Loew's Jersey Theatre

54 Journal Square,
Jersey City, NJ 07306

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gabedellafave on November 19, 2008 at 7:30 pm

Question: how many large movie palaces (such as the Loew’s) are showing classic films on a 50 foot wide screen?

The immensity of the experience of seeing a movie at the Loew’s really struck me when I saw “The Jazz Singer” on that huge screen. Not only was Jolson’s performance stunning, and the picture size huge, but there is something about seeing a film in a darkened movie palace that cannot be matched anywhere; and I would think that the experience is very rare today.

So all prosperity and goodness to the FOL and the Loew’s Jersey!

I CANNOT WAIT to see “Oliver!” at the Loew’s. I’ll be in the 10th row center. That’s my favorite area in which to sit. I also like to sit on the right side just under the balcony edge.

A long time ago, I used to pick with “neighborhood” of the auditorium I like to sit in. That was in Radio City. I had my favorite spots there too.

Multi-plexes and homes do not provide drastically different vantage points, as can be found in large old movie palaces. That sense of changing perspective is something I really enjoy.

Heck, I even enjoyed sitting in the “peanut gallery” in the last row of the balcony all the way on the left side (did so at the Loew’s). I did this when they showed “Fantasia” in the 1970s. I spent almost all of my time just looking at the theatre and listening to the music. I still remember the event.

I miss the ambient sounds in the balcony lobbies that come from the auditorium doors being open—esp. the sound from that 3 level lobby that is closed off now. I would think that in the “good old days” one could enjoy the music of the show just fine from that balcony lobby. I think that was the mid-level lobby, over the loges lobby (with the restrooms). It is another vast space at the Loew’s.

Vito on November 19, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Ah, see how much better when all get along. :)
Bye the way MBD, you also need to give credit to movie534 for being able to handle Amboy which was not an easy both to operate.
The booth was huge and the HVAC system was not adaquit, making it hot in spots in the summer and cold in the winter. couple that with a fickle automation system that did not always behave and you have a challenging job at best. Then there was that ex-projectionist turned Managing Director (me) giving the both guys unwated advice. UGH!

mdvoskin on November 19, 2008 at 3:06 pm

To movie534, I owe you an apology. Most of my anger was aimed at the Mr. Serf who posted before you. I scrolled up/down too quickly. Your post, although I don’t fully agree with it, was rather innocuous. Best of luck with The Ritz project, and if The Count Basie ever runs film again, I will try and get down to see one of your shows. There can never be too many theatres running classic films on the big screen.


While I have one year on you for length of time as a projectionist, and have run Norelco AA’s, it was 35mm only. I’ve never run 70mm.

Vito on November 19, 2008 at 1:02 pm

I am pretty sure I rememnber you from Amboy, and hiring you for
White Plains.The White Plains booth was 100% manager/operator at first and then we brought 306 in to split with the managers.
I recall walking around the booth after you came in and thought, well hiring you was a good decision cause the booth immediatlely transformed into a more professional envirement. I especially appreciated the work you did on setting up the interlocks.
Your apology is accepted and appreciated. Also, I know what you mean by “our disagremnts” we sure had a few of those. I was under a lot of pressure to keep that White Plains theatre from falling into hell, it was a real nightmare at times. I thought I wouild never recover from that IMAX installation. We sure needed,and I fought for, two men per shift running that thing, especially the IMAX 3-D.
After that I retired, I had had enough.

Roxymusicco on November 19, 2008 at 12:57 pm

Since I was mentioned by name, I would like to take the time and go on the record in saying that although, I may have had disagreements in the past, I fully support Friends of the Loews in what they are doing at the Loews Jersey Theatre. I not only support them, I’ve seen many movies there over the past 2 years and feel I’ve worked hard in renewing friendships with most of the people at the theatre. I can only wish for both FOL’s and the theatre’s success.

Bernie Anderson, Jr

markp on November 19, 2008 at 12:34 pm

I’m sorry vito, and I apologize. But it really gets me when someone says I’m hiding. I have nothing to hide. You personally know me from the old Amboys days with Ted, Jimmy, and the boys, and from White Plains. We may had our disagrements, but I respected you and valued what you said, and I always felt the same from you. I was only making the point that others on this site have the same opinions of the presentation, so what does that say. By the way how are you doing? Good health I hope, and have a safe holiday season.

Vito on November 19, 2008 at 11:32 am

My God, when did this site become a venue for personal attacks?

You are embarassing yourselves, please stop.

markp on November 19, 2008 at 8:31 am

I also agree with Bill Huelbig, in that sitting in the front row of a palace is unlike anything else you can expeirience. Thats why i’m glad to see places like Jersey City and Elizabeth and Red Bank among others get saved from the wrecking ball. The ONLY thing I can agree with Mitchell the projectionist on is that going to a shoebox to see a movie is like seeing a picture on a cell phone.

markp on November 19, 2008 at 8:19 am

So Mitchell, you are the big wig top notch projectionist since 2001. WOW!! I have been an IA UNION projectionist (something you wouldn’t even know about I guess) since 1976, I’m guessing before you were even born. As far as hiding behind an id, I’m not hiding, the person I know who worked that booth years ago was Bernie, thats all I’m putting up on a public site. And as far as anything else goes, so you are going to be the big man to run 70MM? Well lets see I was doing that as far back as 1984. Oh, but thats right I dont know anything. And if you think I dont appreciate old movies and theatres, I just hope the Ritz in Elizabeth N.J. gets sold to a private group soon, so I can get my screen, dolby CP-55 sound and carbon arc projection up and running. Oh and did you ever run IMAX? Ever see an IMAX system?? So before you say I’m hiding, know who you’re talking to. I may not know what some people on Cinema Treasures do, but I’ve FORGOTTEN things you’ll never even learn. And good luck with your Norelco projectors, they are a hell of a machine. I ran them too!!!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on November 19, 2008 at 8:00 am

I’m with Mitchell on this. Film Forum in NYC may have a sharp picture, but when I sit in the front row there I still feel I’m at home looking at my front projection TV. When I sit in the front row at the Loew’s, I am overwhelmed. And that’s something you can’t get at home.

mdvoskin on November 18, 2008 at 10:10 am

There are no dead birds or bird droppings in the projection room or any other area of the theatre that I am aware of. I note that “movie534” hides behind an unidentifiable user id, and quotes a former projectionist without giving his name. That should tell you everything you need to know about “movie534”, who at best posts things beyond his knowledge level. I have been on the projection staff of the Loews Jersey since they resumed running movies in 2001, and I know all three of the projectionists who are no longer with the project. I would have a hard time believing that any of them would be spreading this crap.

I have a simple suggestion for those such as “movie534” who don’t like our shows. Don’t attend. If you think films look better in NYC on screens that are a quarter of ours size, go see your movies there. End of problem.

Loews Jersey Projection Staff

gabedellafave on November 17, 2008 at 7:01 pm

P.S. The “billboard” would simply be painted (gold letters, maroon background), but it would follow the graceful French curve of the main entrance ceiling. Just a thought. It would be historically accurate to a period in the Loew’s life, and I did see it at the Kings. Such a billboard would be well lit by the new underside lighting.

gabedellafave on November 17, 2008 at 6:38 pm

I agree completely with Maher and Rob. I’ve been an eyewitness to the theatre and it’s goings on since 1965 — on and off. I’ve known it very well, since 1997 (and from 1965 to 1986).

I only see the Loew’s getting better and I believe (as does TNYT) that the theatre is “on a roll” right now, perhaps due in part to the wonderful “new” organ, as well the ability to see, in the Loew’s Jersey, the old classics on a 50 foot wide screen in one of the best (though not largest) of the old palaces.

Some folks might think this is tacky, but I have an idea. Why can’t we put a billboard (don’t have a heart attack—hear me out first) over the main doors, on that very wide black archway, that says “WELCOME TO LOEW’S WONDER THEATRE!!!” in period typeface.

In the very early days, this archway was lit in “electric back lit letters” (see the top photo in this page), and I do know that later on the King’s had such a sign in the very same arch way. Just a thought. It might get people even a little more excited about being outside of the theatre, and it may prompt them to come in.

The sides of the marquee restored in the 1990s as you mentioned, and now the underside, is a real draw. It is dazzling to walk under that marquee now.

RobMinichino on November 16, 2008 at 1:07 pm

The marquee was indeed restored by FOL and I’ve personally spent many hours working on the marquee. We were very happy to be able to negotiate the purchase and installation of the lamps on the underside of the marquee as part of a commercial shoot contract. Because of our previous restoration work, re-lamping the marquee only required purchasing and installing the bulbs in their sockets. I don’t mean to minimize this because, as anyone who has worked on signs or marquees before can tell you, this is no small feat in itself. Nevertheless, FOL volunteers have done much of the work to get the marquee to its current state. Furthermore, our limited budget and volunteer time require us to make hard decisions on where to direct our resources, and without this shoot we would not have been able to re-lamp the underside of the marquee so soon. In retrospect, seeing how stunning the newly-relamped marquee looks, I think we should have done this sooner!

As far as bird poo is concerned, the publicity room beneath the projection booth, which had its feathered occupants evicted prior to the public opening, suffered a broken window about two years ago and consequently a new pigeon infestation. I’m happy to report that the window was repaired and the room was cleaned once again not long thereafter. It did sit closed-off for some time until we were able to clean it, but as this was an area of the building not accessed by the public or staff (and one which shouldn’t have been included on any tour), this was left until our summer “working months” to clean.

I’m offended that anyone thinks my honest appraisal of the focus situation is “a load of bull.” I must also contradict the assertion that the Delrin gate runners and pressure skate in our projectors have anything to do with focus. I have contacted several technical experts familiar with the Norelco/Kinoton projectors and their Delrin gates, and they agree with my assessment. Even Kinoton’s largest projector, which supports lamphouses much hotter and larger than ours, still has Delrin gate components and works without focus troubles.

Regardless, as I’m installing the Norelco 35/70 projectors that do have metal gate runners, we’ll be able to see the difference if there is any. I’m not expecting this to improve focus, but the new projectors give us the ability to show new film formats. It’ll also give me the ability to send a big “I told you so” to a few of our vocal detractors. :)

No matter what the tone of the comments, I appreciate that they come from a desire to see the Loew’s do better. I share that desire, even though I may disagree with some of your assessments and suggestions, and I spend the greater part of my spare time effecting it. I prefer nice comments, though. :)

mahermusic on November 16, 2008 at 9:55 am

Joseph Serf:

Stop spreading lies. THAT is unacceptable.

a) There’s NO bird droppings anywhere in the projection room. I doubt you have ever been allowed in there, since there now are many thousands of dollars of restored equipment in there. You may have been thinking about the state of the room pre-FOL and pre-restoration, ‘cause there sure aren’t any dead birds laying around. Stop lying.

b) I have been involved with the Loew’s since 1998, and have not noticed plaster being damaged to a greater extent. I HAVE seen steps taken to make sure the plaster does NOT get worse, until the new molds can be created. Stop lying.

c) I think I’ll believe our house projectionist, over someone who’s jealous over the Loew’s Jersey, and doesn’t want them to succeed.

d) FOL restored the marquee back to usable condition (for a LOT less than was quoted to us) back in the mid-90’s. You and your “supposed friend” are a croc. Stop lying.

Oh, and welcome to our board! (but stop lying.)

markp on November 16, 2008 at 7:10 am

Yes Joseph, I too know someone who once was a projectionist there, and he says basically the same things you do. Most of the focus problems are because the gates in the projectors are plastic, as opposed to metal that 99% of projectors use. You couple that with the intense heat comming off the carbon arc, and as my friend said, the gates could melt away.

jserf on November 16, 2008 at 4:08 am

That NY Times article is a nice piece of propaganda for FOL but not entirely accurate.

The bird shit is still all over the upstairs the last time a volunteer who I know there let me in to see the room. I was even greeted by a dead pigeon on the floor. Charming!

Plaster damage seems to get worse everytime I’m at the Loew’s. That is unacceptable.

The “soft focus” as expressed above is, no offense, a load of bull being offered to people who are dumb enough to believe it. I’ve seen the same prints in NYC and they looked nice and sharp there.

Also, my volunteer friend tells me the marquee was restored for a commercial shoot but the company shooting, NOT by FOL. They should not be taking credit for other peoples' work!

gabedellafave on November 15, 2008 at 1:40 pm

A wonderful article (with several photos) in “The New York Times” about the Loew’s Jersey Theatre:

View link

Check out photo no. 6 and be utterly amazed…

This building is an international treasure.

Altoblanco on November 13, 2008 at 7:08 pm

Here are the “bonus” films for December:

5 Dec. (Fri.) – “Island Weirdness” double-feature…
8:00PM: Island of Lost Souls (1932, 1:15) â€"– The Most Dangerous Game (1932, 1:03)

6 Dec. (Sat.) – Transitioning from Halloween to Christmas means thrills and chills in-between…
3:00PM: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993, 1:16)
7:30PM: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981, 1:55)

YMike on November 13, 2008 at 3:33 pm

I heard from someone I know who works at the Loews that they are trying to get “Raiders Of The Lost Ark” for Dec.6.

Altoblanco on November 3, 2008 at 8:39 pm

There will be no classic films in November. This is due to the unavailability of prints for what would have been a “James Bond Weekend” (most likely being “held back” due to the upcoming release of “Quantum of Solace” on November 14th). Instead the Friends have tentatively scheduled a “make-up” weekend for 5-6 December, theme not specified, featuring at least one major “blockbuster” movie, title(s) TBA.

This means back-to-back December film weekends, with a “Holiday” series featuring “The Bishop’s Wife” and “Oliver!” on the evenings of Friday the 12th and Saturday the 13th respectively. In addition, Santa will “visit” the theatre on Saturday afternoon. There will also be live entrance music playing ½ hour before each show on the “Wonder Morton” organ, with the likelihood of an audience sing-a-long as part of the program.

Altoblanco on October 27, 2008 at 8:18 pm

I stand corrected – it was 870 for “Phantom of the Opera” (I heard wrong) – even better!

I knew it was going to be a big draw, but this was truly beyond my highest expectations.

A special “thank you” to patrons is posted on the Friends of the Loew’s Web site.

Altoblanco on October 27, 2008 at 5:10 pm

I am pleased to announce that the “Phantom of the Opera” silent film and organ presentation on October 25th set a new attendance record for an FOL movie screening: 817 (according to one of the ticket sellers)! This beat out other major film events, such as the “All About Eve” screening with guest Celeste Holm (earlier this year). From what I am told, it smashed the previous record held by the screening of the rare 1910 Edison Studio version of “Frankenstein” back in April 2003. A second ticket desk had to be opened to accommodate the crowd, which stretched around the corner and up to Magnolia Avenue.

Ralph Ringstad’s performance was sheer brilliance â€" he composed, as well as played, the original score himself! He never missed a beat and his cues were spot on. And talk about dedication – not only did he perform almost three hours (one hour of entrance music and almost two hours for the movie), he was at the theatre all day (since early morning) practicing and preparing for that evening’s show. Loew’s Jersey is truly privileged to have him as the house organist.

This has been a particularly trying week, with the Magnetic Fields rock concert on Thursday night (almost 1300 in attendance) plus film screenings the following two days. The FOL volunteer staff, operating on a skeleton crew, has been stretched to its limits. Considering all of this, the presentation this weekend, especially Saturday night, couldn’t have been any better. Everyone who contributed deserves credit for this tremendous success.

There is the annual Halloween family event coming up this Friday evening (Oct. 31st @ 6 p.m.), with a crowd of about 800 expected. The theatre needs many volunteers to fill specific positions at this event (as well as to decorate and set-up in advance preparation), so come and show your support!

RobMinichino on October 27, 2008 at 12:29 pm

Hi, I’m Robert Minichino, the new technical director at the Loew’s Jersey, and I’d like to respond to some of the comments about our film presentation. First, I apologize for any impression of surliness on the part of any of the FOL staff. I would like everyone to know that I always welcome polite, constructive criticism on any aspect of our presentation. If you would like to make any comments after the movie, feel free to ask for me. I’m always there on movie nights and I’ll be happy to talk with you as I’m keenly interested in providing the best possible presentation of our classic film program to our patrons.

Certainly we could have been more diligent in the past with keeping the image focused, but I am aware of the issue and I do try to keep on top of it all the time. From my perspective it has gotten better as one of our volunteer projectionists has gotten more experience. It is difficult to focus from the booth, and we continue to have people in the orchestra monitoring the focus for us. There’s no excuse for us being out of focus where it can be corrected with a simple adjustment. I’d like to say that we do our best, and I’m happy that this statement is increasingly true.

As MBD mentioned above, we do find that some prints have parts that are out of focus. On our large screen this effect is painfully obvious, particularly from the front rows. Oftentimes we will get a call up to the booth during these scenes and we are unable to improve the focus. In fact, through our binoculars we can often see the film grain sharply defined on the screen at these moments. These problems seem to be confined to older B&W prints as we haven’t noticed the same issues with, for example, new color films. I understand that this can be particularly frustrating and distracting, and unfortunately the only remedy I can offer is to sit further back from the screen.

Bob Furmanek had mentioned above that there is a problem with focus drift and the use of our Kinoton projectors, and I must respectfully disagree. At least after Bob Eberenz had installed water-cooled gates with heat filters and additional forced-air cooling, I haven’t found any long-term focus drift issues with our projectors in the past few years. I have no experience with any issues that existed before this time as I was not yet involved with the theatre. However, we still do have some focus flutter, particularly with dark scenes on B&W film stock, but this would be unavoidable for any theater with our screen and lamphouse size. Our projectors do have curved gates, which does help, and I can’t imagine that any other projector would be much better in this regard.

Finally, the steep downward projection angle (19 degrees) combined with fast lenses and their concomitant shallow depth of field means that we can’t always have the entire image in perfect focus. You would notice this effect as the image being more in-focus in the middle than at the top and bottom. Some formats exhibit this problem worse than others. This can be alleviated with the use of perspective-correction adapters that allow us to shift the projected image off of the optical center axis. Once this is done, the projectors can be tilted at a less steep angle, which reduces both keystone distortion and focus issues. Unfortunately, these adapters are expensive and we are operating on a very tight budget. Thankfully, without correction this effect is still slight even on our worst format, and shouldn’t be obvious or distracting.

I’m trying to fill some awfully big shoes now that Mr. Eberenz has left us. It is my foremost desire to do justice to his work and memory as well as to our beautiful movie palace by providing the best possible presentation through my work with all of the FOL staff.

LuisV on October 27, 2008 at 10:45 am

What’s wrong with the intro photo? If anything, the photo is better than the current exterior as the marquee is not the original and kind of mars the Jersey. I hope the day comes when the monstrous current marquee is relaced with a beautiful replica of the original.