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While I agree that the tickets are expensive, the people that theater is going to attract are those who paid multi-million dollars for their apartments or are renting apartments for $5000 a month. I don’t think they’re too worried about an $18.50 movie ticket. Besides, the entire place has only 558 seats. The theaters are 19, 22, 25, 34, 48, 75, 164 and 171 seats. Shouldn’t be too hard to fill.
IMO, they’ve made each of the theaters far too small. I think there’s only a total of 272 seats across all five screens, the largest with 66 seats and the smallest with 36 seats. If they’re going to show the same film on three screens, wouldn’t it have made more sense to simply have a larger theater and fewer screens? The old two main screens were ideal and had excellent sound. But then they put it in a 3D reflective screen and the images had soft focus. But that was before the latest renovation.
Personally, I think this strategy of pulling out half to two-thirds of the seats to install lounge seating is nuts. Every time they sell-out a show, they’re leaving money on the table, plus it limits the number of ideal seats. It might make sense for Monday-Thursday, but it makes no sense for weekends when popular movies draw big crowds. This theater used to have almost 3300 seats. Now it’s about 1345. The RPX screen was 508 and #12 was 490. Now they’re 208 and 204. They should have left #12 and #13 alone. Why do we have to lie down to see a movie? Ridiculous, IMO.
I don’t know whether they’ve converted some of the screens to lounge seating, but the seat count is way down from what it was. Looks to me like the current total seat count is around 3369. That doesn’t include wheelchair spots, but it does include the accompany wheelchair seats. The IMAX #1 screen is 312, the Dolby #8 is 221. Two other screens (probably #13 and #18) are 301 and 256. The other 21 screens have 50 to 152 seats.
I don’t know how they can stop Moviepass because they don’t know Moviepass is being used. Moviepass essentially puts money onto a credit card. AMC doesn’t know Moviepass is being used as it’s just a payment method. Moviepass can’t be used for IMAX or Dolby screens, but it’s Moviepass that prevents that.
In terms of advance ticket sales, the next Avengers movie has already broken all previous AMC records. After the first 72 hours of advance ticket sales at AMC, Infinity War is 257.6% ahead of Black Panther, 715.5% ahead of Captain America: Civil War and 1106.5% ahead of Avengers: Age of Ultron. So for everyone who complains that Hollywood is only making sequels, prequels and comic book movies, that’s because they sell.
In the 1950s and early 60’s, I lived not far away and went here often. At 560 seats, it would now be one of the largest theaters in NYC, but at the time, it was considered tiny. I was taken by my father to see Fantasia here in 1955, which is the first film I remember seeing in a theater. I also saw “Freud” there around 1962. It tended to play slightly higher-class films than the RKO Marble Hill around the corner, although I think I saw far more films at the RKO. When I got a little older, I’d take the bus to the Loew’s Paradise.
The addition on the roof is to hold solar panels. And the big screen is not #1 – I forget what it is – it might be #3. It is six screens – you can easily see that by looking at the show times . The sound in the theaters is pretty good, but @thebrat is correct that the middle aisles in all but the big screen are pretty bad. Also, the big screen suffers from parallax distortion. When I saw “Darkest Hour” there on one of the smaller screens, the left channel was missing. I do like seeing arty films there, but for bigger films, I go to a better theater in Manhattan.
One thing I don’t like about the theater is that the elderly audience who patronizes it always has someone who lets their phone ring and doesn’t know how to shut it off and they also tend to talk a lot during the film. They’re worse than the kids.
The MTA is threatening to tear down the bridge and isn’t renewing leases on the stores. This theater isn’t quite over the bridge, but anyone know if that construction is going to negatively impact the theater?
Looks like I have to hurry and re-photograph all the Loews marquees before they’re gone. While I can understand the idea of a consistent identity plus the ego of buying a chain, I wonder if AMC did any research into which brand was better liked by the public, Loews or AMC. My bet is that at least in NYC, Loews would have come out on top. Sony learned this lesson years ago.
Judging from an Nov-5-2015 review on Yelp, it doesn’t sound to me like it’s been renovated as yet. It is definitely open on Nov-15-2015.
If they do renovate and put in lounge seating, it will reduce the number of seats substantially, but before that renovation comes to pass, I still stand by my original statement of about 2450 seats, not 2090 as follows: 250, 350, 370, 330, 330, 350, 470 (all rounded). Lounge seating could half that number.
But renovation or not, it is a “blah” theater. I think all basement theaters are not very nice, almost by definition, but the fact that it’s a basement theater is probably what’s saving it from becoming something else. Certainly nothing like the wonderful theater it replaced.
I don’t think the Festival was ever the Playboy. A December, 1975 NY Times Arts section shows “Jaws” playing at the Playboy (but no address given) and “The Magic Flute” playing at the Festival. Unless there was another Playboy theatre.
In December of 1975, it was playing “Let’s Do It Again”. Source: NY Times advertisement for the film.
I saw Monterey Pop here in 4-track mag. It was great. When I saw it later in Boston with the director present, it was in optical mono. A drag.
@RobertR: There was no balcony. It had what we now call stadium seating for the balcony. The “balcony” started on the main floor behind where you walked in and rose for maybe 10 rows or so.
Manhattan or the Bronx?: To put that matter to rest, look at the ZIP. It’s 10463. 104 represents the Bronx. Case closed.
You say I’m off the mark and yet you agree with my specific comments:
Alvarez: You say that Manhattan theaters are threatened by property values and that’s EXACTLY what I said when I commented that “Especially in NYC where real-estate is very valuable, movie theaters will continue to close. ”
However I completely disagree with you when you say the mega-chains are not concerned about profits in NYC. I’m sure their shareholders would love to hear that. NYC used to be the place where they made all their money; NYC was the place where new technology premiered first, NYC (and Hollywood) is where all the premieres were held. No more. Dolby premiered Atmos in the area in a theatre in New Jersey! (OK, a few premieres are still held at the Ziegfeld).
Havens: When you say it’s what their base wants, there’s nothing that proves that. Since movie attendance is down, the case could be made that it’s just the opposite. Furthermore, even if you’re correct, that’s the “McDonald’s” approach to business. It might sometimes be profitable, but it sucks in every other respect.
You wrote: “If theatres are rushing to add dine-in options and bars and comfy leather recliner chairs, it’s because that is what their customer base wants.”
EXACTLY. That’s the point I made when I wrote that theaters must differentiate. Some theaters are differentiating by doing that, others by offering higher quality presentation (RPX/ETX/Atmos/IMAX) options. How does the Angelica differentiate other than playing some independent films? That was the point of my argument.
You wrote: “eventually every neighborhood will have one single multiplex serving it.”
Thereby proving my point that we’re losing theaters across the board for a variety of reasons.
And impossible anyway, since every neighborhood doesn’t have one single multiplex now. We will probably wind up with just one or two multiplexes per borough outside of Manhattan and perhaps five in Manhattan. Several more theaters closed recently: The Jackson Triplex, the BIG Cinemas on E59th St. and the Brandon Twin in Forest Hills. We’re now down to 26 theaters in Manhattan (199 screens) and 29 theaters in the four outer boroughs (232 screens).
@AlAlvarez: No idea what you’re talking about. I didn’t say a word about Dermycar’s customer service. I simply said that you can’t turn a negative like hearing the subway in a movie theatre into a positive. And my remarks about the fact that 35mm film presentation will NOT make a comeback were addressed to MarkP, not to Dermycar.
I’ve never said that I think the Angelica should close. Quite the opposite, as it tends to play better movies than the horrible chains do. I just resent being fed b.s.
And I’ll admit to being very anal-compulsive when it comes to movie theatre presentation quality: it drives me up the wall if I find anything wrong. It’s like finding a bug in my food in a restaurant.
There are two opposite trends that are hurting movie theaters:
a. one can get remarkable quality watching a movie at home on a home theatre system, either HD streaming or Blu-ray, generally at a much lower cost than going out to a movie.
b. there are an increasing number of people willing to experience a movie on a smart phone or tablet.
Because of that and also all the competition for leisure time (and even the fact that’s there’s less “dating” and more “hooking up”), movie theaters have to provide a differentiating experience. That’s why you see theaters providing either enhanced sound and projection (RPX, ETX, LieMax, Dolby Atmos) or taking out 2/3 of the seats and putting in lounge chairs or having waiter service serving food/drinks at the seats. In almost any business, you differentiate (in a positive way) or die.
How does the Angelica differentiate? It’s on the edge of a hip neighborhood and it tends to play better films than the chains. It attracts a hipper crowd. Maybe it has better snacks. But the theaters themselves aren’t very good. So it doesn’t differentiate enough. And the Sunshine is down the street and the Film Forum is within walking distance.
Movie theaters close for two reasons:
One: People don’t go. The fact is that the theatrical business has been in decline since 1946. In 1946, 60% of the U.S. population averaged a movie a week. There were 82 to 90 million weekly admissions when the U.S. population was only 142 million.
In 2013, there were fewer than 26 million weekly admissions with a population of 315 million, with about 8% of the population seeing a movie a week. (Frankly, I’m surprised it was that high). How many movies did you see in a theatre in the last 12 months compared to 10-15 years ago? (Although in 1995, it was only slightly better with 9.16% of the population seeing a movie a week.)
Two: It’s a lousy business (theaters only get 5-10% of the ticket price in the opening weeks and these days, for most films there are only opening weeks). And it doesn’t work at all in places like NYC where real-estate is expensive. That’s why there’s no longer a single movie theatre on Broadway between 20th street and 66th street where there used to be one after another. Movie theaters are concession stands that happen to show movies because all the profits are in the popcorn. And they take up a lot of space, are therefore expensive to heat and cool, are only in use part of the day and have slow turnover.
Especially in NYC where real-estate is very valuable, movie theaters will continue to close. There have been rumors for several years now that the Cinema 1-2-3 and the Regal-UA Union Square are next on the chopping block. There are only 27 regular movie theaters left in Manhattan (201 screens) and 32 in the four outer boroughs (239 screens). My bet is that 30% of Manhattan theaters disappear in the next 10 years. And frankly, I’m not sure that it will matter all that much because all the chains play exactly the same movies anyway and the studios only really care about the big junky popcorn movies that can make a ton of money opening weekend, like the upcoming Godzilla.
Furthermore, movie theaters are getting hurt because of the short windows before movies hit home video in some form. Many art films (exactly the kinds of films the Angelica plays) stream day-and-date with the theatrical run. That spells death for the movie theatre. The movie theatre owners should NEVER have permitted this. They should refuse to play any movie that has a window shorter than X. The theatrical window used to be a year. Now it’s weeks for the big commercial films and sometimes 0 for the independent films. IMO, the studios are committing suicide, but they don’t care because the execs are only interested in the next quarter and their bonus/stock plan at the end of the year. None of them expect to be in their positions for very long.
The only way movie theaters survive is if we return to what we had before the consent decree: the studios have to own the theaters. That way the theaters themselves don’t have to make money. It will be interesting to see what the Chinese-based Dallan Wanda Group does with AMC-Loews in the long term.
@dermycar: You’re really in denial if you think that any aspect of hearing the subway in a movie theatre is a positive. And IMO, most basement theaters were always sub-par because they tended to have very low ceilings. It’s practically criminal that the former basement Crown Twin on the upper east side has been designated “The Beekman”.
@markp: Nope, film won’t make a comeback because there won’t be film stock to print it on and the studios and film depots are not going to inventory any prints once the conversion to digital is complete. If we’re lucky, they’ll donate their libraries to museums and colleges who will hopefully store them properly and preserve them.
Fuji stock has been sold to Frame 24 and when their inventory is gone, it’s gone. Some of it is already short dated. Agfa has only one print stock left. Kodak still has numerous motion picture stocks, but they never made money on negative stock, only print stock and some studios have already stopped making film prints. The rest will stop this year. Having been in bankruptcy, Kodak is not going to keep producing these products. Kodak’s policy even before bankruptcy was that when orders become so small that they can’t make consistent batches, they drop the stock. In 35mm still photography, Kodak Alaris (which took over still film) only sells 10 emulsions (4 black and white, 4 pro color and 2 amateur color). I suspect the two amateur stocks will disappear soon.
Having said that, I think any decent movie theatre should keep at least one set of 35mm projectors because they can’t get any money for them anyway. No reason not to keep them in the booth “just in case” a film print comes along. Certainly, every art house should keep 35mm up and running as well as every museum and every university that has film courses of any type.
As for vinyl, it’s all hype. Yes, sales have doubled in the last year or two, but that’s from a very small base. Vinyl sales are still less than 2% of the recorded music market, which itself is less than half of its 1999 peak. As far as the music industry is concerned, vinyl sales are a rounding error. That’s why for catalog titles, the labels don’t produce the vinyl themselves – they license it out to labels like Sundazed.
@dermycar: With all due respect and with an appreciation for any improvements that you might have made, please don’t try to sell us that hearing the subway cars adds to the experience because that is patently ridiculous.
And when you say you’re increasing screen sizes, has that already been done or is going to be done? And is it one screen, some screens or all screens?
@LuisV: Well, it’s a year later and it’s still there, but almost all theaters are endangered, because from a real-estate perspective, theaters are a lousy business. They’re in use only part of the day, they take up a lot of space, there’s slow turnover, and in the early weeks of a movie (and today there are only early weeks to a movie), the distributor takes 90% of the money. Digital projection or not, theaters have to do a better job than what people can obtain at home, otherwise they’re not going to get any business. NYC has lost 80 screens in the last 13 years.
There are rumors that the Cinema 1,2,3 and the Union Square 14 are next on the chopping block, although those rumors have been around for a while.
RHETT52: I agree that it’s not a great theatre, but your comment about Panavision doesn’t make sense. The Panavision ratio is 2.4:1. That has nothing to do with the theatre, but the filmmaker. Unfortunately, in digital projection, an aspect ratio of 2.4:1 uses fewer vertical pixels and is therefore a smaller image than 1.85:1 movies. That’s unfortunate, but it has nothing to do with the movie theatre – it would be that way everywhere. The Sony 4K digital projector has an option to expand the picture to all the pixels in the projector and then use a 1.25x anamorphic lens, but almost no one does that because they don’t want to change the lens and because that lens is extremely expensive.
@dave-bronx: I think your seat counts may be a bit off. The original was 700/300. I believe it’s now approximately 570, 300 and 165.
I’ve walked out of the third screen. I went back to the boxoffice and told them if I wanted to watch TV, I would have stayed home.
About 1030 seats.
Unless those extra two screens were carved out of the original three, it can’t be 385 seats. When it was 3 screen, they were 220, 120 and 70=410.
Thanks for this. Didn’t realize so much of the Brooklyn Paramount still exists. There’s been talk about re-opening the Loews Kings for years, but by the time someone finally decides something, there won’t be anything of the original theatre left.
Great photo and great post. I saw the 70mm version at the now-gone Loew’s Astor Plaza on 44th street in NYC. Although I didn’t see it right away – I saw it after “Close Encounters” so I probably didn’t see it until around December of 1977. That would be impossible today – no film would play that long.
Dont know about the entire chain, but Disney wanted the Ziegfeld some years ago with the intent of turning it into the equivalent of the El Capitan. It would really be a shame to lose the Ziegfeld — it’s one of the few theatres I’ll still attend.
One of the things I’ve noticed at Manhattan AMC theatres (and I don’t know how prevalent this is), but the sound system is wired wrong: the center channel is fed to the left screen channel. I have this bad feeling that when they installed the Sony 4K digital projectors, some idiot tech re-wired the channels incorrectly. I’ve found this at both the AMC Loews 34th street (west) for “Planet of the Apes” and for “Hugo” at the Kips Bay. (Also saw “Hugo” at the Ziegfeld and it was fine.) I’ve complained, but the managers always look at me like I’m from outer space. They always give me passes, but I always say, “I don’t want the passes – I want you to fix it!”
The problem is that when the Ziegfeld has tried to do revivals and festivals, no one shows up. But a lot of those festivals were for films that were originally released in 70mm 6-tk mag, but the prints the Ziegfeld got for the revival were 35mm optical and not necessarily in great condition. There have been relatively recent 70mm festivals in Los Angeles, occasionally in Seattle and more frequently in the UK and Europe. It would be great if the Ziegfeld did one. Last summer, the Seattle Cinerama played 70mm prints of West Side Story, Lawrence of Arabia and Cleopatra in addition to This Is Cinerama and How The West Was Won in the original 3-strip Cinerama.
The Bradford Cinema in the UK had a festival in April that in addition to Cinerama films played vintage 70mm prints of Ryan’s Daughter, Around The World in 80 Days, The Star Chamber and Black Rain. (Don’t know the condition of the prints though.)
I was hoping that that the theatre was closed to install the new Dolby Atmos sound system for the premiere of “Brave”. But I was at an AES seminar the other night and we were told that “Brave” will not be playing at any Manhattan theatre in that format (closest is NJ, but they didn’t name the theatre).
Some years back, Disney wanted to buy the Ziegfeld from Clearview, but Clearview wasn’t interested in selling. Wonder if Disney would still be interested if Clearview decided to close it? Losing the Ziegfeld would really be a big loss. It’s one of the few theatres I’m still willing to see a movie.