S.V.A. Theatre

333 West 23rd Street,
New York, NY 10011

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Showing 51 - 75 of 96 comments

William on September 25, 2007 at 2:28 pm

They used that same type of effect for the trailer at Cineplex’s Universal City complex back then it was a DTS special feature.

BobT on September 25, 2007 at 2:11 pm

I can remember every movie I ever saw and where I saw it but one. It was here when the theater was a triplex. I came in from Long Island with a friend and I even got a great parking spot right in front. It was for an exclusive engagement of a Scandinavian fantasy film with a falcon that seemed to be a family movie until a scene where a bunch of guys were in a sauna and all comically jumped out into the snow and started making snow angels, with full frontal male nudity. The audience was like WTF? This was about 1985 and my friend is no help, he doesn’t even remember going to the theater.

Years later, I saw “Evita” here when it was a twin and they had a sign in the box office saying they used strobe lights. I don’t know about anywhere else, but in NY especially during Broadway shows, they have signs when strobe lights are used in case anyone is epileptic. Before the movie, they had a trailer for “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and it was a thunder storm with glimpses of the T-Rex with surround effects and the strobe flashed during the lightening. It’s the only place I saw that trailer and it really had nothing to do with the actual movie when it opened.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on September 25, 2007 at 1:04 pm

By the way, previous names were RKO 23rd St, Roundabout, 23rd St West Triplex, as a single, legit and triple, respectively.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on September 25, 2007 at 1:00 pm

It had a great remodel late in the Cineplex Odeon days when it became a twin and, although a bit dog eared these days, the still booming gay Chelsea crowd keeps it going.

Now that the Beekman is gone, Woody Allen likes his premieres here.

William on September 25, 2007 at 11:30 am

It’s the size and the location.

longislandmovies on September 25, 2007 at 11:24 am

How this lasts out of all the old great theaters in NY……

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 25, 2007 at 10:45 am

Shouldn’t the description and former names be updated on this house?

HowardBHaas on September 12, 2007 at 7:36 pm

In January 1997, I saw “People vs. Larry Flynt” in the smaller auditorium (former loge) after the theater reopened as a two screener. 13 rows of tall chairs in sections of 7, 14, 7, total of 364. Estimated screen for scope at 35 to 40 feet wide. Orange red curtain used. Film projected in SDDS but no surround sound appeared to have been used then.

In the same month, I saw “Evita” in the large auditorium. 21 rows of 6, 16, 6 seats, total of 588 seats. Screen size 50 feet wide, curved, by 20 feet tall. Curtain not used. Dolby Digital There were 4 speakers in the back, but they didn’t use the 10 speakers on the side walls at that time.

Forrest136 on August 21, 2007 at 6:25 pm

Most of the time this theatre looks closed! The marquee seldom works properly and it looks so depressing! Also one of the most uncomfortable places around.

42ndStreetMemories on May 15, 2007 at 6:41 am

Here’s a shot of the groundbreaking for the theater. Probably in early 1961. Sign states that opening was scheduled for Easter 1962, they missed it by about 9 months.

Taken from 35mm MovieTone, probably played in RKO theaters hyping the new theater.

View link

William on May 9, 2007 at 8:35 am

“not enough women’s toilets” and “too many ads and trailers before the features” thats the problem with all theatres. New York Magazine should tell us something new, thoses problems have been around for ages. I prefer the AMC Loews Lincoln Square complex over 4 of these plexes. I do like the Ziegfeld Theatre for the most part except the seats. I’ve had screening prints come from the Clearview Chelsea complex that were poorly handled. And the other three complexes are just fair in presentations.

HowardBHaas on April 26, 2007 at 8:16 pm

Like the Ziegfeld, the Chelsea West is closed until Spiderman 3 opens.

Forrest136 on April 7, 2007 at 3:37 am

Saw “Little Children” there at a matinee on Wednesday of this week. Nasty brain damaged workers that were rude and lazy worked the concession and box office. Once inside theatre 2 , I was so uncomfortable! The straight back chairs and serious lack of leg room left me twisted in my seat for over 2 hours. So uncomfortable. No wonder it was empty!

Forrest136 on March 8, 2007 at 2:24 am

I drive by there most nights and it always looks cloded! Half the neon is burnt out, and the current attraction is never on the marquee! Is this the next to close?

William on March 7, 2007 at 6:00 pm

Heres an answer to Badlands for the poor projection. Last year the theatre went to a Limited service type on projectionist contract at that theatre. Limited Service is a part-time operator. So thats the problem with the house.

Badlands on January 19, 2007 at 6:10 am

While I really like the Chelsea West as a theater, the people they have running the place are incompetent and apathetic. At the 5:10 showing of BABEL on 1/19, they left the house lights on for the first 15 minutes of the film after repeated complaints from the audience. I saw CASINO ROYALE there about a month ago, and the image was out of focus. Which theater in Manhattan is the best for the overall experience: great sound, great projection, comfortable seats…?

hardbop on November 3, 2006 at 8:39 am

I made my first trip back here in 10 years a couple of weeks ago when I caught INFAMOUS, which was playing in both theatres. Last time I was here, in October of 1996, I remember it was a rainy Saturday and the film FLY AWAY FROM HOME was playing. So, every family in Manhattan with kids was in line and it was a mob scene in front of the theatre. I remember waiting in a long line in the rain waiting to buy a ticket/get in. I think FLY AWAY FROM HOME was playing exclusively at the Chelsea Theatre at that point and the combination of the day and the weather caused the place to be mobbed. That same day I made it a double-bill catching LOVE IS ALL THERE IS there, which, in addition to taking place on City Island, featured a then unknown Angelina Jolie in the cast.

Until I caught INFAMOUS, I hadn’t been back since. This was the first time I’d been back since they reduced the screens from three to two and they did a nice job, though I don’t think thre were 10 people in the theatre the day I caught INFAMOUS.

I’ve viewed films here when it was a single theatre, then a triplex, then a duplex.

William on October 24, 2006 at 5:42 pm

Cineplex Odeon did that on the West Coast, the managers got bonuses for the ones that sold the most of that stuff. On a busy intermissions the staff would charge that extra .10 cents-.25cents, depending on size of corn and not put the extra stuff on the corn.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on October 24, 2006 at 5:26 pm

I remember using real butter at Cineplex Odeon. Post Garth Drabinsky we shifted to buttery flavored chemical and started charging extra for it, a stupid customer service fiasco that the local press rightfully had a field day but wrongly at the employees expense.

The Toronto boys couldn’t care less.

42ndStreetMemories on October 24, 2006 at 1:59 pm

I haven’t posted on this site in a while. I lived in the co-op down the street from the theater, watched every brick go in, then lamented the programming for years, pining for the old RKO on 8th avenue.

A friend from Chelsea, Kenny,recently found these images. Enjoy

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The lounge in image 4 would be to the left of the snack bar. The view in image 5 is taken from a row of glass entrance doors.

The marquee shows the inaugural booking, The Trial. Man, were we bummed. IMDB lists the NYC premiere in Feb, 1963. And as I stated earlier the 3 Stooges appeared opening night in a limo. Jerry K

exit on October 24, 2006 at 11:57 am

I worked for Roundabout briefly and frequented the place after the Cineplex redux.

It was built with a stadium style Loge that was over the lobby and restrooms. The main floor was separated by a cross aisle, which is how you entered. From the numbers quoted above it’s apparent that the main floor was 558 and the loge 358. This is the same layout as the Beekman, Sutton, Plaza, Coronet, and the Ziegfeld. I can’t remember any Manhattan movie theatre (after the 70s plex boom) that had a real overhanging balcony except the Regency.

In the 80s, Cineplex closed off the balcony, walled-off the other side of the cross aisle, and split the main level right down the middle. All three screens had working curtains and the nice curvy “old movie theatre” feel of the lobby was retained. After that I used to go on Sunday matinees, stopping at a nearby chicken place for fresh steak fries and corn on the cob. I sat in the last row quietly nibbling during the film. I was very careful not to make noise or a mess, and took everything back out with me, leaving nothing for anyone to clean up.

Anyone remember Cineplex’s debut in Manhattan, when all their directory ads had REAL BUTTER in huge letters at the top? It was the very same Odell’s Anhydrous Butterfat used back in the old “Buttercup” days, but they made it sound like an innovation. A couple years later they quietly switched to something cheaper that tasted like motor oil.

I had already moved to LA by the time they took down the divider downstairs, which must make a nice size theatre. I think the reason might be that they already had enough crackerboxes across the street in the 9-plex, and a larger capacity house would be good for more popular films. With today’s larger seats I imagine the breakdown might be something like 250-300 upstairs and 400-450 downstairs.

Could someone post pictures (maybe on CinemaTour) of the way it looks inside now? I’m really curious about the main foor and the lobby.

GWaterman on August 20, 2006 at 6:10 pm

“Lost Memory’s post of April 21, 2006 implies a true balcony level, but on April 22nd, GWaterman describes a raked stadium style "loge” section at the rear of the auditorium."

It was definately a raked stadium-style loge, but please understand that when I worked there it was 1977-78. Many things could have changed since that time.

HowardBHaas on August 18, 2006 at 7:49 pm

The above list of posters has no relevancy to the Chelsea West page.

What is relevant is that in about the same time period Cineplex Odeon was turning this 3 screener into a very nice 2 screener, they renovated the Beekman (since demolished) in New York, and in Washington D.C. the Cinema (since closed & gutted) and Uptown. They didn’t renovate the Avalon in D.C, which after Loews departed, was saved & renovated by neighbors. I miss Cineplex Odeon.

mikemorano on August 18, 2006 at 5:10 pm

anyone who conceals their identity behind a pseudonym has zero credibility with me; was a comment written by crank case Warren. Therefore the following people have no credibilty by Warren’s definition. Happy commenting fellas and ladies.

Life’s too short
Lost Memory
True Class
Ziegfeld Man
Bklyn Cinemas
Concerned Taxpayer 2
Movie Place NYC

William on August 18, 2006 at 1:14 pm

Remember this is when Cineplex was remodeling and upgrading older theatres. A lot of their theatres were remodeled during this time.