1567 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Movieland Theatre

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The Central Theatre was built for the Shubert Brothers and opened on September 9, 1918. It was designed by architect Herbert J. Krapp and located at the corner of Broadway and W. 47th Street, across from the Palace Theatre in Times Square. Seating just over 1,100, the Central Theatre was designed in an elegant French Renaissance style, and contained ornate plasterwork, gilded columns, and paintings on the auditorium walls depicting the court of Louis XVI.

Its auditorium was topped by an oval ceiling cove, and imported European chandeliers hung from the ceiling. It contained a balcony, boxes and orchestra pit. However, its proscenium arch wasn’t very wide, and its stage, fairly small compared to most other Broadway stages.

Until 1928, with the exception of one year (1921) when Universal leased the Central Theatre for screening movies, the theater was a legitimate house. From 1928 until 1932, it showed movies only. In 1932, live shows made a comeback, but within a year, the Central Theatre began to feature burlesque acts. For several months in 1934, the theater went by the name the Columbia Theatre, however, by mid-1934, movies were back, and so was the name the Central Theatre.

Briefly in 1942, the Central Theatre once again attempted a return to “all-girl revues”, but very quickly returned to second-run films. It was renamed the Gotham Theatre in 1944, and the theater remained a movie house until it was closed in 1951 and remodeled inside. It reopened as the Holiday Theatre, and offered live stage revues, which lasted until February 1956, when legitimate theatre briefly returned for the first time since the late-1920’s.

On December 26, 1957, now known as the Odeon, it was back to showing movies under the ownership of the British owned Odeon Theatres Ltd., when they premiered “Pursuit of the Graf Spee”(original British title “Battle of the River Plate”). In mid-1959, the Odeon became the Forum, and a decade later, the Forum 47th Street. In October 1980 it was renamed Movieland, a name it retained until March 1989 when it was closed.

The Shubert family sold the theater in 1989. The lobby was turned into the Roxy Deli, while the auditorium became a disco, called Dance USA. By the mid-1990’s, both had closed, and the building sat vacant until 1998, when the auditorium was demolished to make way for the new W Hotel Times Square.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 123 comments)

techman707 on July 20, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Oh, I see what you’re talking about. But, those older type letters are actually flat and have no dimention. I like the old RKO type letters, which were all black and just allowed the light to shine through the raised letters in the solid black square.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 21, 2012 at 2:47 am

Yes! I love those letters. I first saw them on the RKO Kenmore in Brooklyn when I was 10 while waiting outside a bank for my grandmother to complete her business. (Reflections in a Golden Eye was playing…I finally saw it years later, and oh, boy, would that have changed my life if I’d seen it at that tender age!!) It was love at first sight for those block letters. I think the Kenmore used them all the way to its closing, but I’m not sure.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on July 21, 2012 at 3:40 am

They were also made of metal and very heavy and awkward to work with on a ladder.

techman707 on July 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Yeah, they were a pain to work with and slide into a row, which is probably had to do with why they changed them on “some” of the RKO theatres in later years. But, I feel they added a really “expensive” solid look to the marquee. Loew’s also used them years ago, but, they converted to the newer type hanger letters around the time florescent tubes began to replace bulbs behind the letters.

DavidZornig on September 25, 2013 at 2:06 am

I just added a photo of the Holiday Theatre, with the live show “Debut” starring Inger Stevens on the marquee. According to her website it opened there 2/22/56. Which means live theater lasted one more year than the 1955 date in the Overview.

DavidZornig on September 25, 2013 at 2:22 am

I should add “Debut” closed after only 5 performances because of poor reviews. But even if it was the last live show as the Holiday, it was still 1956. But early enough in the year that there is likely little record of it other than her website.

DavidZornig on November 23, 2014 at 4:55 am

1934 photo added, credit Duke University Collection.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on November 25, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Photo of The Ten Commandments playing here is not from 1956, since Funny Girl is playing across the street at the Criterion.

NYer on November 27, 2014 at 2:28 am

For techman707 a trip down memory lane for you in the photo section.

DavidZornig on November 30, 2014 at 12:18 am

You are correct Mike (saps), 1969.

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