Loew's 72nd Street East
1230 Third Avenue,
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This was the replacement for the grand Loew’s 72nd Street Theatre that previously occupied the entire Third Avenue blockfront between E. 71st Street and E. 72nd Street. This cinema opened in 1962 and has now lasted longer than it’s predecessor which lasted only 29 years. It is part of a 42 story condominium apartment building that was designed by Emery Roth & Sons, Architects.
The cinema occupies the 71st Street corner of the one-story commercial wing of the building. The entrance is on Third Avenue. When you enter from the street you are on the balcony level. It has a split balcony, with seating only above the aisle and the wall on each side. What would be the center section of seats is the projection room. From the street level lobby you descend a stairway to the main auditorium area. Upper and lower lobbies are microscopic, considering the capacity of the auditorium.
It was built in the days when New Yorkers expected to have to stand outside in line. With the closing of the Astor Plaza this is Loew’s last single screen theatre in Manhattan, it is also the oldest of the Manhattan theatres that were built by Loew’s.
I was told that seats from the Astor Theatre were used to re-seat this theatre, which at one time was in desperate need of comfortable seats. The Tower East plays a mixture of art-house product along with general release films. You can’t play just anything there and expect to make money. The upper-east-side neighborhood loves the place when it plays an upscale type of film.
The auditorium is pleasantly decorated with red curtains on the screen that really do open and close, though they are left open because of the slides on the screen during intermissions. (The Astor Theatre closed their curtain at the end of the show only because the throw was too far for the ordinary slide machines used). The side walls are covered with red and gray draperies and the ceiling is painted black. It has 70mm capability – but 70mm prints are few and far between.
Having absorbed Loews theatres, AMC tookover. On December 9, 2010, the Loews 72nd Street East closed with the political thriller “Fair Game”. Still known to moviegoers by its original name, the ‘Tower East’ enjoyed a long 48 year run as a prestigious Upper East Side single screen moveihouse. It was converted into an Anthropologie store which opened on February 15, 2012.
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