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 W. 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 W. 67th Street and W. 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 968 comments)

Darth_Vader444 on June 8, 2017 at 4:32 am

Hey, are there matinee’s in the Lincoln Square Imax?!?! I want to take my Son to a matinee on Monday to see the Mummy but the earliest show is at 5:15.

xbs2034 on June 8, 2017 at 8:35 am

There are, and I see matinee screenings for both Sunday and Tuesday for The Mummy on Fandango. A lot of test screenings, press screenings, and even some premieres are held here, so always possible showings are moved around to accommodate those.

moviebuff82 on June 8, 2017 at 11:37 am

Imax is losing money due to competition from Dolby and other premium formats and their stock price shows that. AMC is also suffering too but should recover by the fall if the summer box office does well.

moviebuff82 on June 13, 2017 at 11:21 am

advance tickets go on sale for Dunkirk on June 23rd according to a tv spot that aired during last night’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals. I bet the 70mm tickets will sell fast.

Darth_Vader444 on June 19, 2017 at 5:13 am

Thanks for that info. Can’t wait to see Dunkirk. I’m going to see Transformers maybe this weekend being as most was shot in Imax. It will hold me over till next month when we see Dunkirk.

moviebuff82 on June 19, 2017 at 11:47 am

TF was 98 percent shot in imax 3d. Avengers Infinity War and its sequel will break that record for imax footage as both will be shot back to back in imax 2d then converted into 3d. Inhumans was shot in imax and the first two episodes will make their debut in imax theatres before broadcasting on ABC days after the premiere.

thebrat on June 25, 2017 at 6:46 pm

Yesterday afternoon I caught “The Beguiled” here. In the case for my showing it was playing in State. The A/C was broken for the entire second floor and the 1.66:1 image of the film wasn’t fully masked. To be generous, machines can only work for so long unattended and “The Beguiled” was in a ratio outside of the DCI specifications anyway. On the plus, the lack of HVAC noise in the theater enhanced the film’s understated, nuanced, and quiet sound design. Though I did hear audio bleed from the adjacent theater, it’s understandable knowing that only Loews was built to the THX specs.

Notwithstanding, “The Beguiled” is a great technical achievement moreso than a character-driven movie. One thing that caught my attention was the excellent use of contrast. Lights and darks coexist within a frame beautifully without compromise, and I haven’t seen a movie that used contrast that well in a long time. I’d assume State has your typical Sony SXRD 4K projector, but which one? Is it even an SXRD projector? Blacks were way black, obviously the Sonys have better blacks than the DLPs, but maybe this film took advantage of that more than others.

xbs2034 on June 26, 2017 at 10:55 am

That A/C is a significant problem, no doubt they will fix it, but I imagine in the Summer a lot of people will just request refunds instead of sitting through that.

I think The Beguiled will be pillarboxed pretty much everywhere. Very few theaters can probably adjust for 1.66, and I’m guessing it’s a flat DCP with the bars built in (that’s how it was presented at the Angelika as well). Unusual aspect ratio movies like that, La La Land, and The Hateful Eight I expect not to be fully masked, but theaters should be able to adjust between flat and scope, and the times they mess that up is what bugs me.

digital3d on June 26, 2017 at 11:11 am

At least they didn’t play “The Beguiled” in a scope format without masking. (at least I think they didn’t) I hate when theaters do that.

If I would be a theater, I wouldn’t like to use an auditorium with a scope screen for a flat movie anyways. Theaters should have one or two or more 1.85 screens. With such a screen, the lack of masking probably wouldn’t bother as much with “The Beguiled” than with a scope screen.

In general though, it really bothers me when chains like Regal or AMC or even local movie theaters don’t mask properly. If you can’t mask it, don’t play it.

Of course “The Beguiled” is different because of it’s rare format, but in general that should be a rule imo.

moviebuff82 on June 26, 2017 at 12:19 pm

I agree. My local AMC in rockaway when they play either scope or regular there’s the masking issue. It’s not an issue when I watch a movie on a flat screen tv but it’s worse when watching it on an overscan tube hdtv.

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