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, 25ft x 60ft 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 with a huge 33ft x 93ft wide screen.

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 817 comments)

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on April 14, 2018 at 4:42 am

I knew I recalled reading somewhere it was more than 90 feet but couldn’t quickly find that online yesterday! Thanks. Sometime in the next week, I will get that into the Introduction.

vindanpar
vindanpar on April 14, 2018 at 5:02 am

You know I love putting down the Ziegfeld because it was a joke compared to other NY houses. Even the Todd AO Oklahoma at Cinema one was a much better experience than it ever would have been at the Ziegfeld. I’d rather even see many other 70MM spectacles at other east side houses which I did with El Cid which I believe was at the Gotham.

Ziegfeld screen size 50 ft.
Warner Cinerama 81 ft.

They both had very close seating capacities. Except the Ziegfeld was a long shoe box. The ‘loge’ was a block away from the screen.

I mean we are talking the Minetta Lane compared to the Winter Garden.

2001 Would be terrible at the Walter Reade. It’s widescreen uses up a smaller portion of its screen size. Yeah it’s one of those. Instead of the screen expanding it gets smaller.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 14, 2018 at 6:12 am

I’ve seen five other Cinerama screens (Montclair NJ, Washington DC, Dayton OH, Los Angeles, Seattle) but the one at the Capitol is the only one that felt close to being 93 feet wide. I know memories are often faulty, especially 50-year-old ones, but that screen was truly an unforgettable sight.

stevenj
stevenj on April 14, 2018 at 8:01 am

Accidentally put the wrong link in yesterday – here is the correct one for this theatre w/article MarkDHite mentions: Capitol

BobbyS
BobbyS on April 15, 2018 at 3:30 pm

Wonderful pictures! Thanks Stevenj

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on April 16, 2018 at 3:43 pm

Hello-

I see from the wonderful article that Circus World’s roadshow engagement “in Cinerama” lasted 19 weeks. now in D.C. it played the Uptown and on that’s theater’s page someone stated that the film’s roadshow engagement “in Cinerama” lasted a grand total of 3 weeks. I can’t believe the film’s roadshow ruin at the Uptown lasted only 3 weeks considering it played the Capitol for 19 weeks.

BobbyS
BobbyS on April 16, 2018 at 7:55 pm

I kind of remember it wasn’t a great film….Not in the same way as “Windjammer” was. Maybe the novelty of the large format was wearing out!

MarkDHite
MarkDHite on April 17, 2018 at 11:02 am

According to Fandango, “2001” in 70mm is scheduled for a 7-day run at the City Cinemas Village East/Jaffe Art Theatre starting May 18.

MarkDHite
MarkDHite on April 17, 2018 at 11:14 am

https://www.citycinemas.com/villageeast/film/2001-a-space-odyssey-in-70mm

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on April 17, 2018 at 2:26 pm

Hello-

to BobbyS I thank you for your reply. I recently watched an HD transfer of Circus World on YouTube and found that while it may not have been Oscar material it was an colorful entertaining movie. so since the film’s roadshow engagement “in Cinerama” at this theater lasted 19 weeks I can’t believe said engagement at the Uptown in D.C.lasted only 3 weeks.

also presenting films “in Cinerama” lasted another five years.

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