Union Theaters

990 Styvesant Avenue,
Union, NJ 07083

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Union Center Theaters

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Opened in 1926 as the Union Theatre. By 1941 it was operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. It was listed in the 1951 FDY as having 1,303 seats. The owners have somehow managed to carve out seven theaters in the building. Believed to have been showing movies continuously since opening.

Contributed by TC

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

Jerseygirl4159
Jerseygirl4159 on February 20, 2006 at 6:04 am

I remember going to this theater in the late 70’s/early 80’s and I believe at the time it was a twin. I thought there were only 4 screens in there at present; however, I cannot fathom where they could have possible fit 7 screens in this place.

rrettino
rrettino on February 23, 2006 at 4:45 pm

I grew up in Union and every movie that shaped my moviegoing experience was seen at this theatre. The Dirty Dozen, In Cold Blood, Bonnie and Clyde,To Sir With Love, Cool Hand Luke and every Disney picture ever made I saw there.It was actually a pretty depressing place until RKO did a major facelift in 1968. They added 70mm and made it a major showcase theatre. They reopened with I Love You Alice B Toklas in December 1968. The 70mm was rarely used except for engagements of Sweet Charity and Tora, Tora, Tora, possibly one or two others. It was truly a great place to see movies. Saw the Wild Bunch there in 1969 and was blown away forever. In 1977 in the middle of it’s run of Close Encounters they did a
lousy twin job and the magic was gone.

teecee
teecee on March 2, 2006 at 2:04 am

Listed as part of RKO-Stanley Warner Theatres, Inc. in the 1976 International Motion Picture Almanac.

pbubny
pbubny on April 25, 2006 at 6:51 am

Would like to have seen the Union prior to its subdivision, but I have to agree with RichardR about the “lousy twin job.” More recently, I went there in its 7-plex configuration, and it wasn’t bad. Wondering along with Jerseygirl4159 about where they could have crammed in seven screens. The Union as originally built couldn’t have been too much different in size from the old Maplewood and Clairidge theatres, and those are both 6-plexes with broom closets for auditoriums. Could the new owners have annexed space from adjoining properties?

DavidMorgan
DavidMorgan on July 16, 2006 at 4:20 am

I recall an early ‘70s re-release of “Ten Commandments” there, as well as “Escape from the Planet of the Apes.” I think I also saw the “special edition” reissue of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” there in 1980.

shany94
shany94 on July 20, 2008 at 9:20 pm

I miss the big theaters myself sometimes. They would have been terrific on opening weekend for a film like “The Dark Knight”, but I also remember how utterly empty they could be during weekday matinees.

John Fink
John Fink on April 2, 2009 at 7:35 pm

I was sort of impressed by the size of the screen here – while it wasn’t like a multiplex, it was a good size give the theater I was in the other night to see Fados. Clean and well maintained with a neighborhood feel – it reminded me a bit of the theater the same owners run up in Westwood.

When you walk in there’s one screen to the right, then beyond it a long hallway leading to three screens to the right, and two to the left (2 being the largest I assume), and back in the lobby there is one screen straight ahead. A decent size lobby – no Cineplex Oden-style touches however. The bathroom seemed a bit dated as well (they also had a separate handicap room across the hall from the party room, which is behind the outside box office, to the left when you enter the building). I’d come back if they showed more art house films.

joker
joker on June 8, 2010 at 11:54 am

a ok theater seen alot of movies there.

shany94
shany94 on February 9, 2014 at 11:36 pm

As of Feb. 2014 this theater is closed and for sale – a red sign on the front doors states that the building is unsafe for human occupancy … End of an era.

markp
markp on February 10, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Last time I worked here was in Dec 1997, just a day before Titanic came out. It was a twin then and the new owner was taking over the next day and went non-union. Shortly after he made it 7 screens. I know even when I worked there water would pour into the building after heavy snow. I wonder if this could be the reason for the unsafe condition mentioned by shany94.

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