the ceiling. This print will soon be realeased to “art” theaters around the country according to the Fox restoration representative who spoke at the presentation.
OK Vito?

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 21, 2005 at 9:14 am

Vito: here’s the link to the “King and I” screening info. I hope they bring it back someday!

View link

I asked my friend how big the theater was. He said about 250-300 seats, but the screen was very impressive. So it sure ain’t the Roxy, but I’m still sorry I missed this screening.

VincentParisi on March 21, 2005 at 9:00 am

So we’re not talking about seeing The King and I at the Roxy, right?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 21, 2005 at 8:25 am

The venue at the NYC Lighthouse is merely a small auditorium, not a real theatre.

Vito on March 21, 2005 at 8:16 am

I wonder, did they have a mag stereo print of “King and I”?

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 21, 2005 at 8:09 am

A friend of mine went to “The King and I” and said the screen was very large, but he didn’t say how big the theater itself was. But if it’s the Academy’s only theater in New York, I figure it’s got to be a good one!

RobertR on March 21, 2005 at 5:05 am

How big is the theatre there?

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 21, 2005 at 4:45 am

There is a theater devoted to showing only classic films, but it’s only one day per month. It’s the theater of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the Lighthouse International building:

View link

Next up is “The Pride of the Yankees”; last month was “The King and I” in CinemaScope 55. I just found out this theater existed and haven’t actually been there yet, but I hope to be going as often as I can.

try on March 15, 2005 at 4:57 pm

They have been running classic films at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta for the as long as I can remember in the summers. It is a wonderful experience complete with pre-show entertainment in the form of a real live (!) organ player leading crowd singalongs.

Coca-cola has sponsored this Summer Film Series for years (no ads before the show either). They have shown a mix of mostly (7 or 8) classics (e.g. ‘Laurence of Arabia’, ‘Hitchcock’) with maybe 2 or 3 current releases. I saw ‘Gladiator’ there when it was released and it was impressive to see on the large 50ft screen. While this may not seem special you must understand that beyond the 70s era cinderblock boxes and the new stadiumplexes of the New South, alone stands the Fox Theatre.

Now in NYC, I fear for the future of the Ziegfeld, especially with the Beekman passing, and plan to see every movie I can bear (‘Robots’ is playing currently, ouch) knowing that every bit counts. I suggest everyone take someone who hasn’t been this summer, to help their business, if not for the uninitiated experience if it goes the way of the wrecking ball.

If the Ziegfeld ever goes away, I will soon follow.