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 260 comments)

hdtv267 on June 22, 2014 at 2:11 pm

on Twitter at @AMCHelps

that would be a better place to be sure your concerns are addressed.

bigjoe59 on June 22, 2014 at 8:42 pm


I can’t stand the reclining seats the 84th multiplex has. for one if you a big person and I don’t mean overweight just big your leg is constantly pressing up against the button with opens the chair. its almost impossible if you are a big person to just sit in the chair in a regular fashion comfortably.

also the pricing at 84th St. is highway robbery. ticket prices for 1st run theaters in Manhattan are already to high. yet the 84 St. forces you to pay more for a “reserved seat” even if there are only 5 people in the theater.

ridethectrain on June 30, 2014 at 4:08 am

Saw Godzilla in Atmos there when my Godzilla IMAX show got cancelled due to mechanical problems. Miss the 70MM Imax, the current IMAX Digital is slightly bigger than baby IMAX.

Jersey Boys is playing at the Ziegfeld, but Bow Tie Cinemas didn’t installed Atmos. The best flagship theatre in the city needs the sound upgrade.

ridethectrain on June 30, 2014 at 4:12 am

After Intersteller is the last IMAX film in 70MM film.

The reason why most Regal Theatres that had Dolby Atmos elected to show Think Like A Man Too in that auditorium instead at Kaufman, Court Street. Which is sad that they showed that in RPX and the film is recorded only in Dolby Digital 5.1 It should of been showed in a regular auditorium

mhvbear on June 30, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Bow Tie only programs the Ziegfeld. The theater was not part of the Clearview sale.

relaxednyc on August 3, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Fingers crossed the laser IMAX upgrade happens soon- digital IMAX presentation of Guardians of the Galaxy was incredibly disappointing, with the image not even filling the screen side-to-side like it used to, probably 10 feet of blank borders on the left and right. Coupled with the fact that films not shot in IMAX never fill the screen top to bottom, this made the image essentially look like a mistake. 3D was fine, but slightly dim.

The IMAX screen is huge, but using probably 50% or less of it to show a film makes the only benefit to seeing a film there the reserved seating.

celboy on August 3, 2014 at 10:35 pm

RelexedNYC: What features do you recall being full width there? I wonder if they were imax film DMR’s. I think the lenses attached to the dlp’s can’t do full width on that screen. PS-I found the 3d of Hobbit Teaser so much better than the “average/typical 3d” of Guardians ….which was still a really good movie.

mhvbear on August 4, 2014 at 12:25 am

The last time I was at the Lincoln Square to see ‘Lucy" i inquired about 15/70mm at the IMAX screen. I was told that “Interstellar” and “The Hobbit:The Battle of the Five Armies” will show actual prints.

geraldrivera456 on September 6, 2014 at 7:53 pm

I did saw the amazing spiderman 2 and godzilla in IMAX but I remember they playing movie with laser IMAX digital projector and I noticed about the amazing spiderman 2 and godzilla was playing in 15/70mm film projector every since I was on line buying large popcorn and the hole people waiting for the movie ti start at Lincoln Square in the late may and the early june

Giles on September 6, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Wait.. what? … I didn’t think the new IMAX laser systems weren’t going to debut until next year

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