AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 with IMAX

1998 Broadway,
New York, NY 10023

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Loew's Lincoln Square

Viewing: Photo | Street View

On November 18, 1994, on the site of a demolished post office, the circuit then known by the Sony Theatres moniker introduced what immediately became the nation’s busiest multiplex at Broadway and 68th Street.

Construction of the Millennium Partners development known as Lincoln Square began on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in 1992. The $250 million mixed-use project, covering the block from Broadway to Columbus Avenue between 67th and 68th Street, was to rise 545 feet and encompass 800,000-square-feet. The developers took the unusual path of selling and leasing much of the complex’s space before construction had begun. Among the tenants of the 8-story commercial base, to be topped by a 38-story apartment tower, was Loews Theater Management Corporation. Plans for a nine-screen movie theatre with a traditional external box office and no inner lobby or unusual interiors were first conceived by Sony Pictures Entertainment Executive VP Lawrence Ruisi and Chairman Peter Guber. When Jim and Barrie Lawson-Loeks joined Loews/Sony Theatres as co-chairs in 1992, they envisioned a different complex, one that would include a mural-adorned lobby, movie palace ornamentation, indoor ticket selling stations, and more.

Sony Theatres Lincoln Square was designed by the firm of Gensler and Associates. The theatre’s lighting scheme was executed by Gallegos Lighting and the building’s 75' tall by 130' wide lobby mural was produced by EverGreene Painting Studios. (If ever gazing upon the mural, look, among the images from “Lawrence of Arabia”, “It Happened One Night”, and other classic films of Sony [Columbia] Pictures' past, for the embedded names of Sony/Loews executives of the era).

Upon its opening, the theatre totaled 3,046 seats and featured nine traditional exhibition auditoriums, each with a name and plaster/molded-fiberglass entrance paying homage to a grand movie palace of Loews' past. Among these were the Valencia, Kings, State, Capital, Paradise, and Jersey. The entry portals were designed as stylized representations of the old-time movie palaces. (The Paradise, for instance, has an Egyptian theme.) The grandest of the nine theatres bore the name “Loew’s”, since the circuit’s previous designation was, at the time, retired.

This premiere auditorium was modeled after the Thomas Lamb-designed Loew’s 72nd Street theatre (demolished in 1961) and reinterpreted that venue’s Thai-temple inspiration. The theatre featured a red and gold color scheme, handcarved designs atop gilded columns, a chandelier, a proscenium arch featuring elephants and palm trees, a gold show curtain, and a balcony. A two-minutes-long lighting pre-show was created by Patrick Gallegos, using equipment mounted on the balcony rail and footlights, to accompany a commissioned score by Jonathan Brielle. The auditorium housed 876 seats, a 65 feet wide by 26 feet tall screen, was 70mm capable, THX-certified, and opened with state of the art audio. Later, it featured Dolby Digital, SDDS 8-channel, and DTS.

Perhaps the facility’s most attention-grabbing feature was the Sony IMAX Theatre. Billed in advertisements of the time as “The 8-Story Wonder of the World”, the theatre featured 600 seats (not included in the nine-screen total cited above), the United States' largest theatrical screen measuring 100' by 80', and was reached by means of what was claimed to be the world’s largest free-standing escalator. It was the first IMAX theatre in the U.S. to be operated by a major exhibition circuit and also the first to exhibit 3-D films in the large screen format. The debut IMAX features were “The Last Buffalo”, which had previously been exhibited, and the premiere engagement of “Into the Deep”. On April 21, 1995, the theatre presented the first fictional IMAX film, “Wings of Courage”, starring Val Kilmer and Elizabeth McGovern and directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. The film was the earliest to make use of the new IMAX 3-D Personal Sound Environment System. On October 20 of that year, “Across the Sea of Time” was presented, along with the ability for the audience to listen to the film in the language of their choosing via the four audio tracks available in their headsets. The IMAX theatre features a system by which, in a process lasting fewer than 40 minutes, each of the audience headsets is run through a fine mist of water and lens cleaning fluid between shows. Security panels sound alarms should a headset be mistakenly removed from the auditorium. In addition, the auditorium’s porthole glass is intentionally oversized, in order to allow the interested to pear into the projection booth, home to 7.5' wide film platters.

All of the building’s auditoriums, including 3 basement theatres added in early-1995 and originally intended to exhibit art house fare (a plan that was never executed), are reached via a ticket lobby featuring numerous automated ticketing kiosks and a Deco-inspired, 8-station box office at the end of a terrazzo floor with embedded brass stars (intended to be engraved with the names of stars visiting the theatre for premieres of their films). Patrons visiting one of the original 9 auditoriums enter an enormous concession lobby through an entryway replicating the gates of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Culver City studio lot. Floor-to-ceiling structural columns are disguised as palm trees and large screens display trailers for upcoming attractions. A frieze features the names of Hollywood stars and encircles the space. The below-street-level auditoriums, which brought the facility’s total seat count to 4,144 (including IMAX), share a lobby showcasing a black-and-white mural paying homage to 1930’s Hollywood and an auxiliary concession stand. One of these auditoriums was originally equipped with joysticks for the age of interactive movies intended to be ushered in by 1995’s “Mr. Payback”. (The basement space was originally reserved for a neighboring tenant, Barnes & Noble.)

During its opening weekend in 1994, the Lincoln Square drew 33,000 paying customers and grossed more than $202,000 at the box office. The opening features were “Star Trek Generations” (generating $100,000), “The Professional” ($46,000), “Miracle on 34th Street” (1994), “The Lion King” (in the first weekend of a holiday-season re-release), and “The Swan Princess”. In the years since, Sony/Loews/Loews Cineplex Entertainment has striven to maintain the theatre’s technological preeminence. The premiere Loews auditorium is THX-certified. AMC now operates the theatre, having purchased the Loews Cineplex theatres.

Contributed by Damien Farley

Recent comments (view all 646 comments)

xbs2034 on June 3, 2016 at 11:07 pm

Yes, the IMAX here has never had masking (actually that’s pretty common of IMAX screens in general, but sadly even some multiplex screens are not masked anymore).

It wasn’t as big an issue until Fall 2013 when they put the digital projectors in and presentations became windowboxed, and since digital was supposed to just be a stop gap solution until laser, they never seemed to want invest in crating a masking system for that screen (though it’s been almost three years since the transition to IMAX digital)

moviebuff82 on June 11, 2016 at 6:34 pm

Looks like id4 resurgence will be playing in digital imax. Wonder if suicide squad will be in 2k imax 3d or perhaps they’ll wait until fall when Sully comes out in laser imax.

ImaxGeek on June 12, 2016 at 4:52 pm

Is there a projection room viewing gallery at this IMAX theater? I have been to some Imax theaters, even multiplex Imax theaters that have a viewing gallery.

xbs2034 on June 13, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Moviebuff82, since Ghostbusters IMAX tickets are already on sale for mid July, that seems to leave no time for renovations before Suicide Squad at the start of August. Maybe for Sully (which is mostly shot in IMAX), maybe later in the Fall for films like Fantastic Beasts or Rogue One, or maybe not this year at all. Given all the delays which have already occurred, would not be shocked if they wait till next Fall and perhaps show Nolan’s Dunkirk on a film print (which you know the director would like).

ImaxGeek, no projection room viewing gallery (I believe this video shows the projection booth as it was clearly filmed at Lincoln Square ) though they used to have some decorations/video outside the IMAX screen about the format back when the theater first opened, but those must have been taken down years ago

moviebuff82 on June 28, 2016 at 11:32 am

Advance tickets now on sale for the Star Trek imax trilogy…wonder if they’ll use the 70mm projector for Into Darkness 3d like they did three years ago or stick to digital, which is easier to handle than spooling extra long film.

poland626 on July 3, 2016 at 3:17 am

I don’t think they’d switch projectors for this. It might be easier just to play the digital version this time as they’d only have an hour or so to switch projectors out and back again.

I AM curious to see if Voyage of Time gets played here in film for the 40 minute version coming out for IMAX theaters. Would look pretty great and since it doesn’t come out till October, maybe even Laser would be put in by then?

hdtv267 on July 3, 2016 at 4:39 am

What’s pathetic is that he actually thought they’d do that for one showing. Who the hell really cares?

Since AMC clearly doesn’t think installing laser is at this rat trap is so important, it baffles my mind why the hell all of you are losing sleep over it.

I hope someone’s running a pool on it, I really do. I’d win as I’ll be seeing a laser IMAX 3D (AGAIN) in San Francisco in November in a real theater complex with LASER IMAX. Yeah, they gave it to a real City with a winning baseball team first.

markp on July 3, 2016 at 8:08 am

hdtv267, as much as I love film, having been a union projectionist for 40 years, even I have to admit the film is dead. I didn’t want to believe it 3 years ago when I lost my full time job, but aside from being able to run Hateful 8 in 70MM over Christmas holidays, even now I can see film is dead. Ive come to accept (not mean like) digital, and Ive not seen any laser. So all these people who keep wondering, well keep wondering, because even this old seasoned veteran projectionist can tell you film is dead.

alpinedownhiller on July 5, 2016 at 3:21 pm

People care about Laser 3D IMAX because it’s one hell of a different experience to see something filling up the entire screen than something filling up a small rectangular portion of it. And the much deeper blacks, larger color gamut, the utterly ghost free and natural 3D, much crisper image. It’s night and day Laser 3D IMAX compared to regular Xenon 3D IMAX.

I was totally blown away when I saw TFA in Laser 3d IMAX up in Boston.

alpinedownhiller on July 5, 2016 at 3:23 pm

They really need a true utter giant screen 90' wide and full height laser imax out in the burbs though as going to NYC is a nightmare mess (still I’d do it for Laser 3D IMAX for a a very few super huge films).

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