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 672 comments)

paullewis
paullewis on February 13, 2015 at 5:19 pm

I take your point about location but that makes the loss of the Roxy in particular even more bizarre when you see the puny nondescript building that replaced the “Cathedral of the Motion Picture” If that was torn down tomorrow no one would even notice or even remember what was there, it’s that forgettable!

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on February 13, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Hello-

as a fellow poster said these large theaters cost way to much to heat during the winter and cool during the summer. plus the last nail in the coffin for these large theaters was the end of exclusive first runs whether roadshow or continuous performance and wide or showcase releases. for the Roxy the cost of heating it nowadays would be astronomical and far more than any hit film could bring in.

theatrefan
theatrefan on February 13, 2015 at 6:11 pm

That’s also why when the big Palaces that still show movies, we should make an effort to go and experience what it’s like to see a wonderful movie in a real Movie Palace. Most people in our society today think the plain Jane nondescript box they see movies in at their local multiplex is how people have always experienced movies, boy are they wrong!

BobbyS
BobbyS on February 13, 2015 at 9:45 pm

I find it strange that Radio City stopped showing first-run films into the late 70’s. Whenever I visted NY, I always went to RCMH and during the week they had great crowds and not just for the christmas & easter shows. The stage shows were wonderful and plenty of tourists. The huge curtains closing after the film was over and then re-opening for the stage show was a delight!

paullewis
paullewis on February 14, 2015 at 3:44 am

It would be great if RCMH still had the odd movie shows as I’m certain they would pull in the crowds if they advertised the fact of being able to see a film in a way that has disappeared now. In spite of improvements in seating comfort and sound (and that’s debatable) there is a generation out there who has simply no idea of what it was like going to the movies before the demise of the “palaces” and I’ll bet there would be some real (pleasant) surprises from the younger generation!

paullewis
paullewis on February 14, 2015 at 3:45 am

Apologies for going somewhat “off topic” as this is a site for the “Capitol” not RCMH !!

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on March 5, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Hello-

I refer to the period of Oct. 1955 with the release of Oklahoma to the Dec. 1972 release of Man of La Mancha as the modern roadshow era. to which a question.

the release pattern for roadshow films basically followed a three part process-a) the original roadshow run b)a subsequent continuous performance run at a 1st run theater in Manhattan and c)spreading out to NYC many neighborhood theaters. to which does anyone know of a film other than The Sound of Music that was never cut/tweaked etc….. at any point in the three part release pattern?

Coate
Coate on March 6, 2015 at 9:05 pm

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
bigjoe59 on March 8, 2015 at 2:46 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
Coate on March 28, 2015 at 11:06 am

bigjoe59…

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.

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