AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 with IMAX

1998 Broadway,
New York, NY 10023

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AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 with IMAX

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 415 comments)

hdtv267 on November 11, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Buyer beware concerning Sceptre. I attended today and was quite disappointed in that the image didn’t fill the screen lately. I’d have been better off going to a LieMax in a mall in some soul less multiplex, gotten the same effect.

Also, this is my first time attending this venue in a very long time and wow, is this thing long in the tooth. I actually had to change seats as the one I selected was broken.

xbs2034 on November 11, 2015 at 9:28 pm

Apparently new seats will also be part of the laser renovation. I think the IMAX seats and lobby have been kept up to date better personally, but the downstairs regular theaters are starting to really show their age in some cases and hopefully they also will get some attention soon (particularly as the selection of films in those screens are good with Lincoln getting many limited releases hard to find elsewhere).

theatrefan on November 12, 2015 at 8:11 am

Do they still have the original seats from Nov 94 in the rest of the auditoriums? I know the Loews Auditorium did get a seating upgrade in the mid 2000’s. I believe Irwin Seating Company was the main supplier they used in their 90’s projects. This place does need a refresh, but I hope they do not get rid of a lot of the Gensler Design details that went into the look of the lobbies and auditoriums, otherwise it will wind up looking just like any other modern AMC with no unique individuality whatsoever.

mhvbear on November 12, 2015 at 11:54 am

Loews would not of let it get in such a shabby condition. It is one of the top money making sites in the country.

amcbayplaza13 on November 12, 2015 at 6:23 pm

I’m just praying God that the AMC doesn’t get rid of the original gensler design if they do the place is gonna looks like the Modernize AMC Theatres and liemax

moviebuff82 on November 14, 2015 at 1:57 pm

I Agree, amcbayplaza 13. Mhvbear, this is a popular location since most big movies open here before they roll out nationwide. As for the food they sell, it has changed a lot since it opened in 1994 given the eating habits of the moviegoing public. The ticket prices, the same. My advice for the moviegoer who needs to drive to the city, take the trains and buses as parking near the theater can be as hard as trying to find a space at Yankee Stadium or MSG.

waterguy56 on November 19, 2015 at 11:12 am

Im gonna see the hunger game, in the heart of the sea and SW7 here. any news about when we can get laser IMAX at this theater?

xbs2034 on November 19, 2015 at 2:07 pm

No laser IMAX for 2015 has been confirmed.

A woman who works for IMAX did say it “should” be in for Batman v Superman in late March 2016 when asked on Twitter and there has been buzz about it being as early as end of January, but I’d wait to see an official announcement about laser beginning construction/re-opening date before I fully buy anything at this point.

ridethectrain on November 19, 2015 at 2:26 pm

I’m disappointed with the upgrade, but still seeing IMAX their because its slightly bigger than downtown. The RPX is a ripoff at EWALK, the screen is not as big as the AMC ETX/NOW PRIME EMPIRE.

Also, the basement projection is poor. I flat film is letterbox top and left and right. When they went to 4K in 10-12, the screen doesn’t project as big. That’s strange.

Can’t wait for lesser.

moviebuff82 on November 25, 2015 at 3:53 am

i agree. You mean laser, ridethectrain. Batman v Superman will probably have legs in its imax run before Captain America Civil War kicks off the summer movie season. I think the atmos screen will show Star Wars in better projection than the imax as that movie was mixed in Atmos.

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