National Twin

1500 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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NGC's National Theatre exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The National Theatre opened in 1972 and was the first theater built in Times Square in over thirty years. The theater originally housed 932 on the main level and 513 seats in the loge and mezzanine. Its marquee was one of the largest in New York City.

The National Theatre was twinned in 1982 with two distinct auditoriums created. After several changes in operators, the National Twin finally closed on January 22, 1998 with “For Richer or Poorer” and “Home Alone 3” as the final movies.

As part of the Disney revitalization of 42nd Street and Times Square, the theatre was gutted and became the new street view studios of ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ program.

Contributed by Jamal Savage

Recent comments (view all 96 comments)

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 24, 2012 at 11:11 am

Bigjoe, no one has implied otherwise but the National was always successful. The landlord just wanted the theatre out, hence the closing.

The ethnic make-up of Times Square audiences was a huge box office bonus for all the theatres, especially on Sunday nights when many other midtown theatres were dead and it does need to be mentioned. Without such audiences many of the smaller sites would have failed.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 24, 2012 at 12:11 pm

NYer… If it wasn’t the New Amsterdam itself, then it had to be either the Harris or the Liberty. Neither the Cine 42 nor the Empire had an outside vestibule and the Anco’s was rather shallow – not to mention at the end of the block and pretty shabby and not likely to have spared the cost for the kiosk. Thanks for trying to nail it down for me.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 24, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I seem to recall that sometimes the boxes were right on the sidewalk and not necessarily in the vestibule. I loved watching the trailer loops on each of them — often the “red band” restricted ones with the most action.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm

You’re probably right, saps. The National, as I remember it, didn’t have much of a deep vestibule either, but the kiosks (I think there may have been 2 of them here) were under the broad marquee and I seem to recall them set back as far as possible, so as to be out of the way of pedestrian traffic. I would imagine that theaters would have been compelled to keep those kiosks similarly out of the way so as not to risk injury or a log-jam on the sidewalk.

I remember Times Square was always pretty thick with pedestrians – even in the bad ole days – but just this past weekend, I tried to walk down 42nd Street with my daughter, and the area from the New Amsterdam going west to the mid-block crosswalk was just about impassible! Between the lines for Madame Toussaud’s, patrons existing the theater, tourists stoping for photos in front of Ripley’s Odditorium, and the crowds under the McDonald’s canopy, we could barely stay together, let alone make any headway!

bigjoe59 on May 24, 2012 at 2:18 pm

to AL A.–

thanks for your reply. granted no one ever said the National either as a single or twin theater wasn’t successful. if you have a minute read the two previous posts i alluded to in my post of 5/22/12. doesn’t the sentiments expressed in these two posts make it seem certainly to some one you had never been to the National that the theater had gotten as seedy, run down, ill kept etc… as the general area itself? i just wanted to make the point to people who had never been to the National that in all the times i went there in its 26? year history regardless of the quality of the films the theater itself was always well run, well maintained etc….

this is of course the direct opposite of the Embassy 1,2,3. i admit i went to the tri-plexed former Demille a number of times simply because it was convenient. in fact the last film i saw there which was shortly before it closed up shop was “Living Out Loud” with Holly Hunter and Queen Latifah. my point being in the year or two before it closed both the main auditorium and the two upstairs were in run down condition. in fact the men’s room for the main auidtorium downstairs and the men’s room and the two upstairs were in decidedly un-mantained condition. i wonder how the theater was never closed for health code or building violations. the city closes eateries at the drop of a hat for the same reasons.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Say what you will about him, but Cineplex Odeon founder and theater-builder Garth Drabinsky was an old-school showman and kept his houses (for the most part) in tip-top shape.

JoelWeide on May 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Re-new link. Thank you!

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 24, 2012 at 8:03 pm

You re-new a link by “subscribing” at the bottom of this page, not by merely posting a comment. Good luck.

KingBiscuits on September 17, 2012 at 2:49 pm

If you look very closely, you can spot the marquee in the 1996 film “Joe’s Apartment”. I couldn’t make out either title on the marquee but one side was red and the other was black and blue (it could have been Bad Boys and Casper, but I don’t know).

larrygoldsmith on February 24, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Built and operated by National General Theatres approx. 1972.

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