Mercer Mall Cinema

3371 US Highway 1,
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648

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Opened on December 25, 1975, this theater began as a three screen and was located literally across Route 1 from the Quaker Bridge Cinema. Four more screens were added in the mid-1990’s. After the Hamilton 24 opened nearby, the theater briefly expanded to eleven screens but shut down around 2000. The theater has been converted to retail space.

Contributed by tc

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

azpuma68 on December 13, 2009 at 3:19 pm

I saw the original Bad News Bears here. Great memory. A bunch of others during high school and shortly thereafter including The Mask and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

chubbyhubby on January 25, 2010 at 7:58 am

Dave, I was there about the same time you were (spring 1976). I was there to see ‘Peter Pan,’ but I distinctly remember ‘The Bad News Bears’ was playing simultaneously, because while waiting in line, I heard a father say to his son, “We’re not going to see ‘The Bad News Bears,’ we’re going to see ‘Peter Pan’.” (Wish I had seen BNB on the big screen. I had to settle for the bowdlerized TV version until home video came along.)

I too have great memories of the place. Saw ‘Animal House’ there back in ‘78, 'Airplane!’ in ‘80, 'Star Trek II’ in ‘82, etc., etc. Just went back yesterday to buy shoes for the kids, and made sure to let them know how it used to be.

On an unrelated note, anyone remember the old Game Barn arcade? It was right in the corner of the mall where TJ Maxx presently is. It opened in late ‘75, but I don’t think it survived the decade.

rivest266 on October 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm

This opened on Christmas day, 1975. Grand opening ad posted here.

tombumbera on August 11, 2012 at 9:18 am

Mercer Mall Cinemas did indeed open Xmas 1975. I was the first head projectionist (from 1975-1979). The theater was very successful, with months-long (!) runs of “Saturday Night Fever” and “Animal House.” I had to get a replacement print for “Fever” due to extreme sprocket hole wear!

markp on September 5, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Not for nothing tombumbera, but I ran prints of Jurrasic Park at the old Amboys Multiplex for 9 months back when it first came out and we never had to replace the prints once. Of course we had a full union crew of projectionists, as opposed to the non-union crew that was at Mercer Mall.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 4, 2013 at 5:08 pm

One, or perhaps both, of the expansions of the Mercer Mall Cinemas was designed for General Cinema Theatres by Port Washington, New York, architect James Thomas Martino.

MrX on November 9, 2014 at 8:30 pm

I remember seeing JAWS there

tombumbera on July 12, 2016 at 9:17 am

markp, I don’t know what union-vs.-non-union booth has to do with print wear. The alignment and tension on the take-up reel would be factors in sprocket hole damage. We had issues with this since the theater opened thanks to initial poor setup by a lousy RCA service man. I eventually learned how to address most of the problems in the booth myself. And perhaps I am misremembering after all these years but it seems to me that Universal’s prints (i.e. Jurassic) were made on a better film stock than Paramount’s (Saturday Night Fever). I never had to replace a Universal print. We were also running SNF five shows a day with midnight shows on the weekends. We ran SNF close to 1000 times during its run.

tombumbera on July 12, 2016 at 9:32 am

General Cinema Corporation went under largely due to overbuilding. They got into a fierce screen-building competition with AMC, and AMC won. Among many factors in its decline was GCC’s corporate policy of building free-standing theaters (with higher overhead expenses)wherever possible as opposed to AMC’s policy of building in high-traffic shopping malls. Of course today AMC’s theaters are bigger than some shopping malls. Booking was also a problem – GCC’s head buyer passed on movies like “E.T.” while we played dogs like “Author, Author” with high guarantees. This meant that we played many films to near-empty theaters for way too long as we tried to recoup as much of the guarantee as possible. It is no coincidence that that booker left GCC to work for Fox distribution! Today Mercer Mall is booming and if GCC had stayed afloat they’d probably be doing quite nicely there.

optimist008 on July 12, 2016 at 9:53 am

Good posting above and GCC’s other problem was that they were stuck in leases for theaters that became obsolete when other chains like National Amusements started multiplexing…

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