Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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zoetmb on March 10, 2004 at 10:15 pm

It’s unfair to compare the Ziegfeld, built in the 1960s, with the movie palaces built in the 1920s and 30s. The fact is, plaster ornamentation, fancy carpeting, hidden basketball courts and cloud ceilings aside, those old theaters would be terrible places to see modern films with digital 5.1 channel soundtracks today, in spite of the fact that many of them played 70mm 6-track films.

Those old theaters were built with long reverberation times because amplifiers were very low powered in those days. Today, you want just the opposite: very short reverberation times to increase dialogue intelligibility and perceived channel separation within a broad sound field.

The Ziegfeld remains (IMHO) the best place to see a movie in NYC. My understanding is that it’s not profitable, but it is used for many premiers and it’s great that Clearview elects to keep it open as a single-screener. The single-screen Astor Plaza is closing soon and that is also a big loss.

Mike326 on February 26, 2004 at 8:30 pm

Great to hear !!! Thank you for the good news, even I was getting a little worried..
Thanks again.

joemasher on February 26, 2004 at 8:16 pm

I am the Division Manager for Clearview—-the Zieg is reopening on 3/5 with “Hidalgo”….not to worry, the Ziegfeld is here to stay!

Mike326 on February 26, 2004 at 7:32 pm

The ZIEGFELD should return to it’s policy from back in the 1980’s and maybe earlier, which is that whichever movie was playing there, could not show at another theater in Manhattan.
The last few times I went, the place was pretty filled up, so hopefully they are just doing some basic renovations, and keeping it as a single house.
When I saw CHICAGO there, there was not an empty seat to be found, and when we left, the line went down 54 st, up 6th av, and back up 55 street.
I/m cautiosly optimistic !

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 26, 2004 at 3:19 pm

“Closed for renovations” is another way of saying that we’re not doing enough business to keep open. The Ziegfeld has been known to cancel performances, especially during weekday matinee hours, when not even one person turned up to buy a ticket.

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on February 26, 2004 at 2:35 pm

I couldn’t agree more. It’d be a real shame to lose the Ziegfeld.

AndyT on February 26, 2004 at 2:26 pm

Thanks Patrick —– I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the best. With so few single-screeners left (and the recent news about the Astor), it’s hard not to worry.

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on February 26, 2004 at 2:20 pm

Perhaps not, Andy. I just checked with the theater. The woman who answered the Ziegfeld’s box office hotline said the theater is closed until March 5 for renovations.

AndyT on February 26, 2004 at 2:07 pm

Tell me I’m not paranoid, but there is nothing listed for the Ziegfeld on either Clearview’s site or on Yahoo Movies. Has the grim reaper unexpectedly arrived???

VincentParisi on February 23, 2004 at 12:39 pm

The original facade is also visible in the Jack Lemmon movie How to Murder Your Wife. If memory serves he is walking along a girder on one of the skycrapers going up on 6th Av and you can see it in the background.

Mike326 on February 23, 2004 at 11:39 am

As I’ve mentioned about Loew’s Kings, it is in the heart of probably the biggest West Indian community in this country, likewise, a renovated entertainment center for that community, and for that matter, everybody else, just seems so perfect. Especially with the municipal parking lot just behind it.
I realize that it would cost millions, buts its interesting, that the Kings just sits there, and has not been turned into a church, supermarket, or anything else.
I can only be hopeful that something positive will happen !

Marcus on February 23, 2004 at 10:45 am

The ironic thing is seeing the new Empire and the Loews on 42nd street, both of which try so hard to replicate the look of a genuine movie palace (well, at least on the outside—especially with the Loew’s gargantuan vertical marquee). Then around the corner is the old marquee for the Paramount, and the theaters in the Virgin Megastore are called “Loews State.” Just makes me sad, especially since the preservation movement was pretty much born here with the demolition of Penn Station.

Our ray of hope: the Loew’s Kings still sits in brooklyn, relatively intact. As the burough gentrifies at an amazing pace, no doubt soon the affluent will discover the old houses of Flatbush, and it will be econimically viable to open the Kings again. I mean…did you ever think the Loew’s Jersey in sketchy Jersey City (no offense) would actually ever be reopened?! It still amazes me.

Let’s hope NYC will get a genuine operating movie palace once again—I’m afraid the Ziegfeld just doesn’t cut it for me.

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on February 9, 2004 at 1:17 pm

Just wanted to mention that the upper portion of the original Ziegfeld is also visible in the classic Men on Girder, 1930 photograph of Empire State Building construction workers taking a lunch break — hundreds of feet in the air. (The theater can be seen at bottom center.)

geovhill on February 8, 2004 at 8:52 pm

We really need to protect our landmarks better.
A lot of old theaters around the country have either been closed or met with a worse fate.
Some of these theaters were classics!
The Ziegfeld not only belongs here, but it fits in well with everything around it.
I agree with Rubi.
Thank you.
George Vreeland Hill.

Mike326 on February 8, 2004 at 8:05 pm

I/m not surprised. Really pretty sickening.

Greenpoint on February 8, 2004 at 11:57 am

The Astor Plaza is on its way out also.

Mike326 on February 8, 2004 at 10:43 am

It is very disturbing that the majority of the grand Times Square theaters have been demolished, with the exception of the Astor Plaza.
The Rivoli, Criterion, State, Cinerama, Forum, Embassy, Victoria and even the more modern National, are GONE !
Instead, there are those bizaare 10 or 20 story multiplexs on 42 street. As far as New York theaters, the Astor Plaza, Ziegfeld and the Beekman are truly the last of single screens that I/m aware of.

Greenpoint on February 7, 2004 at 3:16 pm

I seen Oliver Stones “The Doors” here in 1991. I was like 16 and snuck in the side exit. I walked in backwards and then reversed myself for the ultimate walk up the stairs against the crowd and managed to get into the theatre for the next showing.That was a fun memory from a fun time in life.

Vito on February 7, 2004 at 6:42 am

I worked as a projectionist at the D-150 in Syosset. We had been hearing for years that the landloard wanted UA out in order to redevelop the valuable property the theater stood on. We were told the rent was increased many times and finally to a point where UA could not operate the theater with a profit. It weas a sad time because we had already just recently lost the last of the major Long Island Roadshow theatres, the Syosset, which had been cut up into three theaters, or should we say screening rooms,and then torn down.While it may not have been a movie palace, the D-150 was still the best place on Long Island to see as well as hear a movie with it’s amasing sound system (thanks Joe Kelly)

bruceanthony on January 31, 2004 at 10:34 pm

I agree you have to put the Ziegfeld in perspective. It is not a Movie Palace but its the best house to see a movie in NYC.Its to bad NYC didn’t save any of there film palaces in Times Square with the exception of the Mark Hellinger(Warner Hollywood)which is now being used as a church. brucec

ERD on January 31, 2004 at 11:13 am

Sorry for the misspelling of Walter Reade, but it has been a long time since I have seen his name in print. Other premiers I saw during the 1970’s at this theatre were THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT & TOMMY.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 31, 2004 at 9:31 am

Walter Reade (not Reed) was a pioneer movie exhibitor. By the time of the building of the new Ziegfeld, he had died and the circuit was run by his son, Walter Reade, Jr., who later died in middle age in a skiing accident. During the son’s lifetime, the company also ran Continental Distributing, Inc., which acquired and released “foreign” films for showings in art theatres.

ERD on January 30, 2004 at 11:25 pm

I was there on the opening day of the theatre. They showed a few movies dealing with Ziegfeld. Included was “The Great Ziegfeld,” and “The Ziegfeld Follies.” A reception was held in the concession area where champagne was served. Many of the original Ziegfeld “girls” attended. Although senior citizens, they still maintained a poise & beauty that singled them out from the average woman…I also saw Lowell Thomas introduced in the theatre when they showed his “This Is Cinerama.” It was owned by Walter Reed Theatres for a while. One should put this beautiful movie theatre in perspective and not get carried away, comparing it to other theatres.

VincentParisi on January 21, 2004 at 8:18 am

Robert, you’re killing me. I’m getting bent all out of shape by what I missed. Why couldn’t anybody save it? It was so recent. There is nothing left in NY!

RobertR on January 21, 2004 at 7:41 am

The saddest thing of all to me was UA’s moronic closing of Cinema 150 in Syosset. It put the Zeigfeld to shame with a huge dimension 150 screen. It was totally renovated in the early 90’s with all new seats, drapes, carpet, screen and lighting. They never advertised the theatre for what it was. I introduced friends in Manhattan to the place and they used to travel on the LIRR after that to see films there.