Rivoli Theatre

1620 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Paramount Pictures Inc., Publix Theaters Corporation, United Artists Theater Circuit Inc.

Architects: Thomas White Lamb

Styles: Adam, Greek Revival

Previous Names: United Artists Rivoli Theatre, United Artists Twin

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News About This Theater

Rivoli Theatre

A “sister” to the nearby Rialto Theatre, this lost theatre was a palatial early delight and once one of the grandest theatres on the east coast. The 2,092-seat Rivoli Theatre opened December 28, 1917 with Douglas Fairbanks in “A Modern Musketeer”.

In its middle years, the Rivoli Theatre was one of New York City’s finest ‘roadshow’ theatres and was converted to 70mm Todd-AO with a deeply curved screen by Michael Todd for his feature, “Oklahoma!” which had its World Premiere on October 13, 1955 and was shown for 51 weeks. Other World Premieres of 70mm films included “Around the World in 80 Days”(October 17, 1956 and was showcased for 103 weeks), “The Big Fisherman”(August 4, 1959), “West Side Story”(October 18, 1961 and was screened for 77 weeks), “Cleopatra” (June 12, 1963 and was shown for 64 weeks), “The Sound of Music”(March 2, 1965 and was screened for 93 weeks), “The Sand Pebbles”(December 20, 1966), “Hello Dolly”(December 16,1969), “Fiddler on the Roof”(November 3, 1971) and “Man of La Mancha”(December 11, 1972).

The 1950’s deeply curved screen was enormous and generated the illusion of peripheral vision. The Rivoli Theatre, along with the nearby Capitol Theatre, showed event films and both movie houses showed “2001” on their giant screens. Patrons also recall that the sound quality of the six track stereo was as impressive as it’s visuals.

After it was twinned on December 16, 1981, and the curved screen was removed, seating was provided for 890 & 744. It became the United Artists Twin from October 26, 1984. One of the last features to play there was Richard Haines' low budget movie, “The Class of Nuke ‘Em High”. It was closed as the United Artists Twin on June 18, 1987.

Where urban blight had at once shuttered, but saved the Rivoli Theatre from development, a turn around in the city’s fortune made the site too tempting for developers. The Rivoli Theatre, one of the greatest of all New York City theatres, was demolished after closing in June 1987. It has been replaced by a black glass skyscraper.

Contributed by Richard Haines, William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 996 comments)

vindanpar
vindanpar on November 9, 2021 at 12:27 pm

‘There was never a true D-150 shown in New York City.’

So where were they shown?

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on November 9, 2021 at 3:44 pm

Why United Artists would rename this theater the UA Twin after decades as the Rivoli is beyond me. I lived in NYC when they did it. SMH

stevenj
stevenj on November 9, 2021 at 5:15 pm

bigjoe59…This is a link to the Rivoli page on In70MM.com…

Rivoli D150 Screen

“A few years after this purchase (referring to ToddAO’s purchase of D150 from it’s inventors), in 1966, a Dimension-150 screen was installed in the Rivoli prior to the opening of “The Sand Pebbles”, which was filmed in Panavision and was screened at the Rivoli in 70mm. This screen remained in place until the theater was twinned in 1984. (“The Bible” and “Patton”, the only D- 150 films, played elsewhere on Broadway so the Rivoli never ran a D-150 film. However, it projected “Hello, Dolly!”, “Star!”, and “The Last Valley” in D-150.)”

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 9, 2021 at 6:25 pm

Was that D-150 hidden behind a flat screen? Because I remember seeing both 1941 (in 70mm) and Dawn of the Dead (35mm) at the Rivoli in 1979, and I don’t remember either being projected on a deeply curved screen.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on November 9, 2021 at 7:00 pm

Hello-

to stevenj- thanks for the info. I read the article you sent a link to which was fact filled. as you state in your e-mail the article mentions the Todd-AO screen installed for Oklahoma was replaced with a D-150 screen prior to The Sand Pebbles opening. which prompts a question- what was the height and width of the D-150 screen as opposed to the Todd-AO screen?

stevenj
stevenj on November 9, 2021 at 7:44 pm

Ed S - I have no idea but I suppose that was possible - I saw 2 films in one evening at the Golden Gate in SF in the early 70’s - one on a flat wide screen (the musical western Zachariah), the other on their Cinerama screen (a sneak preview of The Andromeda Strain). One of the recent commenters above posted that he was the manager of the Rivoli in the 70’s. Maybe he could chime in on that.

bigjoe59 - According to the link, the ToddAO screen was 52' X 26'. The D150 screen was 74' X 29'.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 9, 2021 at 8:55 pm

Oh yeah! Wally where are you??

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on November 18, 2021 at 9:32 pm

I know the acrimonious discussion of what constitutes a “roadshow” has been mercifully deleted, but in looking at the show-biz bible Variety’s review of the original West Side Story (dated 9/27/61) please note the following quoted passage:

“The Robert Wise production, said to cost $6,000,000, should pile up handsome returns, first on a roadshow basis and later in general runs.”

I wonder if that settles anything…

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on November 19, 2021 at 5:15 pm

Hello-

to Mike (saps)- the discussion of roadshow engagements was as you say a tad acrimonious but I believe the quote from Variety’s 9/27/61 review of West Side Story settles the argument.

if I remember the person complaining about our use of the term “roadshow engagement” said it was technically only correct during the silent era when films frequently traveled from town to town and were hence always on the road.

stevenj
stevenj on November 19, 2021 at 7:16 pm

In addition to Mike (saps) find in Variety, on page 4 of the photos for the Rivoli, I noticed a newspaper ad grindhouse uploaded in Aug 2020 during the run of West Side Story that exclaims about ¾ of the way down “EXCLUSIVE ROADSHOW ENGAGEMENTS For Your Convenience in the New York and New Jersey Areas”.

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