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 theater featured film repertory programs curated by Frank Rowley (who would later move onto the now-shuttered Biograph Cinema on West 57th Street near Broadway) and, upon purchase of the theater’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 theater 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 a true Manhattan institution.

Contributed by Dan Braun

Recent comments (view all 80 comments)

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on May 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Well, I can’t believe that this topic never came up, but let’s give the Regency Theatre what is probably it’s most famous 15 minutes. I was watching some long documentary called “Andy Warhol’s Factory People”. Which chronicled the revolving door of characters & projects that passed through the artist’s New York loft in the `60’s. Bizarre, in-house films were apparently just one aspect of that.
Turns out Warhol’s film “The Chelsea Girls” not only played at the Regency, but premiered there as well. In the piece I caught a nighttime shot of the Regency, ablaze with that film’s title on the marquee. Perhaps Warhol’s influence or the Regency’s proximity to his loft aided in it’s use as a venue for the film.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on May 24, 2011 at 4:41 pm

David, although “CHELSEA GIRLS” had a successful year end run at the Regency in December 1966, it had already premiered in September of that year at the Film-maker’s Cinematheque on 41st street where it showed for several weeks to great acclaim.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on May 24, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Thanks for the clarification. I must have been reading the split screen version of “The Chelsea Girls” history. There’s some site called WarholStars.org , which has the film also at a place called the Cinema Rendezvous on 12/01/66. But I think following the Regency’s run. After some deal was cut with a group called the Art Guild, who ran a small chain of theaters.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on June 6, 2011 at 9:56 am

The site is currently occupied by an Apple Store. The Google Maps street view shows the Apple Store while still under construction…Status of the cinema needs to be changed from “Closed” to “Demolished.”

rivoli157
rivoli157 on November 13, 2011 at 11:00 am

lived UWS in the 70s and 80s, loved this theatre.The revivals, the audience, all of it. Judy Garland,A Star is Born, Julie Andrews as the Star! and so many more

missfedora
missfedora on March 27, 2012 at 3:52 pm

In the 1970s I lived on West 68th and was a regular patron of the Regency. Like MarkieS, I remember the Bette Davis/Joan Crawford festival and my friend and I would arrive an hour before showtime because of the long lines extending around the corner.

Wellington1
Wellington1 on April 20, 2013 at 12:32 am

In the 1970s they held amazing summer-long festivals. I remember at least one MGM retrospective, and at least one devoted to classic Warner Brothers films. I think Olivia deHavilland showed up at their screening of ANTHONY ADVERSE.

theamazin
theamazin on June 18, 2013 at 1:53 am

I managed the Regency from March 1990 until Oct of ‘93 when I was robbed there at gunpoint. Scary moment. The theater has the smallest manager’s office I’ve ever seen. While I worked there I watched the construction of Loews Lincoln Square across the street that would eventually lead to the Regency’s demise. It was a sweet little theater.

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.

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