Manhattan 1 and 2
220 E. 59th Street,
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This was an interesting theater less for its architecture — although its curved marquee had its merits but for its chequered history and how tough it was to make a go of it sometimes in the 70s.
Opened in 1967 as the Pacific East/Avco Embassy East – yes one name for each screen as East side companions to Pacific’s Cinerama/Penthouse twins on Broadway.
Seth Lewis writes, “I remember seeing Steve McQueen in The Reivers at the Pac East.” The other screen was largely dedicated to films from Joseph E. Levine’s Avco Embassy distribution.
This brand lasted maybe two or three years when the RKO Stanley Warner chain rebranded them as the East 59th Street Twins with an odd mix of hard/soft core porn and later (with yet another logo) of MGM programming (on a circuit known as 4 Star Theatres) and Cinerama Releasing / American Interntaional blaxploitation fodder.
In the original incarnation the theater did have an interesting two tone square marquee and probably some of the brightest interior colours for the time. The end of the 70s was the theatre’s saddest point, turning to hard-core male and female porn as the EastWorld Twin (there was a WestWorld in several locations near Broadway).
In 1979, Cinema 5 soon to be taken over by RKO Stanley Warner gave it another go by renaming this theatre the Manhattan 1 and 2 and a fair mix of first run programming – some mainstream and some art.
Again this was a house that never really had the same cachet as its brothers on the avenue.
Cineplex Odeon tried a discount policy here in the mid-90s. Before it closed in 1998 the theatre was screening Bollywood films. It was torn down a couple of years later.
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