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 1,030 comments)

xbs2034 on July 31, 2017 at 12:40 am

The Chinese theater has the most seats, but for screen size it is not the largest. I believe Lincoln, Metreon, and BFI in London are all tied as the second biggest IMAXes, with Melbourne having the largest IMAX and movie screen in the world (Sydney, Australia used to have the biggest screen, but that theater has closed).

alpinedownhiller on August 1, 2017 at 2:31 am

The Chinese is not the largest and especially not the tallest. Even after the upgrade, the Chinese still tops out at 80' wide (the one here is 97' wide) and the Chinese has a digital IMAX ratio so it’s not that tall (compared to a real IMAX ratio screen).

Still 80' wide is one of the wider ones around, although there are some others that wide or wider around.

alpinedownhiller on August 1, 2017 at 2:32 am

“The Chinese screen is 94 ft W X 46 ft H according to the overview on the CT page for that theatre.”

hmm interesting since some other place claimed the upgraded screen was 80' wide

94' wide would be truly tremendous

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on August 1, 2017 at 2:37 am

Does it really matter if the projection does not fill the screen anyway?

alpinedownhiller on August 1, 2017 at 2:41 am

(on a side note for the greater NYC region, NJ really trails behind in screen size, northern and central NJ, AFAIK, tops out at 65' wide, despite it being one of the richest regions in the entire nation. Yet many other states have screens that hit 70', 75', 80', 85' (and CA and NYC even hit over 90', perhaps MA does with the Laser IMAX, not sure, seemed huge though and there had been a long period of 10-20 years where the area topped out at about 50' with most few theaters even having above 36'-38' and there are no true IMAX theaters readily accessible as this theater is an expensive pain to get to for someone from NJ and the only other one is a LONG drive to Atlantic City, I think A.C. now has two screens 70' or wider)

ridethectrain on August 1, 2017 at 2:43 am

From what I understand, Lincoln Square and Metreon are 1 and 2 in screen size followed by the TLC Chinease Theatre

xbs2034 on August 1, 2017 at 4:51 am

Al Alvarez- thanks to the laser system, now every film fills the screen at least left to right, and it can be completely filled top and bottom with a 1.43 title.

Alpinedownhiller- I did see Dunkirk in IMAX laser in the Reading, MA IMAX just last week (to see it a second time after first seeing it in regular 70mm in NYC), and had been there once before for the first Amazing Spider-Man on 15/70 film. And the screen isn’t quite as big as Lincoln Square or San Fran (I believe it is 86 feet wide, but not sure on that), but its definitely one of the more impressive IMAXes I’ve seen. And seeing the 1.43 footage in Dunkirk there was pretty breathtaking (I also thought the regular 70mm footage, while obviously not as impressive, looked a bit better there than on 70mm film projection).

HowardBHaas on August 1, 2017 at 10:30 am

As an official volunteer, I’ve often added screen sizes to the Introductions of our pages, especially when I see the most credible proof, such as the theater’s official website providing specifications so feel free to link such information -copy & paste from the link & mention the source- in a comment on the relevant theater page. I’ll often see such pages for well known movie theaters. This site wishes to be specific for each theater.

alpinedownhiller on August 2, 2017 at 1:43 am

(Thinking about the Chinese more, I think I was probably getting the 80' figure from recalling what they had said about the size of the screen that they had taken OUT and not the one they put in when they put in the new Laser IMAX system, so the 94' probably is correct.

Side, side note, Jersey Gardens theater in NJ has a huge auditorium that has the width to easily support at least a 75' wide screen, maybe even 80', it seems to have mroe like a 65', the problem is down where the screen is the ceiling is really low so they can’t fit much more than a 65' wide one in height wise if they want to keep at least ditigal IMAX ratio, if they were willing to move it up a few rows, which would seem reasonable enough since the place has a zillion seats in it, I’m sure they could fit in at least a 70' digital IMAX screen and I wonder if they could manage a 75', it might even be possible to raise the ceiling a bit down there since I suspect there has got to be some good bit of space up above the ceiling assuming they don’t have some critical pipes and such routed above it right there and then, if they ever went laser, could maybe give northern NJ a huge 80' wide digital IMAX ratio screen)

Back to this one, the weird thing is the auditorium here and screen at first look actually look smaller than the Reading Laser IMAX. I could swear the theater here has less seats across each row. That said once the full Dunkirk trailer started it did seem super looming, running full height, even from second to last row and that did give the sense the screen is the largest around. But the Reading one is huge. I’m sure it’s got to be the 86' you mention for sure and I might have guessed more like 93'. I think the New England Aquarium one is 85'. Anyway, whatever, hard to eyeball and different auditorium shapes can make it trickier to get a feel for what is going on.

I’m not a fan of the buttkickers at Reading, but otherwise it’s the best screen I’ve ever seen (the one here would be second best now for 2D but, at least the day I was there with the glasses they had then, one of the worst ever for 3D). I could swear they keep it, the Reading, even darker in the auditorium than the Laser IMAX here at Lincoln Square so the blacks are just utterly inky and the 3D, at least when I was there, used different glasses that produce utter perfection, just unlike any 3D I’ve seen anywhere else ever, just perfect, while the Laser 3D here ended up being horribly disappointing with the new glasses producing terrible double vision for the right eye, realyl do hope they actually do 100% fix that)

moviebuff82 on August 2, 2017 at 6:47 pm

The imax at the AMNH is the second biggest real imax in the city, although they mostly show documentaries in regular and digital and lack reserved seating that other imaxes have. It’s also the oldest and first IMAX theater in the NYC area since its opening more than 35 years ago.

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