Capitol Theatre

1645 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 29, 2015 at 7:29 pm

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

bigjoe59 on March 29, 2015 at 7:20 pm

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?

Coate on March 28, 2015 at 2:06 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 8, 2015 at 5:46 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 7, 2015 at 12:05 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 5, 2015 at 4:00 pm


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?

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 !!

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!

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!

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!

bigjoe59 on February 13, 2015 at 8:35 pm


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.

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!

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/

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.

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.

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.

bigjoe59 on February 13, 2015 at 3:15 pm


on this site’s pages for many of the late but great beloved movie palaces people are always lamenting their demolition. but as grand and glorious as these movie palaces were by 1959-1960 they had become just plan economically unviable as single screen 1st run movie theaters. in fact even as revival theaters they would have been even more economically unviable. people forget its called show “business” not show philanthropy.

theatrefan on February 13, 2015 at 12:41 pm

paullewis- you make a valid point, the list for never should have been allowed demolition should also include the State, Rivoli, 72nd Street, & Triboro. But in a way having the Plaque outside the multiplex auditorium can perhaps get a curiosity seeker who never knew the Capitol ever existed want to find our more about it & perhaps in a way that helps it live on in our collective consciousness.

paullewis on February 13, 2015 at 11:50 am

Whether it was 1967 or 1968 is, I’m afraid, irrelevant now. The sad fact is that it’s gone at it’s like will never be seen again though the recent reopening of the Brooklyn Kings (though not for movies) is a cause for great celebration as it could have so easily gone the same way. IMO naming a multiplex box after this greatest of “palaces” is almost like an insult. It should NEVER have been demolished in the first place.

theatrefan on February 12, 2015 at 5:51 pm

Yes, they have incorrect information for the year it was demolished, it was 1968 not 1967.

bigjoe59 on February 12, 2015 at 4:23 pm


that is most certainly true but those plaques honoring former Loews theaters are in many cases wrong. for instance the one for the Capitol says it was torn down at the end of 1967 which we all know is not true.

theatrefan on February 12, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Auditorium #6 in the Sony/Loews Theatres Lincoln Square complex on New York’s Upper West Side is named in honor of this former Loew’s Motion Picture Palace.

bigjoe59 on February 11, 2015 at 3:59 pm


i thank my fellow posters for their replies. I still would love to know why Paramount chose not to open it on a roadshow engagement.

also I wonder what the audience’s reaction was
in 1956 to seating thru a 3hr. 28min. film with
no intermission.

Stephen Paley
Stephen Paley on February 11, 2015 at 1:46 pm

“War and Peace,” which opened at the Capitol on August 22nd, 1956, following an invitational VIP screening the previous evening. It was treated as a “normal” release, with no roadshow or reserved seats, and at the Capitol’s regular price scale of $1 to $2.50 tops (depending on time of day). Though running time was 3 hours and 26 minutes, “War and Peace” was shown at the Capitol without an intermission to enable four performances per day.

jamestv on February 9, 2015 at 10:40 pm

Are we talking about the same War And Peace? If this book says that War And Peace from 1956 was one of the last roadshow runs in Manhattan, then where does that put all the roadshow runs that came after it!