New World Theater

South 19th Street & Market Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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In the early 1970s a real estate developer planning a 37-story office building sought to assemble a site that included the ground under Philadelphia’s World Theater. As part of the deal for the real estate, it was agreed that space for a replacement theater would be provided in the new building. With its entrance on South 19th Street, just around the corner from the location of the original World, the New World opened on February 26, 1975.

The operator, Cinema 5, at first attempted to reinstate the World’s old policy—art films booked day and date with the suburban Bryn Mawr Theater. However, the new theater failed to draw crowds and by October it had become a revival house, with daily program changes and $1 admission. This policy didn’t catch on either, and it closed in 1978. The New World Theater’s space was taken over by a health club.

Contributed by RickB

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on June 17, 2008 at 10:08 am

A gentlemen wrote me the following:
The World Theatre closed but was then reopened in the basement of the 40 story building that was built on that block. It opened as the New World Theatre and I managed it for about 3 years. If I remember correctly the first movie was Monty Python and The Holy Grail.
For the opening weekend we gave out coconuts to all that attended. It was great to see the reaction of people receiving a coconut since they had no idea how it related to the movie but it quickly become apparent in the first 5 minutes of the movie. It was also a challenge for me as the manager when I got the order from Don Rugoff to find a supplier for 2000 coconuts in Philadelphia in the winter time. We also had a giant wooden copy of the rabbit used in the movie in our lobby. The rabbit had to be shipped to the next theatre after our run was over. I got many interesting questions when I called shipping company’s telling them I needed to ship a giant wooden rabbit overnight.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on June 17, 2008 at 10:08 am

The same fellow followed up today with this story:
When we opened the New World Theatre we equipped it with at the time was state of the art projection equipment, it may have been a first in center city. As you know all of the theatres were equipped with the old 15-20 minute reel arc lamp projectors. We had if I remember correctly installed Simplex xenon bulb projectors capable of handling 30 minute reels. They were automated systems that did automatic crossovers, opened and closed the stage curtains, turned up the house lights and intermission music. Needless to say opening night was interesting when the system encountered a few bugs and began to close the curtains and raise the lights and music randomly during the show. Our old time projectionist just shook their heads at the new technology and said it would never work. It took awhile to get the kinks worked out. Today the projection booth has sure changed from what it was.

lonixcap
lonixcap on September 3, 2011 at 3:11 am

I remember some the dollar movies i saw there: Papillon, Patton, The Passenger, Five Easy Pieces are only a few that come to mind; it was right down the street from Cinema 19, which also had dollar movies too. Back in the mid to late 1970’s it was a great time to go to the movies.

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