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 341 comments)

Giles
Giles on May 27, 2015 at 11:02 pm

you should point out moviebuff82 that each next Avenger’s movies will be shot in Digital IMAX for the entire movie – I gather that means that 4:3 screens full screen and 1.78:1 on all IMAX-Digital screens. In other words, no alternating aspect ratios.

Press release news:

‘IMAX Corporation today announced that Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War – Parts 1 & 2, the two-part installment to the global blockbuster franchise, will be shot in their entirety using IMAX® and ARRI’s next generation revolutionary 2D digital camera – a joint customized digital version of ARRI’s new large format camera, the Alexa 65. The two-part Avengers saga marks the first time a Hollywood feature film will have been shot completely using IMAX® cameras and will feature IMAX’s exclusive aspect ratio, providing moviegoers a uniquely immersive experience.’

celboy
celboy on May 28, 2015 at 12:33 am

The new Alexa 65 camera has an aspect ratio of 2.1 to 1. I don’t think sensors /chips are going to get 4x3, rectanglar aspect ratio of 2 to 1 seems to be the primary display future.

Giles
Giles on May 28, 2015 at 1:46 am

well that’s conterintuitive when every IMAX (15/70) screens are 4:3 – guess the future means we’ll get stuck with 2.0:1 / 1.9:1 image letterboxed on said screens, but still not using the full screen – ugh…

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on May 28, 2015 at 8:21 pm

Does this theater still use SDDS?

RobertAlex
RobertAlex on May 28, 2015 at 8:22 pm

cellboy, I am not sure that information about the Alexa 65 is correct. I might be wrong, but doesn’t this info from Arri mean that this lens is capable of a 1.1:43 aspect ratio with the Alexa 65?

ALEXA Plus 4:3 for anamorphic http://www.arri.de/news/news/alexa-plus-43-for-anamorphic/

celboy
celboy on May 29, 2015 at 1:12 am

Robert, that link refers to an update on the original Alexa camera that is widely used today. They (arri) are pushing anamorphic capture. But no projector makers are pushing anamorphic projection..—– probably due to DCI. Thats what makes me wonder if 4x3 digital projection will ever happen. Arri appears to be treating alexa 65 as its own thing…you can’t buy …only rent. Pixel-wise the camera is 6560x3102.

RobertAlex
RobertAlex on May 29, 2015 at 2:03 am

Thanks for the info! I was under the impression that imax laser could do 4:3. We shall see soon enough. I have seen two films at the Chinese Theater in IMAX Laser and it is spectacular. Same with Dolby Vision, it was just phenomenal at The El Capitian . Best digital images I have ever seen. Hopefully they will release more information soon on Winter Soldier and the aspect ratio they will use with that film before they start Infinity War. Thanks for the reply !

This was the first Imax I have ever been too and have always adored this theater.

ridethectrain
ridethectrain on May 29, 2015 at 2:31 am

Theaters 1 Loews Theatre 2 Kings and Theatre 5 Valencia Dolby Digital. Loews also has Dolby Atmos. The other 9 probably SDDS. Half of the AMC Empire 25 is SDDS. Their the small houses

Also note Loews is not THX certified anymore

MarkNYLA
MarkNYLA on May 29, 2015 at 3:09 am

SDDS was a film-only sound format. There is no digital projection version. It is no longer supported by Sony, although theaters that are still equipped with readers and who still receive 35mm prints that support the format can still play it.

Giles
Giles on May 29, 2015 at 4:30 am

interesting little tidbit of 8-channel SDDS sound: DCI compliant audio processors can use and implement the left/center and right/center speaker that SDDS-8 featured. Word is that the new restored DCP of ‘My Fair Lady’ is encoded as such – retaining the original 1964 70mm/6-track mix configurement.

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