Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on February 4, 2016 at 2:54 pm

bigjoe59, check out page 10 in the photo section. The ad is there.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on February 4, 2016 at 2:21 pm

Hello-

the theater opened Dec. 1969 with Marooned which I believe was its only traditional reserved seat attraction. now the theater was used for many years by the studios for exclusive runs of their big films. this is where my question comes in. if I am not mistaken Ryan’s Daughter opened on a reserved performance engagement. did it have 2 shows during the week and 3 shows on Sat. and Sun.?

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 4, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Link to the news story that I posted. Don’t neglect to check out the links on the right including the interesting “early years” link http://www.in70mm.com/news/2016/ziegfeld/index.htm

BobbyS
BobbyS on February 3, 2016 at 10:04 pm

Beautifully said NYer…

NYer
NYer on February 3, 2016 at 1:44 pm

C'mon how lucky were we? We got to crush the velvet at the Ziegfeld!

So thanks are not only in order, but well deserved. Thanks to the staff and managers. From the box office cashiers, the concession teams, the maintenance crews that kept the place gleaming & the chandeliers sparking.

Thanks to the pros in the booth, that kept that magical flickering light sharp and the sounds booming, to the ushers that would that would wish us a “Good night and come again!” as we entered the real world again.

Thanks to the audiences who stood in line down W54th Street rain or shine, making the experience an event. For respecting where we were and not in their living rooms.

And thank you for this place and the fans that make sure our Cinema Treasure memories live on. “The Ziegfeld”, never The Ziegfeld THEATRE, we were all on intimate terms after all, you were first class from day one until the final closed curtain. Thank you.

movieguy
movieguy on February 3, 2016 at 1:00 pm

A multiplex is nothing but a room with a screen some seats and four walls. It has no character absolutely no thought to it just a plain room. I find myself going less and less to these multiplexes. I’m glad that The Lafayette theater from 1920 for a beautiful grand movie palace is just 15 minutes from where I currently live. There’s also an older theater in Westwood New Jersey that now has four screens with the regional one used to be. It feels like an old movie theater especially in the upstairs balcony section that now have two theaters. Paramount theater in Middletown New York shows mostly independent movies about three or four weeks after they come to the regular multiplex. Avon theater in Stanford Connecticut not-for-profit showing mostly again independent movies. But the State Theatre in Stanford Connecticut 990 Hope St. It’s still in original single screen. From 1927. They also built a small theater separate from the original single screen.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on February 3, 2016 at 11:13 am

The same thing was done at Loews Astor Plaza. After the final show they had construction workers ripping the screen apart. I hate it and all these multiplexes that have taken away all our grand theaters.

movieguy
movieguy on February 3, 2016 at 3:41 am

The free Tuesday night under Clearview was only for people who had Cablevision. Not everybody got in for free that Tuesday night. You had to show your Cablevision optimum card.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 2, 2016 at 5:40 pm

The Ziegfeld Museum artifacts ought to go to a museum!

BobbyS
BobbyS on February 2, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Wow…Stripping her the next day! What an insult!

Orlando
Orlando on February 2, 2016 at 3:59 pm

To me, Clearview ruined the Zeigfeld with their “Cablevision Free Tuesdays”. This ruined a lot of their locations. But Dolan of Cablevision forged with this to help his cable business. He didn’t care about the theatres. When you’re giving out free tix on Tuesday, who is going to PAY for it. Even though the people didn'y pay, Cablevision had to give (Pay)the film companies the minimum seat admission price. So they lost the customers that might have patronized the theatre all through the week, and giving the theatre free to all on Tuesdays. Would you pay on Sun, Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri, or Sat., when you can go in free on Tuesday? Think about it. I was there on opening day (Reserved Seats) and the last day and many times in between in my theatre career.

 Cablevision didn't waste any time taking out the chandeliers, the Reade's Zeigfeld Museum and everything else that they could carry the next day. I'm quite sure none of the momentos of the theatre where donated to a museum. They took them out to sell, auction off and whatever. Maybe one of the chandeliers is now hanging in one of the Dolan's residences. We all know Cablevision is not a poor company, it could have kept the theatre open for prestige, but they are not about that. They are money-suckers.
                  Thank you to the former Walter Reade Organization for the Zeigfeld Theatre.
                
bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on February 2, 2016 at 1:42 pm

Hello-

as has been said this theater’s days were numbered the moment the multiplex era emerged and studios felt it necessary to open all “big” films on 2,000-3,000 screens the same day. to which was the last exclusive 1st run engagement of a “big” studio film at the Ziegfeld? I have tried to remember but can’t.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 2, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Yes, Craig O'Connor did a good job for Clearview, both here and at the Chelsea. He is what they needed, a person of vision and creativity, a latter-day showman, and when he left it left a void that was never properly filled.

I’m surprised the Moss family didn’t do a better job, seeing as how they’ve been exhibitors since the turn of the LAST century. There are plenty of examples of their ballyhoo here at Cinema Treasures but the current generation sure dropped the ball at this location.

vindanpar
vindanpar on February 2, 2016 at 12:15 pm

I remember reading once that Spielberg was not happy that Close Encounters had an initial exclusive engagement in markets.

From the beginning he wanted a huge roll out for block buster grosses.

It is amazing the Ziegfeld lasted this this long. It was a white elephant a long time ago.

markp
markp on February 2, 2016 at 7:29 am

Never gonna happen at Radio City as long as cablevision owns it.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 2, 2016 at 6:52 am

I think the show I attended was in the same Universal series, so it was 1997. Later that week I saw Jaws and The Blues Brothers at Radio City, but Psycho had the biggest audience. A year earlier there was a WB series with Bonnie and Clyde, The Exorcist (another sellout), My Fair Lady, etc. No reason why Radio City can’t do something like this again, now that we’ve lost the Ziegfeld.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 2, 2016 at 6:09 am

Bill, in Philly burbs on June 29, 2000, AMC TV hosted a free screening of “Psycho” (1960) with Janet Leigh appearing in person. That was part of a national tour so that would’ve also been in NYC. I saw the movie in 1997 at Radio City as part of a Universal classic series.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 2, 2016 at 4:11 am

I always thought an arrangement similar to the classics-only program that saved the Egyptian Theatre in LA (American Cinematheque) could have saved the Ziegfeld. I attended three TCM Road to Hollywood shows at the Ziegfeld in three different years – All About Eve, To Kill a Mockingbird and Cabaret – and all seats were filled for all three shows. Admission was free, but I’ll bet 99.9% of the people there would’ve gladly payed full price.

Also remembering a weeknight showing of Psycho (I forget the year – early 2000s?) that literally filled Radio City Music Hall. That audience is still out there.

NYer
NYer on February 1, 2016 at 4:15 pm

The problem was the studios were taken over by kids who only thought bottom line. Many movies premiered at The Ziegfeld, and played exclusively in the tri-state area like “Close Encounters” and “Tommy”,for months before opening wide and going on to be huge hits and Academy Award nominated. Now studios want that $100 million opening weekend, they don’t have any desire to sit and wait. Some movies played longer exclusively at The Ziegfeld than big hits of today that played out their entire theatrical run before hitting PPV & DVD/Blu-ray.

MarkNYLA
MarkNYLA on February 1, 2016 at 3:50 pm

To be fair Mike, Craig O'Connor of Clearview DID try to do what you suggested. If you go back to your own list and check the spring of 2008 and 2009, and various other days in 2010, there were classic films played at the Zieg, under the “Hollywood Classics” banner. I remember revivals of things like “Back To The Future”, “Grease”, “The Sound of Music” (both regular and sing-a-long versions), and other titles. They did OK, but did they make back the house expenses?

I loved the theatre as much as anyone here, but it is pointless to try to second-guess what should and shouldn’t have been booked there. At the end of the day, the place was too big and expensive to operate as a single screen, and while some big screen classics may have brought in some business during off weeks, none of us here can conclusively say that they would have made enough money to keep the place afloat, even at a break-even level.

theatrefan
theatrefan on February 1, 2016 at 3:46 pm

Wasn’t there talk at some point of Disney taking it over and making it into sort of an “El Capitan Theatre” East? When was the last time the Ziegfeld was renovated, was it by Cineplex Odeon sometime in the mid-nineties?

movieguy
movieguy on February 1, 2016 at 2:53 pm

I agree with Mike. The theater definitely need to be programmed much more creatively and smartly. Don’t just have the same movies that you could see at any other multiplex in the city. Do first-run movies along with classic films film festivals. Bring in Directors and people associated with the classic films to talk before or after the movies. Someone should’ve been hired to shoot a commercial showing and telling why coming to a beautiful single screen movie palace really enhance the experience of seeing a movie. A commercial showing the theater from when you first walk in to where you got your tix ripped The grand staircase and into the concession lobby area upstairs. Then into the actual theater space where the beauty of the theater could’ve been shown in the commercial. Especially from the balcony then from the curtains open and closed. I think it would’ve bought a lot of people in who just didn’t know the theater existed or how beautiful and special it was.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 1, 2016 at 2:12 pm

I meant they booked it AS IF it was in the middle of nowhere, instead of as the gem of midtown Manhattan.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on February 1, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Hello-

if I understand Mike’s statement correctly he refers
to the Ziegfeld as being “in the middle of nowhere”.

I truly wish people would stop saying that. when the studios still used the Ziegfeld for exclusive 1st run engagements people had no trouble at all in finding the theater. in fact when they ran the restored print of Lawrence of Arabia the line went from the box officer to 6th Ave. up to 55th St. then half a block to 7th Ave. so if some 23? years ago people had no trouble finding the theater what’s people’s excuse today? I mean the theater it at 54th St. and 6th Ave. so thanks to the grid plan Manhattan’s streets are based on it there should be no trouble in finding the theater.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 1, 2016 at 1:38 pm

Neither Bow Tie nor Clearview knew what to do with the Ziegfeld, booking it like an ordinary multiplex in the middle of nowhere instead of the gem of Manhattan movie palaces.

It didn’t need recliners or reserved seating; what it needed was to hire someone with creativity and vision to book it properly, a combination of first run, premieres, classics, film festivals, etc., instead of dumping studio releases there and leaving them for weeks on end.

I always thought they should have had two week bookings then bring in move-over product that may already be in release but not at the Ziegfeld. And some free cross-promotion at other Bow Tie or Clearview houses could have helped as well.

A look at the bookings posted above show the Ziegfeld had classic screenings from the very beginning, but after Walter Reade and Cineplex Odeon left the game, mediocrity ruled the day.

Say what you will about Garth Drabinsky, at least he (and Walter Reade) were showmen who knew how to get backsides in seats.