AMC Lincoln Square 13

1998 Broadway,
New York, NY 10023

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AMC Lincoln Square 13

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. The seating capacity in 2018 was reduced to 3,254. In November 2019 the former Loew’s screen was renamed Dolby Cinema at AMC and the seating capacity was reduced from 876-seats down to 291-seats, giving a total seating capacity of 2,669.

Contributed by Damien Farley

Recent comments (view all 1,608 comments)

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on October 22, 2019 at 2:58 pm

Hello-

I really liked The Last Jedi and simply don’t get the hate for the film. so can someone in an intelligent adult manner describe to me what was soooooooo wrong with the film. I look at this way- if it was sooooo uneven why did it make two truckloads of $$$.

ridethectrain
ridethectrain on October 22, 2019 at 9:17 pm

Most theatres cut down the 3D shows to bare minimum or limited shows. Since laser came out, AMC doesn’t like to maintain the Dolby glasses that are needed for both IMAX and Dolby CInema.

Disney has cut down on that most IMAX films are standard 2D. I like to see 3D, but it very difficult to see. I’m not seeing 3D films on small screens or non Dolby 5.1 or 7.1 screens. I don’t know if some of the former Loews theatres, if AMC replaced the SDDS processors with Dolby Digital.

When I saw a few films in the AMC Empire small houses, it didn’t sound like Dolby Digital. At least when I saw Once Upon A Time in Hollywood in theatre 7 Paradise, I was surprised it sounded like it was Dolby DIgital for the film.

AMC and the former Loews Theatres, the primary sound in the 1990s and the start of the new millenium, the sound of choice was Sony Dynamic Digital Sound.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on October 22, 2019 at 10:10 pm

Sony Dynamic Digital Sound, a little known industry gimmick also know in the industry as “Still Doesn’t Do Shit”. SDDS.

CF100
CF100 on October 23, 2019 at 5:05 pm

ridethectrain:

Since laser came out, AMC doesn’t like to maintain the Dolby glasses that are needed for both IMAX and Dolby CInema.

If true, then that is pathetic! The glasses are more expensive than the polarised (RealD, etc.) 3D types but “maintaining” them involves putting them in a “dishwasher” (and I can’t imagine that attrition due to non-returns amounts to a significant cost?)

I don’t know if some of the former Loews theatres, if AMC replaced the SDDS processors with Dolby Digital.

Dolby Digital and SDDS were sound formats for 35mm film prints:

Photo of 35mm film showing DTS timecode, Dolby Digital and SDDS data and analogue optical tracks.

(DTS stored the audio on external CD-ROMs synchronized to the image, Dolby Digital and SDDS stored the data on the film itself.)

They were both “lossy” formats (like MP3); SDDS had the benefit of supporting up to 5 screen channels instead of 3, albeit in practice the number of titles and venues that supported this was probably limited.

Suffice it to say that comparing the systems beyond this is now academic; however, the SDDS decoders were quite advanced for the time, with on-board digital equalisation for system tuning.

Also, there was a “war” between DTS, Dolby Digital and Sony over reliability, with Dolby claiming that storing the data between sprockets instead of the film edges meant that their system could cope with more wear and tear.


In today’s age of digital theatrical distribution, all audio is lossless digital per industry standards; whether or not there’s a Dolby box around or not is irrelevant—except in the case of Dolby Atmos.

Therefore, for a regular 5.1 or 7.1 system, differences are to do with the equipment specified, room acoustics and quality of the installation.

CF100
CF100 on October 23, 2019 at 5:05 pm

Al Alvarez:

Sony Dynamic Digital Sound, a little known industry gimmick also know in the industry as “Still Doesn’t Do Shit”. SDDS.

Eh?

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on October 23, 2019 at 5:08 pm

Dolby atmos has become atmouse.

CF100
CF100 on October 25, 2019 at 9:55 am

Whether “Atmouse” or not, i.e. the extent to which the extended capabilities of Atmos are used, see the Dolby Atmos Specifications document, which sets out the minimum system requirements and design.

Even if overheads are disused, there is still the option of using objects for directional surround, rather than the traditional use of the surrounds (IMAX excepted)—replicating the same channel over multiple surround speakers (producing a diffuse effect—desirable in the days of Dolby Stereo with mono surround only, and still can be for “ambience.”)

Additionally, the surrounds are “bass managed” with subwoofers thus providing an extended bass response. As I mentioned on the respective Cinema Treasures page, this was obvious during my last visit to the Odeon Leicester Square.

Given also that Dolby Atmos installations to date have tended to be in “premium” auditoria, entering a screen that has a Dolby Atmos-capable system should be an indication that, even for 5.1 or 7.1 content, the sound system will be of above average quality.

On the other hand, it is too bad that the Dolby Cinema trailer demonstration of Atmos is very impressive, whilst IME that “3D” soundstage is rarely heard in the main feature.

I am pleased to say that I have never seen a rodent in a Dolby Atmos-equipped cinema!

ridethectrain
ridethectrain on October 26, 2019 at 3:26 pm

That not true, the AMC Universal in Hollywood is the only complex that has Dolby Atmos in all screens and their some theatres that use Atmos in premium theatres, but it very few

CF100
CF100 on October 26, 2019 at 8:47 pm

ridethectrain:

their some theatres that use Atmos in premium theatres, but it very few

Sorry, not quite sure what you mean…?

ridethectrain
ridethectrain on November 8, 2019 at 2:11 am

Please update in description, the Loews theatre became Dolby Cinema at AMC and now seats only 291 people.

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