New World Stages
350 West 50th Street,
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This was a six-screen bunker-like complex built under the massive Worldwide Plaza office building/residential development that encompasses the entire block between Eighth and Ninth Avenues and 49th and 50th Streets. Madison Square Garden was once situated on this block. There were entrances mid-block on both 49th and 50th Street, but the 49th Street entrance was rarely, if ever, used.
The complex was built and run by the Cineplex Odeon organization in the late 1980s/early 1990s when it made a big splash in entering the Manhattan theatre market. However, the theatre never took off due to the fact that the surrounding neighborhood didn’t gentrify quickly and its somewhat off-the-beaten track location.
As some point, around 1995/1996 the Worldwide Cinemas changed its booking policy from first run fare to second run fare at a deeply discounted price that was $2 or $3. The cinemas did quite well under the new format, but with the AMC 25-screen ‘plex and the Loew’s E-Walk 'plex opening on 42nd Street, the Cineplex Odeon saw the handwriting on the wall and closed the theatre in '99 or '00.
The Dodger organization, a once white-hot Broadway/Off Broadway theatrical producer, took over the complex and renovated it for live theatre, turning six cinemas into five live stages. The Dodger organization is currently undergoing some severe financial distress, so the last chapter on this facility has yet to be written.
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