Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre

707 7th Avenue,
New York, NY 10036

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VincentParisi on January 11, 2006 at 10:09 am

But Koch was a great corporate shill. He was very vocal and fought hard for that Marriott. He and the great Joe Papp went at it hammer and tongs in the media. He was the figurehead for that catastrphe. Without Koch and others like him in their pocket the developers could not do what they had done.

Andres on January 11, 2006 at 9:42 am

If my memory does not fail me, it was late in Koch’s administration that plans to renovate Times Square began, and they continued under Dinkins and finally Giuliani. It was during Giuliani’s administration that the Disney deal to restore the New Amsterdam was made and the Disneyfication of the area began, including the construction of all the new skyscrapers, where incidentally, Giuliani Partners is located in one of them; the one next to the New Amsterdam in the southwest corner of 42d St. Sadly, some of the 42nd St. theates were lost, but others renovated — i.e. New Victory — and the facade and lobby of the Empire were incorporated into the monstruousity known as the AMC 25. As for the Rivoli, State, Srand/Warner, etc.; the blame goes to greedy Loews, United Artists and the real estate developers, not to any particular mayor. Andres.

kwekubruni on January 11, 2006 at 9:33 am

I spent the past year doing r&d on this property. We have been through this theater from head to toe and inside/out. In fact, we had a negotiated lease ready to sign. Bottom Line: The combined costs of renovating someone else’s property and doing business on Times Square is virtually cost prohibitive. The landlords agent and legal council were always honorable and professional but still, it is a complicated situation to work through.

William on January 11, 2006 at 8:47 am

The only thing that’s going to save or restore that theatre is someone with lots of money. The lease rent is very high to operate as a single screen theatre in that market. The landlords jacked the rent when the last leasee left.

Hibi on January 11, 2006 at 8:42 am

You’re right, Vincent. It was his watch when those theaters went down. I’d forgotten about that. Wasnt he intrumental in getting those Times Square skycrapers built that destroyed many movie theaters?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 11, 2006 at 8:33 am

Vincent… is that a fact? Was it Koch himself who promoted the redevelopment of that historic block for Marriott? I know during his administration we witnessed the loss of many cinema treasures (RKO Keith’s, Rivoli, State, Strand) but I just thought it was business as usual being conducted in offices peripheral to the Mayor (ie, Queens Boro Pres Donald Manes culpability in the Keith’s fiasco).

I guess now that he’s free from the bonds of political indebtedness, he has an opportunity – presented by Andres – to make up for some of the sins of his past. If not, Vincent, where do you think Andres should turn in his efforts to restore this theater to its intended use?

RichHamel on January 11, 2006 at 8:29 am

Vincent, how do you really feel about former Mayor Koch?

Andres on January 11, 2006 at 8:28 am

Vincent: You know better than I if Koch was not directly involved in the movement to save the Regency, but I remember he was at the picket line at least once.
As for yor opinion of him, I respect it.
I just want and hope like all of you who contribute to this site that this theater is saved.
Best, Andres.

VincentParisi on January 11, 2006 at 8:04 am

Do you want me to continue?
I was one of the people who fought to retain the Regency as a Rep house and I knew those who were instumental in forming this protest. Not only am I not aware that Koch had anything to do with trying to save the theater but I don’t remember any of the diehards ever mentioning him. If they had I would have responded with total disbelief.

VincentParisi on January 11, 2006 at 7:57 am

He was the one who fought for the destruction of the Helen Hayes, Morosco, Bijou, Astor and Victoria!
He was the one who wanted the Marriott built-one of New Yorks great architectural disasters.
He told Papp who fought for these great theaters that Broadway was dead and who gave a damn anyway.
This was the cornerstone of the complete and total devastation of corporate America on New York’s greatest neighborhood.
Truly one of the most detestable and loathsome New Yorkers ever!
And I’m being nice.

Andres on January 11, 2006 at 7:51 am

You got it right EdSolero. The current adminitration did not even acknowledge my letter as they are supposed to do when a constituent writes to City Hall, even though I sent it through a person I know at the Mayor’s office. The letters are not responded to personally by the mayor of course. The Mayor’s Correspondence Unit responds and then fowards the letter to the appropiate city agency or unit, in my case the Film Commission. They are supposed to respond to the constituent within 10 days. That office never acknowledged my letter or responded. That’s why I turned to Koch. Koch is not only a person of considerable influence, but he loves the movies. When the Regency in the Upper West Side was taken over by Cineplex Odeon and changed its programming from repertory to first run, Koch initiated and led a picket line in front of the theater, as he did when Loews or Cineplex raised the ticket prices many years ago. He write a weekly movie column — reviews — in The
Villager. Andres.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 11, 2006 at 6:58 am

I think Andres is purposely writing to our former Mayor Koch to engage his considerable influence as a private citizen. Andres would probably never get the ear of the Bloomberg administration, but he might reach Koch – who in turn can use his clout and connections to get Bloomberg’s ear on the matter. Here’s to that effort!

Hibi on January 11, 2006 at 6:43 am

Does anyone know who actually owns the theater property now? Why do they ask such astronomical rent? Who could ever make a profit and pay rent like that? Is it just a tax write off? Its a shame to let that theater just rot away there……..

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on January 11, 2006 at 1:17 am

Thanks for your letter, Andres. Even if nothing comes of it, at least you made the effort – and it’s such a nice thing to dream about and hope for.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 10, 2006 at 5:45 pm

By the way, you can still make out some of the letters on the south side of the marquee under the white sheet draped upon it with the “For Lease” sign. I believe the title at the top of the marquee is the Will Smith film “Enemy of the State” from 1998.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 10, 2006 at 5:38 pm

Thanks, Andres… I hope your letter sets things into motion. The Mayfair, in fact, did present 3-strip widescreen on at least one occasion. I was reading through some old movie reviews on the NY TImes website and came across Vincent Canby’s piece on the 1966 “Cinerama’s Russian Adventure” that was playing at the Warner’s Cinerama (former Strand). In the review, Canby mentions that that this was actually a film in the Russian process called Kinopanorama and further states that a film called “Great is My Country”, which was also filmed in the Cinerama-like 3-camera system, had played at the Mayfair (“now the Demille” he points out) in July of ‘59.

I doubt the equipment is still there, but I’m sure the theater could be very easily re-furbished for exhibition of 3-strip Cinerama. Keep us informed as to how we might get involved.

Andres on January 10, 2006 at 2:24 pm

I just sent this e-mail to Mayor Ed Koch. Let’s hope he becomes interested and something is done about this theater. Best, Andrés.
Dear Mayor Koch:
I am taking the liberty of writing to you because some time ago you gave out your e-mail address on the NY1 Wiseguys segment (which I never miss). But this not about politics, it’s about movies. Specifically, Cinerama.
As a die hard movie fan just like you ( I was involved in film exhibition back home in Puerto Rico, where we had a Cinerama theater ); I think Cinerama should be brought back to New York City.
Triple projection Cinerama and its huge curved screen debuted right here in New York City at the Broadway Theatre on September 1952. Yet, while Seattle and Los Angeles have Cinerama theatres, New York, “The Capital of the World,” does not. I am sure a Cinerama theater in Times Square, “the crossroads of the world,” would be a terrific tourist attraction and would bring movie loving visitors and money to the city. Besides triple projection Cinerama, the theater could show 70mm spectaculars like “Lawrence of Arabia” as they were intended to be seen. Also, the venue could be used for other movie attractions such as a 3D festival like they had last summer at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles. Except for the occasional double projection 3D film at the Film Forum, most contemporary New Yorkers have not seen double projection 3D, just as they have not seen Cinerama. Last summer both the American Museum of the Moving Image in Queens and the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center celebrated 50 years of wide screen movies. It’s ironic that it was Cinerama that started it all right here in New York City and we don’t have a Cinerama theater.
As for the venue, the abandoned Embassy 2-3-4 (formerly the DeMille, originally the RKO Mayfair) on Seventh Avenue and 47th Street, is wide enough for triple projection Cinerama since it used to play 70mm spectaculars in its heyday.
I have written to a contact I have at City Hall, to Chrystine Nicholas of NYC & Co., whom I happen to know, though I have not seen her in years; to members of the City Council who belong to the film/theatre committee, to no avail. Someone like you, a liked former mayor with contacts in all walks of life, can surely convince a group of investors/film people to bring Cinerama back to NYC, THE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD!
Think about it Mayor Koch, if someone can do it it’s you. Let’s bring back Cinerama to it’s birthplace, New York City. Again, if someone can do it, it’s you Mayor Koch.
Incidentally, I missed you at the retirement party of Amy Betanzos last October at the Time Warner Center.
Andrés Roura

DonRosen on January 3, 2006 at 2:17 am

There is a wonderful reproduction of The Mayfair in the new “King Kong”. Check it out as the mighty Kong rampages through Times Square!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 15, 2005 at 11:40 am

One small correction. The information on this site that John Eberson was architect for the Civic Theatre in New Zealand seems to be in error. The theatre’s description states the style is “Ebersonian” and the theatre’s official website notes C. Bohringer as architect.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 15, 2005 at 6:11 am

I saw the new “King Kong” from Peter Jackson last night and it features some stunning digital recreations of New York City circa 1933. While artistic liberties are taken, Times Square is well represented in the film. The Mayfair Theater in particular, with it’s huge wrap-around corner billboard, is probably the most prominently recognizable Times Square landmark featured in the climactic New York sequence of the film. The theater where Kong is put on display in the film is a fictional “Alhambra Theater” that has more or less displaced the Palace on the block between 47th and 46th Street, although Jackson has it located on the other side of the old Newsreel Theater (Embassy 1) in his “reel” world. The action and camera movements in this sequence are very rapid-fire, so I’m sure I’ll be making good use of the “pause” and “rewind” buttons on my remote to make geeky study of all the digital detail work in the recreation (particularly as it relates to the theaters depicted) when the movie is released on DVD.

The atmospheric interior of the “Alhambra” belongs to the very real Civic Theatre in Auckland, New Zealand, which is evidently still very much in use for both cinematic presentation and live events. The theater is a stunning overseas effort by atmospheric guru John Eberson.

As for the movie itself, if anyone is interested… the first hour didn’t really work for me; I found it unevenly acted, under-directed, over-scored and poorly written. However, once the characters are set to sea and their ship encounters the mysterious fog that shrouds Kong’s native Skull Island, the film really takes off on a rip-roaring adventure. Great fun. Technically dazzling and rather touching throughout… and there are some clever (and not-so-clever) references to bits of dialog and business (and use of Max Steiner’s classic score) from the original Cooper/Shoedsack film sprinkled about with varying success. Bottom line, the old B&W version still reigns supreme, but this is a worthy re-envisioning and technical update.

RichHamel on December 15, 2005 at 5:48 am

This is new, additional damage. I pass the theater a few times a week. Jagged, bent pieces of metal are now jutting out of the front.

William on December 15, 2005 at 4:37 am

The marquee has been damaged for a few years now.

RichHamel on December 15, 2005 at 2:52 am

I noticed some damage while driving by this morning. It looks like a truck recently clipped the front of the marquee.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 28, 2005 at 6:56 am

Odd, nowadays, to see an ad with staggered start dates at different theaters. “Held over 3 more days” implying that a new feature would have normally been booked starting Wednesday (which is still a fairly common opening day)… but “Psycho” was starting on a Saturday in many theaters featured in the ad and would be ending it’s run on Friday at the DeMille, Baronet and Brooklyn Paramount. It’s amazing how release strategies have changed so much since then. Even in the ‘70’s it was not uncommon to have films roll out on different days (and with different co-features) depending on the theater. I used to wonder why certain theaters would play a different 2nd feature or drop the 2nd feature alltogether.

RobertR on November 23, 2005 at 4:56 am

Look at this great ad for “Psycho”. It went out on the wide run while still plying the Demille.
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