Loew's Paradise Theatre

2413 Grand Concourse,
Bronx, NY 10468

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Benjamin on February 23, 2005 at 7:01 am

That’s it! “Lowe’s” Paradise is brilliant!!! So clever — and so economical!

I’d love to see them do that whether or not the Loews Corporation ever puts up a fuss. What great PR! (And so cheap to do!) It would be such a delightful contribution to the folklore of the Bronx.

It reminds me a bit of Damon Runyon renaming “Lindy’s” as “Mindy’s” in his short stories. Even if he never really “had” to do it (one supposes Leo “Lindy” Linderman would have loved the publicity), the fact that he changed it just enough to make it a bit of a “mystery” — but not enough to make the mystery the least bit difficult to solve — made it a lot of fun for everyone involved.

dave-bronx™ on February 22, 2005 at 11:28 pm

Also, while the sign on the building may remain as “Loew’s Paradise Theatre”, any other advertising will probably just refer to it as “The Paradise Theatre”.

dave-bronx™ on February 22, 2005 at 11:08 pm

As long as the place doesn’t become a porno house I don’t think that the Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corporation would make a fuss about it — they don’t bother the theatre in Jersey City – doing so would generate bad publicity for them. They are aware of the landmarking, and since it will be primarily a live performance venue and no longer a general-release movie house it is not competing with LCE. Besides, the Paradise is “Loew’s” and the LCE chain is now “Loews” (no apostrophe). If the company was to use poor judgement and make an issue out of it, the Paradise could simply reverse the E and W on the sign and make it “Lowe’s Paradise”.

Benjamin on February 22, 2005 at 7:28 pm

Brian Wolf: Interesting points, and you could very well be right!

But I think what makes the Loew’s case a bit more interesting than some others (and I’m not that familiar with the examples you gave) is that Loew’s is still a company that owns and operates many movie theaters in the NYC area — so there is a potential for confusion if the Paradise is publicized and actually operated under the name “Loew’s Paradise.” (And given people’s feelings about today’s Loew’s multi-plexes, such confusion might be either good or bad — it might enhance the Loew’s brand [“They were a classy company that used to build very nice theaters.] or detract from it ["Wow, what happened that they started building such crummy new theaters?].

In terms of Sears, I think a case could be made that if we were talking about department store buildings rather than an office building, that a Sears corporation that operated many department stores in an area might object if someone bought and fixed up one of their old stores and operated it under the name, say, “Sear’s State Street Store.”

Also, to further play devil’s advocate, I think the situation with a non-Loew’s, “Loew’s Paradise” might be similar in a way to that of the “Loew’s Paradise” page on the Cinema Treasures website. Apparently Cinema Treasures finds it necessary (possibly to avoid legal problems?) to post at the bottom of this page: “Note: Cinema Treasures is not affiliated with Loew’s Paradise Theatre. If you have a question about a recent ticket purchase or need to contact theater management, pleae contact the theater directly.” So maybe a “Loew’s Paradise,” officially named and operated as such, might be required to do the same?

And the other thing that came to mind that seemed to make this a possibly special case is that sometimes brands have to “crack” down on trademark infringement even when they might not really feel like it because, if they don’t, they lose the right when they really need it. (Again, not being a lawyer, I don’t know if this is really applicable here. But that’s one of the issues that come to my mind.)

And just to add another example of why it seemed to me that Warren’s original question might have at least some merit, there is the famous example of the original Roxy Theater (1927) and the Roxy Center Theater (1932) where the courts ordered that the Roxy Center relinquish the Roxy part of its name. (But of course in the Loew’s case, there is possibly the difference that you imply — that a Loew’s Paradise would probably not subtract business from other Loew’s theaters in the Bronx the way a brand new Roxy Center Theater might have subtracted business from an older Roxy a few blocks away.)

Anyway, although I too have my doubts that there is any problem with continuing to call the “Paradise” the “Loew’s Paradise,” I was hoping that people would take up my light-hearted challenge and come up with some witty substitutes for “Loew’s” in the signs on the theater. (For the owners of the Paradise, it could be a nice bit of long lasting publicity along the lines of naming that restaurant near Lincoln Center “O'Neal’s Balloon” — the story behind the restaurant’s unusual name gave it free “good” publicity for many, many years.)

P.S. — It occured to me after my last post, that commercial laws are probably federal not state, so the same laws would probably govern theaters in both New Jersey and New York.

Broan on February 22, 2005 at 5:45 pm

Think of all the ‘Paramount’ theatres that are still around. Think about the Sears Tower. Any number of buildings retain old corporate identities. One somewhat early example would be the old United Artists in Chicago- It was only owned by UA for a few years, and Balaban & Katz for most of its existence. I really doubt anyone would try to make them change it- if anything, it only enhances the Loews corporate image.

Benjamin on February 22, 2005 at 2:48 pm

I don’t think there’s any question that they can continue to call the theater the “Paradise,” it was the “Loew’s” part — especially as it concerns the exterior signage — that could be problematic (especially since the signage is, in at least one instance, an integral part of the building’s exterior architectural design).

By the way, two other examples came to mind of designated NYC landmarks where a company’s name was part of the exterior design and the question arose as to what to do when the old owner (still in existence) was no longer the owner: the former McGraw-Hill Building and the former RCA Building (which I think is still in existance?).

In the case of the McGraw-Hill Building, the name of the company was set into the top of the building in some kind of ceramic or terra cotta tiles — not easy to change. Fortunately, given the new name of the building, it was relatively easy though (I believe) to change the name since the new company was known by its initials “GHI” (Group Health Insurance) and they were contained in the old name.

In terms of the Loew’s New Jersey, don’t know if New Jersey’s commercial laws in this regard would — or would not — be similar to New York’s. (Again, I’m not a lawyer.) Also don’t know how similar or dissimilar their laws regulating landmarks are to those of New York City’s.

Ziggy on February 22, 2005 at 2:11 pm

Interesting comments regarding signage. Of course the Loew’s Paradise marquee has been (beautifully) integrated into the facade, so that it actually is part of the building design rather than something simply stuck on the roof. This may help it to be protected under the building’s landmark status. I don’t know. By the way Robbie, your last post was very clever. You’re so bright, I bet your mother called you “son”.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 22, 2005 at 1:53 pm

I think that they could easily continue to call it the Paradise without any problems, it’s just the “Loew’s” that might be challenged. Is the theatre in Jersey City still called Loew’s Jersey (I mean officially)?

Benjamin on February 22, 2005 at 8:58 am

Interesting that you should bring up the NYC landmark regulations and signage, because there is another interesting precedent to this question.

There is a turn of the century (?) building on the northeast corner of Union Sq. Park that used to be the headquarters of an insurance company (Guardian Life?) but was turned into a luxury hotel (a “W” hotel). The building was an officially designated landmark and, if I understood the news stories correctly, the neon sign atop the building (Guardian Life) was (foolishly, in my opinion) considered to be part of the landmark designation.

Again, if I understood the news story correctly, the new owners were able to convince the landmark preservation commission that replacing the “Guardian Life” sign with a similarly styled “W” sign would be in keeping with the landmark designation.

I’m assuming (but don’t really know) that the building didn’t have such a sign when it was originally built. So, personally, it seems to me that the building might be an even better landmark without any sign on top whatsoever. And while the sign doesn’t bother me, the efforts to preserve it (or something similar) strike me as possibly being ideologically “precious.” (The reason I say “possibly” is I think there may be water towers or a giant air conditioning unit on the roof, and maybe the sign helps camouflage them a bit.) It seems to me that the Landmark Preservation Commission would be better serving its mission if it turned its attention and energy towards preserving what seem to me to be true NYC landmarks, like the Beekman, etc.

bzemanbz on February 22, 2005 at 8:16 am

Keep in mind that the building’s facade is landmarked and as such cannot be changed very easily. It’s quite possible that even though Loews knows about the Loew’s, those “Loew’s no’s!” that Loews might propose pose no deathblows to rows and rows of rose neon proclaiming Loew’s, Loew’s…I suppose.

Benjamin on February 22, 2005 at 7:19 am

Warren: That’s an interesting question. Though I’m not a lawyer, I wonder if the private owners would really have a right to continue to use the name. In my experience, the term “grandfathered” usually applies to a new government regulation which does not apply to already existing conditions. I’m not sure if it would apply to something like this.

While not exactly the same issue, there are two movie related law cases that are somewhat similar. When Samuel(?) Goldwyn parted from Metro Goldwyn Meyer, I think the court ruled that he could use his own name (which was a fabricated one to begin with) as long as it was made clear that he was no longer associated with MGM. There was also a fascinating legal case a few years back (in the 1980s or early 1990s?) where Shirley Temple sued the makers of a prepackaged version of drink that people had come to know as “Shirley Temples.” Don’t know remember how it was decided, but I think the judge made a similar kind of decision whereby they could use the name as long as the package indicated that Shirley Temple herself was not associated with the product.

There is also the funny case in New York of a restaurant opposite Lincoln Center that was called “O'Neal’s Balloon” because it was against a NYC ordinance to use the word “saloon.”

Also, while not a legal case, when they changed the name and signage of the Alvin Theater to the (Neal) Simon, they were “lucky” because the new name had the same number of letters, so it could be neatly done.

Considering all this, maybe they should change the name to the “John’s Paradise” (in honor of Eberson)? Or maybe Cinema Treasures should run a “contest”? (The winner should have five letters and an appostrophe that take up the same amount of space as Loew’s. Extra credit is for a name that involves the least number of changes to the word “Loew’s.”)

FoxFan on February 22, 2005 at 7:01 am

The name should be “grandfathered” into the preservation of the house. I am almost sure it will remain permanently.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 22, 2005 at 6:47 am

Can they legally still call this Loew’s Paradise? Even though the punctuation is different, there’s currently a Loews theatre circuit, which, as far as I know, has no connections with the Paradise.

Divinity on February 22, 2005 at 12:39 am

Great News Everyone!
For the first time in many years The bright red letters spelling Loew’s Paradise Theatre have been illuminated with red neon light.
Perhaps the sunburst will be next! During the dark hours of the night the light can bee seen from blocks away. The scaffolding and mesh screening still haven’t come down, but some new sections of the rear wall have been steam cleaned.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 21, 2005 at 11:55 am

I don’t know if it was planned that way, but MGM’s “China Seas” was the first movie to be shown at the Capitol when it dropped stage shows, and also the top feature of the first double bill that replaced stage shows at Loew’s Paradise and Valencia.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 21, 2005 at 10:41 am

The Paradise’s last movie/stage program was Paramount’s “Every Night At Eight” (Alice Faye-George Raft), plus vaudeville with singers Bob Murphy and Thelma Leeds, the dancing Gaylene Sisters, Vox & Walters, and several other acts, which ended its run on September 5, 1935. The next day, the Paradise switched to a weekly change of double features, starting with “China Seas” & “Bright Lights.” The Paradise’s “combo” policy had lasted 2,189 days, or roughly 5.9 years. If you figure an average of 3.5 stage shows per day, that’s about 7,662 performances. A current Broadway musical play giving eight performances a week would need to run about 18 years to equal that record.

Ziggy on February 10, 2005 at 6:57 am

Oops! I mean “and” peer through the doors.

Ziggy on February 10, 2005 at 6:56 am

Thanks Divinity! It’s good to know things are still progressing. I’m going to come to the Bronx this summer and see for myself. Even if all I can do is look at the outside at peer through the doors.

Divinity on February 9, 2005 at 10:24 pm

Hello Ziggy, I too have missed visiting Cinema Treasures. With the arrival such good weather I’ve been out and about suffering from a premature case of spring fever.

The crew is slowly but surely cleaning and grouting the ballustrade and rear wall above the attached taxpayer (not shown on the top of the page). Otherwise I haven’t noticed much else on the outside which is looking wonderful.

Ziggy on February 7, 2005 at 3:01 pm

Divinity, your frequent updates are very much missed! Do you have any comments for us regarding what’s up at the Paradise?

Divinity on January 3, 2005 at 11:32 pm

The original sunburst was a bright orange and yellow with jezebel red lettering. I do agree that the royal blue background is just a bit much.

Divinity on January 3, 2005 at 11:32 pm

The original sunburst was a bright orange and yellow with jezebel red lettering. I do agree that the royal blue background is just a bit much.

JimRankin on January 3, 2005 at 7:18 pm

It could be simply that the chemistry of paints has changed considerably since the 1920s and today we can obtain much brighter pigments than was possible then. Of course, it is possible to determine original color and brilliance and duplicate it with careful paint sourcing and mixing, but something tells me that they weren’t about to go to that expense of color matching in view of all the other expenses of restoration.

bzemanbz on January 3, 2005 at 7:46 am

We just happened to be driving up Grand Concourse on New Years Day and, say what(!), workers were working on the Paradise! Some were doing exterior work on the building’s store facades and something was going on inside because we could see lights on behind the plastic tarps across the entrance. The guard in the booth ignored our pleas to peek at the interior, though. Here’s a point to ponder: from what we could make out from behind the scaffolding covers, the sunburst on the flat “marquee” is painted in a really, taxingly garish blue, yellow and red. Was this original? It seemed a bit much against the elegant terra cotta ornamentations of the building. I would have expected something more subdued. But I could be wrong, and these colors were meant to be “attention getters'”

Divinity on December 24, 2004 at 9:54 pm

The exterior has been landmarked, so I suppose the signage is also included.

Merry Christmas everyone!