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What do you suppose the standards were when the Astor Plaza and the 42nd Street E-Walk Theatre began screening new releases day-and-date a couple of years ago? Do you think that was more distributor-driven (i.e., seeing the money potential to make an additional cash hit with a 2-3 week run at the Astor Plaza) or something Loews was more pro-active with, considering: a) how difficult it was to book first-run films on the day of their release into the Astor Plaza, what with the 38 competing screens two blocks away; or, b) the sinkhole – arguably on the level of what the Loews State has been since the E-Walk Theatre opened in November of ‘99 – a mostly move-over, 1440-seat single screen house would be, imploring them to pursue the current booking policy for the theatre?
The switch in programming Warren alludes to, I’m pretty sure, might have been a panic move on behalf of the owner of the Fair, after the Giuliani-advocated restrictions on adult businesses in the city became law in the mid- to late-1990s. The audiences for what were literally made-for-TV movies from the 1970s and straight-to-video, 3am USA Network-type programming must have been, to absolutely no surprise whatsoever, sparse, so the return to a porn booking policy must have been a logical one from a business perspective. Whatever ‘renovations’ the Fair may have underwent I’m frankly not bold enough to explore…
Just to clarify a bit on the Victoria/MovieCenter – the original auditorium (or at least the original space occupied by the Victoria) was divided into five auditoriums, not six. (The still-existant frontage on the theatre’s marquee bears this out.) After having been closed for about a year and having been rechristened as the Victoria – albeit as the Victoria 5 – it reopened in the fall of 1992 (with one of its initial offerings being the film ‘South Central’). The new management offered up a policy of first-run films for about a year – while, at some point during that time, ceasing to program the Victoria as a fiveplex and instead as a quad – until closing up shop about a year later (and after months-plus runs of ‘Malcolm X’ – relatively logical – and, somewhat quizzically, ‘The Firm’). For the next couple of years, more ethnically-based films (such as ‘Sankofa’) were programmed into the Victoria, on only one or two screens at a time, until the theatre closed once again. Since then, except for possibly sporadic events, the Victoria has been closed, waiting for a savior – and perhaps a stronger economy as well, at which point perhaps the management of the Apollo will revisit the merger plans which were being discussed a few years ago.
There are some interesting (interesting, that is, from a wreck-on-the-side-of-the-road perspective) photos of the interior of the Liberty – not long before its renovation into a nightclub began last year – posted on the French-language version of www.silverscreens.com
Cineplex Odeon reopened this house as the Chelsea West in December of 1996 (to answer your question, Robert, this was a Walter Reade house – that is, until they were bought out by Cineplex Odeon in 1987). One of the first features shown post-renovation in December of 1996 was ‘The People Vs. Larry Flynt’ and, as touted in an ad in the Times, management was serving free coffee to folks who attended the morning show during the first few days of its run. A fresh, hot cup of brew and a porn king/First Amendment martyr? Not a connection I’d automatically make, but hey… :–)
The Film Forum has always been an independent operation, from its beginning at 80 Wooster Street to 15 Vandam Street (which was later the home of the Thalia Soho; co-founder of the former Bleecker Street Cinema Jackie Raynal’s short-lived Le Cinematheque; and is now the Vandam Playhouse) until the late 1980s at 57 Watts Street (the since-demolished structure having once served as, I believe, either a garage of some sort or a fire station) and now at 209 W. Houston, which I’m pretty sure WAS a garage in a previous life.
The new apartment high-rise – which, despite some rumors to the contrary, won’t include a new movie theatre among its retail tenants – for which the Olympia site was cleared is currently under construction.
Nearly every play or musical ever written contains at least one element – language, sexual themes, etc. – which could possibly insult the sensibilities of at least SOMEONE in the audience; that’s both the nature and the beauty of a free society. I wish the Grove Theatre well, but I wish as well that Gayliene Omary comes to realize the importance of copyrights and the true meaning of artistic integrity.
Robert’s correct – the former Kips Bay Cinema was known as the Bay Cinema during its final years of operation. After closing on December 31, 1993 (the last film booked into the theatre was ‘Carlito’s Way’), the Bay Cinema sat empty and, for quite some time, boarded up, until the leases for the remaining tenants of the strip mall it was a part of (which also included a bicycle supply shop, a bank, and a grocery store) ran out, leading to the demolition of the entire property in the fall of 1997. A new retail structure was built on the site and, in the late spring/early summer of 1999, its tenants (including the Loews Kips Bay multiplex – which resides close to, if not at, the exact spot where the Bay Cinema stood) opened for business.
The first features booked into the Metro when it reopened under the management of Cineplex Odeon in the summer of 1986 were ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ and ‘A Great Wall’. It operated as a first-run house until January of 2003 when the landlord suddenly shut its doors as the result of a lease dispute with Clearview Cinemas, which had assumed control of the Metro (and several other Manhattan theatres) in the fall of 1998 when Cineplex Odeon was forced to divest itself of a handful of sites around the country in anticipation of its merger with Loews Theatres. Suddenly, in April of ‘03, the Metro – still a Clearview property – opened for business again (showing 'Chicago’ and the Chris Rock comedy ‘Head of State’ on its two screens); however, rumors still abound of its eventual closing, to be possibly replaced by yet another UWS high-rise apartment tower.
Enlighten me, Michael – just what is it that you ‘contribute’ to this web site, anyway?
The Liberty, according to the Hilton Times Square front desk employee I spoke with recently, is being converted into a nightclub and should be open for business by the end of this year or early next year.
The exterior of the Sutton, quite frankly, looks like a pure wreck at this point. (Congratulations, Ismael Leyva – your men truly did their ‘job’.) I’d be shocked and stunned if the Sutton is still open for business within two years' time.
To play devil’s advocate, I can see why Loews is looking to shake the State loose. You have to figure Loews is taking an absolute bath financially with the State, given that they’re limited to mostly booking second-run films, many of them deep into their runs (really, how much business do you suppose ‘The Last Samurai’ is doing at this point?) or ones that didn’t even have much of an audience when they were playing first run (I’m thinking of such negligible sudden rain storm dodgers as ‘Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights’ and ‘Twisted’), or even the first-run Bollywood flicks they frequently book into the theater. With Times Square property values being what they are (to wit: William noting on the Embassy 2-3-4 page that the landlord for that property is looking to rent it for about $1 million/year) and the break-even (if lucky) business second-run theaters are the vast majority of the time (even in a city starved as any for low-cost entertainment options), I’d be looking to do the same thing if I were Loews.
What I’m not clear on – besides MTV being cold and corporate – is why their management doesn’t instead target the former Worldwide Cinemas on 50th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. Granted, it’s not in the heart of Times Square, but the space within that structure – 6 medium- to large-sized auditoriums – would seem to immediately lend itself better to studio space. (Besides, there was word a couple of years ago – the theater itself ceased operations in February of 2001 when Loews Cineplex immediately divested itself of several properties throughout North America when its bankruptcy at the time became official – that another company was interested in doing the same within that space; on a common-sense basis, if it was good for those individuals or that company, why wouldn’t it be good enough for MTV?)
The ‘New Carnegie’ name lasted until late 1987/early 1988 when Cineplex Odeon ceased to operate it as a first-run house. In March of 1988, as an olive branch to Frank Rowley, the former programmer of the Regency Cinema (which was located at Broadway and 67th Street until its demolition in the spring of 1999) who was unceremoniously bumped from his position when Cineplex took over the lease of the Regency in the fall of 1987 and began booking it as a first-run house, gave him control of the space and re-named it as The Biograph. This lasted until the fall of 1991, when Cineplex Odeon opted not to renew the lease. Rowley then moved onto the Gramercy on 23rd Street in 1993 (which he programmed for barely a year, if that – actually, the Gramercy’s final months as part of the City Cinemas chain). The Biograph then sat empty for about a year, at which point the people who were running the Angelika Film Center at the time saw the opportunity to extend their name uptown by renovating the space slightly and reopened it as the Angelika 57.
The Angelika 57 closed for good in 1997 and was replaced shortly thereafter by a Morton Williams-Associated supermarket. No architectural elements from the site’s days as a movie theatre remain.
A deli occupies the Pi Alley’s lobby and a pizzeria the space which housed its two auditoriums. (The theatre closed in 1987 under the ownership of USA Cinemas, who merged with Sack Theatres in December of 1985 and sometime around 1988 with Loews Theatres.)
When the people who ran the Angelika Film Center at the time purchased the lease for the former Biograph Cinema (which I believe was previously known as the New Carnegie), the moniker they gave it was Angelika 57, not Angelika West. (The last feature to screen at the Angelika 57, BTW, was Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Good Bye Mozart’.)
One quick thing to keep in mind when having noted in the past that the Ziegfeld was ‘closed for renovations’ – quite frequently (in the NY Post and Time Out NY, at least), when a theater closes, even if it’s closing permanently, publications which run film listings will, as a placeholder, note that the theater is ‘closed for renovations’. Why that’s done I’m not quite sure (except perhaps for a lack of basic research) but I suspect it’s at the discretion of the listings editor.
We might be looking at the destiny of the Ziegfeld from this point on. Much like the El Capitan in LA – which isn’t open at all times, but instead is ‘closed for renovations’, sometimes for weeks-plus stretches – with the exception of not showing exclusively Disney product (unlike the Mouse House-owned El Capitan), maybe the Ziegfeld will only be open for special engagements (say, a three-week run of ‘The Alamo’ come April 9th, and then closing or moving directly onto the next appropriate big-screen-type film).
The Huntington Theater Company, the resident theater company of Boston University, is the current occupant (and I believe they have been for at least the last 20 years or so) of the now-namesake former Symphony Cinema.
Ian’s correct – the final film to screen at the Paris was indeed ‘Sommersby’, in the spring of 1993. The theatre – which, for a time, was where a vast majority of Woody Allen’s films were booked first-run in Boston – was completely demolished within two months' time.
…and one has to wonder how much longer the Village East will survive under current ownership. Last year City Cinemas filed a lawsuit against Loews Cineplex and Regal Entertainment Group, claiming that the two chains (which operate the Village VII Theatre and Union Square Stadium 14, respectively, within the same booking zone) were conspiring with the major studios to withhold product from the Village East’s screens. (City Cinemas may very well have an argument, considering that, of the 7-10 offerings typically booked into the Village East at any given time, only 1-3 are major studio offerings and even those generally aren’t the types of films likely to generate gangbusters box office.)
Warren is correct; the Thalia was still operating as a cinema at the same time Symphony Space began hosting programs out of the old Symphony Theatre. The Thalia closed in May of 1987 (and was immortalized in a Newsweek article the next month, chronicling the struggles revival houses around the country were facing in the wake of the VCR boom at the time). It sat empty until a neighborhood businessman bought the lease to the Thalia, gave it a slight renovation (including the installation of a new marquee), and reopened it in July of 1993, offering double-feature changes, if I remember correctly, three times a week (unlike during the former run of the Thalia which Gerald makes reference to, where the bills changed six – and, occasionally, seven – times a week). The revival programming at the ‘new’ Thalia, however, failed to catch on, perhaps due to a lack of originality in comparison to what was booked at the Thalia during its heyday, and the booking policy changed sometime around the spring of 1994, focusing exclusively on releases distributed by Fine Line Features (the dependent offshoot of New Line Pictures). That, however, didn’t last long and the Thalia went through several fallow periods and a handful of different lease-holders, all whose efforts to keep the Thalia running failed (the programming during this time could probably be best said to have resembled that of the old Bleecker Street Cinemas – an odd fit for the UWS, but it may have worked if the Thalia was consistently open for business).
Finally, after all those up-and-down periods, Symphony Space renovated the Thalia, which, if the times I’ve attended programs within its walls are to be judged as the rule as opposed to the exception, is more than holding its own. Unfortunately, none of the original architectural elements – including that beloved-by-some, despised-by-others upwardly sloping floor in the auditorium – remain.