Paramount Theatre

1300 Ocean Avenue,
Asbury Park, NJ 07712

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Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on January 28, 2012 at 10:55 pm

I saw a comedy show here a few years ago — majestic space, with the salty sea air a nice touch.

avguy
avguy on January 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm

I was a member of Cinema Tresures a few years ago when I was working in another Vaudeville house in Upstate NY.

Thanks for the posters.

avguy
avguy on January 28, 2012 at 1:13 am

The organ is in Convention Hall, not the Theater.

The Paramount will be featured in an episode of Fact Or Faked on SyFy sometime in the next two months.

I still have to stop for a moment sometimes first thing in the morning to just sit alone in the middle of the auditorium and appreciate just how lucky I am to play a small part in the history of this grand theater.

-Philip LaDue

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on June 22, 2011 at 9:40 am

Friends: a bit of clarification please – I just found this link to a theatre organ, currently located in the Asbury Park Convention Center. The photo certainly does not seem to be the Paramount auditorium. Is the organ over in the other part of the building? Out over the water? http://www.gstos.org/asbury.htm

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on July 4, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Nice photo Lifes too short.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on October 17, 2007 at 2:25 pm

HVAC buffs? Is there an “HVAC Treasures” website? That would be interesting reading.

GaryCrawford
GaryCrawford on October 17, 2007 at 2:10 pm

Other sources have the Paramount seating 1600 (the loge-level love seats took up a lot of room, could seat more with convention seating) and opening in 1929, the same year Convention Hall opened next door. This was opened WITH sound, the Western Electric standard bases are still in the booth. The entire complex was built of fireproof terra cotta brick and tile from the Raritan Valley clay companies, for those into such trivia (same material Empire State Building was built from).

The scope screen, with masking in place, was 20h x 40w. The fire curtain still hangs over the stage. 60 rails, was the best stage in Asbury.

For HVAC buffs (is there such a thing?) the entire orchestra has a “cellar”, where ice was poured in from an outside door and air circulated over it for cooling. Very efficient for its day.

I worked there as projectionist part time from 72-74, then full time from 74-78. Love that place!!!

spectrum
spectrum on September 29, 2007 at 3:05 pm

According to the American Film Review of 1936 the Paramount seated 1,995. It opened in 1930.

LuisV
LuisV on August 31, 2007 at 6:38 pm

Hi Howard, thanks for the article above. It just so happens that I was in Asbury Park this past weekend and took a walk “downtown”. I too saw several large, new restaurants and some fancy new stores, but I saw little patronage and a great many empty storefronts. I don’t know how they will make it through the winter. While there is lots of construction (and hope) there is also alot of DEstruction as well. Asbury seems intent on destroying most of what little remains of its glorius architectural past. There are several new condominium projects underway which will bring some very badly needed higher income people into the area, but there is still a very depressing feeling about this town. I was actually visiting friends in Ocean Grove (next door to Asbury and much, much nicer). I walked around Asbury in the middle of the afternoon and did not feel safe at all. I found myself looking over my shoulders the whole time and I’m not easily frightened.

Nonetheless, I did make my way over to The Paramount and it was actually open! There was a performance scheduled that evening of Kathy Najimy and Mo something or other. I wasn’t able to attend but the ticket agent did allow me to take a quick peek inside and it was in much better shape than I expected it to be in. It’s pretty big. I hope to attend a performance or movie here in the near future and will report back.

The Baronet appears to be open but there was little info.

p.s. Regarding the comment in the article above that the reporter found Asbury’s Starbucks “the lonliest in the world”! I’ve walked around Asbury several times and have never seen a Starbucks. No wonder it’s lonely. Where is it? :–)
If anyone else can shed any light it would be appreciated.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on August 31, 2007 at 4:32 pm

Philadelphia Inquirer 8-30-07
photo 19 at slide show has photo of the theater:
View link

Greetings from Asbury Park
In his 1973 calliope rock song “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy),” Bruce Springsteen was already looking to put his adopted hometown in the rearview mirror.

“This boardwalk life for me’s through,” sang Springsteen, a native of nearby Freehold. “You know, you ought to quit this scene, too.”

That’s the thing about Asbury Park: The songs that romanticize the Jersey resort town’s honky-tonk charm are about getting out of town, as quickly as possible.

There’s a Promised Land out there, somewhere. But it’s located far “beyond the Palace,” as Springsteen put it in “Born to Run,” in a reference to the boardwalk amusement park that was demolished in 2004, but whose iconic clown face, Tillie, now looks out from a wall of the Wonder Bar, a few blocks north on Ocean Avenue.

But the faded beach town – whose onetime residents include Jack Nicholson, Stephen Crane, Danny DeVito, and wrestler Bam Bam Bigelow, who named his trademark over-the-shoulder reverse pile-driver move “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.” after Springsteen’s debut album – has retained a ghostly allure as it has struggled fitfully to renew itself.

For me, growing up an hour down the Garden State Parkway in Ventnor, Asbury was a place to escape to, a destination where there was a music scene, unlike the rest of the culturally barren Jersey Shore. We made pilgrimages to the still-active Stone Pony – the gypsy-punk band Gogol Bordello plays there Oct. 15 – in hopes of catching a Springsteen pop-in. Sometimes, we hit the jackpot. Others, all we got was Gary U.S. Bonds.

In director John Sayles' Baby, It’s You, Asbury Park – always regarded with suspicion by the Methodist community of Ocean Grove, just to the south – is where Vincent Spano and Rosanna Arquette play hooky from a Trenton high school in search of teenage kicks.

And in the new memoir Greetings From Bury Park, Pakistani-born British author Sarfraz Manzoor gets Springsteen fever and finds himself on a strangely abandoned beach, delighted to see that Madam Marie’s fortune-telling booth still stands. (Bury Park is the name of the neighborhood where he grew up in Luton, England.)

This decade, a revival is under way in Asbury, whose heyday as a vacation getaway for New Yorkers came in the years before World War II, though it has hardly transformed the place overnight. There’s a thriving gay community, and downtown, posh Portuguese and sushi restaurants.

A row of condos stands where Tillie used to entice couples to risk a ride on the Tunnel of Love. There’s a $200 million development plan to preserve the town’s cultural heritage in the form of a rehabbed Convention Hall, as well as the art deco Paramount Theatre and the (non-gambling) Casino, along with a couple of thousand condo units.

But when I drove there on a hot Sunday afternoon in July – stopping on the way into town at what seemed like the loneliest Starbucks in the world – I saw the same Asbury that Eric Mencher captures in these photos, the same one Springsteen wrote about in “My City of Ruins,” with a handful of people on the beach, a spooky stillness in the air.

All shore towns have a touch of sadness about them, because summer is forever ending, and good times disappear along with it. So looking out at forlorn empty lots and an all-but-abandoned boardwalk in Asbury in high season can be doubly heartbreaking.

You get a sense of being lost in time in a place trying valiantly to hang onto what’s best about its past, while telling itself that there really is a brighter future ahead.


deleted user
[Deleted] on May 16, 2007 at 6:26 pm

16 May 2007:
Ziegfeld Theatre enthustiasts,
You have the opportunity to capture theatre and film history at the Walter Reade Theatre [Lincoln Center] at the end of this month. Being presented is the Stanley Kubrick’s BARRY LYNDON which showcased at the Ziegfeld in December 1975. In note, I recollect Rex Reed, lighted pen to page and noting the showing with Intermission my questioning of his annoyance of the film which he gave an excellent review thereafter, in publication. Leon Vitali (Lord Bullington of the film) will be present at the theatre for the 35mm positive struck from the internegative. In addition, John Schselinger’s DAY OF THE LOCUST, which premiered at the Cinema I, will be presented at two performances with William Atherton (Todd Hackett of the film) in a question and answer session. Both films are American/UK cinema masterpieces. I advise your particaption at these events as a mark of excellence to yourselves and the brilliant recollections that serve as the base of all that you aspire toward. Your performance checks are:
View link
for DAY OF THE LOCUST (the Day Hollywood collapsed and fell into an $88,000 hole – Esquire, September 1974)
and the cinematic masterwork filmed without artificial lighting – BARRY LYNDON
View link
1975 was a critical year in American film.
When you screen the films at Walter Reade, obtain the DVDs of both films for better analysis.
If you don’t have access;
DAY OF THE LOCUST is Fri May 25: 3:30
Sat May 26: 6
Q&A with William Atherton
and BARRY LYNDON
May 27: 3 & 7
May 28: 3 & 7
May 29: 3 & 7

Respectfully,

Don Griffiths
Cinema Centre CEO

Troy Martin
Troy Martin on April 18, 2007 at 4:31 pm

I saw “Tommy” here in 1975.

deleted user
[Deleted] on January 6, 2007 at 12:26 pm

Having attended a previous screening GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES [1953] on December 3, the presentation system is an EIKI video projector, probably DLP, using DVD and positioned in the front row of the mezzanine/balcony and giving a very good image and sound. Considering the DVD aspect, I would wonder if this is a legal licecensing through the distributor or a general exhibition contract through MPLC (Motion Picture Licensing Corporation). Otherwise, public exhibition of copyrighted motion pictures without these legal articles is a severe problem. Why I say this comes from the GENTLEMEN exhibition that began directly with the Main Titles and not with the 20th Century-Fox logo.

teecee
teecee on January 4, 2007 at 6:32 pm

I hope that you didn’t travel too far. This almost happened to me at another old theater but I called to confirm before leaving my house. Saved me 2 hrs roundtrip and frustration. Unfortunately a lot of these theaters that don’t have regular films advertise only by word of mouth for these rare showings, don’t keep their websites or answering machines up to date and often have staff who are oblivious to the showings. Very frustrating when you want to support them. In their defense, I imagine that they have difficulty obtaining these films.

deleted user
[Deleted] on January 4, 2007 at 4:50 am

Reference: LAWRENCE OF ARABIA screenings at this theatre. I had a large group of individuals to attend the 7:30 p.m. screening with myself giving the group a tour of the theatre and historical background. When we arrive, one half hour before showtime, we noticed the schedule had been changed and there was only a matinee showing. What does this say about a professional operation? Very poor indeed.

deleted user
[Deleted] on December 26, 2006 at 4:59 am

Thursday, December 28, 2006
Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park will present David Lean’s LAWRENCE OF ARABIA at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Cinema Centre Motion Picture Research Library will begin reorganization for a fifth decade of operations. Contact:

deleted user
[Deleted] on December 7, 2006 at 5:25 am

Vincent,
The screen is close to the original. It is hard to judge as I figure the masking is not in place, nor the curtains, but if they were, the screen is close to the orginal. The original screen was flat for the exhibition of THE SOUND OF MUSIC which played in 35mm 4-track magnetic from June 1965 to October 1966. I did an “in the projection booth” test reel to reel stereo recording of the entire film which still exists, along with the first reel of the film, at Cinema Centre. I also attended the St. James exhibition of MY FAIR LADY in 70mm 6-track magnetic. The screen was also flat. The projectionist, a
presentation perfectionist, was George Clark who resided at Ocean Grove. George died in the early 90s and I had many conversations about George and his career with his daughter before she settled his estate and moved South.
Concerning THE SOUND OF MUSIC, the presentation had a slight difference than the Rivoli, NYC presentation. First 35 scope compared to 70mm Todd-AO and Walter Reade Jr insisting the entr'acte music be used for an overture to the film.
MY FAIR LADY at the St. James as straight 70mm like the Criterion, NYC presentation.
For the interested: Around the World in 80 Days was given a CineStage exhibition at the Paramount, Long Branch also reserved seats starting Wednesday, July 2, 1958. The Paramount Long Branch was
also used for test exhibition of Cinemiracle and WINDJAMMER. The film was eventually exhibited at the St. James in July 1959.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on December 6, 2006 at 3:11 pm

To Archives,
Do you know the size of the screen and if it was curved when the Sound of Music played there in 70mm in the mid 60’s?
Did you see it there along with My Fair Lady at the St James?
What were the experiences like?
Is the current screen comparable in size to the original?

deleted user
[Deleted] on December 6, 2006 at 2:52 pm

Image is no attached to Cinema Treasures. If the digital cinema operator wants to contact me to fine tune his excellent presentations – email is:

deleted user
[Deleted] on December 6, 2006 at 2:47 pm

Image is not available on Cinema Treasures and perhaps the digital projectionist would like to contact me to fine tune his very well done work.
very close to an original 35mm projected film. Most people would not be able to tell
the difference.

The screen was normal theatre size, evidently a replacement screen that had been
removed from the theatre in the mid to late 1970s. It was free suspended and not braced
to a frame nor black matted to the pictures projected aspect ratio of 1:1.33 which is
height equals 1 and width equals 1.33.

No curtains where used for the opening or closing, as I was told they no longer exist.
I hope these will be replaced if the theatre is going to do professional film presentations.

The sound system was not the Altec-Lansing “Voice of the Theatre” speakers that once existed
behind the screen, but two large speakers placed at either end and behind the screen.
The sound delivered was close to equalling full theatre sound.

The digital projector operator had some difficulty in presenting a blanks screen and
the sponsored ad for the Paramount by PNC Bank. He was unaware or cautious of the opening of
the film and so missed the 20th Century-Fox opening logo and a several dozen frames from the
opening of the film proper.

Overall presentation was an 8.5 and not a 10.

Prior to the film presentation, I gave a friend of mine a complete tour of the theatre
and told him of the theatre’s history, films I saw at the venue, and a retrospect of
Walter Reade theatres in the area.

Attached is an image of the event.

Don

JKane
JKane on October 15, 2006 at 8:58 pm

Stopped by the Paramount Theater today, where “Bullit” was being screened. The theater has some very cool films lined up through the rest of the year, including a Halloween double bill of Return of Dracula and I Was a Teenage Werewolf, a John Waters weekend (including a live show with John) and more. While part of the orchestra was temporarily curtained off to accommodate the modest (for a theater that vast) but not sparse crowd, the huge balcony was open. Admission for Bullit was $5. Movie (and theater) lovers in the area should support and enjoy this excellent experience. For the upcoming schedule, go to:
www.asburyparkconventionhall.com
or google: paramount theatre asbury park

LuisV
LuisV on July 5, 2006 at 9:26 am

Hey Will, thanks for your comment. Since I came back I’ve done a little research on the history of Asbury Park and I am amazed at how many buildings of historic importance have been lost. They don’t seem to really have the will in Asbury Park. If they did, things would be different. If they can’t do things as simple as a plaque I don’t have much faith they can handle anything more taxing. What a shame.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on July 5, 2006 at 8:15 am

LuisV, You’re spot on with your comments. When I saw the hall several years ago the exterior was definately looking shabby and the exhibition hall interior looked like it hadn’t had much attention for decades.

The inside of the Paramount had been renovated – I actually got to meet the renovation architect at Aida, see my note above – but it was not a full blown multi-million dollar rehab that the building deserves. It was more of a well done, heavy maintenance project.

On my trip through New Jersey that year I also visited the celebrated Ocean Grove community – block after block of high victorian jewels and the AMAZING Methodist summer-meeting auditorium there. I didn’t see a single commemorative plaque or sign. So I don’t know that sad, seedy Asbury Park would be able to do any better.

The park/plaza which fronts the Asbury Park Paramount is (uh – well, could be) among the nicest public spaces I’ve run across anywhere in the eastern US. The potential there is as vast as the park itself. The money to achieve the potential seems not to have materialized yet. Very sad.

LuisV
LuisV on July 3, 2006 at 9:43 am

I just came back from my first visit to Asbury Park and came across this theater. Why doesn’t any structure in this town have any plaques or info on the histories of these buildings. There appears to be a lot of lost history in Asbury Park and not a lot of action to share it with visitors. If this theater has been renovated or it is in progress, at a minimum, there should be a notice on the box office saying what’s going on and what they expect to play there in the future. According to the posts above it appears to have been renovated, but to me it looks abandoned and it angers me. The outside is a beautiful seaside fantasy and I would love to see the inside. There is nothing on the outside to tell us what the story is. We’ve been hearing for 10 years about the rebirth of Asbury Park, but I think it will be many many more years before we see any real progress. The new condos are souless and dull and it seems virtually all of the historic buildings are just rotting away! The condition of The Casino (a beautiful structure anchoring the southern end of the boardwalk) is truly appalling. It is those historic buildings that would make Asbury worth visiting. Once they are gone, there will be no reason to go there!