Wang Theatre

270 Tremont Street,
Boston, MA 02116

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Bill Luca
Bill Luca on December 31, 2014 at 4:56 pm

I was one of the projectionists for the Wang Classic Film Series. As previously mentioned, one of the most memorable events was “Ben-Hur”, attended by Heston. The 70mm print was made from the 1969 reissue negative. When the film first opened in November 1959 at the Saxon Theater (formerly and currently the Majestic), the original 70mm prints were in “MGM Camera 65”. This process used an anamorphic lens to stretch the normal 2.2:1 image to 2.76:1. The original 6-channel Technicolor prints were said to yield a staggering image in terms of sharpness and scope. The Saxon’s presentation(running well over a year)would have been magnificent. 35mm “Cinemascope” prints were extracted from the original 65mm negative for use in neighborhood theaters with standard equipment. When reissued in 1969, few theaters were set up with the lenses to run this process so MGM optically converted the new 70mm prints to 2.2:1. This resulted in a loss of sharpness and side image information. It was still an impressive presentation.

The Classic Series was very successful when it ran great films, many in 70mm when available, such as “Oklahoma”, “Around The World In 80 Days”, “Spartacus” and “Lawrence Of Arabia”. The series ran on Mondays when the house would have been dark and usually did substantial business. “Lawrence” drew around 2500 the night I ran it.

Eventually others took over booking and the quality took a nosedive with the series eventually being scrapped. I recall running the Indiana Jones trilogy one winter weekend during a raging blizzard. I wondered who would trek in during that storm as I trudged through blinding snow. The house ended up being packed with fans. I also remember the Wang being part of First Night on New Years Eve one year. We ran around 15 or 20 Warner Bros. cartoons repeatedly all evening. The event was free and I think may have been sponsored by

Previously, Sack had installed a pair of Century JJ 70mm projectors for the showing of “Cleopatra”. Other 70mm shows during that era were “Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines” and, much later, “The Stewardesses” in 3D. Sack had wanted to continue using the house for rock concerts but their lease renewal was refused, so the equipment was removed.

You can pretty much forget ever seeing films at the Wang again. A couple of years ago they decided movies weren’t their thing and sold off the current projectors, a pair of Philips Norelco AA-II 35-70 machines that had been donated by Redstone (Showcase). They were earmarked for George Eastman House Museum in Rochester, NY but the sale may have stalled.

barry111 on November 3, 2013 at 2:00 pm

A bit of an aside, but perhaps someone may also have heard that in the 20’s and 30’s, there was a night club in the basement of the Metropolitan called The Platinum Salon. It was owned and run by my grandfather. I’m not sure of the exact dates. I know that many big bands played there and I have some photos of the club which are quite stunning. And one other note, Louis Armstrong stayed at my grandparents' (and father’s) house when he played in Boston as I believe he was unable to rent a hotel room in the so-called liberal North. In any case, my father worked at the counter for many years. There were movies as well as live bands and some theater in the main hall during those years.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on August 6, 2013 at 8:59 pm

except, it’s not a cinema anymore. No movies are shown here.

darrenparlett on August 6, 2013 at 8:45 pm

You people are so lucky having a cinema like this.. Amazing

dgidez on August 4, 2013 at 9:21 pm

My Mother has fond memories of seeing “THE TAMING OF THE SHREW” at this theater when it was THE METROPOLITAN. Also from what I’ve been told they had the first 3D movie in the Boston Area at this theater, it was a really big deal (still trying to get the title)…

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm

The street address on the MGM Report is 268 Tremont St., not Washington St.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 26, 2013 at 12:06 pm

The Theatre Historical Society archive has the MGM Theatre Report for the (then) Metropolitan Theatre at 268 Washington St., Boston. The theater’s condition was rated “Excellent”. There were 2239 orchestra seats, 1788 balcony seats, and 222 seats in the loges; total: 4,249. There is an exterior photo taken in April 1941. The “Met” had a huge, long marquee which ran almost the entire width of the building,but it was rather narrow,not very high.

slip on May 12, 2013 at 8:04 am

I’m trying to contact Frank C. Grace, the photographer of the above photo. Please email me at

Thank you
Harry Angus

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on May 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Thank you, dickneeds111.

Click here for an exterior view of the Metropolitan Theatre in 1929.

dickneeds111 on May 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Brad. Please correct your Click Here. When you click on it it goes to the Loews Metropolitan in Brookly New York.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 8, 2011 at 10:53 am

I was downtown yesterday and noticed a crew and crane working at the front of the Shubert Theatre directly across from the Wang. Looks like they have torn down the top half of the Shubert’s facade. What’s that all about??? The Shubert will be 102 years old in January and is in very good condition. Unfortunately, it’s dark most of the time due to lack of product.

Frank C. Grace
Frank C. Grace on September 13, 2011 at 5:58 am

I was allowed to photograph the inside of this magnificent theatre last Friday. I have uploaded the few that I have had time to process here. Wow, what an amazing theatre!

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm

thanks Chuck,Great pictures.

TLSLOEWS on March 27, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Great shots of the Wang Theatre.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 7, 2011 at 11:15 am

In a 1918 Boston street directory, the site of the Wang Th., between the Wilbur Th. and Hollis St., was occupied by the New Richword Hotel.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on January 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Grand old theatre .great stories.

ginabiehn on September 27, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Thank you so much. That information is very helpful to me.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 27, 2010 at 10:32 am

ginabiehn – for movie titles look at the Met’s ads in the entertainment section of Boston newspapers, such as the Globe and Post for the years you want to write about. The papers are on file on microfilm at the Boston Public Library. For many years after it opened, the Met was a first-run movie theater, so the ticket prices were a bit higher than in the neighborhood houses. (example: in 1955, about 75 cents at night, versus 45 or 50 cents in a “nabe”.)The Met attracted a wide mass audience.

ginabiehn on September 26, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Thank you all for your very informative discussion about the Metropolitan/Wang theatre in Boston. I am working on a project about the old movie palaces of the 1920’s and 30’s and I chose this theatre to research. Would anybody have any infomation or know of any places where I could research exactly what movies were playing there in that time period? Or about the people who attended? Any links or tips for research would be much appreciated. Thank you

bruceanthony on July 20, 2010 at 10:40 am

Would like to see photos of the new electronic marquees.I hope it enhanced the theatres because the marquee on the Wang was very boring.brucec

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 21, 2010 at 11:43 am

The marquee which forms a rain canopy over the sidewalk has been redecorated. As posted above, there is a large electronic marquee above it, perpendicular to the facade. There are similar new electronic marquees next door at the Wilbur Theatre and across the street on the Shubert.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on April 24, 2010 at 10:13 am

Click here for a photograph of the Metropolitan [Wang] Theatre taken in 1929 by George Mann of the comedy dance team, Barto & Mann.

spectrum on February 11, 2010 at 11:57 am

Here’s a corrected link to the photos at the Conrad Schmitt studios. Some great before and after restoration photos!

View link

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 28, 2009 at 11:50 am

I have heard that there was a screening room in the Met with some 90 seats in it for showing new movies to “the trade”. It was located upstairs somewhere at the front of the house. The space is still there, but the mini-cinema is long gone.

silverquill on September 26, 2009 at 6:42 pm

The Music Hall/Metropolitan Theatre is one of the qualifying buildings for the Piano Row District listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here is the narrative description from the nomination form:

Music Hall/Metropolitan Theatre

Architect: Chief Designers: Blackall, Clapp and Kenneth Franzheim, G. Nelson Meser
Builder: Olympia Construction Co.

Irregularly-shaped Renaissance Revival “palazzo skyscraper” with symetrical, 11-bay Tremont facade. Two-story colonnade of engaged fluted Greek Ionic columns at level 2-3. Shaft of building organized by rising piers, recessed spandrals and paired metal window units, with ornament concentrated at level 4 and 5. Building terminated by two-story colonnade of engaged Corinthian pilasters at level 12 and 13, plus denti cornice and roof cresting of palmettes and theatre masks.

The Music Hall/Metropolitan is highly significant as the largest theatre in Boston history and one of the largest in the country, as the best example of the sumptuous “movie palace” of the roaring twenties and as the last of Clarence Blackall’s 14 Boston theatres.

The theatre reputedly cost 8.5m, seats 4200-4400, and is housed in a large office building, first to be constructed in Boston under a new height limit of 14 stories. Architect Clarence Blackall (1857-1942), one of the leading U.S. theatre architects and designer of the Colonial, Wilbur, Modern and Pilgrim/Olympia. The interior, modeled after Garnier’s Paris Opera and decorated in the Louis XIV style, was appropriately advertised as “the public castle” with “a thousand and one wonders” including the grand lobby with four tiers of prominades, spacious lounges, marble doorways, rose jasper pillers, tow 1800-lb. gold plated chandeliers, bronze details by the Gorham Company, and $10,000 in gems decorating the central mural painting by Edmund Philo Kellog.

The entertainment was equally extravagant. The Met offered a combination of films and stage show, which might feature its resident ballet corps, 100-voice chorus, 55-piece orchestra and two console organ, all for 35 cents or 75 cents on weekend evenings. Resident producer John Murray Anderson arranged his own stage shows, headlined over the years with stars such as Rudy Vallee, Al Jolson, Burns and Allen, Jack Benny and Bob Hope. A seating board and cadre of 40 well-mannered, costumed ushers made sure that no seat remained empty long. Waiting patrons could arrange for bridge parties, lounge in comfortable chairs with the latest magazines, prominade to the music of two lobby orchestras, play ping pong, or visit the chic art deco restaurant which opened in 1932.

Since the destruction of the Boston Opera House in 1958, the Metropolitan has been used for performances by the Royal Ballet, Metropolitan Opera Company, Bolshoi, Kirov and Stuttgart Opera. Has been “Music Hall” leased by Sach Theatres since 1962.

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