AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13Plenty of time is spent critiquing movies, but the films themselves provide only part of the experience. Much of how you take in a work is related to your surroundings, namely, the movie theater. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing up some detailed info on New York’s best and worst moviehouses in hopes of helping locals and tourists alike make informed venue choices. Enjoy reading and feel free to add your own experiences in the comments.
By all accounts, including programming, the AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 is the best movie theater in New York City. The gilded interiors invoke the movie palaces of a bygone time, while the technical standards of each screen remains unmatched. The upstairs lobby is home to black and gold palm trees as well as goofy sketches of old time movie stars. There used to be shrines to particular films (a glass encasement used to house props from Legends of the Fall, for example), adding an almost religious aire to the place; something of a temple to the gods of cinema.
A rarity in this 21st century, save for the three theaters in the basement, this particular Loews has resisted the move to stadium seating. The result is a more intimate experience. Even in the biggest theater, as the other audience members feel a bit closer to you. I don’t mean in any claustrophobic manner, rather the experience feels more shared. And if you’re worried that a tall cowpoke in a ten gallon hat might sit in front of you, fear not, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The flattened seating is compensated for by the height of the screen and the angle of the chairs.
AMC is known to be a bit more anal about projection than other chains, and that is a very very good thing. Each screen at the Upper West Side theater, as with most other AMCs in the nation, is set at then exact distance from the projector for optimal picture. This is one of those things that is gotten wrong time and time again in an effort to fit more seats into an auditorium. When the projector is set back too far, the image loses color information and can lose much of its sharpness. At movie theater screen sizes, a few inches is all it takes to blow a great image. In terms of picture quality, I have never been disappointed by the Lincoln Square Theater.
Thanks to audio branding like DTS, SDDS, and Dolby Digital, aural quality is now less of an issue than it used to be. Still, many theaters are not constructed well enough to deal with the added horsepower. In my experience, I have never found myself in the awkward situation of sitting through a tearjerker as an action hero gets blow’d up in the theater next to mine at the Lincoln Square 13.
The popcorn is good (when it’s new), the sodas are huge, and the service is slow, same crap you’ll find in all fifty states really. Obviously everything is overpriced, but if you need some munchies, you are covered en masse. Earlier I mentioned over the theaters in the basement. Avoid these if you can. They are perfectly acceptable, but tiny, reminiscent of small screening rooms at universities. The only fun part of going down there is the sweet film reel ceiling over the escalator, seriously.
Regarding programming, the theater does not see many repertory films unless they are part of a wider release, but they do cover an impressive cross- section of mainstream and art house flicks. Again, for an arty film to make it there it must open wide, but so many other theaters in the city scoff at such fare. It’s nice to have such an advanced space showing smaller films. The building also boast’s Manhattan’s only IMAX theater and has been home to a number of world premieres.
To conclude, the AMC Loews Lincoln Square has everything a decent theater should have, but it is the little things that make it the best. If you find yourself in New York and need a good spot to check out the latest movie, this should definitely be high on your list.