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A longtime beloved Upper West Side movie house, the Alden Theatre opened in 1931, and shut its doors as the Regency Theatre after 68 years of operation in February of 1999.
For many years the theatre featured film repertory programs curated by Frank Rowley (who would later move onto the now-shuttered Biograph Cinema on W. 57th Street near Broadway) and, upon purchase of the theatre’s lease by Canadian-based theater chain Cineplex Odeon, became a first-run house, initially showing a combination of art-house and major release studio films. Despite its petite size, the theatre had a quaint, but comfortable balcony.
When the Loews Lincoln Square Theatre, a well-designed megaplex, opened in 1994, however, the Regency Theatre found itself in what proved to be a losing battle for major studio films and focused almost exclusively on independent and foreign films, such as “The Opposite of Sex”, “I’m Not Rappaport”, “Pecker”, and “Afterglow”; and often for long runs.
In November of 1998, the Brandt Organization, which owned the property that housed the Regency Theatre and its other tenants, including a Italian restaurant of long standing, announced their plans to clear the property
Many expected a mixed residential/retail property of some 20 floors to occupy the site; instead a single-floor Victoria’s Secret was built, adding spice to one form of love but dulling the amour of those who made the Regency Theatre a true Manhattan institution.
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