Movies at the Palace
We believe that going to the movies should be a special experience. Yes, you can watch just about any movie on your phone, tablet or computer any time you want, anywhere you want. But that is not going to a movie. When the lights go down in a movie theatre you are transported, immersed, lost in the story. Part of the thrill is basking in a community of hundreds - or thousands - of fellow audience members all temporarily joined by a shared moment. It’s not the same as trying to watch a tiny screen with buds shoved in your ears while being jostled on the A-train.
As it was then known, the Loew’s 175th Street theatre opened in 1930 as a temple for film, designed in the exotic style that was all the rage, built to whisk you away from your day-to-day troubles into a world of fantasy. The setting remains as spectacular today as it was during the Depression: the ornamental Buddhas, cherubs, lions, and even elephants preserved in their gilded outrageousness.
They stopped showing movies at the Palace in 1969 when Rev. Ike purchased, and preserved, the building for his church, which continues to be the theatre’s caretaker. But over the past three years the nonprofit United Palace of Cultural Arts has led two successful fundraising campaigns totaling over $200,000 to return movies to the Palace. The first campaign allowed us to purchase used projection equipment to begin showing movies again. The second campaign allowed us to purchase a new 50-foot screen. Based on the success of those campaigns, we have presented over 30 movies since January 2013. In 2016 Broadway superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda donated a new DCP projector and the Palace purchased a new JBL 3.1 audio system. (Learn more about our ongoing efforts to "Reawaken Wonder at a Timeless Movie Palace.")
In the 1930s the theatre also served as a vaudeville house. We honor that legacy by presenting pre- or post-movie entertainment at most screenings. That has included:
- a flash mob performance of the gym scene from “West Side Story” followed by an interview between Rita Moreno and Lin-Manuel Miranda
- a 10-year anniversary celebration with students from “Mad Hot Ballroom”
- “Phantom of the Opera” with live organ accompaniment followed by a mini-concert by cast members from the Broadway production.
These “movies and a show” have captured the imagination of thousands of film-goers, as well as the city’s media, prompting amNY newspaper to call our events "the best way to see movies the way they used to be." The biggest compliment we receive is when audience members say watching a movie at the Palace is as exciting as seeing live theatre on Broadway.