Warners' Theatre

1664 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Warners' Theatre

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Opened as the Piccadilly Theatre on September 27, 1924, the architects were Newton L. Schloss and Joseph Orlando (associate architects). It was built for Lee Ochs.

It was taken over by Warner Brothers and re-named the Warners' Theatre in about 1927. It was in this theatre that Warners launched their ‘Vitaphone’ talkies and “The Jazz Singer” had its Gala World Premiere here on October 6, 1927.

In 1938 it is listed as the Continental Theatre and closed as the Republic Theatre in either 1948 or 1949. It was demolished in 1952 and today a hotel stands on the site.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 25 comments)

scorseseisgod
scorseseisgod on October 29, 2007 at 11:22 am

Thanks, Warren. All has been corrected!

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on February 17, 2008 at 1:58 pm

In 1947, when the theatre was known as the Republic, This Anna Magnani film from Italy had its American premiere here.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on August 15, 2008 at 12:51 pm

Abbey should be added as an aka name here.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 17, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Here is a 1946 photo from Life magazine:
http://tinyurl.com/dcjn46

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 7, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Here is a larger version of the photo posted on 6/9/05:
http://tinyurl.com/ckz8jz

Ziggy
Ziggy on May 7, 2009 at 5:55 pm

ken mc, the photo you posted on April 17 is actually of the Oriental Theatre in Chicago. Great photo, but wrong page.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 7, 2009 at 6:01 pm

OK, I will repost it. I think Life said it was in NYC. Thanks.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on September 8, 2009 at 10:49 am

I believe this closed as the Republic, not the New Yorker.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on October 16, 2009 at 11:11 am

Opening ad for “The Jazz Singer”. Notice that ads read “WARNER” and not “WARNERS'” as on the marquee and that the Vitaphone aspect was not played up until much later in the run.

View link

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on March 2, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Hollywood hype control.

The popular photos of the premier of “The Jazz Singer” featuring Al Jolson and the Warner brothers in front of the theatre were for an invitational sold out live performance by Jolson several days before the movie opened, designed as a publicity stunt. The movie was not shown that night.

On the real premier opening night, not only was Al Jolson not present, neither were the Warner brothers who had gone to California for the funeral of Sam Warner, who had died the day before.

More recent research has shown that not only was opening night not a sensation but that the film did not sell out. It was not even the most popular film of the week in Times Square and acceptance of sound hardly an overnight revolution caused by “The Jazz Singer”. Not only had “Don Juan” had already played this theatre with sound earlier in the year and done better than “The Jazz Singer”, but audiences had already been watching sound newsreels for several years.

The stories that have been repeated since have mostly been fabrications created in later years and fueled by Vitaphone publicity and Warner Bros. multi-picture deal with Al Jolson. “The Jazz Singer” was a mild success in big cities and failed in most smaller markets. The lack of sound theatres (there were only 400 nationwide at the time) made it impossible for it to make much of an impression and the Jewish cantor plot left most audiences outside the larger markets cold. In Boston, for example, the film had to be quickly pulled after a poor opening.

Much of the phenomena repeated today comes from the fictional plot of the movie “Singin’ In the Rain”. There was no audience hysteria, no Variety headlines, no sound hoopla in the opening ads, no rush to wire theatres, and no rush to train actors to speak. Silent movies continued to be made for several years and were among the most profitable. Sound caught on because Hollywood pushed it on theatres in order to create demand for weak product during the depression, not unlike the way they push 3D today.

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