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 668 comments)

theatrefan
theatrefan on February 13, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Yes, and if the ones that survived had not become “Houses Of Worship” or “Performing Arts Centers” they would be unfortunately no longer be with us as well.

paullewis
paullewis on February 13, 2015 at 5:48 pm

Yes it’s unfortunate for us that owners back then lacked the foresight to consider other uses as we have seen with the remaining palaces. Or maybe it was just simply the “quick buck” mentality. I still find it hard to believe that a city the size of New York could not have a viable large auditorium theatre for movies when you consider the additional amount of visitors every year. Of course the majority could not survive but a special case should have been made for the Roxy at least and also the Capitol though of course it was nothing like it’s original appearance by the time it closed.

MarkDHite
MarkDHite on February 13, 2015 at 6:07 pm

Location, location, location. Broadway and 7th Avenue real estate is just too valuable to expect much in historic preservation there. The Loews Wonder Theatres have all survived in part because of their less lucrative locations. The Palace survives because it’s a Bway theatre and protected as such. And makes money.

theatrefan
theatrefan on February 13, 2015 at 6:53 pm

Also don’t forget about the change the in exhibition landscape, the end of exclusive roadshow runs for these big theatres and the beginning the the showcase neighborhood engagements – where the same motion picture opened everywhere simultaneously, also must have hit these big houses very hard. They must have had a lot of empty seats unfortunately, and still had to pay to heat, cool these auditoriums no matter how may patrons were watching films/

paullewis
paullewis on February 13, 2015 at 8:19 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 8:35 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 9:11 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 14, 2015 at 12:45 am

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 6:44 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 6:45 am

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

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