Strand Theatre

1579 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Cinerama & Penthouse

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located on Broadway at W. 47th Street, the Strand Theatre was opened on April 11, 1914 with the photoplay “The Spoilers” starring William Farnum. It was built for the Mitchel Mark Realty Company and was under the early direction of Samuel “Roxy” Rothapfel. It originally had a seating capacity of 2,989 located in orchestra and a single balcony.

The Strand Theatre began its life with stage shows in addition to movies and also had one of the largest stages in the city in 1914. After stage shows were dropped in 1929, seating was reduced to 2,750. In the late-1930’s stage shows (and vaudeville) were brought back.

After dropping stage shows on July 3, 1951, the Strand Theatre was renamed Warner Theatre, and opened with “Stangers on a Train”. During 1952 to 1953, the theatre closed, was renovated and renamed Warner Cinerama Theatre. Cinerama films moved here from the Broadway Theatre, starting with “This Is Cinerama” in 1953.

In 1963, the auditorium was equipped with a 81 foot wide, 30 feet tall screen to show “Its a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”. World Premiere’s of 70mm films included “Porgy and Bess”(June 24, 1959), “Exodus”(December 15, 1960), “The Greatest Story Ever Told”(February 15, 1965), “Grand Prix”(December 21, 1966 and “Camelot”(October 25, 1967).

On July 30, 1968, the theatre reopened as a triplex. The Warner Cinerama Theatre with 1,000 seats occupied the main floor. The former balcony became the 1,200 seat Penthouse Theatre. A third theatre built in the old Strand’s stagehouse was also opened, called the Cine Orleans, which had its own entrance on W. 47th Street. In the early-1980’s the Cinerama Theatre and Penthouse Theatre were remodeled and renamed the RKO Warner Twin Theatre.

Unfortunately, on February 8th 1987, after a long and eventful life, one of the greatest movie palaces of New York City closed and was demolished.

Contributed by Cinema Treasures, Warren, Orlando Lopes

Recent comments (view all 289 comments)

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on November 4, 2015 at 1:58 pm

I finally saw a pristine print of Oklahoma! last night at the Farmingdale Multiplex and it was worth the wait. The only other time I saw that movie was here during a revival program. As I said back in 2012:

As to the illustration currently shown above (Broadway Comes to Broadway) I saw Oklahoma during that series. It was in the upstairs theater, formerly the balcony with a nicely tapered rake and a gorgeous ceiling.

The Oklahoma print, however, was atrocious — completely faded to pink as (Eastmancolor?) tends to do. What a disappointment, as it was my first time seeing the movie. I didn’t go back for any other films in the series.

(And what happened to that photo Broadway Comes to Broadway?)

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on November 14, 2015 at 12:28 am

This link about the history of the nearby Automat may be of interest of some.
It also had a rendering of the intersection.

http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/coin-op-cuisine/

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on December 27, 2015 at 11:02 am

December 1947 photo added courtesy of the Old Images of New York Facebook page.

vindanpar
vindanpar on December 28, 2015 at 2:40 pm

Boy how we remember things differently.

I saw OK at the Penthouse as well. I had never seen it in Todd AO and thought it was great. Don’t remember it as totally pink at all.

Saw a number of the 70mm prints in the main Cinerama theater. My Fair Lady, South Pacific and Paint Your Wagon were spectacular on that 80 foot curved screen.

And that sound system!

6 track analogue surround sound and not to be believed. They will never be heard like that again.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on December 28, 2015 at 4:21 pm

I saw Hello Dolly revival there and it was awesome on that huge cured screen as was Fame when it moved from the Ziegfeld.

RickB
RickB on February 28, 2016 at 9:26 am

Brief video of Broadway in late 1929, beginning with a shot of the Embassy Newsreel and proceeding up the street to the Strand. Go here <warning: autoplay audio>, click on “Sound”, find “Noise Abatement Commission” in the far right column toward the bottom and click there.

JackIndiana
JackIndiana on March 15, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Remember seeing FORCE 10 FROM NAVARONE, THE JERK, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, THE BLUES BROTHERS, ROCKY III among others when it was the RKO Cinerama Twin. Saw SUDDEN IMPACT here as the RKO Warner along with GREMLINS and ALIENS, both in 70MM.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on April 26, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Hello-

The Greatest Story Ever Told began its reserved seat run at this theater on Feb. 15, 1965. said engagement ran 42 weeks if I am not mistaken. to which my question- was the original 3hr. 45min. cut of the film ever used during said 42 week run? or was it only used for trade/press screenings and on opening night?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on April 26, 2016 at 4:24 pm

deleted user [Deleted] on July 24, 2004 at 1:20 pm

William, thank you for mentioning “Porgy and Bess” and “Camelot”. I attended the World Premiere of “The Greatest Story Ever Told” at the Warner on Monday, 15 February 1965 and the Los Angeles premiere at Pacific’s Cinerama Theatre on Wednesday, 17 February 1965. The film was an extraordinary cinematic work of art when seen in the curved screen 70mm Ultra Panavision process for Cinerama. My notes at the time clocked the film in at 221 minutes and a 15 minute intermission The running time was the same for the UA pre-screenings at the Warner even with the Alfred Newman (composer) music deletions and Handel and Verdi substitutes. The first edit-down was requested by UA in April 1965 (197 minutes) and UA made a final “bastardized” version March 1967 (141 minutes).

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 26, 2016 at 4:46 pm

I guess you would choose the version you’d want to see based on how long a nap you needed…

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