Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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BobT on March 21, 2005 at 2:44 pm

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 2:42 pm

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 2:35 pm

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 1:56 pm

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 1:16 pm

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 1:05 pm

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 12:32 pm

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 12:15 pm

“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 12:14 pm

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 12:00 pm

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

Vito on March 21, 2005 at 11:16 am

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

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 21, 2005 at 11:09 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 8:05 am

How big is the theatre there?

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 21, 2005 at 7:45 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 7:57 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.

YMike on February 4, 2005 at 8:19 am

I saw Raging Bull at the Film Forum several years ago. While not like seeing it at the Ziegfeld it was still better than seeing it on a TV screen. There really are no large screen in NY devoted to classic films unless there is a special reason. In Raging Bull’s case it was to promote an upcomming DVD release.

Benjamin on February 3, 2005 at 10:22 am

Regarding theater curtains: I remember wondering as a VERY YOUNG kid, whether the image that was seen when a movie theater’s curtains opened or closed was an image projected upon a solid curtain or whether it was an image that shone through a thin curtain (like the sun shining through home window curtains). Of course as an older kid I realized that the image was being projected upon an opaque curtain, but when I first went to the movies as a four(?)-year old I wasn’t sure.

As a pre-schooler, theatre curtains were one of the “mysteries of life” — like figuring out whether the light inside the refrigerator was always lit, even when the door was closed, or whether it was built in some way so that it lit up as soon as one started to open the door.

By the way, one scene from “Raging Bull” was shot just about down the block from the current Film Forum (that was, of course, 15[?] years or so before the Film Forum moved to its current location). The scene where Jake Lamotta first spots his future wife was filmed at the Carmine St. pool on W. Houston St. The dressing room vans (with one that was set-up to be a barber shop — to give all the 1970s[?] long-haired guys1940s[?] haircuts) were parked on St. Luke’s place. Antique cars were parked on W. Houston. And, if I remember correctly, the modern-day street lamps on W. Houston were dressed up with placards making them look like old-fashioned street lamps.

RobertR on February 3, 2005 at 8:45 am

The Film Forum has amazing booking but I would never travel there to see something like Raging Bull. But now that it’s at the Ziegfeld that’s another story. I don’t mind seeing “smaller” films at Film Forum but even the restored print of Picnic a few years ago screamed to be shown on a huge Cinemascope screen, I would love to see that at the Ziegfeld or RCMH.

YMike on February 3, 2005 at 8:19 am

Saw Raging Bull last night. They had the pre-film slide show which was out of focus. Then the curtains were closed, opened and the show began. There was a pretty large crowd for the 7 PM show. It was great to see this film on a large screen. The print and sound were terrific. Originally this film was going to be shown at the Film Forum in Jan. but it was pulled at the last minute. I am a regular at the Forum but I am glad they made the switch to the Ziegfeld. What a great place to see one of the finest films of all time.

RichHamel on February 3, 2005 at 7:42 am

The curtain was working when I saw “The Day After Tomorrow” last summer. It was the only good thing about that movie!

Vito on February 3, 2005 at 7:18 am

As a teen I worked at the local movie palace as an usher. One of my jobs was to “pull the curtain”. Just before the 1:00 matinee I would go up the stairs and go backstage, the audience, mostly kids, knew then that the show was about to start and went wild with applause. The projectionist would then buzz me to open the curtain.
Ahh, to once again open that curtain and hear those cheers.

chconnol on February 2, 2005 at 3:05 pm

Let me guess: they show those insipid ads on the white screen at The Ziegfeld? Is nothing sacred anymore?

One of the joys I remember as a kid was sitting in the movie theater and looking at the curtains and getting ready for the movie to start. Nothing was so thrilling (OK…there are and were but I was a kid) as the house lights dimming and the curtains slowly rising.

When I was kids during the 70’s, every single theater I went to, from the first run houses on LI to the very lowest of the 2nd and 3rd run houses had and used curtains.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 2, 2005 at 2:44 pm

In recent years I only remember the curtain being used for “Lawrence of Arabia” in 2002, and now “Raging Bull”. It was definitely not used for “The Phantom of the Opera” on New Year’s Eve – it might have made the movie a little better than it was.

chconnol on February 2, 2005 at 2:33 pm

Does the Ziegfeld always use the curtain? I saw “Braveheart” here in 1995 and they used the curtain. I loved it! The movie was OK but the theater, and that curtain, ROCKED.

Say what you will about The Ziegfeld but it’s as good as it gets these days, theater wise.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 2, 2005 at 1:28 pm

I saw “Raging Bull” at the Ziegfeld last night and the crowd was bigger than I expected, and very much into the movie as well. The presentation was quite good too – only 3 commercials and one trailer, and they opened and closed the curtains. It was also my first time seeing black and white on the Ziegfeld screen. I’m glad I went. Now let’s see if they extend the exclusive engagement beyond the originally announced ten days – I’m sure they’ll do better with this great classic than with the latest Hollywood dud they’ve got booked into the theater next.