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Bigjoe59: I went to all the shows you mentioned on their first night or first weekend. They were all exclusive runs, sadly a thing of the past for the Ziegfeld.
I’d like to add “Hair” to your list. It sold out at the Ziegfeld for weeks, yet played to almost-empty theaters when it branched out to New Jersey. Also “Gandhi”. See the comments above for stories about the sold-out Ziegfeld shows during one of the worst blizzards New York City ever had.
I wonder if the income the Ziegfeld generates from being the primary location (the only location, really) for current big studio premieres is the only thing keeping the theater afloat. The day I saw Jersey Boys there, with an audience of 6 people, the usher told me about the full house they had the night before with the premiere of the new Transformers movie, with Mark Wahlberg, etc. in attendance.
I’m giving the edge to the Cinerama screen at the Capitol. Something about the curve, the way it just enveloped you. Really amazing.
Thanks Jfg718 and William for describing the Capitol screen so vividly, bringing me back to the one and only time I saw it, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, 46 years ago today. I too think it was the largest screen I’ve ever seen, even after all these years.
The storm was at its height just about when the movie was over – visibility zero – and I was seriously considering asking the manager if I could spend the night on the wide rug floor between the front row and the screen. I didn’t think I’d be able to get home, but I did. Now I regret not asking. What if they’d said yes? That would really be a Ziegfeld night to remember!
Rob, on behalf of all those people waiting in the snow, I want to thank you for running the shows that day.
Rob: Sorry to hear about your accident with the “Gandhi” reel, but I’ve got to say that movie was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen at the Ziegfeld. I saw it there 7 times, including the night of one of the worst blizzards in NYC history, a Friday night in February 1983. Maybe you were working that night? It was a packed house, too.
According to a book called “The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion”, the movie did above average box office business in 1939, but failed to break even due to its exorbitant production costs. The same thing happened to “Cleopatra”, the top box office attraction of 1963 but forever branded a flop. “Oz” did recoup its costs and start to show a profit ten years later, due to a very successful nationwide rerelease in 1949. MGM promoted it as the “most requested” of its hits from years past.
I believe today was the day “2001” opened to the general public, after the press screening and premiere, 46 years ago.
Good thing the plaque was wrong about that, BigJoe. The only time I was ever in the Capitol was June 1968.
Here’s a link.
Bigjoe59: You can find lots of souvenir programs on eBay. I got one for It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World from there, and in excellent condition.
Looking forward to “2001” tonight at the Count Basie Theatre. It’ll be my first time there. Hope the screen is as big as it looks from the photos of the stage curtains.
I saw “2001” here three years ago in the small upstairs theater. Saw it again tonight in the main theater, with the biggest screen. Size does matter when it comes to “2001”.
Every Sunday in December 2013, the NYC subway system runs a vintage train filled with ads from the 1940’s and 1950’s:
Maybe they could have a sellout with Star Wars Episode VII in December 2015. The prequels all did very well at the Ziegfeld.
Bud is right. The Ziegfeld will never sell out with a new movie, but if TCM holds another Road to Hollywood event there in early 2014, like they’ve done for the last few years, you won’t see one empty seat. That’s a sight to behold.
“The Bells of St. Mary’s” is the movie Al Pacino and Diane Keaton went to Radio City to see in “The Godfather”. I’m trying to imagine Michael and Kay waiting on that impossibly long line.
Wow, Chris. Thanks for reporting that for us. Now if only they’d SHOW “2001” at the Chinese. Maybe they will someday.
Just got back from a true classic at Hoboken Cinemas: “Psycho”. They’ve been showing lots of great stuff every Saturday and Sunday morning. Too bad there were only 3 other people in the audience besides me.
Saw it in Imax 3D. That is indeed the only way to see it, and I was never that crazy about 3D. Not since Avatar, anyway. Gravity is an excellent movie all around.
A post from Vito or RobEndres can never be too long. Great to hear from you both again!
One of the largest is in the AMC Loew’s Lincoln Square complex in New York City, measuring 100' by 80'.
One answer might be that the New York metropolitan area had multiple Cinerama theaters at the time the MGM Cinerama films were released. There was one in Montclair NJ (the Clairidge), two on Long Island NY (the Syosset in Syosset and the Twin South in Hicksville), and one in Rockland County NY (the Route 59), which was Cinerama only for a short time, but it did play How the West Was Won.
I think the reason “2001”’s Cinerama run in New York was so short is because MGM had “Ice Station Zebra” ready to go out, and there was only one Cinerama theater in New York at that time. So they sacrificed “2001” in Cinerama to make room for “Zebra”. But the 35mm version of “2001” played in only a handful of theaters in Manhattan until March 1969, so the movie played New York for a week or two short of one year before going into wide release.
I guess everybody wanted to see Liz and Dick. It’s a common misconception that “Cleopatra” was a flop, but it was actually the biggest-grossing movie of its year. It just cost so much that it didn’t show a profit until its network TV sale, several years later.