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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.
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