It’s a bittersweet time to be a New York City cinephile. While the Big Apple is gearing up to welcome its first independent movie theater in 10 years on February 19 (hello, Metrograph!), news broke last night that the city will also be saying goodbye to an iconic one-screen movie hall. The Ziegfeld Theater, which opened in 1969 on W. 54th street, will be shutting its doors for good in the coming weeks. It’s the last remaining large-scale single-screen theater operating in Manhattan, which makes its closing all the more devastating.
Over nearly five decades, the Ziegfeld has hosted some of cinema’s most legendary premieres, from classics like “Cabaret” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” to re-releases of “Lawrence of Arabia” and blockbusters like “The Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter.” It’s currently showing “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and just last December played host to premieres of “Joy,” “The Big Short,” “Chi-Raq” and more. Despite having been purchased by Bow Tie Cinemas in 2013 and being revered as one of the city’s most essential theaters, revenue has been on the decline for quite some time, with some outlets estimating the theater lost around $1 million annually.
According to numerous reports, including one in the New York Post, the theater will be reborn as a high-end event ballroom for corporate events and social galas. The renovation and new space will be headed by the same partners behind Broadway’s Gotham Hall. The early plans call for a 10,000-square-foot ballroom, as well as mezzanine meeting rooms and electronic facilities. When all is said and done, the 571-seat Paris theater will be the only single-screen theater in operation in Manhattan.
Cinephiles will no doubt be rushing to catch a final screening in the coming weeks. Here are some of the memorable reactions hitting Twitter in the wake of last night’s heartbreaking news.