New World Stages
350 W. 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 8th Avenue and 9th Avenue and W. 49th Street and W. 50th Street. Madison Square Garden (1925-1968) was once situated on this block. There were entrances mid-block on both W. 49th Street and W. 50th Street, but the W. 49th Street entrance was rarely, if ever, used.
The complex was built and run by the Cineplex Odeon organization from its opening on June 16, 1989, 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 Loews Cineplex chain saw the handwriting on the wall and closed the theatre February 22, 2001.
The Dodger organization, a once white-hot Broadway/Off Broadway theatrical producer, took over the complex in 2004 and renovated it for live theatre, turning six cinemas into five live stages. It was renamed New World Stages on March 16, 2006. The Dodger organization underwent some severe financial distress and by 2018 it is operated by the Shubert Organisation. Stage 1 has 499 seats, Stage 2 has 350 seats, Stage 3 has 499 seats, Stage 4 has 350 seats and Stage 5 has 199 seats.
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