Rivoli Theatre

1620 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Rivoli Theatre

A “sister” to the nearby Rialto Theatre, this lost theatre was a palatial early delight and once one of the grandest theatres on the east coast. The Rivoli Theatre opened December 28, 1917 with Douglas Fairbanks in “A Modern Musketeer”.

In its middle years, the Rivoli Theatre was one of New York City’s finest ‘roadshow’ theatres and was converted to 70mm Todd-AO with a deeply curved screen by Michael Todd for his feature, “Oklahoma!” which had its World Premiere on October 13, 1955 and was shown for 51 weeks. Other World Premieres of 70mm films included “Around the World in 80 Days”(October 17, 1956 and was showcased for 103 weeks), “The Big Fisherman”(August 4, 1959), “West Side Story”(October 18, 1961 and was screened for 77 weeks), “Cleopatra” (June 12, 1963 and was shown for 64 weeks), “The Sound of Music”(March 2, 1965 and was screened for 93 weeks), “The Sand Pebbles”(December 20, 1966), “Hello Dolly”(December 16,1969), “Fiddler on the Roof”(November 3, 1971) and “Man of La Mancha”(December 11, 1972).

The 1950’s deeply curved screen was enormous and generated the illusion of peripheral vision. The Rivoli Theatre, along with the nearby Capitol Theatre, showed event films and both movie houses showed “2001” on their giant screens. Patrons also recall that the sound quality of the six track stereo was as impressive as it’s visuals.

After it was twinned in December 1981, and the curved screen was removed. It became the United Artists Twin from October 26, 1984. One of the last features to play there was Richard Haines' low budget movie, “The Class of Nuke ‘Em High”. It was closed as the United Artists Twin in June 1987.

Where urban blight had at once shuttered, but saved the Rivoli Theatre from development, a turn around in the city’s fortune made the site too tempting for developers. The Rivoli Theatre, one of the greatest of all New York City theatres, was demolished after closing in June 1987. It has been replaced by a black glass skyscraper.

Contributed by Richard Haines, William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 840 comments)

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on April 20, 2019 at 11:37 pm

There were some other missteps in that range such as “CHEYENNE AUTUMN” and “THE HALLELUJAH TRAIL”.

HowardBHaas on April 20, 2019 at 11:57 pm

Cleopatra’s original 1963 visual quality is what I enjoyed in 70mm in August 2018 at the Museum of Moving Image via the new print struck in 2006 by Fox. Real film, not digital pixels.

vindanpar on April 21, 2019 at 3:23 am

Do Cheyenne Autumn, Hallelujah Trail and even Fall of the Roman Empire exist any longer in 70mm or are their negatives gone for good?

bigjoe59 on April 22, 2019 at 12:15 am


to Al A.– thanks for the correction as to the length of

      Half A Sixpence's roadshow run at the Criterion 
                        which was 11 weeks not 6. but even at 11 weeks 
                        doesn't that make it the shortest roadshow run 
                        in the seven houses I listed?

to vindanpar- the currently available Blu-ray disc of

           Cleopatra in terms of richness of the colors
                             and the crispness, clarity and sharpness of 
                             both the picture and the multi-channel 
                             tracks is he very definition of !WOW! when 
                             Taylor descends from the Sphinx her outfit
                             is bright shiny gold with a capital G. so
                             I have no idea what the quote you quoted
                             is talking about. 
vindanpar on April 22, 2019 at 3:33 pm

I got the quotes from Bluray.com on a thread of people discussing the restoration. As I said myself I was surprised as I saw the film twice during the week when it was shown for its anniversary and I was pretty wowed as well.

I do though envy Haas seeing a new movie print struck by Fox and not a digital projection which I think is mostly what you get these days. I must admit though for a strict purist like myself I don’t hate some of the digital projections I’ve seen. Brief Encounter at FF was pretty wonderful.

HowardBHaas on April 22, 2019 at 4:55 pm

Before I saw the 70mm print, in 2013, I saw at a Fathom events, the digital version. The digital version was also stunningly beautiful! It was awesome. The Blu ray is probably similiar.

bigjoe59 on April 22, 2019 at 10:21 pm


another question about roadshow films on Blu-ray. when Cleopatra premiered at this theater June 1963 it was 4 hours. it was cut down to 3hrs. 40 mins. and then 3hrs. 15mins. for its run at neighborhood theaters around NYC. the Blu-ray is the New York cut as its known so Fox at least kept the trims. but why are some companies better at keeping the trims than others?

bigjoe59 on May 6, 2019 at 8:57 pm


it was customary when a roadshow engagement finished the film would move to another 1st run theater in Manhattan on “continuous performances at popular prices”. but does anyone remember a roadshow engagement that went from reserved seat to continuous performances at popular prices in the same theater?

NYer on May 6, 2019 at 10:41 pm

Well sorta, “Quo Vadis” opened Roadshow on November 8, 1951 at the Astor on Broadway but also opened up the block at The Capitol with “continuous shows at popular prices”. Then on December 31 the Astor dropped the Roadshow and too went continuous with popular prices.

bigjoe59 on June 6, 2019 at 11:49 pm


I thank my fellow moviegoers for info on the roadshow engagement policy. now does anyone know of a first rate book on the subject? Kim Holston’s “Movie Roadshows” not only a few mistakes but omits films altogether as well.

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