Pennsbury Theatre

Route 13 and W. Trenton Avenue,
Morrisville, PA 19067

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Pennsbury Theatre

I know little about the early-to-middle history of this cinema. It was built as a single screen theatre by Jerry Lewis Cinemas and was located in the Pennsbury Plaza. By the time I first visited it in the late-1980’s, it was offering second-run films of varying quality: some prints would be great, while others would be scratched beyond belief. Admission was $2 for all.

It seemed, during the years I went, to be a family-run affair and was incredibly popular on weekends with families. There was a wall separating it into two screens ran cleanly through the seating area, which, by the early-1990’s, featured whole aisles of seating in various degrees of destruction and decay. This, and the sticky floors (and seating), gave one the undeniable feeling of being in a flophouse theatre.

Contributed by John Abramson

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

hondo59 on December 8, 2007 at 9:38 pm

The Pennsbury was a single screen theater. Later, John, as you indicated, it was twinned and basically given little to no maintenance. The theater’s mascot for many years was a beautiful golden retriever that would lounge in the lobby. The dog’s name was Gulliver. Later, after the dog passed on, there was a photo of him by the spot he would reside.

The operator of the theater closed it down a few years ago and went out to San Francisco to be closer to his son. Oddly enough, I miss the dump. It featured bargain admissions (1 or 2 bucks) and pretty good tasting popcorn and at a reasonable price. I don’t know how they made any money.

The twinning resulted in the right (southside) auditorium smaller than the left side. There were many broken seats and, as indicated above, very sticky floors.

It was here that I saw the original Freaky Friday, Death Wish II, The Fury, U 576, Captain Ron, Looney Toons, Mars Attacks, and about 50 other films.

The Pennsbury is located in a small shopping strip (Pennsbury Plaza) at Route 13 and W. Trenton Avenue. It was vacant as of June, 2007.

The long-forgotten Morrisville Drive-in was a little more than a stone’s throw away on W. Trenton Avenue. A Burger King and another shopping strip occupies that location.

raymondgordonsears on December 9, 2007 at 5:04 am

I beleive Pennsbury was orig. a Jerry Lewis theater. The Phila. area had several J. L. theaters. One in Lansdale, in the N.E. section of Phila. of Red Lion Rd. Oh yes the Morrisville D-I. I managed this D-I in the 60’s. It was managed by Budco Theaters from Doylestown, Pa. Budco operated most of the D-I’s in the Tri-state area.

hondo59 on December 9, 2007 at 8:32 pm

It might have been a Jerry Lewis Theater! There was one in Hamilton Township (NJ) on Route 33 just outside of Trenton (later called the Director’s Chair) and another in Hillsborough NJ on Route 206. Both buildings exist but are now retail.

I will have to check some of my old clippings.

Has39 on February 7, 2008 at 9:14 am

Yes, it was tucked away in the back of the strip mall, did'nt look like a theatre from the outside. I took my date their a few times as you could not beat the price of a buck. It was pretty run down. Saw “The eyes of Laura Mars” there, probably the only movie I ever wanted to walk out of, and for a buck I should have! Overall The Pennsbury was a good deal for a broke college student.

goodbliss on October 22, 2009 at 4:41 am

My friends Father last name Katz owned the place while we were in high school at Council Rock. At the time they were showing X- rated movies and of course the Rocky Horror Picture show. We would sit up in the projector booth and eat the candy and pop corn and smoke weed.

That was a long time ago I’m 47 now. Nice family, the Mom and dad were very cool. They lived just outside Washington Crossing. The father had a theater background it mentioned more about it in the Bucks County Currier Times when they closed the place down. My friend Charles [Chuck ] and I followed different paths, he was a good friend, I miss him. Alan Goodnoe

mmp1964 on April 27, 2010 at 9:21 am

My first job was cleaning the theater after it had been showing the Rocky Horror Picture Show for months and months. Had to use a paint scraper. At one time, most of my friends worked there and it was almost like our private club. At that time (say, 1980 – 1982) movies were maybe $2 – they were second run. On weekends at midnight, Bert would show things like “The Kids Are Alright” and “YesSongs” A different time.

Jef on October 11, 2013 at 1:46 pm

I used to go to the Pennsbury when I was attending Trenton State College across the river in Ewing Township. I remember driving over the Calhoun Street Bridge. Everyone said it was made of popsicle sticks. I can’t remember all the movies I saw there. One was “The Color Purple”. When I saw “Witchboard” half of downtown Trenton must have been there. The theater was next to a fish market so when you left you were assaulted with the smell of fish.

vonenck on November 10, 2015 at 3:45 pm

I had the pleasure of working for Bert Katz at the Pennsbury II in ‘84-'85. A fellow BCCC film student named Mark Brems worked at the theater, and he recommended me for the job. I immediately liked Bert. A true character. I believe he was the Director of the Bucks County Playhouse at that time. I believe he also had a play that he had written named “Jewish Kid” chosen for production by a local theater at that time. I remember how delighted he was by this. I believe I moved to Eugene, Oregon in the summer of 1985 before his play was produced.

Bert definitely said the Pennsbury II was a “Jerry Lewis” theater. As the link below describes, it was actually possible to run the theater with as few as two people. It was my understanding that the theater had been originally built as a twin-house.

I am so glad that people remember Gulliver—as I liked to joke “The Katz Dog.” He was a beautiful, sweet Golden Retriever. He stayed at the theater because the Katz’s son was allergic to him, and he shed too much at home to keep him there without the son constantly being miserable.

I once went to the theater to clean it, but forgot about Gulliver being inside. I unlocked the door, and boom! Gulliver burst out of the narrow door and bounded down the strip mall, scaring the living crap out of one old man in particular who was holding a paper sack of food from the little super market in the strip mall. I felt bad for this poor old man, but the Z-axis view I had of this man panicking as this big, fluffy gold dog ran at him— and then right by him— was a hilarious sight I’ll never forget. Karma was instant, because I think it took me about three hours of searching before I finally found Gulliver.

Two films that I particularly remember playing at the Pennsbury II during my time working there were the original “Terminator” and also “Purple Rain.” Both were greatly anticipated, widely enjoyed and very successful for Bert. Both films are linked in my mind with this movie house, probably especially because of running up to the projection booth to catch the switch-overs.

Many fond memories. Thank you, Bert!

hondo on July 6, 2017 at 5:18 am

The shopping center was upgraded and given a new facade recently; however, the theater, whose entrance is located off to the side between the two parts of the shopping plaza, is vacant. Its lobby appears to have been stripped somewhat and it is used for storage for some tenant. Sad to see the decay.

Interestingly, the old town’s movie house which was later used as a municipal building, is up for sale. It is located on the SE corner of Pennsylvania and Palmer Avenues.

Stopped for a snack last night at the Burger King which was the site of the Morrisville Drive-in.

brianj on February 19, 2021 at 11:34 am

anyone have any interior shots of this theater,either from when it was open or after it was closed?

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater