John Landis to Join Lin-Manuel Miranda at United Palace Screening of KING KONG, 4/27

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John Landis to Join Lin-Manuel Miranda at United Palace Screening of KING KONG, 4/27

Posted on: April 24th, 2014 by tommyj

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John Landis, KING KONG, United Palace Theatre

Legendary filmmaker John Landis will introduce a free screening of the 1933 classic KING KONG as part of the "Sunday Movies at the United Palace with Lin-Manuel Miranda" series on April 27, 2014.

The series features classic New York City films every month and is part of the theatre’s fundraising campaign to replace the 50-foot screen that has been in place since the 1950s.

Doors open at 4:00. Stage show and Q&A begins at 5:00. Screening at 5:30. It all takes placea at the historic United Palace, 4140 Broadway at 175th Street in Washington Heights, a historic movie palace that opened in 1930 with well-preserved Art Deco and Oriental architecture. The theatre is one block east of the 175th Street A-train station.

Acclaimed filmmaker Landis (ANIMAL HOUSE, BLUES BROTHERS, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, TRADING PLACES, THREE AMIGOS!, COMING TO AMERICA and MICHAEL JACKSON’S THRILLER) will provide his expert insight into the making of KING KONG during an Q&A led by Tony and Grammy Award-winning performer/writer Lin-Manuel Miranda (IN THE HEIGHTS). The Palace Youth Drum Ensemble will perform, welcoming guests to the Palace.

In 2013, the nonprofit arts and cultural center United Palace of Cultural Arts (UPCA) led a crowdsourcing campaign to "Return Film to the Palace" that raised nearly $50,000 in 40 days to start showing movies at the historic United Palace for The First Time since 1969.

The "Sunday Movies at the Palace with Lin-Manuel Miranda" series was conceived after the 5-year anniversary concert of "In the Heights" nearly sold out the Palace in 2013. Miranda met with UPCA Executive Director Mike Fitelson to discuss future plans and said his dream was to present iconic New York films in his community, where the last movie theatre closed in 2011. Each screening is preceded by live music, performance, and guest speakers that connect the audience more deeply to the movie.

Since January the series has included THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN, WEST SIDE STORY, and GHOSTBUSTERS. Miranda’s guests have included actor/producer Lonny Price; stage, screen, and TV star Rita Moreno; and actor David Margulies, who played Mayor Lenny in GHOSTBUSTERS. The series has been a hit with audiences from both Washington Heights and the New York metro area, attracting as many as 1,200 guests to a single screening.

KING KONG was directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack and features a giant stop-motion ape who falls in love with a beautiful actress played by

Fay Wray. It has been called "one of the most iconic movies in the history of cinema." It is 100 minutes long and will be shown in English with Spanish subtitles.

John Landis has lived a life in the movies since starting off in the mail room of 20th Century-Fox. His first film was SCHLOCK (1973) which, notably, was a tribute to classic monster movies. He wore a gorilla suit to portray the lead character, "Schlockthropus." In the late 1970s and early 1980s he directed what became some of the most popular comedies of all time: ANIMAL HOUSE (1978), THE BLUES BROTHERS (1980), TRADING PLACES (1983), and COMING TO AMERICA (1988). Despite his success with comedies, Landis always had a soft spot for monster movies. Landis wrote and directed AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981) that became a cult movie classic in part for deftly marrying elements of The Comedy and horror genres. Its groundbreaking special effects won the Oscar for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup. Landis scored additional successes by pushing the boundaries of special effects while directing two videos for Michael Jackson: THRILLER (1983) and eight years later BLACK OR WHITE (1991), which helped popularize the use of digital morphing. In recent years Landis has continued to direct feature films, commercials, and TV shows, lectured at universities across the nation as a filmmaker/scholar under the auspices of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, and published MONSTERS IN THE MOVIES (2011). Landis has said that KING KONG "is an almost perfect movie." He is married to Deborah Nadoolman, an Oscar-nominated costume designer, who grew up in Washington Heights.

John Landis, KING KONG, United Palace Theatre John Landis appears courtesy of the Visiting Artist Program of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

With the success of "Sunday Movies at the Palace with Lin-Manuel Miranda," UPCA continues to lead the ongoing effort to upgrade the cinematic experience at the Palace. KING KONG will be a free event in support of UPCA’s Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise $20,000 for a new screen at the historic venue ( The existing screen has been in place since the 1950s and is showing its age with rips, scratches, and vast sections where the silver has been lost.

If the fundraising goal is reached in time, KING KONG will be the first film to play on the new screen. As of April 16 The Campaign had raised $11,500.

The spectacular, gilded setting of the Palace frequently attracts guests dressed up in formal or vintage attire. Audience members wearing tuxedos or gowns to KING KONG will get a free bag of gourmet popcorn made in the Palace’s brand new machine donated by Lebron Restaurant Supply.

BACKGROUND ON THE UNITED PALACE AND UPCA: Originally called the Loew’s 175th Street Theatre when it opened in 1930, the theatre served as a vaudeville house and movie palace. The architecture depicts gilded Buddhas and lions, intricate hand-carved Moorish patterns, and statuesque elephants. The last of

the five Loew’s Wonder Theatres, it was designed by noted theatre architect Thomas Lamb with the interiors overseen by decorative specialist Harold Rambusch. At nearly 3400 seats, the Palace is the 4th largest theatre in Manhattan.

In 1969, as the era of the grand movie palaces was in its twilight, the theatre was purchased by Rev. Ike, considered the first black televangelist. He moved his church into the building and soon after renamed it the United Palace. As a successful "prosperity preacher" Rev. Ike was able to maintain the glorious theatre as he built his congregation through radio and television.

Upon Rev. Ike’s death in 2009 his son Xavier assumed control of the Palace. In 2012 Xavier fulfilled his dream of creating an arts and cultural center by incorporating the United Palace of Cultural Arts (UPCA) as an independent nonprofit. Its mission is to transform lives through the arts in Washington Heights, which has few spaces dedicated to performing arts. Over the last year UPCA has hosted community arts programs, provided space for local artists to create and present their work, and hosted events in the spectacular theatre.

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