RKO National Twin

1500 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 26 - 50 of 104 comments

SethLewis on May 24, 2012 at 9:30 am

Trailer kiosks were visible from the mid 70s onwards in my memory on Broadway and the Deuce…concur with NYer about the ones at the Warner/Penthouse/Cinerama, DeMille, Criterion, Forum, Movieland and National…they were cheap and cheerful

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 24, 2012 at 9:24 am

I don’t remember them on 42nd St at all. Hmmm… perhaps one of the houses with a larger open-air vestibule, like the New Amsterdam, Harris, Lyric or Selwyn? Maybe the Liberty. The others I recall as having very shallow outer vestibules – if having one at all. The initial release of “It’s Alive” was a few years before my time on the Duece, so, perhaps the kiosk concept was ditched afterwards?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 24, 2012 at 5:47 am

Was this one of the theaters that used to play trailers for current and coming attractions on video kiosks under the canopy to attract passersby? I know at least one theater along Broadway did this, probably several of them. Perhaps the State and/or Criterion? My memories are a bit foggy.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 23, 2012 at 9:28 pm

I seem to recall some really wretched bookings in the last years of its life. And the marquee usually had mere plastic letters to announce the titles, rather than the specially made displays the Broadway houses often had.

Mikeoaklandpark on May 23, 2012 at 8:41 am

I was there a few times. I saw a re release of American Graffiti and Chapter One in the late 70’s before it was twinned than saw one movie in the upstairs theater but can’t rememebr what it was.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 23, 2012 at 8:11 am

This is a case of “nobody went there because it was too crowded.” The large National was often sold out on both screens during weekends with lines down the block and around the corner. The ethnic audience from the boroughs provided bonus Sunday night sell-outs. Even the midnight shows often sold out.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 23, 2012 at 6:31 am

I never went to the National, but I must not have been in my right mind when I was visiting the Loew’s State, the Rivoli or any of the 42nd Street grind houses, as I frequently did in the 1980’s. Things were definitely colorful back in those days, but I came out of all my local moviegoing experiences relatively unscathed.

HowardBHaas on May 22, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Yes, my one experience would lead to me to conclude that bigjoe59 is correct. Also, thanks to Al & King Biscuits for corrections above. The Intro will be amended within a day or two.

bigjoe59 on May 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm


i have to respond to the comments made by rivoli157 and GaryCohen. while the surrounding area may have gotten “colorful” at one point the theater itself never went down hill or got seedy however you wish to phrase it. it fact “The Towering Inferno” opened on an exclusive Manhattan run Dec. 1974 that lasted till the end of May 1975. in terms of –“then the twinning and
the real decline of Times Square-no one in their right mind went to a movie theater on Broadway”. that is of course simply not true. from the day the it opened as a single screen theater Dec. 1972 thru its closure as a twin in 1996 the theater was a well run operation and always ran 1st run engagements. whether or not the films were any good was a matter of opinion. during the theater’s 24 year existence i went there many times and no matter how “colorful” the area may have gotten at one point the theater(s)were always well run and the patrons were regular well dressed well behaved folk and not the “colorful” denizens of the area as has been implied in the comments.

rivoli157 on November 13, 2011 at 10:50 am

I seem to recall a big inaugural opening with The Poseidon Adventure. A few other big films after that , then the twinning and the real big decline of Times Square-no one in their right mind went to a movie theatre on Broadway. Now ABC Studios and Sephora

KingBiscuits on August 26, 2011 at 7:53 pm

The theatre closed on January 22nd, 1998 with the previously mentioned For Richer or Poorer (in DTS) and Home Alone 3 as the final engagements.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on February 26, 2010 at 3:00 pm

This intro has several wrong dates.

The National opened in 1972, was twinned in 1982 and closed in 1998.

Cineplex Odeon closed it for tripling in 1987, an aborted attempt when the landlord refused to allow it. The wall was never put up and the landlord hoped Cineplex Odeon would negotiate to leave instead as he no longer wanted a movie theatre there. It re-opened as a remodeled twin.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 11, 2010 at 5:27 pm

The theatre always did well. The landlord wanted it out of there as they felt a movie theatre cheapened the building and they could get better terms from other options. They refused to let Cineplex Odeon triplex it at their own expense.

GaryCohen on January 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm

I was in the National a couple times during the Xmas holiday season 1974. I saw Roger Moore in the little-remembered, but terrific “Gold” and I saw one of my all-time faves “The Towering Inferno.” I remember it as being fairly nice. However the theater was built in 1973 when the Times Square area was pretty sleazy: all sorts of panhandlers and disreputable characters hanging out outside. While I saw very few films on Broadway after this period, I imagine the crowd patronizing this theater probably deteriorated and the theater itself probably went downhill. By the time Giuliani got into office and the revitalization of Times Square began, it was probably too late to save this theater. That is the only reason I can think of why a theater built as late as 1973 should have only lasted until 1996.

SethLewis on April 1, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Add to that a really good long marquee that looked great lit up

SethLewis on April 1, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I’m now repeating myself but that’s Hollywood for you…this was a really cool theatre probably 10 years behind the times for its own good…Opened at a time when road shows were a thing of the past and where there relatively few big pictures to fill it at 1400 seats…by the time this had opened the State was already a sizeable twin, the Ziegfeld was closing intermittently, the Penthouse/Cinerama was showing dross from American International and the Astor Plaza was the really big showcase theatre on Broadway…so basically it was Poseidon Adventure, Towering Inferno and downhill from there
A shame because the escalator ride was fun, the ticketing with cashier style tickets rather than hard tickets a novelty, and because it was just big…in many ways it could have been as a single as good an experience as the Astor Plaza (and I saw Jaws at the Rivoli, and Star Wars at the Astor Plaza opening weekend) and as a twin not bad at all if it had been part of a better circuit

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on April 1, 2009 at 11:32 am

It may have been the last one this large but hardly the last single screen even in Manhattan.

Coate on April 1, 2009 at 10:53 am

Was this the last single-screen theater to be built in the United States?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on July 12, 2008 at 5:48 pm

Back in the late eighties there was a Harlem gang known as THE TRANSFORMERS. Among their exploits was standing in movie lines in numbers of up to 200. Once the ticket taker opened the screen for seating, one member would scream “Tranformers transform!” and a rabble of teenagers would storm the entrance, knocking down and hurting the ticket taker and movie-goers in the process.

The National, like most Times Square theatres, was often the recipient of this group’s attention and judging from Ed Blanks post above, it had already started by 1980.

KingBiscuits on July 9, 2008 at 3:52 pm

When it first reopened as a twin in 1982, the premiere engagements were Porky’s and a dubbed version of Christiane F. How about that, a bad movie that made lots of money and a great movie that didn’t make as much.

edblank on May 27, 2008 at 12:17 pm

I seldom went to the National because it was always playing wide-release films that had opened the same day in my hometown, Pittsburgh.

I do remember, though, being about a block away in December 1980 when a rowdy crowd awaiting admission to the first performance of “Stir Crazy” crashed through the plate glass window. Can’t recall if the theater went ahead with the first performances that morning and afternoon.

And I remember waiting on line outside the National one day when hordes of people kept line-jumping. You can’t win that kind of a situation when there’s no supervision. I gave up and left, thinking, “Life is too short.”

rivest266 on March 2, 2008 at 6:04 am

Hollywood90038, where are your pictures?

markp on January 27, 2008 at 12:02 pm

Very true what Larry Goldsmith said about Mann Theatres. The 2 National General Fox Theatres we had here in central N.J. ( Union and Woodbridge) were both gone by 1982. Woodbridge closed in 1979, torn down, became Levitz Furniture, (itself now bankrupt) and Union became Chuck E. Cheesey, opps I mean cheese.