AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 with IMAX

1998 Broadway,
New York, NY 10023

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AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 with IMAX

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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 534 comments)

mrwipe on January 31, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Welp that’s that I guess. No Laser projection this year. I’m calling it now, no way LS13 closes during the major IMAX seasons this year that start with BVS and last pretty much all the way through the fall. I’m tired seeing movies here that only use half of the screen (if that).

waterguy56 on January 31, 2016 at 6:44 pm

I hope this is not true. But no doubt, the IMAX fans like us are just the minorities. 80% of people going to LS13 still believe they are watching the best IMAX in the world, so they won’t complain about anything. it could be true that LS13 did not start the renovation because the digital IMAX tickets sold so well. notice TFA is still a super hot LIEIMAX movie at LS13 after one month! but I guess many SW fans just thought they were watching the best version.

xbs2034 on January 31, 2016 at 8:00 pm

I was able to convince my nephews to check out Force Awakens in laser IMAX, and even they noticed a difference from Lincoln Square (where they had seen it during Christmas). I hadn’t seen it in IMAX before, but had first in Real D, then Dolby Cinema, and now IMAX laser and noticed improvement in visual and sounds with each format, plus the native IMAX footage, while sadly too short, was really stunning in that format.

Also from what I understand, they don’t increase the ticket price when going to laser at least initially, and it was $19 there (probably due to the SF market it was a bit cheaper than Lincoln), which again may contribute to AMC being so slow when Lincoln Square is still getting packed houses. The one issue I noticed with laser, is wearing prescription glasses as well I got a reflection in the brighter scenes from the 3D glasses (something that never happened with the 70mm glasses), but for most that won’t be an issue of course, and based on what I saw at least in 2D I believe could be a perfect replacement for 70mm IMAX film (the Deadpool trailer played first and right away my jaw was on the floor with how good it looked).

waterguy56 on February 3, 2016 at 11:50 am

lol, I like the design of TCL Chinese Theater,wish there is one in NYC like that.

It’s very unlikely a 70mm film will be shown at LS13 anymore, guess the 70mm projector has already been removed, otherwise they could have shown TFA in 70mm.

I believe the BvS will be in IMAX till April 14th, then the jungle book will roll out (nice trailer. must be a beautiful film to see in Laser!). Deadpool is scheduled up to Feb 15th currently, and I really hope the renovation can start on the 16th.

cetrata on February 3, 2016 at 11:54 am

Yeah if they had kept the 70mm projector, star wars the force awakens would have been shown in the format. Also heard at one point on twitter from an imax marketing executive that the projector has been removed.

ACS12 on February 3, 2016 at 3:24 pm

What if LS13 just wasn’t chosen for TFA in 70mm? It seems like only science museums and Domes were chosen for it. Not regular theaters. I’d like to know where exactly they dumped the 70mm film projector. Can’t they just get it back, if they had to?

cetrata on February 3, 2016 at 4:15 pm

@ACS12 Unfortunately, I read on twitter from an imax executive lincoln square removed the projector. I suppose they could just get another projector though it seems unlikely

ACS12 on February 4, 2016 at 2:52 pm

I’m sure you’re talking about Eileen Campbell, cetrata. She never gives a definitive answer to people who ask her about Lincoln Square getting laser. She’s been giving them the same answer for months now. LS13 made the worst decision in removing that projector so fast. It’s like they couldn’t wait to. They must have forgotten about directors like Christopher Nolan who prefers to show his films on IMAX 70mm.

amcbayplaza13 on February 4, 2016 at 7:27 pm

Y'all might notice that the CEO Richard Gelfond told THR. There’s been plenty of talk at this week’s expects to see about 15 laser installations by the end of this year, including key destinations such as Empire Leicester Square in London, AMC Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles, AMC Loews Lincoln Square in New York, AMC Metreon in San Francisco and Pacific Science Center in Seattle

xbs2034 on February 4, 2016 at 8:39 pm

AMCbayplaza13, that’s old article/info from when laser debuted at the TCL Chinese theater early last year (which was the second site to get it). All the other sites mentioned other than Lincoln Square already have laser, and I think there are around 20 worldwide at this point including a couple which just did the renovation at the start of the year.

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