Director's Chair

1100 Route 33,
Hamilton Square, NJ 08690

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This second run theater was located behind a strip mall on Route 33 in Hamilton Square (the one near Trenton, as their are multiple Hamiltons in NJ).

Today the building is used for retail, either furniture or carpeting.

Nothing remarkable about the architecture, just a lot of good memories.

I remember seeing all of the big movies here as a kid such as “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones”. Movies were $2; matinees $1. We could ride our bikes there during the dog days of summer. The theater was active in the 70s and 80s. It survived the opening of the mall theaters first at Quakerbridge Mall and then later at the Princeton Marketfair. I lost track of the theater when I went off to college in the mid-1980’s. My guess is that it closed around 1990.

Does anyone have more information on this theater? Was it part of a consortium with the theater of the same name listed in another NJ town?

Contributed by TC

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

teecee
teecee on October 21, 2005 at 2:39 am

No pillars in this one. Appeared to be a late 60s or early 70s construction.

teecee
teecee on March 24, 2006 at 3:58 pm

Listed as part of Milgrim Theatres, Inc. in the 1985 International Motion Picture Almanac (listed under Trenton).

hondo59
hondo59 on March 24, 2006 at 4:28 pm

This was built as a Jerry Lewis Cinema around 1973. It is located on Highway 33 near Paxson Avenue. The building has been converted into stores. As indicated above, there was nothing remarkable about the theater. Drapes covered concrete block walls. But the 2nd-run movies were cheap and so was the popcorn.

This building is not to be confused with the RKO Hamilton on South Broad Street which opened in the 1940s and closed in the 1960s. That one had the pillars on the outside and was the sister theater to the RKO Brunswick on Brunswick Avenue in Trenton. The Hamilton is currently a church while the Brunswick was razed several years ago.

hondo59
hondo59 on March 24, 2006 at 4:31 pm

The Hights was in Hightstown NJ. It closed around 1978. It was located in the downtown area and the building was converted into offices/retail. There was talk of restoring it recently. It had a great marquee.

teecee
teecee on April 23, 2006 at 9:55 am

Found myself in the area the other day. This theater now houses Black Forest Acres, a good sized natural food market. They made their entrance in the side of the building, which actually faces Rt. 33. They reconfigured the entrance road so that you can enter from both sides of the strip mall that almost blocks it from the highway.
I went inside. It hardly resembles a theater. Looks like a decent store. The only remaining hint of its former use is the movie poster frames on the original front, which are now used to advertise sales.
Black Forest Acres
1100 Route 33
Hamilton Square, NJ 08690
609-586-6187

pbubny
pbubny on April 25, 2006 at 3:41 am

I only made it to this theatre once while attending college in the area; as I recall, the movie was Paul Mazursky’s “Tempest.” I remember a pretty decent-sized and comfortable auditorium, if nothing remarkable. Like most of the theatres in the Trenton/Princeton area of 25 years ago, it’s long gone.

John
John on December 7, 2007 at 3:25 pm

I visited this place so many, many times…so many memories! The one writer is correct in stating it closed by the mid-80’s (sadly). It was indeed a second-run twin-auditorium theatre, but usually very clean, very well-kept. Unlike King’s Fairground Cinema down the road a few miles, they rarely had double-features. In the late 70’s, admission was $1; by the early 80’s, this had risen to $2. Oddly, in later years I remember that while they permitted EATING in the auditoriums, they prohibited DRINKING, which was awfully inconvenient, as you can imagine. As someone else has written, they DID have really tasty popcorn (fresh-popped, until the last couple of years, when they went cheap and used bagged stuff). So sad when they closed their doors for good…

itswagon
itswagon on March 25, 2010 at 10:48 am

I was the original projectionist at the Director’s Chair Hamilton theater and showed the first film in both cinemas. It was originally planned as one of the defunct Jerry Lewis Twin Cinemas but following the failure of that organization, development continued under the ownership of the Tommaro Brothers. The Tommaro’s also owned produce wholesaling in the Township. Anthony Tommaro was the managing director for the small chain. The Theaters were originally managed by the late Jack Kosharek who managed the Olden Theatre previous. As usual, Jack ran a magnificent theater operation with the house being always immaculate. It was Jack’s preference that the auditoriums be fitted with curtains in front of the screen for the proper dramatic effect (like the Olden). He believed that the paying audience should never see the screen without a movie projected upon it, unlike the classless movie houses of today). The screens were geometrically corrected for the Wide Screen, anamorphic lenses, also unique to the little theaters.

The booth was unusual inasmuch as each included two Cinemechanica projectors from Milan, Italy and nearly complete automation. Theatre 1 (right side as you entered) had the first Cinemechanica nine projectors imported into the United States. After years of working Simplexes and Centuries, it was a genuine pleasure to work with the Cinemechanica nines. I am not saying the Simplexes or Centuries were of poor quality — they remain the best — but the nines were so quiet and reliable. The Cinemchanica sevens were a bit noisier. The booths also had automation for lighting and curtains, and (when necessary) changeovers. One projectionist handled both of the booths. The projectors used 6000 and 9000 foot free wheeling film reels. These were very convenient but heavy to get to the top spool. The theatres had stereo and surround sound but I don’t believe we ever used the whole system. The lenses were mounted on a rotary fixture so you didn’t have to manually replace them when you switched from “flat” to “anamorphic” (wide screen).

I didn’t think the Cinemechanica automation circuitry looked well made but it worked well. Regarding the Popcorn (see above) I know for sure that they always used the bagged popcorn, even in the beginning. The same supplier we had at the Olden theatre supplied the popcorn to the Director’s Chair.

The Candy Girls at the Director’s Chair were always beautiful as they were at the Olden. Jack Kosharek knew what he was doing and pretty Candy Girls always increased concession sales. Many people don’t know it but profit from concession sales are usually part of the agreement with the film owner. Jack Kosharek, PhD was the best theater manager that I ever knew. May he rest in peace.

The reason Jack didn’t allow drinks in the auditoriums was that spills made the floors sticky and invited insects. If you ever had to clean under the theater seats with a mop and bucket you’d understand the restriction.

I went on to be the first manager of the Director’s Chair theater in Jackson, New Jersey. I learned a lot from the great Jack Kosharek.

rivest266
rivest266 on October 2, 2011 at 11:39 am

This opened on April 10th, 1973. Grand opening ad posted here.

itswagon
itswagon on October 2, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I was the projectionist (both cinima 1 and 2 for the grand opening I am proud to say.

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