Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

Unfavorite 118 people favorited this theater

Showing 76 - 100 of 4,407 comments

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 2, 2016 at 9:09 am

Bill, in Philly burbs on June 29, 2000, AMC TV hosted a free screening of “Psycho” (1960) with Janet Leigh appearing in person. That was part of a national tour so that would’ve also been in NYC. I saw the movie in 1997 at Radio City as part of a Universal classic series.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 2, 2016 at 7:11 am

I always thought an arrangement similar to the classics-only program that saved the Egyptian Theatre in LA (American Cinematheque) could have saved the Ziegfeld. I attended three TCM Road to Hollywood shows at the Ziegfeld in three different years – All About Eve, To Kill a Mockingbird and Cabaret – and all seats were filled for all three shows. Admission was free, but I’ll bet 99.9% of the people there would’ve gladly payed full price.

Also remembering a weeknight showing of Psycho (I forget the year – early 2000s?) that literally filled Radio City Music Hall. That audience is still out there.

NYer
NYer on February 1, 2016 at 7:15 pm

The problem was the studios were taken over by kids who only thought bottom line. Many movies premiered at The Ziegfeld, and played exclusively in the tri-state area like “Close Encounters” and “Tommy”,for months before opening wide and going on to be huge hits and Academy Award nominated. Now studios want that $100 million opening weekend, they don’t have any desire to sit and wait. Some movies played longer exclusively at The Ziegfeld than big hits of today that played out their entire theatrical run before hitting PPV & DVD/Blu-ray.

MarkNYLA
MarkNYLA on February 1, 2016 at 6:50 pm

To be fair Mike, Craig O'Connor of Clearview DID try to do what you suggested. If you go back to your own list and check the spring of 2008 and 2009, and various other days in 2010, there were classic films played at the Zieg, under the “Hollywood Classics” banner. I remember revivals of things like “Back To The Future”, “Grease”, “The Sound of Music” (both regular and sing-a-long versions), and other titles. They did OK, but did they make back the house expenses?

I loved the theatre as much as anyone here, but it is pointless to try to second-guess what should and shouldn’t have been booked there. At the end of the day, the place was too big and expensive to operate as a single screen, and while some big screen classics may have brought in some business during off weeks, none of us here can conclusively say that they would have made enough money to keep the place afloat, even at a break-even level.

theatrefan
theatrefan on February 1, 2016 at 6:46 pm

Wasn’t there talk at some point of Disney taking it over and making it into sort of an “El Capitan Theatre” East? When was the last time the Ziegfeld was renovated, was it by Cineplex Odeon sometime in the mid-nineties?

movieguy
movieguy on February 1, 2016 at 5:53 pm

I agree with Mike. The theater definitely need to be programmed much more creatively and smartly. Don’t just have the same movies that you could see at any other multiplex in the city. Do first-run movies along with classic films film festivals. Bring in Directors and people associated with the classic films to talk before or after the movies. Someone should’ve been hired to shoot a commercial showing and telling why coming to a beautiful single screen movie palace really enhance the experience of seeing a movie. A commercial showing the theater from when you first walk in to where you got your tix ripped The grand staircase and into the concession lobby area upstairs. Then into the actual theater space where the beauty of the theater could’ve been shown in the commercial. Especially from the balcony then from the curtains open and closed. I think it would’ve bought a lot of people in who just didn’t know the theater existed or how beautiful and special it was.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 1, 2016 at 5:12 pm

I meant they booked it AS IF it was in the middle of nowhere, instead of as the gem of midtown Manhattan.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on February 1, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Hello-

if I understand Mike’s statement correctly he refers
to the Ziegfeld as being “in the middle of nowhere”.

I truly wish people would stop saying that. when the studios still used the Ziegfeld for exclusive 1st run engagements people had no trouble at all in finding the theater. in fact when they ran the restored print of Lawrence of Arabia the line went from the box officer to 6th Ave. up to 55th St. then half a block to 7th Ave. so if some 23? years ago people had no trouble finding the theater what’s people’s excuse today? I mean the theater it at 54th St. and 6th Ave. so thanks to the grid plan Manhattan’s streets are based on it there should be no trouble in finding the theater.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 1, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Neither Bow Tie nor Clearview knew what to do with the Ziegfeld, booking it like an ordinary multiplex in the middle of nowhere instead of the gem of Manhattan movie palaces.

It didn’t need recliners or reserved seating; what it needed was to hire someone with creativity and vision to book it properly, a combination of first run, premieres, classics, film festivals, etc., instead of dumping studio releases there and leaving them for weeks on end.

I always thought they should have had two week bookings then bring in move-over product that may already be in release but not at the Ziegfeld. And some free cross-promotion at other Bow Tie or Clearview houses could have helped as well.

A look at the bookings posted above show the Ziegfeld had classic screenings from the very beginning, but after Walter Reade and Cineplex Odeon left the game, mediocrity ruled the day.

Say what you will about Garth Drabinsky, at least he (and Walter Reade) were showmen who knew how to get backsides in seats.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on February 1, 2016 at 3:12 pm

Mike (saps), when Walter Reade and then Cineplex Odeon ran the theater, those were the days. Cineplex Odeon at the time was famous for owning the Paramus theaters which were quite profitable when they were owned by Stanley Warner and then RKO-SW before Cineplex took over. At one point MCA owned a stake in the chain hence most of the Universal movies played there, including the reissue of Spartacus when MCA was controlled by what became Panasonic. When Loews Theaters merged with Cineplex in 1997, the theater, as well as its siblings, were bought by Clearview before Cablevision ran them into the ground before Bow Tie took over. Bow Tie never got a chance to renovate the Ziegfield with recliners like others as well as reserved seating yet kept the digital projection in addition to 35mm and 70mm projection. I wonder what will be come of the audio and projection as well as screen? The Ziegfield lived a longer life than the Astor and other single screen theaters showing commercial fare. It was also the most famous single screen theater that continued to show movies to fans on the east coast. As for live performances, that’s one thing the 1969 Ziegfield lacked over the original theater. In order to revamp the place into a concert hall like the Roseland Ballroom, they have to remove the seats and expand the area surrounding the theater.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 1, 2016 at 11:56 am

Walter Reade Jr’s widow & daughter visited in last days-

http://historictheatres.org/blog/2016/01/31/a-fond-farewell-to-nycs-ziegfeld-theatre/

cmbussmann
cmbussmann on February 1, 2016 at 11:50 am

If anyone has an image of the Ziegfeld marquee from the run of Times Square (opened 10/22/80), please post it or contact me.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on January 31, 2016 at 1:28 pm

Now, that’s creative booking…

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on January 31, 2016 at 10:05 am

Finally got the dates for the 12-film Kirk Douglas/Burt Lancaster double features in 1986:

9/26/1986 Paths of Glory/From Here to Eternity
9/27/1986 Birdman of Alcatraz/I Walk Alone
9/28/1986 Elmer Gantry/Along the Great Divide
9/29/1986 Ace in the Hole/Sweet Smell of Success
9/30/1986 Lust for Life/The Professionals
10/1/1986 Detective Story/The Crimson Pirate

Kirk and Burt’s last film together, Tough Guys, opened at the Ziegfeld in 70mm on 10/3/1986.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on January 30, 2016 at 6:35 pm

in this new article, awesome set of photos by David Mack of last night, especially that of the Ziegfeld exhibits: http://gothamist.com/2016/01/30/photos_the_last_night_at_the_legend.php#photo-1

theatrefan
theatrefan on January 30, 2016 at 9:01 am

Part of the reason that may have also hurt the Ziegfeld was that it was not built for live performances like many of the great Palaces from the classic era that presented vaudeville in their early days. It has helped give many of them a second lease on life as they can present live preformances, concerts, comedy shows etc. This venue was built for film presentation only, no stage, no stage house, no dressing rooms etc. I wonder if it would have been possible to retrofit this like was done at the Loew’s Astor Plaza, but also keep the film capabilities as well. Perhaps it just would have been too cost prohibitive.

movieguy
movieguy on January 30, 2016 at 8:52 am

I agree if it was managed and promoted better it could still be viable today. Bow Tie certainly had the money and advertising ability to do a good campaign for the theater. Their tagline is “moviegoing like it used to be but only better” that it is the biggest bunch of baloney. They don’t do anything to promote moviegoing In any special way over AMC or regal . Just another smaller chain of theaters. No better then the big guys.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on January 30, 2016 at 8:41 am

Management by both Clearview and BowTie was lackluster, haphazard and devoid of creativity. (They didn’t even promote the Ziegfeld at their other Manhattan location, the Chelsea.) A sad lack of showmanship and verve helped drop this place off the radar for many moviegoers.

movieguy
movieguy on January 30, 2016 at 8:22 am

Yes we shouldn’t blame the people that were there Thursday. But in reality if more people had come to even see films that were playing elsewhere in greater numbers they would’ve possibly stayed open. The fact that the studios are upset that it is closed just amazes me that somebody from Thestuios didn’t buy the theater to keep it as I said in my post before. At least the place for a movie premieres l, teaching film classes and showing 35mm and 70 mm films privately and publicly. How many other places could they turn into event spaces that are currently in the city now. Rather than destroying a theater that is so beloved b how many other places could they turn into event spaces that are currently in the city now. Rather than destroying a Beautiful theater. The world needs more places like the ZIG to provide a place where people can see a movie in a grand setting rather than sitting home watching A movie which can be enjoyable but certainly not the way Movies were meant to be seen

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on January 30, 2016 at 8:12 am

Let’s NOT blame the people who crowded the theater in its last several days, and who after the curtain closed, applauded & lovingly lingered, taking photo after photo. That’s several days worth of a crowd. To survive as a 1st run movie theater, seats needed to be filled for weeks. The problem as a 1st run movie theater was the “exclusive” for Manhattan was long gone with the same movie being played in multiplexes everywhere, diluting the potential audience. The only sold out show I attended was “The Thin Red Line” because it was an East Coast exclusive with only the UA Union Square sharing it as the distributor really wanted to showcase the movie.

The Ziegfeld survived in recent years because of one of the special events indicated by movieguy, movie premieres that were cut back after 2008 recession. Ironically, premieres are returning to Manhattan as this article states, studios aren’t happy with the closing, and more premieres are going to the AMC Loews Lincoln Square and AMC Empire, and Moma (as another article also stated)http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/nys-ziegfeld-theatre-closes-star-860298

movieguy
movieguy on January 30, 2016 at 8:01 am

Part of the venue may still be remaining but I was told by John the manager of the theater late Thursday night that the entire theater space will be completely gutted. Everything removed. So I don’t know what would remain if anything of the theater as we knew it. I’ll personally never step foot in The former Ziegfeld theater again. I predict that this fancy ballroom that they’re destroying a beautiful theater for, will not last very long and end up closing

movieguy
movieguy on January 30, 2016 at 7:59 am

Yes it is true if the number of people came for closing day came on a more consistent basis over the years for opening weekend then the second weekend of the film the theater could have still been open today and for the future. But it wasn’t being used to its full potential just showing regular first-run films. It was leased by Cablevision and for the most part special 70 mm screenings we’re not done and they could have been done for the public. More so 35mm screenings of classic movies like they did about 10 years ago. They had several times during the year where they would show classic films. For example in January February September When regular Hollywood offerings were not good . It really could’ve also been rented out over the years by people like Tarantino Martin Scorsese Spike Lee to show their films publicly or privately.

movieguy
movieguy on January 30, 2016 at 7:50 am

I did not know this. Yes what a tragedy that someone did NOT come along and provided a space to put her wonderful priceless collection. A Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese certainly could have provided the funds for this. Hell George Lucas is worth what over $1 billion !! Does make you think that these people are very self-centered and selfish.

NYer
NYer on January 30, 2016 at 7:46 am

It’s not a surprise, look how Hollywood treated Debbie Reynolds. She spent her life collecting, restoring and archiving some of the most iconic costumes and props of Hollywood. She even had the Panavision camera that filmed the original “Star Wars”. She spent millions of her own money. All she wanted was a place to open a museum to share with the public, she just couldn’t do it all. You would think some of the moguls who made their fortunes from this business could find a suitable building and invest in their own history. Of course when she gave up her dream in her eighties, and auctioned off her collection, then Hollywood said what a shame there was no museum.

movieguy
movieguy on January 30, 2016 at 7:25 am

Absolutely Mike I agree 100% hundred percent. It is a real tragedy that nobody stepped up to buy this great theater philanthropist or film director like Martin Scorsese Christopher Nolan spike Lee Mr. Tarantino. This was the answer to keeping it open for many more years showing 35mm film 70 mm film digitally projected movies films from up-and-coming directors. Having film premieres film classes. That’s what singles screen theaters across the country should be used for, if they are having finically trouble just showing regular first run films.