Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre

707 Seventh Avenue,
New York, NY 10036

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Embassy Tri-plex Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Originally opened on January 10th, 1910 as the Columbia Theatre at the northeast corner of 47th Street and Broadway inside an office building. It operated as a burlesque theatre and was designed by noted theatre architect William McElfatrick.

Walter Reade bought the theatre in 1928 and rebuilt it into a movie theatre. A major renovation was undertaken by architect Thomas W. Lamb who removed the two original balconies and place a single balcony in an Art Deco style auditorium. It reopened in October 1930 as the Mayfair Theatre, screening movies, with RKO as the operator. By 1950, it had been taken over by the Brandt Theatres chain.

The name was changed to the DeMille Theatre when road-show, reserved-seat movies were popular during the early-1960’s. World Premiere’s of 70mm movies at the DeMille Theatre included “Spartacus” (October 6th 1960) “The Fall of the Roman Empire” (March 26, 1964) and “Hawaii” (October 10, 1966).

In late-1976, the theatre became the Mark I,II,III. The triplexing was crudely done by putting a wall dividing the balcony down the center, creating a a very narrow tube that inclined upward. One entered near the screen and had to climb very steep steps to reach the seating area.

It became the Embassy 2,3,4 Theatre in December 1977 when Guild Enterprises took it over. (The Embassy 1 Theatre was on Broadway at W. 46th Street, almost adjacent to the Palace Theatre). In 1997, after the Embassy 1 was closed for conversion into the Times Square Visitor Center, this theatre was renamed Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre. The Embassy 1,2,3 Theatre was one of the last Times Square movie houses to close.

It was shuttered for several years, until around 2007, when it was virtually gutted and converted into a Famous Dave’s BBQ Restaurant. This had closed by May 2013.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 1,070 comments)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 12, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Just posted a couple of shots I took with my cellphone over the last week or two, through the construction shedding peepholes, to see the demolition in progress. The first shot shows a portion of where the old Mayfair/DeMille entrance used to be. The second is another storefront or two down towards 47th Street, but may reveal recesses (stripped to concrete) that may have been a part of the theater.

techman707
techman707 on April 13, 2014 at 6:38 am

Ed, those pictures are just too depressing to look at. They’ve demolished all the great movie palaces, what are they going to destroy now for an encore? When it comes to movie palaces, New York City is culturally bankrupt!

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on April 13, 2014 at 1:46 pm

to Ed S.–

very interesting and depressing pics. the Mayfair/ Demille/Embassy 1-2-3 was in uneven shape sad to
say before closing. fortunately my parents took me
to as many roadshow films as possible so at least I got to see the theater when it was still in un-triplexed prime shape.

also when I looked at your pics in the photo section I noticed the ad for Bird of Paradise. i’m assuming it was the film’s 1st run premiere run and not a move over from another theater. which is where my question comes in- was BOP considered an A level as opposed to B level film? I purchased the blu-ray disc put out by Kino Video last year and thought it was a sub-par film both technically and artistically. I didn’t think King Vidor was capable of making such a crappy movie.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 13, 2014 at 5:14 pm

With King Vidor at the helm, Selznick producing, and a budget that allowed for location filming in Hawaii (this was scrapped, according to IMDB.COM trivia, due to weather related problems), not to mention the fact that it was based on very popular stage material, I would say “Bird Of Paradise” likely constituted an “A” picture for RKO.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 13, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Per Lamont Cranson’s comment under the very advertisement mentioned above for “Bird of Paradise” – King Vidor’s B&W version of a hugely popular stage spectacle opened simultaneously in New York at the RKO Mayfair in midtown and the RKO Albee in downtown Brooklyn on September 11th, 1932. 20th-Fox’s later Technicolor remake opened at the Roxy (with stage show) in March, 1951.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on April 15, 2014 at 10:46 am

to Ed S.–

thanks for your take on the subject. during the often pined for Golden Age of Hollywood I was always under the impression there was a distinct look and feel too an A film that would be different from that of a B film. so that’s why I’m kind of shocked BOP would have been classified as an A film when it opened at the Mayfair considering its very B film production values.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 15, 2014 at 11:52 am

Maybe you saw a dvd made from a bad public domain print, Joe?

According to TCM.com — “All the delays and extravagances sent Bird of Paradise far over budget. It had been budgeted at $450,000 and ended up costing at least $725,000. Though the film performed well at the box office, it did not make back its cost.”

That was an astronomical cost in 1932, and I would be very surprised if The fastidious Selznik would release a sub-par product. Unfortunately, the movie fell into the public domain decades ago. It reminds me of the Howard Hughes’s picture The Outlaw, where he fussed over every frame, and now all we have today are scratchy, blurry copies of his magnum opus.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on April 17, 2014 at 10:09 am

to Mike-

I watched the re-mastered blu-ray disc released last year by Kino Video. the visual/audio quality was fine. its just I was quite surprised by how much of a B movie look and feel it had both technically and artistically.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on April 17, 2014 at 3:01 pm

to Ed S.–

i hope you can help me. i was looking thru issues of Motion Picture News online and came across a March 1918 that mentioned a movie theater named the Royal which was located at the northwest corner of 10th Ave. & 46 St. the short article was about how since it was a neighborhood as opposed to first run theater it wasn’t given much press. i looked up on this site and while several theaters named Royal come up on the list that one did not.

how would i find out how the Royal Theater is listed on this site since as we now theaters aren’t necessarily listed by the name they opened under.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 17, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Here’s the page you’re looking for, bigjoe59. Two things when you search.

First, try both variations of the word “theater” and “theatre.” Just so happens, the one you were looking for had the latter spelling.

Second, once you have your search results, be sure to filter by “demolished,” “closed,” or whatever category you feel is appropriate. The default setting for results is always for “open” theaters (meaning, these theaters are currently in operation). There are tabs under the map for all the categories – including “All theaters,” if it doesn’t produce too long a list to sift through.

Once you’ve read this and found your Royal Theatre, let us know, so we can delete these comments from this thread.

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