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From “Motion Picture Herald” 4/20/57, p.31
“Rumor along Broadway is that Loew’s State, now a ‘problem theatre’ because of its size, will convert to a policy similar to the Astor or the Victoria, with the coming of ‘Raintree County’-before long. To appreciate this change, you must understand that Loew’s State has 3,450 seats while the Astor has only 1,300 and the Victoria but 1,060. So, when the sweeping change comes in policy, it will be necessary to ‘block off’ about half the seats at Loew’s State-probably most of the huge balcony, to reduce the capacity to something like 1,500 and with that number, a picture can be held for a run of eight weeks or more, on the best Broadway corner. It seems gruesome, but that is just about what will happen. Loew’s State was built for a policy of vaudeville and pictures with weekly changes, and opened in 1921 to rival Keith’s Palace theatre, in the next block. Now, vaudeville is gone, except for a trace; and weekly changes are gone too, and it’s hard to get long runs in a house with too many seats to keep filled.”
Opened in 1969, with 950 seating capacity. (Boxoffice, 1/20/69, p.12) This was quite a classy house before George M. Schwartz sold out to Budco. If you called for showtimes, the message was recorded by Bill Harliman, a well-known local announcer on WDEL. (‘And coming next week-the ride of your life! “Rollercoaster” in Sensurround!’) Schartz also operated Cinema Center in Newark, Delaware, and the pair could just as well been nicknamed “The House of Universal” since for years they played every Universal release first-run. If “Airport ‘77” opened at Branmar, “Slap Shot” would be the attraction at Cinema Center. This was neat when “Sensurround” came along, and Branmar was the only theater in the state to play “Earthquake” first-run. “Rollercoaster” also played there, and “Midway” was actually booked for two weeks prior to the “Rollercoaster” opening-a “Sensurround” double-feature! For some reason, “Midway” was not booked first-run at Branmar; it played at CineMart instead on the other side of town.
Pardon the correction-the above should have read “opened in 1969”!
The first screen opened in 1968, with a seating capacity of 1,400. (Boxoffice 1/30/69, p.12)
You’re right about the name change-looking at newspaper ads, it was spelled as “Cine'Mart” at least through 1974, but even then it read “CineMart” at times, depending how the ad designer was feeling that day! I drove past the place last weekend, and the standing “wide screen look” sign is still next to the building, although blank. Guess “Cine Mart” it is!
The International 70 was closed by RKO in October 1972-the chain closed three additional NJ houses that month: Lincoln and Trent Theaters in Trenton, and the State in New Brunswick. (Boxoffice [Eastern Edition] October 30,1972 p.E-7) The “International 70” name was given to various RKO theaters around the country that were remodeled and equipped for 70mm projection.
This theater was closed in October of 1972. The chain closed three additional NJ houses that month: Lincoln and Trent Theaters (Trenton)and the Internaional 70 in New Brunswick. Boxoffice(Eastern Edition) 10/30/72 p.E7
Great theater when it was new-saw “Far And Away”, “Hoffa”, and “Gettysburg” in 70mm here. They were in two different auditoriums, so either there were two 70mm installations, or the projector was moved. No problems with patrons, either-you can blame the chain for letting things get out of hand.
I remember seeing this theater while leaving the stadium-it was still full-sized and showing films for $1, and it definitely said “70mm” on the marquee. I think the film was “Superman” at the time and wondered why the place was never advertised.
Yes, the theater was equipped with Norelco 35/70mm projectors. The projectionist took such good care of them, they looked brand-new right to the end. But the Norelco is a exceptionally heavy projector, so they never removed them but bulldozed them with eveything else when the theater was torn down.
I was talking once with a projectionist that worked practically every DI in the area-he mentioned how much of a problem the rats were here. Another projectionist kept one in the booth for company! Was this the DI theater that had several speakers outside the fence on the street side? The screen was angled toward the other direction, though, so they wouldn’t see much!
I should have said that “Star Wars” had been playing at Eric’s Place “for some time” before they moved it to the Mark I-six months, in fact! Remember how all Sameric theaters were required to have those two dog statues in the lobby by order of owner Shapiro? They were his dogs Duke and Duchess. Of course he named a theater after them, like he did for his son Eric. (Eric’s Place) He was nuts about those dogs-when they died, the theaters went “dark” in memory. The son ended up dying young from too much money, drugs and partying-the theaters didn’t go dark then! Anyway, the dog statues hung around for years, long after people forgot what they were for. Usually one was broken…
I went to this theater only once-to see “Dune” in 70mm. It really was not the greatest place to see a film-because of the entrances below it, the screen was not centered, but pushed to one side. People sitting on the one side were definitely out of luck. 70mm equipment was installed for “Star Wars”-the film had been playing there for some time when they made the change. The screen was rather small, so it didn’t make much difference. But 70mm at Sam’s Place or the Sameric (Boyd) was a different matter!
Thought this would be of interest…
(Boxoffice Magazine 1/13/75 (Eastern Edition) p.E-3)
“The new Loews triplex in Jersey City recently reopened following conversion and thus far business is reported to be very good, according to manager Ann Rauch. Theatre 1, which had been the balcony in the original house, now seats 1,078. The original downstairs, now divided into Theatre 2 and Theatre 3, seats 524 in each of the new units. Reopening attractions were "Amazing Grace”, “Scenes From a Marriage”, and “Murder on the Orient Express.” The original Loews' Jersey City Theatre was opened more than 50 years ago. This is the first of the so-called “movie palaces” in the North Jersey area, most fo which are located in cities such as Newark, Paterson, Passaic, as well as Jersey City, that has undergone conversion from single to multi-unit operation."
I went here for years, and later worked for United Artists at the time they operated the theater. Jordan is right-for years the Tri-State had the reputation for playing the biggest of the blockbusters! It opened as a twin in ‘68-'69, although one screen was delayed for some reason. Theater 1 (about 1,500 seats), and Theater 2 (about 600 seats), faced a central concession area, which eliminated the need for extensive soundproofing. The big house was equipped with Norelco DP 35/70mm projectors, and Ampex sound. 1977 was an important year-the Tri-State was one of the very few theaters to play “Star Wars” on it’s opening weekend. I was there, and it was amazing. Unfortunitely, they also decided to twin the large house a month or so later and moved the print across to the smaller house. The large house was reduced to 820 seats, retaining the 70mm equipment, and the new 3rd cinema was a horrible bowling-alley of a place. Most theaters used platters by then, but #3 used a continuous-loop system; a piece of sensing tape on the film shut everything down when the show was over. It was ghastly-the projectors could not be cleaned because the film could not be removed, and the dirty film constantly scraped against itself literally scraping off an emulsion layer. Audiences showed their appreciation by lobbing beer bottles through the projector port hole. Theater upkeep began to really suffer-this was the time when studios demanded up-front payments of $125,000 per screen for the most anticipated “blockbusters”, often before the films were even made. You could pay in installments, but the final payment was due before the print would be shipped. This was a great system for the studios-as long as you had a director with a reputation for staying on budget, the whole thing could be financed on the back of the theaters. Ever wonder why some directors made picture after picture despite having one flop after another? There’s your answer. The theaters kept all of the boxoffice till until the $125,000 was met, (agreed operating expenses, called the “house nut” were permitted to be deducted first, which helped.) One had to play the film for an agreed time-sometimes 12 weeks! Anyway, this system was runinous for Sameric Theaters. They were hit all at once with flops like “The Other Side Of Midnight”, “Exorcist 2”, “A Bridge Too Far”, etc. which they paid heavily for-and the studios were not interested in giving refunds. The guarantee for “Star Wars” was very small, and the theaters made that back before the end of the first weekend. That is why I believe nobody will ever know just how much “Star Wars” really made-too many opportunities to skim cash, especially when everybody was going broke!
1981 saw the twinning of Screen #2; the 600-seater split into two small houses of about 250-60 seats. Another botch-the doors opened directly into the lobby, so the screen would be flooded with light every time one went in and out. (This was a problem at Sameric’s West Goshen theater too-car headlights from outside would literally wash-out the picture!) 1982 finally saw the installation of Dolby Stereo, but only in the large house. The nearby factory closed down at this time, and the area surrounding the mall deteriorated rapidly. This was was plain to everybody by 1983, when Sameric booked “Return of the Jedi” at the inferior Concordville Theater even though the first two in the “Star Wars” series were hugely successful at Tri-State. A few years later, Sameric bought out a furniture store to the left of the theater and opened Screen #5. This was barely a theater, holding perhaps 50 seats, and it was used as a screen to dump duds that they were forced to keep playing. The storage space behind the screen was welcome, though. Sameric sold out to United Artists, and UA pulled the plug on the theater in 1992. Cinemagic made a go at it after that, but not for long.