Capitol Theatre

1645 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Capitol Theatre

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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 846 comments)

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on April 4, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Hello Again-

I am now more confused than ever. I have read on more than one occasion that The Wizard of Oz which opened at this theater never really ignited the box office even after MGM tried various catchy ad campaigns and its books only entered the black when it was sold to t.v.. Al A.’s reply seems to confirm this. yet Mike’s post makes it seem like it was a big box office hit. so which is the case?

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 4, 2014 at 4:22 pm

The internets are your friend.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 4, 2014 at 6:49 pm

According to a book called “The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion”, the movie did above average box office business in 1939, but failed to break even due to its exorbitant production costs. The same thing happened to “Cleopatra”, the top box office attraction of 1963 but forever branded a flop. “Oz” did recoup its costs and start to show a profit ten years later, due to a very successful nationwide rerelease in 1949. MGM promoted it as the “most requested” of its hits from years past.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on April 4, 2014 at 6:55 pm

I think Bill’s comment is accurate.

MGM agreed the results were less than expected and early tracking showed a lack of adult interest. “PINOCCHIO” did twice the business.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 5, 2014 at 10:11 am

Here is the NY Times review of the “Wizard of Oz” from August 18, 1939 after it was shown at the Capitol Theatre.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 5, 2014 at 11:33 am

That rave review makes me want to see the movie again, even though I just saw it a few months ago in its 3-D incarnation.

To quote form the review “…the comicalest of all is Bert Lahr with an artistically curled mane, a threshing tail, and a timid heart. As he mourns in one of his ballads, his Lion hasn’t the prowess of a mow-ess; he can’t sleep for brooding; he can’t even count sheep because he’s scared of sheep. And what he wants is courage to make him king of the forest so that even being afraid of a rhinocerus would be imposerus. Mr. Lahr’s lion is fion.”

Cimarron
Cimarron on April 6, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Uplaoad Pic of 1935 “A Tale Of Two Cities” in Photo Section.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on April 8, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Hello-

a question for my fellow fans of the late but great Capitol. nowadays big films will open on 2 to 3 thousand screens on the same day. now in Manhattan every so often one of these big films will stay at a theater or two for quite some time. which brings me to my question. in the photo section is an ad for “Mata Hari” that states at the top “held over for 3rd and final week”. to which did films at the Capitol during this period never play for all that long no matter how much of a hit they were?

Cimarron
Cimarron on April 12, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Upload 1935 “Escapade” MGM promo ad.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on April 12, 2014 at 9:48 pm

bigjoe59, the film was not the whole show. A fourth week was rare at the Capitol in the early thirties.

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