Capitol Theatre

1645 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Capitol Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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

Opened October 24, 1919 with Douglas Fairbanks in “His Majesty, the American” plus on stage Ned Wayburn’s ‘Demi Tasse Revue’. The Capitol Theatre was taken over by Loew’s Inc. in 1924 and became the flagship movie palace for MGM Films. The 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 Capitol Theatre was ‘modernized’ and re-opened as Loew’s Capitol Theatre with “Solomon and Sheba”. The movie palace became a Cinerama showplace.

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 was never twinned or divided into more than one theatre. 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 679 comments)

Coate on March 7, 2015 at 5:05 am

bigjoe59… I’m curious why you consistently refer to the modern roadshow era as 1955 through 1972? There were roadshows before AND after that timeframe. Is it that you’re thinking of that specifically as the “large-format/roadshow” era? If so, why not move up the starting year to 1952 so that the first two Cinerama movies can be included? After all, the so-called modern roadshow era really kicked off with 1952’s “This Is Cinerama” rather than with “Oklahoma!” in 1955. But if you’re not even referring specifically to large-format/stereophonic sound releases, then roadshows can be traced back to the turn of the century.

And, for what it’s worth, I’d like to point out that 1972’s “Man of La Mancha” probably shouldn’t be considered the final roadshow release, even though you and several others (including Kim Holston in his recently-published “Movie Roadshows” book) routinely cite it as such. “Last Tango in Paris,” for instance, had numerous reserved-seat bookings in 1973. And if you really want to get picky, there were several “modified roadshow” (i.e. reserved-performance engagements) throughout the 1970s and even into the early 1980s (i.e. “Funny Lady,” “Kazablan,” “The Deer Hunter,” “Apocalypse Now,” “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” “Napoleon” re-release, etc.).

bigjoe59 on March 8, 2015 at 9:46 pm

to Coate-

I suppose you’re right and that the modern roadshow era as I call it should start with the release of This Is Cinerama Sept. of 1952 and not the Oct. 1955 opening of Oklahoma.

likewise I suppose The Last Tango in Paris should be considered the last prime roadshow by a big company namely United Artists which also released Man of La Mancha. but Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter’s exclusive Manhattan runs were actually reserved performance engagements not traditional reserved seat ones. likewise Napoleon’s engagement at Radio City Music Hall was a special limited run not part of a wide release.

also have you actually read Movie Roadshows by Kim Holston from cover to cover? I find it a fascinating book since its the only one I have ever come across on the subject but its loaded with factual errors. for instance he states the 1962 film version of Gypsy opened on a roadshow run but doesn’t state where. plus here’s a big no no-one of the last traditional roadshow engagements in Manhattan The Trojan Women which opened Nov. of 1971 at the Fine Arts is mentioned nowhere in the book.

Coate on March 28, 2015 at 6:06 pm


Regarding Kim R. Holston’s “Movie Roadshows” book, I’ve read much of it but not every single entry. Overall I think it’s pretty good even though I spotted quite a number of errors. I think it’ll appeal more to readers unfamiliar or less familiar with roadshows than to those coming to the book with knowledge of the subject, as those already familiar will more easily spot errors or questionable claims which could be a distraction to the reading experience and lessens the book’s value as worthy reference material.

“The Trojan Women” isn’t Holston’s only omission. As well, he has some titles listed in the “Anomalies” section that, in my opinion, should’ve been placed in the main part of the book. He also backed himself into a corner by including a few titles that were not true roadshows and were actually reserved-performance engagements rather than specifically reserved-seat engagements. This is why I mentioned in my previous comment how the book could’ve been extended beyond 1972 [sic] since he had (inadvertently) included a couple of titles that would’ve been better off in the anomalies section.

There is another recently published roadshow book: Matthew Kennedy’s “Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s.” As well, in 1998, Widescreen Review magazine published in one of their special edition issues a lengthy article on roadshows, which included titles not mentioned in Holston’s (and, naturally, its share of questionable claims), but nevertheless essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in the subject.

I doubt Holston could give us any playdate info on “Gypsy.” If he had any he would’ve surely included it. Personally, I think he is under the mistaken impression “Gypsy” was a roadshow simply because of the presence of an overture on the album.

I’ve interview Holston a couple of times, by the way, the most recent being for the 50th anniversary of “The Sound of Music,” which can be read here. FYI: the article is a four-pager (two pages devoted to a historian Q&A and another two devoted to the film’s roadshow exhibition history). I hope you and any others with an interest in the subject will enjoy it.

bigjoe59 on March 30, 2015 at 12:20 am

Hello to Coate-

as you have suggested i now define the prime roadshow period with having started with the Sept. 1952 opening of This Is Cinerama rather than the Oct. 1955 opening of Oklahoma. to which a question.

during this period there were 7 Times Square movie theaters that the studios used for their roadshow engagements- Criterion, Loews State, RKO Palace, Demille ,Warner , Rivoli and the Loews Capitol. now do you know of any roadshow engagements that played the 7 theaters listed during the prime roadshow period that did not have a souvenir program and or intermission?

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 30, 2015 at 12:29 am

As my mother used say in answer to my endless queries, “What, are you writing a book…?!”

Coate on March 30, 2015 at 7:31 pm

bigjoe59… How ‘bout you comment on my previous reply before moving on to new questions?! Sheesh. Granted, I don’t think I actually asked any questions in my last reply, but you’d think something in there would’ve prompted a reply of some kind. At least maybe a “thanks for the info” or a new question based on something stated. Whatever.

As for your (sigh) new questions… I can’t comment on your souvenir program or intermission request. Someone else will have to chime in. As for the NYC roadshow theaters you cited, I’d say the list for such bookings during your time-frame was more than double the number you have.

It doesn’t matter to me whether you’re compiling information for a to-be-published project or if you’re just curious. Several folks here, myself included, enjoy the discussions and exchange of information, but at times your requests come off like you’re expecting others to do all of the labor (research). Anyone else feel this way, or am I misinterpreting?

bigjoe59 on March 30, 2015 at 9:28 pm

to Coate-

i assumed this website was for people interested and wanted to chat about the history of movie theaters of which roadshow engagements played a significant part at least for the 7 theaters I listed.

so to answer you question i am just curious. i don’t appreciate your assumption i’m trying to squeeze info from you for a book.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 30, 2015 at 9:36 pm

Joe, I think you missed Coate’s point. A chat involves give and take, comments and responses, questions and answers and follow ups… It’s more interesting for everyone if we reply to posts by addressing the info in the previous post, rather than just going on to more questions…

DavidZornig on May 10, 2015 at 12:10 am

1945 photo added courtesy of the Fifties Fun Facebook page. Capitol blade sign lit at night.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 15, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Happy “2001 at the Capitol” anniversary to me. 6/15/1968, 47 years. Heading toward the big 5-0.

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