Loew's Capitol Theatre

1645 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Loew's Capitol Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Capitol Theatre was located where the Paramount Plaza stands today, directly across Broadway from the Winter Garden Theatre.

Opened October 24, 1919 with Douglas Fairbanks in “His Majesty, the American” (United Artists first production) plus on stage Ned Wayburn’s “Demi Tasse Revue” which featured Mae West early in her career. It was equipped with an Estey pipe organ which had a 4 manual console and 45 ranks opened by organist Dr. Mauro-Cottone Melchiorre. The Capitol Theatre was initially not a great success and closed on June 1, 1920. It was taken over days later by Samuel Goldwyn who installed S.L. ‘Roxy’ Rothafel to program the theatre and it reopened with a Goldwyn picture “Scratch My Back”. In July 1923 the Estey organ console was replaced by one with illuminated stops and a horseshoe design and 12 more ranks of pipes were added to the existing 45 ranks. It was advertised as ‘Broadway’s Finest Organ’

It was taken over by Loew’s Inc. in 1924 and became the flagship movie palace for MGM Films. The Loew’s Capitol Theatre hosted world premiere’s of many now classic films. The theatre presented movies and stage shows except from 1935 to 1943 when no stage shows were included in the program. The shows were too expensive to produce during the Great Depression and were only revived when World War II brought an economic boom. In 1952 stage shows ceased to be held. A larger, 25 foot x 60 foot wide screen was installed for the June 1953 engagement of “Never Let Me Go” starring Clark Gable.

In 1959 the Loew’s Capitol Theatre was modernized and re-opened with Yul Brynner in “Solomon and Sheba”. The movie palace became a Cinerama showplace in 1962.

World Premieres of 70mm films included “Cheyenne Autumn”(December 23, 1964), “Doctor Zhivago”(December 22nd, 1965), “The Dirty Dozen”(June 15, 1967) and “Far From the Madding Crowd”(October 18, 1967).

The Loew’s Capitol Theatre auditorium was never twinned or divided into more than one auditorium. In 1968 the Capitol Theatre was playing the Roadshow engagement of “2001:A Space Odyssey”. The movie was transferred to the Warner Cinerama Theatre, and the Loew’s Capitol Theatre closed, and was demolished.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 754 comments)

MarkDHite on February 11, 2018 at 5:49 pm

Interesting! Thanks guys

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on February 11, 2018 at 6:24 pm

Renata Adler was the chief film critic for the NYT in 1968. According to an ad in the March 22, 1968 NYT for “HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH”, she also disliked “THE GRADUATE”, “BONNIE & CLYDE”, and “GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER” along with “PLANET OF THE APES”. She was fired in 1969.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 11, 2018 at 7:02 pm

She wasn’t crazy about “2001” either. She complained that its purely visual storytelling should be “verbalized”. But she did include it in her list of the best of 1968 at year’s end (not in the top 10, though). A lot of critics changed their feelings about that movie as time went on.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 11, 2018 at 7:31 pm

Here is the ad Al Alvarez mentioned. Thanks, Al, for steering us to it. Renata Adler, who is still alive at age 80, seemed to have an aversion to popular movies which later became classics, but she did like “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”.

bigjoe59 on February 12, 2018 at 1:24 pm


at the time of Renata Alder’s hiring by the N Y Times as their head film critic I remember reading an article in another area paper that was interesting. the gist of ‘ the article was simple- the author was rather perplexed by her hiring by the Times considering her aversion to “pop culture”. I remember her review of the Julie Andrews pic “Star”. it wasn’t pretty.

vindanpar on February 13, 2018 at 8:05 am

To see what the Capitol seating was at the time of Planet one would have to look at Variety at the time to see the weekly grosses. They always included # of seats available. And I’m sure the official number of seats were far less than either 4 or 5 thousand .Road show houses were most likely in the 1,400 to 1,600 range. Yes I know Planet was not roadshow but by this point the theater was a roadshow house. The seats in the Capitol curtained off would not have been for sale or included in available seats.

But then Bill Heulbig was there and I was not(alas.)Anybody have access to Variety on microfilm? A major university would have it like NYU.

vindanpar on February 13, 2018 at 9:17 am

Also it would be interesting to see the number of seats for 2001 or Dr Zhivago compared to Planet or In the Heat of the Night to see if they made more seats available for a continuous run film.

moviebuff82 on February 13, 2018 at 11:53 am

What was the Capitol’s successor?

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on February 13, 2018 at 12:56 pm

Successor to the Capitol Theatre described here

MarkDHite on February 13, 2018 at 5:55 pm

According to an item (about the indoor Japanese garden created underneath the balcony) in The New Yorker, Aug 11, 1962 p.16, the Capitol’s conversion to Cinerama involved reducing its seating capacity from a previous 3,662 to 1,552.

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