Interstate Theatre

35 Interstate Shopping Center,
Ramsey, NJ 07446

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Interstate Theatre

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Does anyone have any memories to share about this great, now gone theatre?

Contributed by Robert Bryan

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

hotwaterbottle
hotwaterbottle on April 21, 2006 at 4:03 pm

Ok, I’ll start the ball. This theatre was located in the still standing Interstate Shopping Center just off Route 17 in Ramsey New Jersey, not far from where the Route 17 drive in used to be. The theatre was located on the far north side of the complex; a eye doctor and a large bowling alley were next to the theatre. Standing in it’s place now are a large Borders bookstore and a Bed Bath and Beyond. Some improvement! The theatre had about 750 seats and was your basic box type theatre with no balcony. Why did I love this theatre when I was growing up? A few reasons: On Her Majestys Secret Service, Yellow Submarine, Marlowe, Let It Be, Where Eagles Dare, Dirty Harry, The French Connection, Horsefeathers (midnight showing),
Evil of Frankenstein(Saturday matinee), and too many more to mention. One of the main reasons too, is my love of old movie posters started at this theatre. The very first one I ever got was a 30x40 to Theatre of Blood with Vincent Price and I love it. But I think my friend who got me started got the better deal. He snagged a 30x40 to High Plains Drifter! He got to know the manager of the place at the time and was able to buy posters from him. One night, I came with my friend to the theatre, got in for free st see the movie (big shots!) and afterwards got to go upstairs to see the projection booth. The manager was in a generous mood that night (his girlfriend was there), so we were allowed to go through a bin with 1-sheets and 30x40’s in them. I pulled out about 10 1-sheets and 3 30x40’s including Dirty Harry and Soylent Green. But, big problem. I only had about $10. on me and $50. worth of posters that I wanted. So, what to do. Simple; I stuffed the folded 1-sheets down the back of my pants and just bought the rolled posters. I had to walk out to the car standing very straight or the posters would get bent and ruined. I will never forget the Interstate theatre for that memory! And no, I did'nt get caught. (perhaps I should have been!)

John Fink
John Fink on April 23, 2006 at 5:38 pm

It is, the theater was also known as Sony Theatres (it was opened by Music Makers). I saw one movie there late in its run but remember the fight (by the bowlers of the community) to keep Interstate Lanes open. The bowling alley was actually well run and successful, why the devoloper knocked it down I don’t know (I guess Boarders and Bed Bath and Beyond yeild more rent revenue). I saw Air Force One at the Interstate. I remember the lack of computerized ticketing and the large but simple theaters (painted purple I think). Interstate and Edgewater had slightly lower ticket prices than other Loews/Sony Theatres in Northern NJ (as they were older and didn’t offer the digital sound and extra padded seats that the younger Loews locations did).

KGordonMurray
KGordonMurray on April 13, 2009 at 9:38 pm

The Plaza Theatre was, best to my recollection, originally built as part of a small chain of theatres by a company called A.I.T. I can still “see” the logo on the marquee when I saw THUNDERBALL there in 1965. It changed hands until the Music Makers Theatre circuit bought it. Music Makers was founded by composer Mitch Leigh (Man of La Mancha, and the jingle “Nobody Doesn’t Like Sara Lee”) in 1957 as a music and radio commercial production house. The Music Makers chain was comprised of acquiring single theatres and small chains throughout NY, NJ and DE. It also built new houses, one of which is not listed in Cinema Treasures (I have to fix that). I worked for this chain (1974-75) and there’s simply not enough room here to go into grand details. An interesting aside is that MM shrewdly owned the wholesale company that supplied the candy, soda and popcorn for all their theatres. A brilliant move in maximizing the profit stream. It was called the Andy Candy Company and managed by a very nice guy named Dan Frank for many years. I was told that “Andy” was Leigh’s son. It was, though, during this period that the company expanded pretty quickly as we were adding new screens and twining large single houses … the first of which was the Brick Plaza Theatre, Bricktown (long gone). The Plaza in Hazlet had a “twin sister” 55 miles away, the Interstate Theatre in Ramsey, NJ (also gone). Lobbies were laid out differently, but the auditoriums were identical. I remember laying new linoleum tiles around the candy stand in 1975! Music Makers was also diversifying into new areas. If you’re from central NJ and remember the “Chicken Skillet” fast food restaurants, they were owned by Music Makers. I know of at least one structure that still exists in Eatontown on Route 35. Another was located in Neptune. “Chicken Skillet” never caught on, though. The company also owned Sunny Day coin-op laundry on Rte 9 in Howell. The MM folks were good people and if you showed an interest in their interests, it was recognized. The company’s booker was David Tuckerman, an incredibly smart man with a clever sense of humor, who later became head of theatrical distribution at New Line Cinema. Milton Herson, (such class, extremely smart) was the president. Locally, the Plaza was managed by Lillian Pyburn for many, many years. A genuinely wonderful woman.

KGordonMurray
KGordonMurray on April 25, 2009 at 12:10 am

Just realized I misspoke above when stating,“If you’re from central NJ and remember the “Chicken Skillet” fast food restaurants, they were owned by Music Makers. I know of at least one structure that still exists in Eatontown on Route 35.” This is incorrect, no structure survives.

alumfpc
alumfpc on February 10, 2010 at 7:56 am

Have been out of the area for quite some time and just found out the movie theatre in Interstate Shopping Center in Ramsey, NJ is no longer in existence. How sad. As a youth spent much time there with dear friends and saw many, many great movies. Just noticed the above post was written on April 25th. Date is significant to me because that is the date I got my first kiss and it was at the movies!! Memories…

Marcel
Marcel on August 27, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Added two photos I took in June 1991.

justint
justint on September 7, 2011 at 6:35 am

I worked at this theater as a high school kid in 1993. The manager’s name was Mike, who usually had a mustache and was a smart guy, getting his masters in accounting or finance at the time. Mike intentionally ran the theater clocks a few minutes fast in an effort to get people moving into and out of the theater faster. Once or twice someone would have an issue and demand a refund because they walked into the theater on-time but the film had already begun lol. I usually worked the candy counter, and we didn’t have a cash register; we had just a money box and a calculator, which seemed pretty olden in the 1990s. We would count popcorn bins and soda cups at night’s end and had to be within a couple dollars of what our take said we sold. We had a good group of people working there, and even though I only worked there for eight months, many memories have stayed with me. Great community movie theater.

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