2. It Was Converted Into One of the City’s Largest Movie Theaters Only a Year After Opening
Following a rather disastrous first year, Radio City Music Hall was converted into a movie theater on January 11, 1933. The first film to be screened at the new theater was Frank Capra’s The Bitter Tea of General Yen, starring Barbara Stanwyck. After overwhelming success, the music hall became the showcase for many of RKO-Radio Studio’s newest films.
At a time when specific actors and production staff were typically under strict contracts with the largest film companies like MGM and the like, RKO’s monopoly on Radio City was a substantial asset. The theater’s art-deco interior was a step away from the ornate decorations of other movie theater palaces that reigned supreme, but the music hall’s new direction proved successful despite its uniqueness.