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Cult Theatre Postcards: Series Two, Card Number 2 – Times Square Theatre

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This historic Cult Theatre Grindhouse Postcard features an extremely rare photo of the Times Square Theatre. The theater was located at 217 West 42nd Street in New York City.

When the photo was taken, the Times Square Theatre was screening “First New York Showings” of The Wicked Lady and Visiting Hours.

The Times Square Theatre is a former Broadway theatre. Designed by Eugene DeRosa, it was one of the last theaters in Times Square not be demolished or saved and opened on September 30, 1920, for the brothers Edgar & Arch Selwyn. It was one of three theatres they built and controlled on 42nd Street, including the Apollo and the Selwyn. The opening play was “The Mirage” written by Edgar Selwyn and starring Florence Reed.

Despite having one of the more recognizable facades in the area, complete with a tall row of Neo-Classical style columns, the Times Square Theatre has little to no lobby. The auditorium is decorated in an Empire/Adam style, with seating provided for 512 in the orchestra level, and 529 in the single balcony level. There are four boxes, which seat a total of 16.

Several hit plays ran at the Times Square Theatre, including “Gentlemen Prefer Blonds” in 1926-1927, “The Front Page” in 1928, George Gershwin’s “Strike Up the Band” in 1930, and “Private Lives” brought the original London cast to Broadway in 1931, starring Noel Coward, Gertrude Lawrence and Laurence Olivier. The last play to be staged at the Times Square Theatre was Tallulah Bankhead in “Forsaking All Others” in the summer of 1933.

In 1934, the Time Square Theatre was converted into a movie theatre, with the stage being converted into a retail store, therefore virtually ending its live theatre career. It was operated for many years by the Brandt Theatres chain. Ending its run in the 1980’s as a discount movie theatre, the auditorium has since closed and over the years has sustained fire damage and the wear and tear of time.

The City and State of New York took possession of the Times Square Theatre in 1990. In 1992, it was one of six 42nd Street theatres to come under the protection of the New 42nd Street organization. It was not immediately restored or renovated, as the theatre lacks any entrances not directly on 42nd Street, rendering more difficult to use for loading of scenery and props.

In 1998, three months after agreeing to redevelop the shuttered Times Square Theater as a 500-seat theater, Canadian production company Live Entertainment Corporation of Canada, Inc. dropped the project saying that it no longer seemed a prudent investment. The theater also had near-deals for redevelopment by MTV and Marvel Mania that were not completed.

Only three years after Private Lives, the Times Square was converted to a cinema. It would remain in operation as a movie theatre until the early 1990s, when it was closed.
The final scene of the 1980 motion picture Times Square was filmed at the Times Square Theater, with Robin Johnson’s character performing a midnight concert on the theater’s marquee.

In 2005, the Times Square Theater was leased to Ecko Unlimited, which planned to make it a supermarket for apparel. In 2009, the company walked away from its lease. In 2012, a long term lease was signed to make the theatre home to a 4D film presentation called Broadway Sensation, dedicated to the history of Broadway.

All Cult Theatre Postcards feature vintage and grindhouse movie theaters within the United States. The series includes cinemas in major urban centers such as Downtown Los Angeles, New York’s Times Square – then known as “The Deuce,” Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore and many, many more famous cities. The movie theatres are screening cult classics, B-movies, martial arts films, horror films and more.

The time was the 1980’s and movie theaters were attempting to reinvent themselves, with smaller budgets and new audiences. Many independently owned theaters resorted to low-cost B-movies and Asian movie imports, especially kung fu films.

Other movie theaters in the Cult Theatres Postcard collection include The Loew’s Theater, Rialto Theater, Anco Theater, Malco Theater, Paramount Theater, Fox Nickelodeon Theater, Luna Theater, Woods Theater, Cameo Theater, Cinema 35 Theater, Washington Theater, Capri Theater, Publix Theater, The Pussycat Theater, Center Theater, McVickers Theater, The Castle Theater, El Morro Theater, Cine 42 Theater, Stadium Theater, Empire Theater, Majestic Theater, Brauntex Theater, RKO Jefferson Theater, Times Square Theater, Liberty Theater, Roxy Theater, Embassy Theater, Strand Theater, Uptown Theater, State-Lake Theater, Los Angeles Theater, Tower Theater, Victoria Theater, Adams Theater, Chicago Theater, Boulevard Theater, New Isis Theater, Howard Theater, Academy Theater, Sam Eric Theater, Sameric Theater and more.

This vintage-style movie theater postcard item has been filed under theaters, theatres, grindhouse, movie theaters, vintage, grind house, cinemas, entertainment, collectibles, b movies, grindhouse theaters, cult cinemas, cult classics, martial arts films, movies, horror films, the deuce, hollywood, 42nd street.

These extremely rare movie theater images are officially licensed and scanned directly from the negatives or the best quality photo image available.

See full set of Cult Theatre photos at culttheatres.com.