Regency Theatre

1987 Broadway,
New York, NY 10023

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Regency Theatre

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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.

Contributed by Dan Braun

Recent comments (view all 80 comments)

cblanc10708
cblanc10708 on August 30, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Does anyone have a copy of an old film program from the Regency that can be scanned and emailed to me.. Thanks

headwaiter
headwaiter on September 10, 2013 at 1:12 pm

I remember this theatre as a revival theatre back in the mid and late 70’s and I used to drive in from New Jersey to see movies her. I remember seeing Gone With The Wind, Going My Way and several Marx Brothers movies. I miss this theatre very much.

johnnyc404
johnnyc404 on October 21, 2014 at 2:28 pm

I loved this movie house. It held many wonderful memories for me, back in the seventies. I love the old films, and, the Regency delivered in a BIG way. I remember one summer, the MGM festival. WOW! The enjoyment of watching those musical classics on the Big screen, most often attended by enthusiastic dancers & singers & actors. The thunderous applause after each number. It sent chills to my spine, and it made it feel as if I was witnessing Astaire, Kelly & Garland IN PERSON!! I also remember one special evening when I just missed getting tickets to ( “North By Northwest” & “Thin Man” )…Me & my friends had to wait on line for several hours ( for the next show )..well, there was an old fashioned gin mill next door, we wound up taking turns running in and out. By the time I got into the theatre I was flying, and, had to struggle to stay awake! Funny!! I wish I could go back to those wonderful times..Johnny

SethLewis
SethLewis on October 21, 2014 at 3:14 pm

This was the theatre in the famous Seinfeld Junior Mints episode where Elaine would rather buy candy than race to her then boyfriend’s hospital bedside…a great repertory and art house pre Cineplex Odeon…a brave effort at a single screen art house in CO days but with far less charm…shame that this one and the nearby 62nd and Broadway could not have been annexed into the Lincoln Plaza art house family

Alfredovu
Alfredovu on November 11, 2014 at 5:07 am

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vindanpar
vindanpar on November 1, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Frank Rowley was one of the great contributors to the New York revival house scene of the 70s and 80s.

A bit aloof and serious but nice when you approached him to ask about upcoming festivals.

He had a wonderful evening with Robert Wise who was with Portia Nelson at the Gramercy. One of the last evenings in NY with one of the giants of the studio era.

And those summer MGM festivals were out of this world. But on the weekends you had to get there very early or end up on the standby line which was almost as long as the ticket holders line.

The Regency was one of the best things about New York for movie lovers during those decades.

SharonK
SharonK on November 28, 2016 at 4:24 pm

Loved this theatre in the mid-1970s, it always had a fantastic slate of great old Hollywood films. Saw Waterloo Bridge, Philadelphia Story, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, Unfaithfully Yours, among many other great movies. I love opera and I also remember seeing Interrupted Melody here, about the opera singer Marjorie Lawrence. Fabulous theatre.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on March 17, 2017 at 3:41 pm

When Cineplex Odeon took over the older chains such as RKO-Stanley Warner-Century (owned by the Almi Group, a company known for art house movies and tv shows) as well as Brandt Theatres and Plitt, it marked a milestone for the Canadian theatre exhibitor as it expanded to other states two years after the merger of Cineplex (which owned a 14 screen theater in Beverly Hills in the USA) and Canadian Odeon theaters. It became even bigger when it merged with Sony-owned Loews Theatres 11 years later until the combined company filed for chapter 11, unlike AMC, which bought the company five years later from Onex.

Ben Davis
Ben Davis on March 24, 2017 at 11:28 am

The Regency is one of the repertory movie theaters of the past that is highlighted in my recently published book, “Repertory Movie Theaters of New York City: Havens for Revivals, Indies and the Avant-Garde, 1960-1994.” It’s listed in Amazon and www.mcfarlandpub.com.

Gabi Gonzalez
Gabi Gonzalez on April 16, 2017 at 11:20 am

Hello fellow movie theater lovers,

I’m doing a project for my photojournalism class at NYU about closed down independent movie theaters in New York. I hope to gain information about people’s past experiences at these movie theaters, recollections of favorite memories or not so great experiences, perhaps economical insight, contacts with owners/managers, etc. On a larger level, I hope my project is able to show the significance of the role that these establishments play in our city and the importance of keeping them afloat.

If anyone would be willing to answer a few questions via email about your personal memories at the theater, please let me know! It could be as simple as recounting a favorite movie you remember seeing back when it was open. I would greatly appreciate your insight.

You can contact me at:

Thanks,
Gabi

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