RKO National Twin

1500 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 1 - 25 of 104 comments

ridethectrain on July 24, 2022 at 5:34 am

Please add in previous chains, Cinema 5, they had control from 1979 to 1982 when it sold to RKO Century Theatres.

ridethectrain on July 5, 2021 at 5:04 am

When it open as a twin in 1982, RKO Century Warner were the new owners, followed by Cineplex Odeon

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on November 2, 2020 at 3:45 am

“Alice in Wonderland” (1976) was NOT a hardcore release. Hardcore scenes by the stars in other films were later inserted for subrun play in porn houses.

bigjoe59 on November 1, 2020 at 11:21 pm


to Al A.- thanks again for your font of knowledge. is it possible AIW was shot as an actual porn film and then edited to get an official X rating so it could play regular movie theaters? in the late 70s I distinctly remember there was a fairy tale based film that was shot as an actual porn
film but edited to get the official X rating. since you said AIW was shot as a soft-core film what film might I being thinking about?

grindhouse on November 1, 2020 at 11:13 pm

“Alice In Wonderland” was shot as a hardcore feature but was released softcore. When the DVD was released the theatrical and restored hardcore version were featured. Here is a history of the production.


Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on November 1, 2020 at 11:06 pm

It was actually a soft core musical with excellent production values even though Alice kept sitting on mushrooms. There was also a similar “CINDERELLA” production.

bigjoe59 on November 1, 2020 at 10:24 pm


to markp- thanks for your reply. I could swear AIW was an actual porn film. I might be confusing it with a similar fairy tale based porn film.

markp on November 1, 2020 at 9:59 pm

bigjoe59 AIW was a soft core X.

bigjoe59 on November 1, 2020 at 9:01 pm


I’m sure at one time or another all the 1st run theaters in the Times Square area showed what were known as exploitation films. but I never remembered this theater showing actual porn. in the photo section is an ad for Alice in Wonderland which was am actual porn film. or though it had an X rating was it a cleaned up version?

ridethectrain on November 1, 2020 at 4:02 am

Please update, became a twin on March 19, 1982, grand opening ad posted and article from Boxoffice to.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 21, 2020 at 4:03 am

Newspaper ad added to photos

DavidZornig on November 9, 2016 at 2:04 pm

1980 photo added courtesy of Al Ponte’s Time Machine – New York Facebook page.

JackIndiana on March 15, 2016 at 3:53 pm

I saw FIREFOX, OCTOPUSSY and SPIES LIKE US here in 70MM after it was twinned. The twin was fine but I’m sorry I didn’t make it here when it was a single screen theatre.

vindanpar on December 25, 2015 at 3:14 pm

I only saw The Black Hole here. Was disappointed in the screen size for such a large theater.

When SOM made its big return in 73 it played here and I was hoping it would return to the Rivoli as it had such a long initial engagement there and held the world premiere. I was too young to see it there its first go round. And as it was one of my favorite movie theaters it would have been great.

Movieholic on September 17, 2015 at 11:35 am

I was twelve when my dad took me to see “Spies Like Us” at this theater. The movie was very funny, and still is to this day. I remember it played in the upstairs cinema that, I think, used to be the balcony before it was twinned. I didn’t see many films in Times Square as a kid because it wasn’t the cleanest or safest neighborhood, particularly at night. This was a fun theater to visit though. I also saw “Jo Jo Dancer: Your Life is Calling” and “Judgment Night” here.

larrygoldsmith on February 24, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Built and operated by National General Theatres approx. 1972.

KingBiscuits on September 17, 2012 at 10:49 pm

If you look very closely, you can spot the marquee in the 1996 film “Joe’s Apartment”. I couldn’t make out either title on the marquee but one side was red and the other was black and blue (it could have been Bad Boys and Casper, but I don’t know).

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 25, 2012 at 1:15 am

Say what you will about him, but Cineplex Odeon founder and theater-builder Garth Drabinsky was an old-school showman and kept his houses (for the most part) in tip-top shape.

bigjoe59 on May 24, 2012 at 10:18 pm

to AL A.–

thanks for your reply. granted no one ever said the National either as a single or twin theater wasn’t successful. if you have a minute read the two previous posts i alluded to in my post of 5/22/12. doesn’t the sentiments expressed in these two posts make it seem certainly to some one you had never been to the National that the theater had gotten as seedy, run down, ill kept etc… as the general area itself? i just wanted to make the point to people who had never been to the National that in all the times i went there in its 26? year history regardless of the quality of the films the theater itself was always well run, well maintained etc….

this is of course the direct opposite of the Embassy 1,2,3. i admit i went to the tri-plexed former Demille a number of times simply because it was convenient. in fact the last film i saw there which was shortly before it closed up shop was “Living Out Loud” with Holly Hunter and Queen Latifah. my point being in the year or two before it closed both the main auditorium and the two upstairs were in run down condition. in fact the men’s room for the main auidtorium downstairs and the men’s room and the two upstairs were in decidedly un-mantained condition. i wonder how the theater was never closed for health code or building violations. the city closes eateries at the drop of a hat for the same reasons.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 24, 2012 at 9:08 pm

You’re probably right, saps. The National, as I remember it, didn’t have much of a deep vestibule either, but the kiosks (I think there may have been 2 of them here) were under the broad marquee and I seem to recall them set back as far as possible, so as to be out of the way of pedestrian traffic. I would imagine that theaters would have been compelled to keep those kiosks similarly out of the way so as not to risk injury or a log-jam on the sidewalk.

I remember Times Square was always pretty thick with pedestrians – even in the bad ole days – but just this past weekend, I tried to walk down 42nd Street with my daughter, and the area from the New Amsterdam going west to the mid-block crosswalk was just about impassible! Between the lines for Madame Toussaud’s, patrons existing the theater, tourists stoping for photos in front of Ripley’s Odditorium, and the crowds under the McDonald’s canopy, we could barely stay together, let alone make any headway!

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 24, 2012 at 8:38 pm

I seem to recall that sometimes the boxes were right on the sidewalk and not necessarily in the vestibule. I loved watching the trailer loops on each of them — often the “red band” restricted ones with the most action.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm

NYer… If it wasn’t the New Amsterdam itself, then it had to be either the Harris or the Liberty. Neither the Cine 42 nor the Empire had an outside vestibule and the Anco’s was rather shallow – not to mention at the end of the block and pretty shabby and not likely to have spared the cost for the kiosk. Thanks for trying to nail it down for me.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Bigjoe, no one has implied otherwise but the National was always successful. The landlord just wanted the theatre out, hence the closing.

The ethnic make-up of Times Square audiences was a huge box office bonus for all the theatres, especially on Sunday nights when many other midtown theatres were dead and it does need to be mentioned. Without such audiences many of the smaller sites would have failed.

bigjoe59 on May 24, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Hello To My Fellow Posters-

i wish to comment on the replies to my post of 5/22/12. i don’t see why the ethnic or demographic composition of the audience needs be mentioned. all i was commenting on was the fact that even during Time Square’s most “colorful” period the denizens of the area that produced said “colorfulness” never seemed to frequent the National(either as a single screen or twin) as they did the grind houses on 42 St. aside from the quality of the movies being shown i never remember this theater ever being run down, seedy, a shadow of its former self etc… terms which i’m sure could have been applied to the grind houses on 42 St.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 24, 2012 at 6:21 pm

No doubt, I recall the kiosks at the big houses along Broadway. My memory falters at recalling which of the 42nd Street theaters employed the kiosks. I don’t think of them as being on the Duece, but now that I am going back to this discussion throughout the day, I’m starting to think that perhaps I do recall them at one or two of the larger theaters on that block. Particularly as those garish billboard-style advertisements that used to trim the theater entrances started to vanish. When I think back on those days, I mostly remember perusing the poster art, display cards and publicity stills that were hung around the outer vestibules as a guide to which particular program of flicks my buddies and I would commit to on any given day. Whereas, on Broadway and Seventh Avenue, you could actually watch the trailers from the sidewalk. Again, those memories are rather hazy, and my attention at the time lacked a certain amount of focus. I happily defer to your recollections.