No Crowds Need Apply

Floodlights made the still unfinished façade stick out like a sore (but well-manicured) thumb. Under the rich-red-marquee and in the gold-tinted, glass-walled lobby, uniformed attendants and tuxedoed higher-ups bowed and bustled. The grand opening of Manhattan's Park Avenue Theater last week had all the hoopla of a Hollywood première, except for one thing. There were no crowds.

That made it all the more successful, in the opinion of baldish Walter Reade Sr., 63, the owner, and slick-haired Walter Reade Jr., 29, the operator of Manhattan's newest million-dollar movie palace. For Cineman Reade Sr., who owns and operates 40 theaters in...

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