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 346 comments)

xbs2034 on June 6, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Celboy, here is an article from IMAX where they state the laser projection can do 1:43 aspect ratio

I don’t think IMAX has released full details of their new camera yet (if I remember correctly, they didn’t do so with the 3D digital camera last year until a couple weeks before Transformers came out, even though it had been in use for a long time) so we will have to wait and see. I’d be hopeful they would keep the classic ratio with it, but yeah it could just be 1.9.

moviebuff82 on July 7, 2015 at 11:34 am

Coming this fall, laser imax.

xbs2034 on July 14, 2015 at 6:57 pm

Given we are already getting press releases/announced schedules for IMAX locations converting to laser for Feb 2016 dates and still no announcement on a timetable for Lincoln Square, I’m not optimistic it is happening this year. One other nice bit of info the article gives is that it takes approx. 4 weeks to convert to laser, so unless they are going to begin the process after Mission Impossible or Man from Uncle at the very latest we can probably write it off from happening this year (don’t see them cutting off the runs of Everest and The Walk when those films are opening early in IMAX, and after those there isn’t much time before the big holiday blockbusters starting with Spectre).

As for the non-IMAX screens, I also think the place could use some renovation (and it does great business, so it would make financial sense). I’ve seen Ex Machina and a test screening of Steve Jobs here recently, and the screens/seats were showing their age.

ridethectrain on July 14, 2015 at 7:51 pm

The manager told me in the fall for laser and the theatre getting new seats in thecimax screen. No recliners the screen might lose about 100 seats vA

xbs2034 on July 14, 2015 at 8:26 pm

Was this said recently, that would be great if true (I remember when they first switched to digital in fall of 2013 the manager said the plan was to go to laser sometime in the second half of 2014, so I’m a bit skeptical until they lock down an actual month or other clear time frame).

Interesting that they would also put in new seats (I understand they don’t want to go with recliners, but I find the IMAX seats decent already, it is some of the ones in the downstairs screens that feel like they may be falling apart) could certainly see it taking longer than 4 weeks to renovate if they did that as well which likely means a big film or two will be skipped if they open this year.

Giles on August 26, 2015 at 8:30 pm

Does this theater have a screen that is outfitted to playback in Dolby Atmos – which one?

xbs2034 on September 9, 2015 at 10:50 pm

Tickets for the new James Bond film Spectre are already on sale here for both IMAX and standard format.

xbs2034 on September 10, 2015 at 6:49 pm

Oh, and I did some checking and they apparently will still be projecting IMAX digital when Spectre arrives. Fandango lists it as a digital IMAX showing (whereas I’ve seen IMAX laser designated as such in those locations on Fandango) and earlier it was said the seating chart would be changed as part of the laser renovation, but I went onto Fandango for the Spectre screenings and same rows and seat # available for reserved seating.

Since skipping Hunger Games is their only other option to do renovations before Star Wars, yeah, I’m back to feeling pretty likely IMAX laser won’t come till 2016 here (just don’t want IMAX trying to still hype it as “new” tech then when it will have been in other theaters for over a year).

xbs2034 on September 30, 2015 at 9:46 pm

Mockingjay Pt 2 now confirmed to play in IMAX here with tickets going on sale today. With an already full fall slate of The Walk (playing now), Crimson Peak, and Spectre on sale, that means no laser IMAX, at least this year. I think the theater’s success is part of the reason behind the decision- laser systems are expensive to install, and they may even lose seats, so if the theater is seemingly losing no business in windowboxed digital that it had when it was 15/70, I can see why AMC are in no rush to pay the laser expense and lose four weeks of business during the renovation process.

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