Miramax pix monopolize N.Y. theater

NEW YORK — Manhattan’s Gotham Theatre will get a new name and tenant for Christmas. Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein announced Tuesday that the 580-seat East Side venue will be re-christened “The Paradiso” and become a showcase location for company product.

The new policy will commence Christmas day with the Quentin Tarantino film “Jackie Brown” and will be followed with “Martin Scorsese’s 100 Years of Cinema.”

The theater, owned by Crown Theatres of Norwalk, Conn., and managed by City Cinemas, won’t actually transform until after the “Jackie Brown” run.

Jack Foley of City Cinemas said the site will close down for several weeks for re-painting, new seating and a change in the official marquee.

The operation might best be termed “an understanding” with Miramax guaranteeing the product much in the manner that Disney has an arrangement with Pacific’s El Capitan in which the Hollywood site until recently played Mouse House product and live stage presentations.

The prospect of expanding to the top 20 cities, if the East Side operation works successfully, was also proffered by Weinstein.

The battle to secure screens by specialized distribs in that part of Manhattan has been particularly fierce during peak viewing periods. The Paradiso, at least, solves that problem for Miramax in a small way.

Weinstein says the exhibition venture represents an attempt to build on the recognition of the Miramax brand.

“Miramax has firmly established itself as a trusted brand name in the minds of the moviegoing public,” Weinstein said. “It is a tremendous advantage to now have a theater that can take on that same identity.”

An exec with a national chain said that the company might be better served by dubbing the specialized venues Miramax Cinemas. He also felt that finding appropriate showcase sites in the top urban centers would be near impossible and in many instances unnecessary.

City Cinemas parent Redding is establishing multiscreen Angelika sites nationally beginning this week with the launch of its Houston theater. Sundance has a co-venture with General Cinema that should see the start of a national specialized franchise by late 1998.

Add to the mix the 140 screen Landmark circuit and access for niche titles should be considerably improved over the next two years.

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