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“Licorice Pizza” in 70mm at New York City's Village East
“Licorice Pizza” is an exuberantly fun and fantastically filmed movie, in 70mm

The 70mm Newsletter
Written and photographed by: Howard B. Haas Date: 02.12.2021
1926 Yiddish Art Theatre, now City Cinemas Village East. The side view, at 12th St shows the large original auditorium.

On Tuesday, November 30, 2021, I travelled from Philadelphia to New York to experience Paul Thomas Anderson's
"Licorice Pizza" in 70mm at the Village East by Angelica, operated by City Cinemas at 181 2nd Avenue. That location is 1.6 miles south of NY's Penn Station, and a half mile walk from the Union Square station that I took the subway to, from 34th St/Herald Square.

• Go to Gallery: “Licorice Pizza” in 70mm at New York City's Village East

The Village East is not an ordinary multiplex, nor was it built for movies. The Village East is an extraordinary venue, having originally been built in 1925-1926 by a Jewish community leader, as the Yiddish Art Theatre, a live theater to present works in the East European Jewish language known as Yiddish. Like with many synagogues, the theater was designed in the Moorish Revival style and with Jewish motifs such as the Star of David in the 1252 seat auditorium's celing dome.

Movies were first shown at this theater in the late 1930s, but for the most part, it became again a live theater, for off-Broadway and other shows until, when closed, in 1991, it again became a movie theater, operated from that time by City Cinemas.
More in 70mm reading:

Gallery: “Licorice Pizza” in 70mm at New York City's Village East

The Ziegfeld has closed

"Interstellar" in 70MM at the Ziegfeld in New York

A Nostalgic View of 70mm in New York City - 1950-1970

"Licorice Pizza" is released in 7OMM

"Phantom Thread" is released in 70mm

P T Anderson's "The Master" in System 65

70mm Blow Up List 2021 - by in70mm.com



Auditorium facing rear. The projection booth is in the cut out in the ceiling dome. The Star of David is in the auditorium ceiling dome

Moviegoers enter the Village East, under the marquee, via a Ticket Lobby with an incredibly ornate ceiling. Through the lobby, one enters a very long Foyer which has much lavish decoration, a concession stand, and at each end, two grand staircases upstairs to the main auditorium. The Foyer has 3 different ornate ceilings, one closer to the concession stand, another closer to exit doors, and a third ceiling at an upstairs hall which itself is a foyer to the main auditorium.

The current main auditorium is the largest, with 365 seats, in the complex, and occupies the former balcony of the original auditorium. The main auditorium is decorated to the hilt, and the magnificent plaster ceiling was restored long ago. Four auditoriums are entered one level down, in what used to be the orchestra seating and two more auditoriums are in what used to be the stage house.

The main auditorium is spacious and so gorgeous, that along with the theater's ornate exterior, Ticket Lobby, and Foyer, the audience gets to enjoy what seems like a Golden Age movie palace! Fortunately, the theater's exterior and the grand interior and landmarked by New York law and listed on the state and National Historic Registers.

I had visited the Village East once before, in November 2017, to see Kenneth Branagh's "Murder on the Orient Express" in 70mm. His sequel, "Death on the Nile" which was photographed in 65mm, was to be shown last year, but due to the Covid pandemic, is now expected to be released next year. I intended to write a report on “Murder on the Orient Express” but my camera at the time did not take good photos of the Village East's interior. That film looked and sounded great at the Village East, whose website then and now states that the theater has 7.1 surround sound.

The last film that I had seen until “Licorice Pizza” in 70mm projection was actually also by Paul Thomas Anderson, "Phantom Thread" in January 2018 at the AFI Silver outside of Washington D.C. I've profiled the AFI Silver here, due to the classic 70mm film festivals held in the past there. "Phantom Thread" visually looked gorgeous projected in 70mm, and there was a free, lovely souvenir book that was given out with movie attendance.

I had seen another film by director Anderson,
"The Master" in 70mm at New York's Ziegfeld. I profiled the Ziegfeld for this website when the theater closed.
Moorish style auditorium facing screen

Village East's website advertises “Licorice Piaza in Exclusive 70mm” Since Thanksgiving evening, November 25, the film opened exclusively in New York City and in Los Angeles. In New York, the movie is also been shown in uptown Manhattan in 70mm in a modern multiplex auditorium at the AMC Lincoln Square, and in 70mm at another modern multiplex, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Downtown Brooklyn. Neither of those modern plexes have the exotic movie palace style atmosphere of the Village East. City Cinemas used to also showcase 70mm films at the City Cinemas 1,2,3, which is uptown in Manhattan, but since the conversion to digital projection, that theater seems to only shown films digitally. “Licorice Pizza” will have 70mm runs at other theaters in the US, and will be shown digitally.

I knew I would have no problem obtaining a ticket at the theater on Tuesday. I was told by theater staff that over Thanksgiving weekend, at the 4:05 PM and 7:10 PM showtimes, that “Licorice Pizza” had sold out! Tuesday screenings began at 10 AM. I attended the 1 PM matinee. I estimated three or four dozen people attended. During weekdays, the 4:05 PM show is doing quite well, and the 7:10 PM screenings are selling out in advance.

The size of the Village East's main screen is not found online, but if a curtain is not used, by getting early to a theater, I try to use my feet to measure a screen, and my measurement is usually ballpark accurate if the screen is not curved. I estimated the screen, non curved, and not curtained, to be 38 feet wide [11,6 meters], which is large.

The Village East has reserved seats. I've chosen to sit in the 2nd row of the upper of three sections of seats in the main auditorium. From my seat, there's a perfect sightline to what looks to me to be a very large screen, once the movie starts.
Foyer with concessions, stairways, and much Moorish style ornamentation!

Just as I experienced with “Murder on the Orient Express” at the “Licorice Pizza” screening at the Village East, thankfully it was shown with no trailers, no preshow or any kind before the main feature.

“Licorice Pizza” is a coming of age story, set in the San Fernando Vallery near Los Angeles, and is 2 hours, 13 minute long. The movie is an exuberant telling of its story, is very colorfully filmed, and is much fun to watch.

As with “Murder on the Orient Express” “Licorice Pizza” is scope and 35mm blow up to 70mm. I asked theater staff who in turn asked the projectionist, and the reply was that the movie is projected with Christie projectors. In the ornate and huge ceiling dome is a cut out section, which is where the booth is. Projection was flawless. Visually, the movie looked beautiful, and with great resolution of details, in 70mm projection!

The sound was nicely loud and seemed exceptionally “warm” like analog, not digital. For years, on new 70mm and 35mm films, sound arrives at a theater digitally, so the sound was digital.

Two nights before this movie presentation, I had seen the movie's trailer in the Dolby auditorium at the AMC Fashion District in downtown Philadelphia, before “House of Gucci” another release, like “Licorice Pizza” by MGM's United Artists Releasing. “Licorce Pizza” is not in Dolby Vision or in Dolby Atmos surround sound, and most films shown in the Dolby auditorium are in Dolby Vision and in Dolby Atmos, but the trailer was shown with state of the art equipment in digital projection and sound as well as a digital film can possibly be shown. “Licorce Pizza” looked and sounded better at the Village East, in 70mm.

I see one or two movies a week in various movie theaters. Seeing “Licorice Pizza” an exuberantly fun and fantastically filmed movie, in beautiful 70mm presentation in a movie theater, the Village East, which resembles a Golden Age Hollywood movie palace, has so far been the most fun movie presentation of the year!
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Updated 21-01-24