Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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YMike
YMike on December 23, 2004 at 8:14 am

I was a little too young for “This Is Cinerama”, but I was able to see all the other 3 strip films that came out in the 60’s at both the Warner and Capitol theatres. When the train derailed in “How The West Was Won” the audiance reaction was almost the same as it would be for today’s Imax 3-D films.

Vito
Vito on December 23, 2004 at 6:52 am

mikeeoklandpark, I am sorry to read your first experience with 70mm was “Gone with thw wind” which remains the worst example of 70mm
ever made.I am also sorry you missed out on Cinerama and hope some day you have a chance to experience one of the great inovations in film presentation.
Yankeemike,I would agree with you about 70mm Cinerama, it was just an improved 70mm format at best.I believe the first one I ever played was “Mad Mad World”. Many people thought, gee if only they had waited a while and made all Cinerama films in 70mm it would have avoided a lot of cost with all that Charlie, Baker, Able stuff.
I never thought that way, 3 strip Cinerama was in a class of it’s own and it just would not have been the same, when Mr. Thomas said “This Is Cinerama” and I pushed that button to open the curtain to show that roller coaster on that huge 3 strip screen, well…
it was breathtaking.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on December 22, 2004 at 11:21 am

To YankeeMike: The Arclight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood can also show 3-strip Cinerama. Too bad both 3-strip theaters are on the West Coast, far away from us in the East. The closest remaining giant curved Cinerama screen is, I believe, the Uptown in Washington, DC. They played “2001” three years ago and it was overwhelming.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on December 22, 2004 at 8:17 am

I never saw any film in Cinerama. The first 70mm film I saw was Gone With The Wind in 1967 at the Randolph theater in Phila. It was a cinerama house so I was so awed by the curved screen.

YMike
YMike on December 22, 2004 at 8:11 am

I believe the Broadway, Warner and Capitol theatres were the only ones in Manhattan that had the 3 projector system. I know it sounds crazy but I perferred seeing the lines between the films in the three projector system as opposed to the later version of Cinerama. Even know the screen was just as wide it just seemed different. While it’s possible to see a 3-D movie in NY. (At the Film Forum) it’s a shame there is no place in the area where a 3 projector Cinerama film can be screened. I believe the only theatre that can show those films is in Seattle.

Vito
Vito on December 22, 2004 at 7:39 am

Myron, the 3 projector Cinerama process had it’s problems. You mentioned the colors not matching, this was a problem with the carbon arcs not keeping up as they burned in one or more projectors. This diference in the burning point betwen the arc and the projector gate, even if ever so slight, would cause one of the images to be slighty darker or off color. A good projectionist did not allow this to happen. Another projectionist error occured when the images did not match exactly, many problems contributed to that. First of all, the sync marks on the leader had to match on all three projectors and sound reproducer before the show started. Then from time to time there would be a film break, and when the film was repared mistakes were made. For example, a break in the film would require a splice be made, if you lost a couple of frames in the Baker print, for example, you would have to splice in a “slug” of black film to replace the missing footage, so that the three prints remained in sync.The alternative would be to remove the missing footage from the other two prints as well as the sound print, this to my knowledge was never done. In other words a film break in Cinerama was a NIGHTMARE. We had the same problem with two projector 3-D projection and it was handled the same way. I strangly miss those days. sigh

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on December 21, 2004 at 12:45 pm

CC were you ever in the Warner Cinerama or the Rivoli or Criterion before they were twinned?
Then you’ll know why we give the Ziegfeld a bad rap. Though today its the best game in town. I was hoping they would have a Todd AO retro next year for the anniversary but I doubt it. They should have had MFL for its 40th in Super Panavision 70 which they had in ‘93 and it was an enormous success. And how about the restored Mary Poppins for an engagement before its release on DVD(a re-premiere with Andrews and Van Dyke in attendance?) That of course would have been perfect for Nov at the Music Hall along with the Christmas show (which could have been cut in half with no loss.)But that would make too much sense. These high paid execs make too much money to actually know what they’re doing.

veyoung52
veyoung52 on December 21, 2004 at 12:10 pm

“Can anybody remember which Manhattan theater showed the 3-projector Cinerama?

1 the Broadway beginning 9/30/52. Then the Warner in June 53. Then the Capitol which was temporarily renamed Loews Cinerama in Aug of 1962. The 2 MGM films, Bros Grimm and HTWWW played there. Single projector “Cinerama” 70mm opened at the Warner 11/63. 3-projector CineMiracle ran at the Roxy from April through the Summer of 1958. The Russian Kinopanorama played – however briefly – at the Mayfair (before it became the DeMille). 3-projector Cinerama also ran at the Syosset (Long Island) and the Claridge (Upper Montclair NJ).

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on December 21, 2004 at 12:10 pm

Loew’s Cinerama is listed here under its original name of the Capitol Theatre, one of the most signficant and influential “movie palaces” ever built.

Myron
Myron on December 21, 2004 at 11:55 am

YankeeMike mentions that he saw “How The West Was Won” in Cinerama. I also saw it in Manhattan in Cinerama but I can’t remember the name of the theater. I thought it was named the “Loews Cinerama” but there is no listing for such a theater. It’s true that 3 projectors were used and often the images did not exactly match and the colors of each were slightly different; making it annoying to watch. I also saw “2001, A Space Odyssey” at the same theater in Cinerama. Can anybody remember which Manhattan theater showed the 3-projector Cinerama?

Myron
Myron on December 21, 2004 at 11:47 am

I visited the Ziegefeld many times and never had problems with the film being out-of-focus. “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was very clear.

chconnol
chconnol on December 17, 2004 at 8:18 am

Again, why the HELL couldn’t they open “The Aviator” at the Music Hall? Can you imagine seeing that there? Oh, that’s right…they have the “Spectacular” there and it would interfere…

But as much as The Ziegfeld gets somewhat of a bad rep here on this site, I was there in 1995 to see “Braveheart” and I have to say I was mightily impressed with it’s size, the screen and the sound. It was very nice inside though you’d never guess it from the outside. It’s so plain.

RobertR
RobertR on December 16, 2004 at 11:11 pm

As much as I cant wait to see the Aviator, I would not have wanted to see it at the Angelika. Oh by I miss the Syosset 150.

br91975
br91975 on December 15, 2004 at 10:32 pm

While ‘The Aviator’ was having its ‘premiere’ at the Ziegfeld last night, its little-publicized 12-day run (four-walled by Miramax for award-voting committees but with all remaining tickets to the public) at the Angelika was coming to an end.

khando
khando on December 15, 2004 at 8:50 pm

why didnt you tell me about the Aviator premiere at the Zeigfeld yesterday ;[

rcdt55b
rcdt55b on December 4, 2004 at 10:27 pm

I have been hearing that Digital Cinema will be at every theater for 12 years now. If you are telling me that it will replace every screen in every theater, it will not happen. Digital Cinema is not film. You will always be able to tell the difference. I have seen the real Digital Cinema. I am not talking about the cheap imitations.

longislandmovies
longislandmovies on December 4, 2004 at 8:53 pm

movieboss you hit the nail on the head

movieboss
movieboss on December 4, 2004 at 8:23 pm

Digital Cinema is HERE and like it or not it’s soon to be at every theater near you. In fact numerous theaters currently receive their digital fature and trailer files via satellite including the Loews 42nd Street E-Walk on two screens locally. the Ziegfeld is not satellite equipped, but receives their digital “prints” on a hard drive which is loaded into the media servers. The files are compressed, encoded and encrypted. They are protected by “keys” which prevent any other specific equipment from playing back a pirated or duplicated file.

Theater owners have never been seriously thought by anyone to be required to pay for the conversion to digital. Sometime soon one or more studio backed financing plans will be in place to provide the funds. While people may not flock to DLP vs. 35mm, they will notice an increase in light output, more even light distribution from corner of image to corner of image and a rock steady picture without any degradation after multiple showings. Also, since the distribution cost will be significantly reduced vs. film, more theaters and markets will be able to show a wider variety of movies that otherwise would receive only limited distribution.

An earlier poster mentioned sound … with a pristine digital sound file, the quality of sound will only be limited to the quality of the sound processing and speaker equipment in an auditorium.

There are limitations with the current 1.3K resolution DLP projectors in use. These will however, soon be replaced with newer 2K DLP projectors allowing screens the size of the Ziegfeld’s to be completely filled and not cropped and still retain light, brilliance and clarity at least matching if not exceeding that of 35mm “analog” film. Furthermore Sony has in the works a 4K projection system.

Before “assuming” the world of cinema quality digital cinema is anything like internet based movie downloads, or even DVD like quality, consider the massive file sizes required for a cinema screen vs. a computer monitor or even a large screen HD television. DO not confuse “digital” home entertainment media with Digital Cinema.

One final thought for now … those “pre-show” advertisements and mini-commercials shown at many theaters around the country are being projected via small NON Cinema grade projectors. They are low on light output and in most cases not designed to project the distances they are now being used for. On top of that, the source material is grainy and usually poor in quality as it was designed for use on television and has too low a level of resolution to be projected any actual distance and size.

The circuits using this pre-show technology to show “movies” are doing a disservice to the public and diminishing the quality of the experience. I suspect that the poor box office they have to date realized from their experiments may curtail it’s use in the future, but that may be giving too much credit.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on December 4, 2004 at 7:06 pm

Some of the larger palaces had the mezzanine on a separate level from the balcony. In the New York Paramount, for example, there was a mezzanine, and then, jutting out above that, was the balcony. At Radio City Music Hall, there were three separate mezzanines, one atop the other. The first, or lowest mezzanine, was operated on a reserved seats only policy. At peak times, such as the Christmas holidays, the second mezzanine was sometimes turned into a reserved-seat section as well.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on December 4, 2004 at 6:01 pm

What the Ziegfeld has is a stadium, which is the technical word that theatre architects used. Today the public thinks of that word meaning the entire auditorium on steps.

Years ago when big-splash premieres were done as a reserved-seat benefit with hard tickets at the Ziegfeld and Cinema I, the seat locations on the ticket were “Orchestra” or “Loge” and the row and seat number.

In the big old palaces where there was a real balcony (a cantilevered structure over the orchestra with the seats on steps), the seats were divided into loge (in the front), mezzanine (middle) and balacony (at the top), with the sections divided by cross-aisles.

RobertR
RobertR on December 4, 2004 at 5:20 pm

Sound balcony-esque to me LOL

stevebob
stevebob on December 4, 2004 at 4:28 pm

A number of entries here describe this theater as having a balcony.

There is NO balcony, only a rear area that rises at a steeper angle than the main orchestra level, and which is separated from the main area by a cross-aisle.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on December 4, 2004 at 3:14 pm

They want the theatre owner to pay for the equipment (last I heard, about $60,000. per screen, probably less now) that will enable the distributor will save the cost of manufacturing, shipping and storing prints – and that is not going to happen. Even if they get it to look exactly like film, the theatre has nothing to gain other than saving the cost of having an usher make up a show. Plus, they are going to have to have all the bugs worked out of it – theatres that got burned with the original SDDS unit, a $15,000. piece of junk, are going to be wary…

rcdt55b
rcdt55b on December 4, 2004 at 7:36 am

I agree with Vito. One of the major problems with DLP is who will pay for it. If you make theater owner pay for it, you put all the independent theaters out of business. The theater owners definitely have nothing to gain because DLP is not going to attract more people to the movies. He is also right about possibly shared film and video. They will never replace film completely.

rcdt55b
rcdt55b on December 4, 2004 at 7:20 am

Digital still has a very long way to go. Until I see some major improvements I won’t be preparing to switch over in my theater anytime soon.