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Styles: Streamline Moderne
Previous Names: B.S. Moss' Criterion Theatre, Loew's Criterion Theatre, Criterion Center
- Criterion Theatre
- Loew's New York Theatre and...
- Palladium Times Square
- Wonderland Theatre
- Paramount Theatre
News About This Theater
- Mar 17, 2013 — “South Pacific” 55th Anniversary – The Roadshow Engagements
- Dec 9, 2012 — Happy 50th, “Lawrence of Arabia”
- Oct 30, 2009 — Happy 50th, "Sleeping Beauty"
- Aug 21, 2009 — "Alien" 30th Anniversary
- Jul 15, 2008 — Remembering "Die Hard" -- A 20th Anniversary Tribute
- Jul 15, 2008 — Remembering "Die Hard"
- Oct 15, 2007 — 70mm World Premieres now listed in introductions of New York City movie palaces
The B.S. Moss' Criterion Theatre opened September 16, 1936 with Kay Francis in “Give Me Your Heart”. Designed in the Art Moderne style with 1,700 seats on part of the site of the old Olympia entertainment complex. This originally included Loew’s New York Theatre and Roof (Cinema Treasures theatre #15178), and the earlier Criterion Theatre (Cinema Treasures theatre #16481) which was built in 1895 as the Lyric Theatre.
All were demolished to make way for the Criterion Theatre, retail stores and the International Casino nightclub. B.S. Moss Enterprises built the Criterion Theatre, but in 1938 leased the theatre to Loew’s for 20 years. The first film to open at Loew’s Criterion Theatre was MGM’s “Spring Madness” starring Maureen O'Sullivan, on November 30, 1938.
Due to divestment of theatres because of antitrust litigation, in 1949, the Criterion Theatre reverted back to B.S. Moss Enterprises. The last film to be shown by Loew’s was Richard Basehart in “He Walked By Night”, which opened on February 5, 1949. During that engagement, Loew’s returned management of the Criterion Theatre to B.S. Moss Enterprises who then operated the theatre until the 1980’s, when it was leased to United Artists Theatre Circuit, operating as the Criterion Center.
With George Montgomery in “Fort Ti”, a Columbia movie that opened on May 29th 1953, the Criterion Theatre claimed to be the first theatre in the world to project a 3-D (with glasses) feature on a giant wide screen, with stereophonic sound and color by Technicolor.
The Criterion Theatre was host to numerous premieres. After the World Premiere of “The Ten Commandments” on November 8, 1956, that movie was shown (with reserved seats) for 17 months. The US premiere in 70mm of “Lawrence of Arabia” was held on December 15, 1962. World Premieres of other 70mm films included “South Pacific” (March 19, 1958), “My Fair Lady”(October 21, 1964), “Thoroughly Modern Millie”(March 21, 1967), “Funny Girl”(September 19, 1968) and “Patton”(February 5, 1970).
On March 20, 1980, the Criterion Theatre was converted into five screens using some space in the former basement lounge and former lower level retail space. On February 6, 1981 it added a sixth screen. The front of the balcony was extended to the proscenium for a new upstairs auditorium that had 1,041 seats. The new auditorium in the former orchestra seating area had 1,037 seats in 1988. On December 13, 1991, the orchestra level was split by United Artists left/right to create two 400 seat auditoriums. The basement houses seated 156, 198, 193 and 248. Operating as the Criterion Center, day-to-day management was taken over by United Artists Theatres on April 8, 1988, while B.S. Moss Enterprises retained ownership interest.
The Criterion Theatre finally closed on May 4, 2000 and was gutted internally to become a massive Toys R Us store, which itself closed in December 2015. The auditorium now is occupied by a Duane Reade Drug Store, a soon to open (2021) tourist attraction ride, and Starbucks (on the stage).
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