UA Riverview Plaza Stadium 17

1400 S. Columbus Boulevard,
Philadelphia, PA 19147

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auditorium #13, masking open for scope

Though advertised in major newspapers movie clocks as “Center City” (downtown Philadelphia) the Riverview is in South Philadelphia in a shopping center near the Delaware River at Exit 20 off I-95. Advertisements state “Free Lighted Parking”.

The exterior is largely glass. The huge lobby lacks pretty decoration.

The Riverview opened on November 1, 1991 with 11 auditoriums on one floor, and a total of 3,600 seats. On August 28, 1998, a second floor was added with six more auditoriums, and all of the auditoriums in the theatre were stadium seated. The stadium seating of the main floor auditoriums made some of them appear awkward in scale. Upstairs, there are some huge screens including auditorium # 2 which has 380 seats and a screen that I estimated at 50 feet wide for a ‘scope film. Upstairs auditorium # 4 has about 175 seats and a not very large screen that I estimated at 25 feet wide. All auditoriums have excellent digital surround sound. JKRoller Architects of Philadelphia, PA designed the Riverview, and the increase from 11 to 17 screens.

From its opening, the Riverview has been very popular. Its popularity contributed to the demise of downtown (Center City) Philadelphia’s mainstream moviehouses, none of which had more than four screens. The Riverview’s crowds are often noisy in the auditoriums during the movies. Many Philadelphians attend movies earlier in the day to avoid the noisy crowds, or avoid the Riverview altogether.

It was closed on March 16, 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was announced in November 2020 that the closure would be permanent.

Contributed by Howard B Haas

Recent comments (view all 29 comments)

Cinedelphia on January 1, 2016 at 10:26 pm

It was the 70mm version and was shown in the correct 2.76 to 1 aspect ratio that I saw. The auditorium had a 1.85 to 1 screen which uses top masking to achieve the more typical 2.39 to 1 ‘scope ratio. For the “Hateful 8” in 70mm they opted to not use the top masking and projected the film across the top of the unmasked screen, leaving a large amount of screen below exposed as opposed to a relatively small amount if the top masking had been used. Just for the sake of clarification, 70mm “Ultra Panavision” is basically the 70mm version of Cinemascope in that the 2.2 to 1 70mm frame has a slight anamorphic squeeze that yields the extra wide 2.76 to 1 aspect ratio. “Ultra Panavision” was actually developed as a simpler, less expensive alternative to the three camera/ three projector “Cinerama” which was also projected at 2.76 to 1 ratio on a deeply curved screen. Just a shame that AMC did not opt to do the Roadshow in Aud 24 which has a 2.39 to 1 61 foot wide screen…would have been a real event in that theater.

rivest266 on October 8, 2016 at 3:45 pm

November 1st, 1991 and August 28th, 1998 grand opening ads in the photo section for this cinema.

Coate on May 22, 2017 at 10:09 am

New Showcase Presentations in Philadelphia article includes mention of the 70mm engagements here at the Riverview Plaza (along with other Philadelphia area cinemas).

Mikeoaklandpark on August 9, 2017 at 5:57 pm

Do all 17 screens have and use masking or matting?

HowardBHaas on August 26, 2018 at 5:51 am

I’m reposting a yelp comment (5-27-18 by A and JS of San Francisco)– This review is mainly a post about the size of the various theaters. While Fandango does list auditorium numbers with showtimes, the size of the screens is rather mysterious until you are there. Auditoriums 1 – 6 are upstairs, and 1 and 2 are biggest, huge even. Downstairs are auditoriums 7 – 15. Avoid the tiny, nearly worthless 14 & 15, which are almost like big screen televisions. I thought, just by sight comparison, that 8 and 13 were maybe a little larger than the others downstairs, but this may be my imagination. Would love to see more posts/more information about this. I love a big screen, but don’t want to see, or pay for, IMAX. Anyone else have an opinion to contribute?

veyoung52 on August 26, 2018 at 6:34 am

Howard, the only real measurement would be size of screen against size/dimensions of auditorium. The Roxy’s initial CinemaScope screen surpassed in square footage that of thw Broadway’s Cinerama in 1953.

ridethectrain on September 28, 2019 at 10:13 pm

Please update, the additional 6 screens opened on August 28, 1998

ridethectrain on September 28, 2019 at 10:40 pm

QUESTION, I was on yelp and it look like a auditorium is not stadium seating. Is is possible that 1 or 2 screens are not stadium seating. I almost went their a few years ago on vacation, but went to the Ritz 5 which I wasn’t impressed, it was like a 1980 retro movie place, not modern.

In Brooklyn, NY United Artists converted Sheepshead Bay to Stadium seating with the exception of 2 screens. Did that happen at Riverview also.

ridethectrain on September 5, 2020 at 4:59 pm

Please update 3928 seats

ridethectrain on November 11, 2020 at 9:47 am

Please update, theatre closed permanently

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