Capitol Theatre

1645 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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bigjoe59 on April 8, 2014 at 2:49 pm


a question for my fellow fans of the late but great Capitol. nowadays big films will open on 2 to 3 thousand screens on the same day. now in Manhattan every so often one of these big films will stay at a theater or two for quite some time. which brings me to my question. in the photo section is an ad for “Mata Hari” that states at the top “held over for 3rd and final week”. to which did films at the Capitol during this period never play for all that long no matter how much of a hit they were?

Cimarron on April 6, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Uplaoad Pic of 1935 “A Tale Of Two Cities” in Photo Section.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 5, 2014 at 12:33 pm

That rave review makes me want to see the movie again, even though I just saw it a few months ago in its 3-D incarnation.

To quote form the review “…the comicalest of all is Bert Lahr with an artistically curled mane, a threshing tail, and a timid heart. As he mourns in one of his ballads, his Lion hasn’t the prowess of a mow-ess; he can’t sleep for brooding; he can’t even count sheep because he’s scared of sheep. And what he wants is courage to make him king of the forest so that even being afraid of a rhinocerus would be imposerus. Mr. Lahr’s lion is fion.”

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on April 4, 2014 at 7:55 pm

I think Bill’s comment is accurate.

MGM agreed the results were less than expected and early tracking showed a lack of adult interest. “PINOCCHIO” did twice the business.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 4, 2014 at 7:49 pm

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.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 4, 2014 at 5:22 pm

The internets are your friend.

bigjoe59 on April 4, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Hello Again-

I am now more confused than ever. I have read on more than one occasion that The Wizard of Oz which opened at this theater never really ignited the box office even after MGM tried various catchy ad campaigns and its books only entered the black when it was sold to t.v.. Al A.’s reply seems to confirm this. yet Mike’s post makes it seem like it was a big box office hit. so which is the case?

Cimarron on April 3, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Pic upload 1936 Ad “Born To Dance” starring Eleanor Powell & James Stewart. See Photo Section.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on April 3, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Since it was barely released in 1939 and had most of its runs in 1940, it came in fourth place behind “PINOCCHIO” and “BOOM TOWN”.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 3, 2014 at 8:23 pm

The story of the Wizard of Oz' difficulties at the box office upon its initial release is a bit apocryphal.

It was the second most popular movie of 1939 (after Gone with the Wind) and the third most popular movie of the entire 1930s (after GWTW and Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs) according to more than one internet source.

A good read on the creation and history of The Wizard of Oz can be found in Aljean Harmetz' The Making of the Wizard of Oz, which is still available in many local libraries.

bigjoe59 on April 3, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Hello to AL A.–

as always I thank you for your font of knowledge. so if I understand your reply correctly the story I related in my question is more or less true?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on April 3, 2014 at 6:24 pm

“WIZARD” had a hard time attracting adults the first time around. It was only a big hit in NYC and that was mostly because Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney were added in person to help fill the house.

bigjoe59 on April 3, 2014 at 5:41 pm


since The Wizard of Oz debuted at this theater a question. we all assume the film was a big box office hit when it opened Sept. of 1939 I believe. but I have read more than once that while it wasn’t a flop per se it never really ignited the box office to any great extent. in fact since this was the time when the studios still controlled the theaters MGM tried to jump start the film with ingenious ad campaigns but the public never really bit. to which the film only became this beloved classic after it started airing on t.v. in 1954? is this true?

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 3, 2014 at 5:25 pm

I believe today was the day “2001” opened to the general public, after the press screening and premiere, 46 years ago.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 3, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Good thing the plaque was wrong about that, BigJoe. The only time I was ever in the Capitol was June 1968.

bigjoe59 on April 3, 2014 at 2:50 pm


a bit of info fellow Capitol Theater devotees will find interesting. the Loew’s Lincoln Square has each of the auditoriums named after a famed Loew’s movie palace. to the right of the entrance to each auditorium is a plaque with info about the honored theater. the plaque for the Capitol states the theater was torn down at the end of 1967. I’ve mentioned it to management several times but they don’t seem to care about the incorrect info.

Cimarron on April 2, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Pic upload of 1919 Ad “Blind Husband”.

RSM3853 on December 27, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Films at Loew’s Capitol (Cinerama) from 1957 to its closing in 1968. Dates are the Wednesday of the opening week. DateTitle 12/18/57Legend of the Lost 01/15/58Bonjour Tristesse 02/19/58Cowboy 03/19/58Teacher’s Pet 05/07/58The Sheepman 05/28/58Vertigo 07/02/58Kings Go Forth 08/06/58The Naked and the Dead 09/10/58Dunkirk 10/01/58Onionhead 10/22/58Torpedo Run 11/12/58Houseboat 12/17/58The Buccaneer 01/28/59The Trap 02/11/59Never Steal Anything Small 03/04/59Night of the Quarter Moon 03/25/59Tempest 04/29/59The Mating Game 05/20/59The World, the Flesh, and the Devil 06/17/59The Five Pennies 07/29/59Last Train from Gun Hill 08/26/59It Started With a Kiss 09/16/59Tamango 09/30/59But Not for Me 12/23/59Solomon and Sheba 02/17/60The Last Voyage 03/16/60Heller in Pink Tights 04/06/60The Unforgiven 05/25/60The Rat Race 07/06/60Elmer Gantry 08/10/60Ocean’s 11 10/11/60Hell to Eternity 11/16/60Butterfield 8 02/01/61The Misfits 03/08/61Go Naked in the World 03/29/61One-Eyed Jacks 05/24/61Atlantis, the Lost Continent 06/21/61The Parent Trap 07/19/61By Love Posessed 08/23/61Ada 09/20/61A Thunder of Drums 10/11/61Back Street 11/15/61Bachelor in Paradise 12/27/61The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone 02/07/62Sergeants 3 03/28/62Sweet Bird of Youth 05/23/62The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence 08/08/62The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm 03/27/63How the West Was Won 12/25/63The Best of Cinerama ® 06/24/64Circus World 11/04/64Where Love Has Gone 11/25/64First Men in the Moon 12/23/64Cheyenne Autumn 02/24/65Love Has Many Faces 03/03/65Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte 03/24/65John Goldfarb, Please Come Home 04/07/65Major Dundee 04/21/65Nobody Waved Goodbye 05/05/65Synanon 05/19/65Peyton Place/Return to Peyton Place ® 05/26/65The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders 06/09/65Up from the Beach 06/16/65A High Wind in Jamaica 06/30/65The Hallelujah Trail 09/15/65The Reward 09/22/65Marriage on the Rocks 10/27/65The Cincinnati Kid 12/22/65Doctor Zhivago 02/01/67The Night of the Generals 03/15/67In Like Flint 04/12/67Georgy Girl/The Professionals ® 04/26/67Casino Royale 06/14/67The Dirty Dozen 08/02/67In the Heat of the Night 10/18/67Far From the Madding Crowd 02/07/68Planet of the Apes 04/03/682001: A Space Odyssey

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on September 15, 2013 at 8:55 pm

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.

bigjoe59 on September 15, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Hello to Al A.–

as always thank for the info. i have another question that i find just as fascinating. my parents took me to see the roadshow engagements of both The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm and How The West Was Won at this theater. i always assumed they had healthy roadshow runs. to which i was quite surprised to find out TWWOTBG’s lasted only 33 weeks and HTWWW’s lasted only 39 weeks. i can see MGM having to pull TWWOTBG even if it was still doing good box office to open HTWWW. but why was HTWWW pulled after only 39 weeks? the roadshow run of HTWWW in both L.A.and San Francisco lasted a lot longer than 39 weeks if i am not mistaken. so what gives?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on September 15, 2013 at 6:10 pm

It moved across the street to the Embassy 49, but the ads don’t specify the format. It ran again later that summer at the Guild for a couple of months.

bigjoe59 on September 15, 2013 at 5:41 pm

to Bill H.–

thanks for your reply. five seconds after clicking on add comment it dawned on me that as well as the film was still doing MGM had to pull it to open their big year end “in Cinerama” film Ice Station Zebra. so while it may not have been “in Cinerama” or on a 2 a day roadshow policy did the film at least move to another theater for an exclusive run in 70MM? the reason i ask is simple.

The Sound of Music ran at the Rivoli on a 2 a day roadshow policy in Todd-AO from i believe the first week of March 1965 to the last week of Sept. 1966. normally it would have then gone to the prominent theaters in the other boroughs that traditionally played 20th Century Fox Films after their big 1st runs in Manhattan. but that didn’t happen. the film then moved to the Cinema Rendevous on 57th St. on a continuous performance policy of 3 shows a day and played there i believe 6 months.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on September 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm

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.

bigjoe59 on September 15, 2013 at 2:51 pm


I was fortunate to have seen 2001: A Space Odyssey twice at this theater during its 2 a day “in Cinerama” roadshow engagement. I believe said engagement lasted on 24 weeks due to the Capitol closing prior to demolition. but the exact same engagement moved 4 blocks south to the Warmer Cinerama where it ran
another 13 weeks. the reason I bring this up is simple. when I found this out rather recently I was shocked that the film’s Manhattan roadshow run was only 37 weeks. compare this to the 2 a day roadshow engagement at the Warner in Hollywood which lasted 103 weeks and the 2 a day roadshow run at the Golden Gate in San Francisco which lasted I believe 72 weeks. and does one explain that?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on September 14, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Perhaps “2001” with a live orchestra is not a bad compromise.

Sept. 20-21.