Rivoli Theatre

1620 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Paramount Pictures Inc., Publix Theaters Corporation, United Artists Theater Circuit Inc.

Architects: Thomas White Lamb

Styles: Adam, Greek Revival

Previous Names: United Artists Rivoli Theatre, United Artists Twin

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News About This Theater


A “sister” to the nearby Rialto Theatre, this lost theatre was a palatial early delight and once one of the grandest theatres on the east coast. The 2,092-seat Rivoli Theatre opened December 28, 1917 with Douglas Fairbanks in “A Modern Musketeer”.

In its middle years, the Rivoli Theatre was one of New York City’s finest ‘roadshow’ theatres and was converted to 70mm Todd-AO with a deeply curved screen by Michael Todd for his feature, “Oklahoma!” which had its World Premiere on October 13, 1955 and was shown for 51 weeks. Other World Premieres of 70mm films included “Around the World in 80 Days”(October 17, 1956 and was showcased for 103 weeks), “The Big Fisherman”(August 4, 1959), “West Side Story”(October 18, 1961 and was screened for 77 weeks), “Cleopatra” (June 12, 1963 and was shown for 64 weeks), “The Sound of Music”(March 2, 1965 and was screened for 93 weeks), “The Sand Pebbles”(December 20, 1966), “Hello Dolly”(December 16,1969), “Fiddler on the Roof”(November 3, 1971) and “Man of La Mancha”(December 11, 1972).

The 1950’s deeply curved screen was enormous and generated the illusion of peripheral vision. The Rivoli Theatre, along with the nearby Capitol Theatre, showed event films and both movie houses showed “2001” on their giant screens. Patrons also recall that the sound quality of the six track stereo was as impressive as it’s visuals.

After it was twinned on December 16, 1981, and the curved screen was removed, seating was provided for 890 & 744. It became the United Artists Twin from October 26, 1984. One of the last features to play there was Richard Haines' low budget movie, “The Class of Nuke ‘Em High”. It was closed as the United Artists Twin on June 18, 1987.

Where urban blight had at once shuttered, but saved the Rivoli Theatre from development, a turn around in the city’s fortune made the site too tempting for developers. The Rivoli Theatre, one of the greatest of all New York City theatres, was demolished after closing in June 1987. It has been replaced by a black glass skyscraper.

Contributed by Richard Haines, William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 1,006 comments)

MSC77 on December 25, 2021 at 6:15 pm

Here’s a new 4-page 50th anniversary FIDDLER ON THE ROOF retrospective featuring a roadshow playdate chronology and historian Q&A. The Rivoli’s 58-week run is mentioned in the piece.

MSC77 on February 25, 2022 at 6:33 pm

Passing along the link to my 3-page 60th anniversary retrospective on WEST SIDE STORY, which includes a historian interview and reference listing of its roadshow engagements. The Rivoli, of course, gets a mention.

bigjoe59 on February 27, 2022 at 6:12 pm


South Pacific’s roadshow run which started at the Criterion moved here at some point. it would be interesting for a 1st person account of seeing it here on the curved screen installed specifically for films shot in Todd-AO as opposed to what I assume was a flat screen at the Criterion.

vindanpar on February 27, 2022 at 8:43 pm

If you look up Bosley Crowther’s NYT’s review of South Pacific at the Criterion he says the screen is curved. Was it installed for this one film and then taken down when Old Man and the Sea moved in? I assume anybody who could explain this has gone to their reward.

JackIndiana on November 21, 2022 at 7:06 am

Does anyone have any idea why the Rivoli’s name was changed to the United Artists Twin in 1984?

Mikeoaklandpark on November 21, 2022 at 2:23 pm

No I lived there and thought it was stupid.

bigjoe59 on April 17, 2023 at 7:27 pm


for anyone who might own it is the currently available blu-ray disc of The Sand Pebbles the original roadshow cut which played here or the general release print?

ridethectrain on April 17, 2023 at 7:45 pm

@JackLndiania if you read the description it said It became the United Artists Twin from October 26, 1984. I also posted the grand opening ad in the photos as the UA Twin, click on 4 in the photos

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on August 9, 2023 at 8:53 am

From the looks of it, The RKO Cinerama Twin had recently been remodeled and renamed “The Warner Twin” so UA also wanted to announce the Rivoli remodel with a name change.

JackIndiana on August 16, 2023 at 12:45 pm

Thank you ridethechain.

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