City Cinemas Cinema 1, 2, and 3

1001 3rd Avenue,
New York, NY 10021

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Showing 201 - 225 of 282 comments

dave-bronx™ on June 9, 2005 at 10:22 pm

We had the original SDDS units (trash @ $15G ea.) in all the auditoriums at our place and last year replaced half of them with Dolby, though I don’t recall the model number. We are putting additional Dolby’s for replacement of the remaining Sony’s on our cap ex wish list for the new year.

Movieguy718 on June 9, 2005 at 1:26 pm

Thanks DAVE…The Dolby 500 and SDDS 3000 are both equipped with this feature. They work in a slightly different fashion from each other, but offer the same results – lower for the trailers, proper volume for the feature.

dave-bronx™ on June 9, 2005 at 1:05 pm

I’m not an expert on projection/sound. Where I’m at we have Sony and Dolby digital processors, and I’m not aware that they have that capability, but i’ll ask around. The studios claim all the trailers and features have the same equalization, but I don’t buy it. In a multiplex the single operator can’t stand by the fader in each auditorium adjusting for each trailer, so the level is usually set for the main feature.

Movieguy718 on June 9, 2005 at 12:46 pm

Hey DAVE – Totally off subject. But since u seem to know what you are talking about… The newest sound processors are capable or storing many sound (volume) cues. ie: one for commercials, one for trailers, one for the feature. Why do projectionists refuse to use this feature? I’ve been in plenty of theatres where the trailers are screamingly loud and people complain to turn it down which they invariably do, but then when the feature starts, it’s WAY too soft. And honestly, the trailers and features have been pretty much equallized in recent years. Do they really not know that this feature is available to them? Or are they just lazy??

dave-bronx™ on June 9, 2005 at 12:33 pm

When I worked there, Cinema I had Cinemeccanica V8 35/70 machines, Cinema II had Simplex XL 35’s, and the Murray Hill (prior to the ceiling collapse) had Cinemeccanica V8 35/70, that were later installed in the 57th St. Playhouse.

RobertEndres on June 9, 2005 at 5:50 am

dave-bronx: The reason General Cinema was able to get such a sharp edge with their aperture plates was that they used special plates. The General Cinema projection package consisted of Century projector heads which had the gate rails notched out in back over the aperture area so a thicker plate could be used which put the face of the plate closer to the film. Since aperture plates can never be in the same physical space as the film, there is always some fuzz line which varies with the depth of focus of the projection lens used (that in turn is also affected by the focal length.) The disadvantage to that system is that the closer to the film the plate is, the more the danger of scratching the film if it buckles from the heat of the lamp. My predecessor as Head Projectionist at Radio City Music Hall was Bill Nafash who was a master at cinema installation and did work for Rugoff. Those masking strips may have been a solution he worked out to provide a sharp edge to the picture. I remember seeing the strips used at the Murray Hill, and I think there were two or three sets of them for 1.85, 1.66 and 1.37. They may have also used the special “thick” Century aperture plates as well.

dave-bronx™ on June 9, 2005 at 12:52 am

The original 2 auditoriums here were actually General Cinema-style auditoriums, i.e. the white box around the screen lit with red and blue cove lighting, and the gray Alpro panelling (corrugated, perforated aluminum panels with fiberglass insulation behind it for sound control) on the walls, all plain and no draperies or other decoration.

When I worked for General Cinema, I recall a published interview with Mel Wintman, then the GCCs Exec.VP – where he was asked, among other things, about the design of the auditorium. He said that it was all very plain, with the front-end “splayed” into the screen to focus the movie-goers attention on the picture and eliminate as many distractions as possible.

The only slight difference in design here was those silly masking strips we used on the edge of the flat picture, probably to satisfy the New York film-philes. At General Cinema we didn’t use masking – but we had very precise aperture plates cut (something that nobody in New York seems to be able to do), and nobody ever complained about an un-masked picture.

RobertR on June 3, 2005 at 2:45 pm

Sept 27, 1972 when the Cinemas were the pride of Cinema 5, they were presenting two world premiere engagements. In Cinema 1 “The Ruling Class” and in Cinema 2 “A Seperate Peace”.

Mikeoaklandpark on June 1, 2005 at 11:26 am

When I lived in NYC 76-83, Cinema ! & 2 were upscale beautiful theaters. Cinema 5 kept them as premier showcase theaters of the east side. I am sure once City Cinemas took over and made a 3rd theater it was downhill from there. I am only sorry that I never went to the Beekman.

RobertR on June 1, 2005 at 11:02 am

I would not give City Cinemas a dime of my movie going money. To me Cinema 1 & 2 is long dead.

br91975 on May 26, 2005 at 6:57 am

I sent the following e-mail yesterday to Lou Lumenick, a NY Post film critic who wrote articles on consecutive days this past winter, discussing the demolition threats looming over the Cinema 1-2-3 and the Beekman; I’ll post his response as soon as it arrives in my inbox.

Dear Mr. Lumenick,

During the winter, you wrote two excellent articles, bringing to the public’s attention the threat of demolition looming over the Beekman and Cinema 1-2-3. While that threat seems to have temporarily subsided in the case of the Cinema 1-2-3 (the deal for a high-rise to be built on the property having temporaily fallen through, giving the Cinema 1-2-3 an apparent reprieve of a few years, at least), the Beekman is still in imminent danger (word has it that the Beekman is scheduled to close sometime in June). Meanwhile, little or no news has come about efforts to preserve either of these theatres and to spare them from the wrecking ball. As you well know, we’ve lost too many valuable cinemas and/or past or present filmgoing venues over the last few years (the Sutton, the Art Greenwich, the Murray Hill, the Gotham, and, as I type these words, the Variety, downtown on 3rd Avenue near 14th) and too few people seem to care or are aware of the character this city is losing when one of these theatres closes its doors for good.

Anything further you can do (i.e., perhaps in writing another article, somehow spreading the word otherwise, or maybe contacting Harvey Weinstein again as a follow-up; his passion and his influence can truly go a long way towards saving the Beekman and Cinema 1-2-3) would be much appreciated.

Keep up the great work and thank you for your time.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 26, 2005 at 5:03 am

Here’s the cover of a booklet given out at Cinema I in 1978 for the 70mm showing of “Days of Heaven”. A newspaper strike was on at the time, so either the studio or the theater prepared this compilation of reviews of the movie by New York critics:

View link

frankdev on May 16, 2005 at 12:45 am

Movieguy., In responce to your coments on may 5th, I have spent over twenty years in the movie theater buisness. My anger is a daily event. I have witnessed to many theaters close. I don’t know what you do for a living but when a theater shuts down it’s like a stake in the heart, I feel more for the cinemas, because they are a big part of my life, as is the beekman,murray hill, plaza,and many others
i’m glad you are a movie fan but don’t go telling me what a beautiful movie house is, since my carrer has been a theater manager. including 10 years at Radio City Music Hall

frankdev on May 16, 2005 at 12:36 am

Very true Robert, the movie buisness is now being run by people who barley no how to walk. The time has come for all good theater people and movie lovers to let the public know whats going on. The powers that be are getting rid of projectionists, and now charge 10.75. Mark my words, it will be 11.00 before the end of the year

RobertR on May 13, 2005 at 12:53 pm

They might as well just close it now, they are draining the last bit of blood out of it before the inevitable. It is sad what movie theatres are becoming today, 3-4 week ads for the DVD release. :(

rkathira on May 13, 2005 at 12:50 pm

I was here last month, and I must say, this is the worst theater I have ever been in. The seats were ripped, dirty and uncomfortable. It also smelled like urine throughout the whole movie, making it quite obvious that they do not clean the movie rooms. I will never go back.

frankdev on May 4, 2005 at 2:01 pm

I’m very happy to see there are so many fans of the cinemas. i was a manager back in 1983 and again in the 90’s. It was a great theater, i have a lot of good memories. Ralph Is A Class Act. to bad there aren’t any more like him left in the buisness. the business is run by a bunch of morons who haven’t a clue. Oh do i miss. the theater people. By the way Dave from the bronx is one of those theater people i’m talking about.the good ones not the morons. Those guys need a map to get out of bed in the morning

dave-bronx™ on April 19, 2005 at 2:20 pm

Heaven’s Gate did not last a full week at Cinema I.

hardbop on April 19, 2005 at 10:27 am

I was watching a documentary about the making of the notorious flop “Heaven’s Gate” and there was some news footage of the Cinema I,II,III in the documentary because this was where HG had its disastrous premier. Canby in the Times panned — belittled the filme — and after a week it was pulled from theatres, shortened and re-released in theatres to no avail.

I remember Ralph Donnelly from the days when I took Richard Brown’s film class (early 90’s) and he would guest host the class when RB was otherwise occupied. Ralph always seemed like a class act. He is listed in the Walter Reade Theater’s calendar as one of the “President Emeriti.” I remember reading somewhere — this was awhile ago — that they had a big testimonial dinner for Ralph. Probably when he retired.

dave-bronx™ on March 27, 2005 at 12:37 am

Does anyone know just what it is exactly that the Landmarks Preservation Commission ACTUALLY does, besides drawing salary and expenses from the City of New York?
They aren’t interested in the Cinemas –
They aren’t interested in the Beekman –
They weren’t interested Sutton –
They weren’t interested in the Trylon –
They claimed they were interested in the Keith’s in Flushing, and look what happened to that –
They claimed they were interested in the Loew’s Kings in Brooklyn and look what happened to that –
It seems that for anything to get protected by them, it has to be either huge, like Grand Central Terminal or the Empire State Building, or miniscule, like the old jailhouse window behind the Manhattan Municipal building, or a lamp post in Chinatown. Anything in between is, apparently, fair game for developers and sleazy property owners like ___ (you fill in the blanks).

RobertR on March 24, 2005 at 2:25 pm

The saddest part is that with Cinema 1-2-3 closing it only leaves the Clearview-plex and the 59th Street East. The East side once abounded with top notch cinemas, and unless that zoning law gets changed there will be no new ones. Too bad the Manhattan 1 & 2 and the Gotham (Trans-Lux) did not hang in awhile they would have all the bookings they needed.

Benjamin on March 24, 2005 at 2:16 pm

In today’s (March 24, 2005) issue of the on-line version of the “New York Times” there was an article that mentions Cinema 1, 2, 3 along with the Beekman. The article is “In Preservation Wars, a Focus on Midcentury” by Robin Pogrebin. (Registration Required)

The article confirms that, “Plans have been announced to convert Cinemas 1, 2 & 3 … into retail space” and puts the fight to save Cinema 1, 2 & 3 into the larger context of the fight by preservationists to get the Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold hearings on a number of mid-20th Century buildings that a good number of citizens (some of them quite distinguished in the preservation field) feel are legitimate candidates for landmark designation.

What’s especially interesting to me with regard to the plans for Cinema 1, 2, 3 is that the owners said in the January 27th issue of “Our Town” (a free weekly community newspaper) that the theaters were going to continue as theaters. (See my post on the Beekman page.)

Another poster, Robert R, responded that he didn’t believe the owners, and his distrust was, apparently, very quickly proven to be justified!

Butch on March 21, 2005 at 3:38 pm

This theater’s claim to fame was it’s upper east side location and it’s artwork outside reflecting the current and future attractions. It’s auditoriums and presentatations were always second rate especially when compared to the west side movie palaces of the day.

Edward Havens
Edward Havens on March 21, 2005 at 2:52 pm

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.

Benjamin on March 21, 2005 at 11:49 am

Good idea, fueshd!

People should be aware that the Landmarks Preservation Commission has been dragging its feet regarding a number of potential landmarks recently. It seems to be part of an unspoken “plan”: if you’ve already secretly decided not to landmark something, don’t allow a public hearing on it (the first step in the landmarking process) to be “calendared.”

Recently a very strong potential candidate for landmarking, the Paterson Silk Co. Building on 14th St. (an early design by Morris Lapidus, who is famous for the Fontainbleu Hotel in Miami Beach) was unexpectedly pretty much destroyed. (See the 3/9/05, “New York Times” article, “Wrecking Ball Dashes Hopes for a Lapidus Work” by Robin Pogrebin.) This was another case of where a number of the big names in landmarks preservation asked the LPC to hold a public hearing, and they refused to schedule one.

But perhaps the “stink” over the loss of this building (the LPC seemed to be put on the defensive in the NY Times article) might be useful in the fight for at least a public hearing on some of the others, like the Beekman. So you might want to mention the loss of the Paterson Silk Building in your letter.

A interesting “wrinkle” with regard to the Cinema 1, 2 and 3 case: It is an unwritten law (and possible a written one, too, I forget) that once a building’s significant features have been altered, it is “too late” for landmark designation to save them. (Which is why developers try to sneak a demolition or alteration in before something is landmarked.) But in the “NY Times” article referred to above, the Chairman of the Landmark Preservation Commission claimed that he could still landmark the Paterson Silk Building and have the building rebuilt. So I hope people get a chance to read that NY Times article and directly challenge the LPC on this statement if they get a reply saying that Cinema 1, 2, 3 has been altered too much for landmark designation.