AMC 309 Cinema 9

1210 Bethlehem Pike, Routes 309 and 63,
North Wales, PA 19454

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309 Cinema 9

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This theatre was built by William Goldman & Co. as a single-screen theatre which opened in 1968. Originally owned by Budco, which also owned the adjacent 309 Drive-In. Twinned sometime in the mid-1970’s. During the late-1970’s, another screen was added on the right side of the existing building.

Around 1983, two more screens were added on the left side of the existing building. When AMC took over the Budco chain, they added four more screens on the north side of the building. The theatre’s famous sign is the hexagonal “3 0 9” on the building, and the neon “309” sign on Route 309.

Contributed by Tim Quan

Recent comments (view all 28 comments)

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 14, 2009 at 2:54 pm

I think that acquisition was in 1986 and two years later United Artists Circuit bought Sameric Corp, the last remaining large Philadelphia based chain for mainstream exhibition.

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on February 14, 2009 at 3:12 pm

I think you are right. I had my dates mixed up.

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on May 25, 2009 at 12:24 am

From the pictures I’ve seen of the current 309 Cinema 9, it look like the 1980 addition was to the left of the original Budco 309 Cinema Theatre building. The 1982/83 addition was to the right of the building, but I could be wrong about which side was added first.

The final addition that turned this theatre from a 4-plex to a 9-plex has the one back screen and two front screens built next to the left of the 1980 addition, and the other 2 front screens across from the 1982/83 addition.

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on October 14, 2009 at 2:03 pm

It’s also unique that the 309 cinema still has the “Cinema” in cursive, just like it’s former sister theatres Plymouth Cinema and Ellisburg Circle Cinema.

blkdog
blkdog on January 20, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Any chance they are going to put anything into it? They should also put a marquee up on the back wall facing 309 or put the one that fell on 309 back up!

RedJacket
RedJacket on January 2, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Maintenance always has been an issue because of the various additions. The lobby was redone in 1992-1993 to move the concession stand back and to allow for more registers. Previously, the entire place was a mess on opening nights and big releases because people were spiraled around a small stand — intended for drive-in audiences — and there was no easy way to situate the lines for those entering the theater. Further, resupply and preparation was behind a door that later became the arcade area. This is to the immediate left when one enters the building through the front doors. We used to have a popper going upstairs to handle any surges. Before the refurbishment, the equipment was getting to beaten up that if you touched popcorn scoops to the back of the warmers you would get an electric shock if your scoop didn’t have a rubber handle. Sometime in the ‘00s, they eliminated the generators that once sat behind the building. These were guarded by a low wall, and we would find people toking up and getting intimate in the weeds there. Location is what keeps this place open. Time has passed it by, but for awhile the $3 twilight shows (4 p.m.-6 p.m.) and cheaper prices than the former Eric up the street helped to drive traffic here.

mitchaia
mitchaia on June 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm

The first addition was on the left. Subsequent splitting of the two auditoria made it into a 4plex. The last addition, resulting in 9 screens, was done, prior to the purchase by AMC, by a group of hotshot movie mogul wannabees who hired a major theatre architect from Boston, rather than the local architect who designed all Budco’s facilities, who proceded to screw up the patron circulation.

TheALAN
TheALAN on December 9, 2013 at 7:29 pm

A CLARIFICATION:

Opened in 1968, the 309 Cinema, a single-screen, first run theatre was built adjacent to and on the same site as the 309 Twin Drive-In (now demolished) by Budco Theatres Inc. The theatre was twinned in the mid 1970’s and several additions and renovations to the original building, and poor planning, during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s has resulted in the hodgepodge that exists today. The cinema was rebranded the AMC 309 Cinema 9 when the Budco Theatres chain was acquired by AMC Cinemas (now AMC Theatres) at the end of 1986. Renovations to the lobby were made in the early 1990’s. And since it is a cinema, a marquee would be nice!

Coate
Coate on December 11, 2013 at 1:20 pm

How many screens did this theater have as of the winter of 1978/79?

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on December 11, 2013 at 5:08 pm

The Budco 309 Cinema was a Twin by the start of 1976. This location became a 3-plex in early to mid 1980.

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