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Assume that this is the last year for the London Film Festival screenings here…Coming down to Leicester Square is increasingly a stressful experience…as if they opened a tip of humanity local and tourist to crowd too small and not that attractive a space…a visit to Paris and some rigorous zoning at the risk of knocking out some small merchants is required by Westminster Council…
Newman also did a number of films – Hud, Hombre, Cool Hand Luke, Slap Shot, Butch Cassidy – where he came off as an anti-hero setting the stage for the much more ethnic Pacino types and Nicholson. Times change so do our stars and leaders. Let’s celebrate the ones we lose like Newman and appreciate the ones that still have some hopefully great work ahead of them – Tom Hanks largely as a producers, Denzel Washington think Training Day, American Gangster and the relatively underrated Antwone Fisher, Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man, even Matt Damon…And not forget that some genuine movie stars – I said stars and not great actors like Richard Gere, Harrison Ford can still give us moments of pleasure on the screen when they choose the right material and we bother going to the movies
Should add that over the years enjoyed The Producers here in its opening run…I believe a holiday mid-morning show with my mom and think we stayed twice…a school Saturday trip to see Charge of the Light Brigade…Fritz the Cat…Truffaut’s Two English Girls…and am sure a couple more
The Manhattan that I grew up is much different than it is today…There was no cable or home video, little twinning or multiplexing, and movies played out at a much diffent pace into the neighborhoods and suburbs, and the “silk stocking district” off of Park Avenue stretched out into the mid-50’s encompassing these theatres the Fine Arts, Plaza, Festival and Paris. The first three could run an exclusive, a showcase run, sometimes a roadshow or daydate with Broadway.
The pictures that the Fine Arts would pick up in solid runs are the kind today that open at the Lincoln Plaza and daydate with screens in the Village i.e. Sunshine or Angelika
Anytime a theatre closes it’s a shame. This is a particular shame because of the failure of a theatre in a mixed use facility where going to the movies was part of a travel, shopping, dining, after work experience. And the theatres were an above average of their time multiplex.
I ran restaurants in Union Station 10 or so years ago and the theatres were business drivers and part of the lifeblood of the complex. We ran some classic movie nights together – Citizen Kane, Casablanca and Some Like It Hot. I took over a theatre one night for the team – Robert de Niro in The Fan – ok great idea not so great movie. And took a break for myself to see such classics and non classics alike as Usual Suspects, Leaving Las Vegas, Cable Guy, White Squall, Mission Impossible, Species, The Quick and the Dead, Extreme Measures, Ace Ventura 2 and The Quest. The AMC management at the time was positive and proactive and much as we could joke about the level of the movies sometimes, there was a theatre there.
I remember taking calls the day of the blizzard asking if the theatre was open and sure enough with a skeleton crew they opened for a couple of shows.
RIP Union Square 9
Pre-refurbishment and plexing, this was a great single screen experience. A great shame that London could not support it as a single screen once the 90s kicked in. Had a great time here for Terminator 2 and The Doors…both pictures which had the right scale for the place. It is now a plex with very tight stepped seating suffered thru Speed 2 and enjoyed Full Monty and Tailor of Panama in spite of the discomfort
I lived in DC 1995-6…this theatre was caught out for being just that bit out of the way…the West End 1-4 had a decent restaurant next to it and the 5-7 seemed to just get moveovers from there or from the heinous Janus
A great little arthouse where pictures seem to run and run…saw a Werner Herzog picture here back in 1979
In my day – 1979 – this was the Leroy with three screens…From my understanding they merged with the Vendome on the much posher Avenue Louise which had at the time 4 screens…back in 79 the Vendome was primarily arty and French product with the occasional American picture – saw Norma Rae there
The Leroy handled a lot of mainstream United Artists, Paramount and Fox product and the main screen was the place to see things like Deer Hunter, Alien, Moonraker, Escape from Alcatraz and Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings (my Xmas evening movie)…also saw Manhattan and a reissue of Breathless in the smaller screen
The current Vendome appears to do mostly arthouse product and is in roughish commercial street
When I lived in Brussels in 1979, there were 7 screens along this strip – the Avenue with two screens, the Capitole with four screens and the Acropole a single screen on two levels. The pictures would move into smaller screens as they would play off and there were some connections through a block long arcade.
Caught a pretty good range of pictures there throughout an incredible year working in the Hilton across the way – Who’s Killing the Great Chefs of Europe, La Luna and a reissue of Clockwork Orange in Acropole, Hard Core, Foul Play and several others in Capitole and La Cage aux Folles and The Great Train Robbery in Avenue
This said the new multiplex is a great place to see a movie in the spirit of the UGC Cine Cites in Paris…saw Good Will Hunting and Les Choristes there on a couple of brief trips to Brussels
Brussels still has a decent range of art houses and first run screens for a smallish city, and of course a 25 screen megaplex
Kineopolis just outside of town
Growing up on the Upper East Side in the 60s and 70s, this was an iconic venue, running a mix of Universal, Fox and Cinema 5 (own brand) product in its Rugoff/Cinema 5 hey day…Some of my best Sutton memories include Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, The Sicilian Clan, The Three Stooges, Blazing Saddles, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, Young Frankenstein (several times), High Anxiety, Love & Death, Network…Attended a prevue/trailer day as they launched the twin and remember not fondly the uphill sloping in the smaller screen
Like the Beekman, there would have been a decent case for landmarking this, but only as a single screen
In my New York lifetime 1960s-1980s, this was never more than an adult grindhouse. Then Cineplex Odeon in one of Garth Drabinsky’s mysterious ways, bought it up and renamed it the Warner. Saw Drugstore Cowboy there on a sub-run with a mysterious neon sign announcing a non existent screen 2
A good well run multiplex in any city can certainly delivery a good movie going experience with variety of product, decent projection and service…I will stump for the two UGC Cine Cite in Paris – Les Halles and Porte Bercy as examples…the former in particular starts screeenings as early as 9:15 on Sunday mornings and as typical in Paris runs a mix of blockbuster and art pictures
In tribute to the times we lived in then – Time Bandits and Brazil – two great Terry Gilliam cult pictures got 6 and 8 weeks each!
On a fast trip to New York a couple of years ago, in desperate curiostiy to visit a new midtown multiplex, popped in to catch Jarhead…The theatre does an adequate job of spiritually replacing the 34th St East, the Murray Hill, the Bay Cinema (on which it physically stands) and the 34th St Showplace…the downside is with all that product it becomes a movie mall rather than retain the personality, the studio ties that those screens had with their 9 screens at time of closing. The screen I was in was certainly a decent experience even if I slept thru most of the movie due to jet lag. Loews was on its last legs as an organization I believe at the time.
Saturday Night Fever day and dated at the 34th St East with the Orpheum and State when it opened and its booking might just have been a wink and a nod to that – several other options possible i.e ET and Grease which day dated at the Bay Cinema when it was in Walter Reade’s hands like the 34th Street
Because of its Midtown location, and because I was strictly Upper East Side, I was in my 30s before I ever was in this theatre…for Dead Poets …loved the forbidding look of the brass doors and the turnstile
The refurbishment here is complete and all 7 screens are open…the integration with Gaumont means that big films in “Version Originale” are now opening on the neighborhood’s biggest screens…my local for nearly 2 years in Paris with among others Poseidon, The Kingdom and Rambo in French, No Country for Old Men in English, and a lot of popcorn for evenings in my office nearby…a generally higher quality of welcome and more grand experience than newer build multiplexes…lives up to its proposed grandeur
The Gaiety East was one of the great delis of my growing up on the Upper East Side…it was still there albeit in decline in 1973 having dined and dated there before The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
Scarily enough haven’t been here since Brokeback Mountain…the shame of the Vue and of Leicester Sq in general is the loss of identity of certain screens with certain studios i.e. the big WB movies would open here, Paramount/Universal product at the Empire and Disney/Columbia at the Odeons…the big screen here was still a great experience until the refurb
Add to the above A History of Violence, Reign of Fire (running out every few minutes to negociate a job offer), Bedazzled, The Life Aquatic
Am fully expecting that this theater will be demolished and replaced with residential sooner than later…the good news is that the internal / underground screens that Odeon has created aren’t the worst and that in x years a modern 5 screener will be better than the 1 great 2 ok 2 frankly small screens we’ve got now will be an improvement…Some fun times over the years here from Breaking Away with my mom in 1980 when it was a 4 screener to Silence of the Lambs and Sleeping with the Enemy and 4 Weddings in the big screen in the 90s to The Departed last year (Nigel Havers and I in a tizzy for the length of the queue), Fun with Dick and Jane, a preview of Moulin Rouge, and in smaller screens In Her Shoes, Adaptation, Black Hawk Down and despite my respect for Anthony Minghella Cold Mountain which I found endless…always a pretty well run moviegoing experience
Took my team to see The Dark Knight opening night at the Odeon Leicester Square…my first film there since 2003…packed house but surprisingly good customer service – they refunded two extra tickets I had on the spot – and a genuinely fun experience despite the fact that the film itself was easily 25 minutes too long. For crowded houses would recommend the balconies rather than the stalls (ground floor seats) where the leg room has never been terrific)…Row O was quite ok…shame that in London noone sits still for the credits
Shame if we lost this…great for moveovers from Odeeon Leicester Sq and for premiering decent commercial pictures…and of course the London Film Festival…had second row seats for Proof this year with an appearance and q&a by Gwyneth Paltrow and John Madden…a far better venue with two screens for big pictures than the Vue across the way with 9
As a hotelier and restaurateur, I expect my employees to understand and appreciate their product (ie what the chef prepares)…way to few cinema managers bring their staff up to speed on what they are serving ie what’s on screen and really hire outward, engaged people to bring their brand to life…
It may well come down to segmentation, but even when cinema operators try to cater to an older more affluent audience they still appear clueless
Theatre owners still don’t completely get it…At the latest attempt at a luxury cinema experience in London’s West End, the Apollo West End, the outside of the theater is dressed up, the auditoriums are slightly posher with velvet seats, but the service experience is negligible, and the bar and concessions rather basic…I paid over the odds to reserve a seat for The New World, a great picture to see in a theatre, but the 12.50 pounds has to cover more than a fancy rest room