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My favorite movie theater - Times Square losing its largest theater!

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My favorite movie theater - Times Square losing its largest theater!

Old 07-15-04, 08:40 AM
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My favorite movie theater - Times Square losing its largest theater!

Sad news this morning when I learned that the Loew's Astor Plaza in Times Square will be closing. It's one of the few big movie palaces still left, and is one of my favorite places to see a new blockbuster - Spidey 2 is there now.

There's nothing quite like watching a big movie on a BIG screen, with literally over a thousand other people sharing the adventure.

I'm really unhappy about this.







Coming Soon: The End
By DAVID W. DUNLAP

Published: July 15, 2004


Take down the 70-millimeter reels. Switch off the Dolby. Fade to black.

New York City will lose its largest single-screen movie theater next month, when the 1,440-seat Loews Astor Plaza in Times Square closes after a 30-year run that began with "For Pete's Sake" and will apparently end with Peter Parker ("Spider-Man 2").



In a twist on the Broadway trend of the early and mid-20th century, when playhouses and vaudeville halls were turned into movie theaters, the Astor Plaza will become a live rock concert hall after a nine-month renovation.

The new use will be "consistent with the entire Times Square entertainment idea," said Steven M. Durels, senior vice president of S. L. Green Realty Corporation, owners of 1515 Broadway, between 44th and 45th Streets, which houses the Astor Plaza, the Minskoff Theater, MTV Studios and Viacom's headquarters.

"We feel it's the best of all worlds," Mr. Durels said, particularly since the alternatives were to turn the 43,000-square-foot underground space into a garage or a theme restaurant.

But the closing of the Astor Plaza, scheduled for Aug. 5, will also cost New York one more theater whose sweeping dimensions recall something of the grandeur of the Capitol, the Rivoli, the Roxy and the Strand.

There was no mighty Wurlitzer, no gilded cherubim. But there was a glittery, disco-ball 70's sensibility to the place, perfectly fitting its role as the first-run home of thundering broad-screen epics like "Superman," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "The Man Who Would Be King," "Return of the Jedi" and multiples of 007: "A View to a Kill," "Licence to Kill" and "The Living Daylights."

Ruby-red pleated curtains still greet movie patrons, who have 42 rows of battleship-gray seats to choose from, with a balcony that seems to recede to the horizon, ending at Row QQ. The screen extends about 20 yards, as wide as many subway cars are long.

In a city where 1,000-seat cinemas were once a dime a dozen, Clearview Cinemas' Ziegfeld at 141 West 54th Street will be the last to make that claim, with 1,162 seats facing the same screen. "Once the Astor Plaza closes, it will be the largest one-screen auditorium in New York," said Laura Conover, a spokeswoman for Clearview.

This dismays theater buffs like William P. Huelbig, 49, of Weehawken, N.J., who works as a law library assistant in a large Manhattan firm.

Other remaining single-screen theaters, like the Paris and the Beekman, are too small to qualify as movie palaces, he said in an e-mail message. "A palace should have at least a thousand seats, and that leaves the Ziegfeld in a class by itself," Mr. Huelbig said. "It seems wrong that a city like New York should have only one theater like that."

Was the Astor Plaza too big for the multiplex era? Or too near the Loews 42nd Street E Walk? Is "Spider-Man 2" going to close the theater or will one more extravaganza flicker to life as the curtains part? Loews Cineplex would not say. In fact, it had no comment at all, said its public relations firm.
Old 07-15-04, 08:47 AM
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That's terrible! I just went there for the first time a couple of months ago to see Van Helsing and was amazed at the the experience. I was really looking forward to seeing something that was good on that beautiful screen. At least we still have the Ziegfeld...

Is LA heavily populated by theaters of this type?
Old 07-15-04, 10:26 AM
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Every time a theater closes, baby Jesus weeps...
Old 07-15-04, 04:23 PM
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That really sucks- at a time when there's more competition for theaters than ever, with the home viewing experience getting better all the time, you would think they would want to keep the BIG screens around to get people out of their houses. All the newly-built theaters have screens so small that they're not worth bothering with, especially at about $10 per ticket when you can buy the DVD for about as much later. The 16-plexes will have a couple decent-sized screens but most movies only play on them for their first week before getting moved to the smaller ones.
Old 07-15-04, 04:55 PM
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Originally posted by remjim
That's terrible! I just went there for the first time a couple of months ago to see Van Helsing and was amazed at the the experience. I was really looking forward to seeing something that was good on that beautiful screen. At least we still have the Ziegfeld...

Is LA heavily populated by theaters of this type?
There are a few large single screen movie houses here. Most famous are the Mann's Chinese theater and the Cinerama Dome (now part of the Arclight). There are a few smaller theaters that also only show one movie at a time.

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