New Victory Theatre

209 West 42nd Street,
New York, NY 10036

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New VIctory Theatre

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For over 105 years, the New Victory Theatre has stood stoically along the ever-changing landscape of New York’s famed 42nd Street.

Built as a legitimate theater in 1900, as the Theatre Republic, the architecture and design of the theater heralded a new era in showmanship and exhibition. In 1902, David Belasco took over the theater and renamed it the Belasco Theatre.

By 1914, the theater was renamed again, as the Republic. The theater continued its run as a legitimate theater until 1932, when it became Broadway’s first burlesque house.

By the 1940’s, the theater was renamed Victory Theatre and began to show second-run movies. When 42nd Street’s fortunes plummeted in the 1970s, the Victory Theatre became the first to show pornographic movies and continued doing so into the late-1980’s.

In 1990, the Victory Theatre came under public ownership, in an effort to revitalize 42nd Street. Leased to a nonprofit organization, the theater’s renovation began in August of 1994 and was completed in December 1995 at a total cost of $11.4 million.

The theater is now re-opened and remains a vision of beauty and a catalyst for all that has evolved on 42nd Street.

Contributed by Scott Oberstaedt

Recent comments (view all 112 comments)

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on April 13, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Ed, since the Roxy was advertising four screens in the early nineties I am starting to wonder if both were open concurrently.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 13, 2011 at 4:51 pm

I know it always advertised “4 Smash Hits” on that marquee signage, even when it went back to porn a few years later. I think the one by the New Amsterdam closed several years before the one adjacent to the Empire. You sure it was four screens and not four titles that were advertised?

I’d have to troll through my photos to see if I can piece it together. Now that I think of it, I’m going to say that the Roxy Burlesk at 244 W 42nd (later Roxy Twin) was the original and that the one adjacent to the New Amsterdam was added at a later date. The only reason I say this is because the signage depicted in the 1983 shot looks like it dates back to the early ‘70’s. And the signage I remember by the New Amsterdam was very much like the marquee depicted in the latter shot from '86. I also believe that both the Cine 42 and the the Roxy Burlesk were opened in spaces formerly occupied by that old skee-ball like arcade game Fascination that was all over Times Square back in the day, leading me to believe they may have been opened around the same time by the same people?

Just making some educated assumptions and guesses here. I may be completely off base here. One of us should open a new theater entry on the Roxy Burlesk (I can feel the purists cringing) and let this conversation continue over there.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on April 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm

I have a book that references four screens which showed films but were later used for other purposes such as live shows and sex back-rooms.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 13, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Sounds like an interesting book. I find material about this area during those years in particular to be endlessly fascinating. In part because it brings me back to a certain time in my life, but also because the stories that surround so many of these old theaters, dance halls and cabarets are so vivid and entertainingly sordid! Sounds like you may have done a good deal of the fact-checking leg-work necessary to post a decent new entry for the Roxy on CT. Is that something you were planning on doing? If not, I may look to do so myself. Been a while since I’ve added one. Ironically, I never patronized either of the Roxy’s back then.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on April 13, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Ed, I never went to either one but I remember that the first one caused quite a stir as the first VHS theatre. The 35mm locations were concerned about the trend and the projectionist union was charging them standard 35mm rates basically for operating a VHS player.

The second location is murkier and less is written about it as it was not a trend setter, but some Village Voice ads show as many as twelve titles showing at one time.

By all means go ahead and enter them on CT. I am not quite sure of their lifespans.

I do have several books about the Deuce that walk a fine line between social archeology and smut.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 28, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Interesting to note that when the Theatre Republic first opened its doors on September 27, 1900, the premiere engagement was the drama “Sag Harbor” from playwrite James A Herne. The show would feature the Broadway debut of Lionel Barrymore, who was born 133 years ago today.

While his stage career would last some 25 years – before he switched to working exclusively in films – he would only return to the stage of the Theatre Republic once (in its post-Belasco incarnation) in a 1917 production of “Peter Ibbetson.” He did, however, return to the Deuce to appear in a short-lived staging of “Macbeth” at the Apollo in 1921 (the 2nd ever production at that theatre) as well as another short-lived drama, “The Piker” near then end of his stage career in 1925 at the Eltinge (later Empire) Theatre.

rivoli157
rivoli157 on November 18, 2011 at 11:07 am

A little European jewel-box now. I attended the legit re-opening in the 1990s. A production called Cirque Eloise- a variety /circus type show that had a lot of former Cirque de Soliel performers in the cast. Theatre books mostly Theatre for Young Audience attractions. In the 1980s, I was curious to see what one of the 42nd St grindhouses looked like inside, so I came here. The New Amsterdam would have been a better choice,but oh well. Dark, dirty, smelly, and in awful condition was what it was. Oh and many men roaming around in the shadows.

It is night and day now!

KenC
KenC on March 4, 2012 at 1:03 pm

In the movie “NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY”, there are a number of very quick theatre marquee shots. At the 1 hour 31 minute and 36 second mark, there is the Victory theatre- on the marquee: PINK PUSSY" plus “SUBURBIA CONFIDENTIAL”. Right next door is the Lyric; it’s showing “BORN LOSERS” plus “DOOR TO DOOR MANIAC”. At the 1-31-22 mark, you can see the Empire-on the marquee: “LAST OF THE SECRET AGENTS” plus “ONCE A THIEF”. Can be seen- for free- on YouTube.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 17, 2012 at 2:53 pm

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

Harvey
Harvey on July 10, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Not sure if I missed a mention going through the previous comments but according to Wikipedia, the theater scene in THE LAST DRAGON (1985) was filmed at the Victory.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Dragon

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