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 311 comments)

hdtv267
hdtv267 on April 3, 2015 at 4:55 am

Thank you for actually providing a link, however, it doesn’t say exactly when the transition is taking place. So until someone speaks with theatre management and gets a shut down and re-open date, then any guesses is just that a guess.

hdtv267
hdtv267 on April 3, 2015 at 10:35 am

I reached out to someone at AMC via Twitter and was informed that in fact no plans made or any specific details are available and to check with the theatre for further information as to specific facts.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on April 3, 2015 at 10:38 am

Is this theater showing its age? 20 plus years sounds like it is. They should renovate this theater much like it’s sister theater on 84th street.

amcbayplaza13
amcbayplaza13 on April 3, 2015 at 10:49 am

This theater should be renovating like the sister of the loews 84th street 6

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on April 3, 2015 at 10:56 am

Which movie has grossed the most and had the longest run at this theater I think titanic did well. For Imax on think avatar 3d same for the 3d version.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on April 5, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Hello-

I think the new set up at the 84 St. theater is a rip off. even if a particular auditorium has 5 people in it the basically force you to pay more for a reserved seat. its the same at the Cinema 1 on 3rd. Ave. the regular price is now $17 making it the most expensive regular ticket price in the city. in fact I went to see Mr. Turner there. I arrived several minutes before the film was due to begin but the line at the box office was sooooooo long since everyone was forced to pick a reserved seat that I missed the beginning of the film. in my opinion this reserved seat policy is just theater onwers way of squeezing more $$$ out of moviegoers.

mhvbear
mhvbear on April 5, 2015 at 5:46 pm

Not very likely that the Lincoln Square will get the seating that was installed at the Loews 86th Street. The Lincoln Square wouldn’t survive with that kind of severe reduction. Lincoln Square is doing sell out business. The 86th was washed up. Not getting the cream of the bookings and getting move overs from the Lincoln Square. Lincoln Square is a desired location for a lot of exclusive runs.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on April 6, 2015 at 12:35 pm

I actually never went to the other theaters at this venue other than the Imax screen. I love the interior of the lobby and the digital marquee. Do they still do the laser light preshow before the Imax movie when an usher introduces the presentation? I used to like that short featuring Mr big screen that I saw twenty years ago when seeing across the sea of time. I saw l5 twice the second time the print was wearing out…it was in 1996. Never saw a 2d Imax showing. It was always sold out before reserved seating made it possible for moviegoers to pick their seats. I remember seeing a video wall near the Imax while waiting to go into the screen and wearing those bulky Imax headsets.

xbs2034
xbs2034 on April 12, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Well, the transition from IMAX film to digital was done over a Mon-Thurs period if I remember correctly, but I think this would take longer. And with The Water Diviner scheduled to play starting April 24th, and then the big summer movie season, my guess is the transition would happen in the fall (like it did last time).

Interestingly, the Empire 25 seems to have nothing scheduled for IMAX between Furious 7 and Tomorrowland, so that would seem like the time to do such a transition.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on April 14, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Maybe they’ll do it when the new star wars movie comes out….

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