Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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BobT on April 24, 2005 at 12:29 am

They will probably make more in the rental for the upcoming Star Wars premiere and press screenings than being opened to empty houses.

Astyanax on April 23, 2005 at 10:19 pm

Quite a while back weekly Variety would list the weekly grosses of each theatre, and in parentheses would also indicate the “nut”. This was the cost of operating the venue taking into account all expenses. Depending on the box split with the distributor for the week’s revenue, it may not pay to remain open during slow periods.

PeterApruzzese on April 23, 2005 at 8:49 pm

Don – I don’t know. I guess it would depend on whether they were ‘laid off’ of if Clearview can temporarily put them in another location.

Jodar – I beleive the bigger theatres used to do this from time to time during the roadshow era, especially if they needed to do technical upgrades between engagements. Depending on the size of the venue, it certainly does cost more money just to open the doors for a handful of customers instead of being dark.

JodarMovieFan on April 23, 2005 at 5:13 am

Isn’t that a waste of money having a venue that isn’t used? You would have at least some revenue coming in from a few patrons rather then to have nothing and still have to pay for your rent, electricity, etc. I’ve never heard of such a thing.

DonRosen on April 23, 2005 at 5:10 am

Do the employees go on unemployment between “major first run engagements”?

PeterApruzzese on April 23, 2005 at 4:48 am

According to information I heard from Clearview, the plan now is for the Ziegfeld to remain dark between major first-run engagements. And expect nothing to be playing September and October.

RobertR on April 23, 2005 at 2:19 am

I’m sure it’s dark because they have nothing to play.

JodarMovieFan on April 23, 2005 at 2:14 am

I’m curious as to why the Ziegfeld is dark until next week. I’m wondering if they are upgrading their digital projectors to the new 4K units out by Sony.

tomovieboy70 on April 23, 2005 at 12:38 am

I’m so glad to have lived in NYC for a number of years and to have seen many a film at this fine theater. It remains in 2005 the premier screen in all of Manhattan, the rest of the big-screened movie houses all now gone and/or converted to retail spaces. The Ziegfeld has superb 70mm, digital sound and projection capabilities. I’ve seen such titles as “Brainstorm”, “Roger Rabbit”, “Yentl”, “The Wall”, “The Rose”, “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Fantasia”, “Pennies from Heaven”, “Victor/Victoria”, “Grease 2” and many others at this spectacular house. Long may it live!

movieguy on April 22, 2005 at 9:49 pm

The ZIG is not screening a film this week.The next attraction will be The Hickhikers Guide To the Galaxy(3-29),and then STAR WARS!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 17, 2005 at 2:49 am

The Star Wars faithful will begin lining up outside the Ziegfeld on April 30th. This is a line for the best seats only – tickets have already been sold for the first show at midnight 5/19 (I got mine today).

hardbop on April 14, 2005 at 5:54 pm

The latest and hopefully last of the “Star Bores” films will be opening next month I believe. I’m sure we’ll start to see the fanatics camping out on the sidewalk waiting to get into the first screening. They literally pitch tents and camp out in Midtown Manhattan days, if not weeks, in advance of the “Star Bores” movies.

Benjamin on April 14, 2005 at 4:48 pm

I’m not sure about this, but I always assumed that the Ziegfeld Theater was part of the same zoning lot as the skyscraper next door (and that the skyscraper got a zoning bonus for providing the through-block “park” separating the two).

If that’s is the case, then I think there would some kind of constraint as to what could be built on the Ziegfeld site — since the skyscraper next door had already not only utilized all the allowable commercial space for the zoning lot, but was bonused for the through block “park” to boot.

If this is true, and I’m not mistaken, this is actually a pretty clever use of space under the existing zoning regulations (whether these regulations are good urbanism or not, is a different question). On the Avenue, you have a tall skyscraper utilizing the allowable commercial space, with front and side “plazas” and a through block pedestrian “park” boosting the amount of space the skyscraper can have. Plus you have a low-rise theater, with a parking garage entrance (below the theater on the 55th St. side) on the side streets, utilizing the areas that cannot be built up too much. (And, I’m guessing, that the parking garage space extends beneath the through block “park.”)

hardbop on April 14, 2005 at 4:48 pm

I pretty sure that Clearview doesn’t own the real estate. I worked with a guy whose brother-in-law was a mega-rich real estate mogul and he mentioned in passing that his brother-in-law “owned the Ziegfeld” among other things.

William on April 14, 2005 at 4:47 pm

It looks like the Ziegfeld Theatre is at a point in it’s life that the theatres in Beverly Hills went through in the mid 1970’s. The three palaces in Beverly Hills (Warner Beverly Hills, Fox Wilshire, Beverly). They would still get booked with major releases during the year from the studios. And most of the year be only running evening performances during the week. And finally going to running the classic Roadshow prints that were available. At that time there was many prints to choose from, that were still runable and you had real projectionists manning the booths.
Pacific Theatres had a few locations that they showed little motivation in rebuilding. In Los Angeles there are a few of these Deluxe type theatres and they are doing killer business. The ArcLight in Hollywood, The Grove in Park La Brea area near the Farmers Market and The Bridge near Culver City & Marina Del Rey area of Los Angeles. For the $14.00 admission price you get the Deluxe service that was once availible for the price of any ticket and validated parking for about 3-4 hours.

br91975 on April 14, 2005 at 3:10 pm

Good point from both you, Bob, and William and Warren, too, but, presuming Clearview either owns the building which houses the Ziegfeld or could, at least in theory, negotiate with the landlord to build an ArcLight-like complex around the Ziegfeld, what are the odds they’d actually do so? From what I can tell (at least based on their properties in Manhattan), Clearview has shown little motivation to build any new properties or add onto the ones they already own (or hold leases on) and with the ongoing financial troubles of Cablevision, such a venture would seem unlikely.

VincentParisi on April 14, 2005 at 2:56 pm

When Funny Girl played at the Criterion in ‘68 a mezz seat(considered the best place for a movie though not by me) for a Saturday night was $6.00. A top Broadway musical for orch would cost you $15.00. This means that a roadshow mezz seat(which of course does not and will not never exit again- the Ziegfeld is really far back orch)would cost you today about $40.00. Then if in line with contemporary avarice we were to discuss Premium Seating a theater then could charge $100 for a hit roadshow film.

William on April 14, 2005 at 1:25 am

BobT, Thats an idea.

Does Clearview own the building or are they just tenant with a lease?

There are a few companies that operate Deluxe type plex theatres that charge more than the going rate of admission.

BobT on April 14, 2005 at 12:29 am

Just look at the photo above, all that space over the theatre. Wonder who has the air rights? Leaving the main auditorium alone and building up would secure it’s future.

William on April 13, 2005 at 11:08 pm

They use the reserved seat ticket policy at the ArcLight Theatre complex (Cinerama Dome) in Hollywood. Tickets are around $14.00 and it works well. You go up to the box office and the cashier shows you a seating plan of the auditorium and then a screen shows whats available for that show. When you get to the auditorium the usher will show you to your seat. Just like the old Roadshow days in the theatres. Before Pacific Theatres built the ArcLight complex the Cinerama Dome was doing about the same amount of business as the Ziegfeld. Both are single screen First Run presentation houses.
But now since Pacific built the extra screens, this theatre complex is doing killer business. The arclight complex is what we really need in Manhattan. The only way this theatre is going to last is if Clearview could build a multi-screen plex next door and operate it like the ArcLight complex in Hollywood.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 13, 2005 at 10:24 pm

Hardbop, I was at the Ziegfeld’s first public screening of “Last Temptation” with the cops stationed at the exits and at the sides of the screen, and I too thought a bomb or some kind of big disruption was going to happen in the theater near the end of the movie.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 13, 2005 at 10:21 pm

You’re welcome, CC. The show will be on CBS June 21st (I think), and I hope the Moses quote makes the final cut.

chconnol on April 13, 2005 at 9:00 pm

Bill: Thanks so much for the list! And my favorite quote is there!!!!

hardbop on April 13, 2005 at 8:10 pm

I was at a Q&A a couple of years ago where former NYT film critic Janet Maslin interviewed Harvey Weinstein of Miramax and in that discussion he expressed worry about the future of the Ziegfeld. I do remember walking by one night and they were having the premier for Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown.” In the lobby Harvey was there with Q, Mira Sorvino (Q’s then paramour), Bridgit Fonda and I forget who else getting their picture snapped.

Some people might remember this, but I think shortly after Clearview took control of the Ziegfeld they put in place a dunderhead policy regarding “pick your seat.” I’m not even sure how it worked, but I think it was tailored for people who reserved tickets over the phone. So, you couldn’t just walk up to the box office, buy a ticket and sit anywhere you pleased (getting a good seat has never been a problem in the capacious Ziegfeld).) You would buy a ticket and have to pick where you wanted to sit. It was awful annoying and it was quickly abandoned. Anyone remember that fiasco?

And I remember going here to see one of the recent “Star Bores” films and specifically wanted to see it at the Ziegfeld because it was one of two places in Manhattan where they were projecting digitally. When I got there, they said the digital equipment had broken and they would be screening a regular film print.

I also remember viewing Scorsese’s “Last Temptation of Christ” here on original release and kept thinking that someone had planted a bomb in the theatre. The screening went off, of course, without a hitch.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 22, 2005 at 7:50 pm

CConnolly: Back in February you were posting on the Capitol Theater page about “The Ten Commandments.” Well, the American Film Institute will be announcing their 100 Greatest Movie Quotes in June, and here is the link to the 400 nominated quotes they’ll be choosing from. Check out #348.