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I’ll take a movie at the Chinese or the Cinerama Dome any day over the Ziegfeld. But in the years I was in New York City, I didn’t have those choices. And, slowly but surely, all my other choices were disappearing. The Baronet and Coronet closed just days after I moved. (Yes, I moved to New York City the weekend before 9/11.) Then the Murray Hill closed, before I ever got to visit. Then the Sutton closed shortly after the one time I saw a film there. Then the Astor Plaza, after many visits. Then the Beekman, just before I moved back to Los Angeles.
Granted, I never got to visit the Roxy or the original State or the Loews or the Palace or any of the other grand palaces. (Nor did I ever get to visit the Bleecker or the original Film Forum.)
Point is, if the Ziegfeld becomes, by default, the best theatre in town… well, you be thankful you still have the Ziegfeld, which clearly has had its problems over the years. I’d hate to think of going back to New York City someday and seeing the best theatre left in town is the Lincoln Square or the E-Walk or the Empire 25.
This was in the Balboa Theatre newsletter sent out last night by Gary Meyer, co-founder of the Landmark chain…
BREAKING NEWS- R.I.P. Galaxy Theatre
It wasn’t my favorite theater but the large screens at the Galaxy offered a pretty good show before the megaplexes opened in SF. The Galaxy was built in 1984 on Van Ness at Sutter. The Regency I & II across the street were among the hottest theaters in town (along with the Northpoint and Coronet). UATC wanted to make a statement with an architecturally interesting building and “state-of-the art” cinemas featuring THX sound and be located in this important location. No major new theaters had opened in San Francisco in years. The theater did well but never spectacularly. But when the Regencys closed, unable to compete against the Metreon and AMC 1000, the corner lost its luster and the Galaxy had a tough time getting movies. They attempted to be an “art cinema” but had to be content with the leftovers. With no marketing person on-site to promote the concept, and a rather programming schizophrenic approach, there was no sense of place.
Rent was very high and the landlord wouldn’t let them close or leave. Finally a deal has been worked out and last night the Galaxy quietly closed. Today’s Movie Guides suggest you call for show times but it just rings. Theatre ghosts don’t answer the phone.
It wasn’t my favorite theatre, either. The one time I went there was for a private screening of The Abyss. The sound and picture were fine, but I much preferred the #1 house at the Kabuki to anything there.
Sorry, SteveBob, but no one is pretending the Ziegfeld is anything more than it is. The last large single-screen cinema left in Manhattan.
I’ll repeat what I said in this comment section back in March of this year:
“So the Ziegfeld isn’t the greatest theatre that ever existed. So what? I’m 37 and most of the greatest theatres that did exist were torn down or mutilated in some way before I was born. Nothing I can do about that. A palace it may not be, but for what’s left in this city, I’ll take the Ziegfeld or the Beekman as many times as I can as long as they’re still here.”
Granted, the Beekman is gone, I’m now 38 and I’ve since moved back to Los Angeles, but the Ziegfeld was still a hell of a place to see a movie.
I’ll repeat what I said in the Ziegfeld’s comments section back in March of this year:
The one and only time I ever made it to the Fox Venice was in late 1985. I had just moved back to Los Angeles to attend college, and I was listening to KROQ, as all teens were required to at the time. So one night, there was a call-in contest to win tickets to a sneak preview of something called “Grunt: The Wrestling Movie” which would be playing the following evening at the Fox Venice. Never one to turn down the chance for a free movie, I called in… and I won. While the movie was pretty bad, the theatre (which also had a video store catering to more independent films in one of store fronts with a common door between the store and the theatre) was inspiring. As I lived and went to school in Long Beach at the time, I did not make many trips to Venice, so it would be years before I ended up driving down Lincoln Boulevard again. By that time, it had become the lousy indoor flea market it is now. Blech.
Well, I’ve seen Rent and The Producers, and both films are extremely entertaining. The Ziegfeld will be a glorious place to experience both.
That’s funny… I live at 84th and Third, and there are a number of places to eat after midnight around here.
Alas, I went by the Beekman last night, on the way to the ImaginAsian Theatre for a screening, and it was sad to see this grand dame already in a state of disrepair. The beautiful box office had already been removed, a plain and ugly metal desk now sitting in its place. The north facing marquee, as seen in several of DaveBazooka’s photos, has already been partially dismantled, so it now reads TH CL. Thankfully, I was on the M15, so I only saw this for about twenty seconds.
Sad. Very sad.
It should also be noted the Bleecker Street helped create the cult of “The Toxic Avenger,” by picking the film up for Saturday midnight screenings when no other theatre (in town or around the country) would touch the film.
The main auditorium featured a fifty foot screen and 500 seats. The two balcony theatres sat 105 and 80 respectively.
Unfortunately, the Fox Theatre was closed on March 28, 2005. An article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel about the closing can be found at View link
I have some older New Yorkers laying about, so I can list some of the movies that played the Sutton on those weeks…
7/8/1967: The Jokers (Michael Winner)
2/24/1968: Charlie Bubbles (Albert Finney)
6/28/1969: The Loves of Isadora (Karel Reisz)
11/11/1975: Hearts of the West (Howard Zieff)
11/18/1975: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Milos Forman) Premiere
11/7/1980: Private Benjamin (Howard Zieff)
11/14/1980: Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese) Premiere
11/16/1990: #1 – Fantasia, #2 – Tune In Tomorrow… (Jon Amiel)
11/21/1990: #1 – Three Men and a Little Lady (Emile Ardolino), #2 – Tune In Tomorrow… (Jon Amiel)
6/21/1991: #1 and #2 – The Rocketeer (Joe Johnston)
9/6/1991: #1 – Doc Hollywood (Michael Caton-Jones), #2 – True Identity (Charles Lane)
9/18/1991: #1 – Doc Hollywood, #2 – The Doctor (Randa Haines)
10/24/1991: #1 – Shattered (Wolfgang Petersen), #2 – Twenty-One (Don Boyd)
11/1/1991: #1 – Year of the Gun (John Frankenheimer), #2 – Iron Maze (Hiroaki Yoshida)
I’ve only been to the Paris once, to see “Amelie” with my wife, but it is one of my favorite theatres. The Paris proves that a theatre need not be massive to be a palace.
In Xan Cassavetes' documentary about LA’s Z Channel cable service from the 1970s and 1980s, there is some news footage from opening day of “Heavens Gate” at the 1, 2, 3. Growing up in Los Angeles, I used to feel cheated that New York City had all these great movie theatres, and get all the best movies first.
When I finally moved to New York City in 2001, I went to the 1, 2, 3 to see “I Am Sam.” While the movie wasn’t all that good, the theatre it played in was horrid. The tiny one, where I couldn’t hear half of the dialogue because the first “Lord of the Rings” movie was playing in the main theatre and the sound was cranked up to 11. The seats were in various states of disrepair, the screen masking atrocious and the aperature plate cut so wrong that part of the movie was playing on the ceiling.
Three and a half years later, I have yet to go back, and I live up the street from the theatre. If this was a great theatre before, I never would have known it in these modern times.
So the Ziegfeld isn’t the greatest theatre that ever existed. So what? I’m 37 and most of the greatest theatres that did exist were torn down or mutilated in some way before I was born. Nothing I can do about that. A palace it may not be, but for what’s left in this city, I’ll take the Ziegfeld or the Beekman as many times as I can as long as they’re still here.
Ah, progress! :(
I am saddened… not so much that the Beekman would be closing (which would very much be a horrible loss to New York cinema), but at my own lack of surprise hearing this announcement. So many older non-megaplex theatres have closed in the past few years here, what’s one more?
When I was a young'un growing up in Long Beach, The Art was where I had my education in cinema. I would regularly shop at Dodd’s Book Store on Second Street, on my way home from school (despite the store being many blocks off my route) to get the latest calendar of films scheduled to play, which I would tack up on my bedroom wall next to my desk. It may have had a tiny lobby and a rinky-dink popcorn popper, but The Art was like a second home between the ages of nine and fourteen, where an impressionable lad could catch the likes of The Ruling Class and Harold and Maude, films that still remain favorites nearly thirty years on. Should I ever live in Los Angeles again, I will make an effort to support The Art with my patronage no matter what part of the area I live in, as I last did when I lived there in the late 1990s. So many fond memories.
Despite growing up in Santa Cruz and spending much time in the city over the years, the one and only time I ever made it to the Castro was for the 1996 70mm restoration of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo.” It was one of the five best theatre experiences of my life.
Growing up in Los Angeles, I would often be shipped off to Cleveland for the summer to spend time with my grandparents, who lived a couple blocks from Parmatown. Although it’s been twentysomething years since I was last at Parmatown, I still have fond memories of seeing movies like The Apple Dumpling Gang there. I’m saddened to see another relic of my past gone.
Back in 1989, I trained as a theatre manager at the State and its sister theatre, the Regency. And although I am no longer in the theatre game, and live in New York City now, I would make a trip to Monterey to see a restored single screen State theatre.
One of the best movie moments of my life was seeing “The Last Temptation of Christ” at the Northpoint, the first show on opening day in August 1988. Not just the movie, which I felt was a masterpiece, but the surrounding protests and the media circus that followed. My friends and I got to the theatre six hours before the first show, driving up from Santa Cruz, only to discover there was already a small line in place, at 5AM. By 9AM, the line for the movie went down Powell Street and turned east at Francisco Street, while hundreds of protestors filled the intersection of Bay and Powell. Several protestors assured me that God was going to strike upon the theatre with all his holy vengeance just before the start of the show, sending the theatre and all us heathens inside straight into the bowels of hell. I’m glad it didn’t happen, as I would have hated to miss seeing myself and my friends on every news channel in the Bay Area.