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@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.
The theatre is just north of 231st and Broadway and is most certainly The Bronx, regardless of the name. I lived off of 238th street (also the Bronx) when I was a child and spent many a Saturday at the RKO Marble Hill and sometimes at the independent Dale theatre around the corner. The RKO was always much more fun although the Dale tended to play better films (my father took me to see Fantasia at the Dale around 1955).
I also remember the matron: in my time (early 1960s), there was one, white haired matron who wore a white uniform (looking somewhat like a nurse) and who always wanted me to sit in the “children’s section” even when I was forced to pay the adult ticket price. In the early 60’s, they ran a Saturday promotion which still included a double feature, cartoons, newsreels, etc. for the massive sum of 20 cents. In those days, it was considered safe enough to send little kids to the movies by themselves.
I remember seeing both “The Tingler” and “13 Ghosts” at the RKO Marble Hill. I remember being very disappointed that the seats were not wired for “The Tingler” as they were in first-run theatres to give patrons a little buzz whenever the Tingler “got loose”. But they did give out the blue and red viewers so you could choose to see or not see the ghosts in “13 Ghosts.” I think the hot dogs were 25 cents back then, which was considered quite expensive, but I ate many anyway. Around the corner, on the south side of 231st street just west of Broadway was a pizza place that sold gigantic slices of pizza for 15 cents. One slice was more than enough.
The Three Stooges may have made a live appearance there, but my memory on that is a bit fuzzy.
One negative back then is that smoking was still permitted and the theatre was always filled with smoke.
It opened 5/19/2006
Approx. 1140 seats total
Approx. 2430 seats total. Screen #7 was originally THX certified.
“Currently I am in New York City setting up a 10 days tour of N.Y.C. theatres (and former movie houses/theatres) which will take place in late October/early November 2007. ”
Unless your tour will mainly involve legit houses, I have to wonder what is it that you’re going to tour because there is very little that is left. In Manhattan, there’s a bit of the Embassy left in the Times Square Visitor’s Center, Radio City Music Hall and I think the former Loew’s 175th St is still standing as a church. Not sure about the Bunny/Nova. In Brooklyn, the Loew’s Kings is closed and vandalized, but still standing. In Queens, the Valencia is operating as a Church and in The Bronx, the Loews Paradise has been restored as a concert center, but isn’t open much. Nearby in New Jersey, the Loews Jersey opens for occasional revival showings. I’m sure that others will think of one or two other houses, but unfortunately, there’s not much to tour in NYC any longer.
I don’t know what happened at the meeting the other night, but I would think it’s a little late for the Trylon. The marquee has been stripped and it looks to me like reconstruction is taking place and the interior is already gone. I haven’t been inside and I could be wrong about the how much of the interior has been torn out, but I suspect it’s a bit late. The preservation groups should have acted BEFORE the new lease was granted to the cultural group that’s taking over the place.
Every theatre that I attend posts the time that the trailers start, not the time that the ads start. Maybe this isn’t true everywhere. I hate the ads also, but poster Barry Lee has it right: in the opening weeks of a film, the theatre gets only 10-20% of the take. Movie theaters are concession stands that show movies, not movies that happen to have concession stands. That’s why the junk food they sell costs so much.
If we fight to eliminate the ads, we’ll probably win, but four things will happen as a result:
1. Many more theaters will close, especially those in large cities and expensive suburbs where land values are high.
2. Ticket prices will rise.
3. Theaters will be even more reluctant to invest in better facilities, projection, sound, etc.
4. Incompetent popcorn kids will be running the projectors instead of trained projectionists (this is happening already.)
So my vote is to live with the ads. In the theaters I attend, the house lights are up during the ads and you can talk to your friends during the ads. This really isn’t a big deal. The fact that a lawsuit was actually brought against this goes to prove that Americans are the most stupidly litigious people on the fact of the planet. Get a life.
It’s unfair to compare the Ziegfeld, built in the 1960s, with the movie palaces built in the 1920s and 30s. The fact is, plaster ornamentation, fancy carpeting, hidden basketball courts and cloud ceilings aside, those old theaters would be terrible places to see modern films with digital 5.1 channel soundtracks today, in spite of the fact that many of them played 70mm 6-track films.
Those old theaters were built with long reverberation times because amplifiers were very low powered in those days. Today, you want just the opposite: very short reverberation times to increase dialogue intelligibility and perceived channel separation within a broad sound field.
The Ziegfeld remains (IMHO) the best place to see a movie in NYC. My understanding is that it’s not profitable, but it is used for many premiers and it’s great that Clearview elects to keep it open as a single-screener. The single-screen Astor Plaza is closing soon and that is also a big loss.
The Ziegfeld is NOT underground. The lobby is at ground level and the theater is one level up.
You can’t really consider this “open”. The entire old theater was completely demolished. The only thing preserved was the front facade.
This theater is now part of a restaurant.
It’s been demolished.
The theater is closed and the building is for lease. I’m not sure when (or if) it was the Cine Malibu, but in any case it was also the Pacific East at one time.