Maplewood Theatre

155 Maplewood Avenue,
Maplewood, NJ 07040

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Opened on March 15, 1927 with Rudolph Valentino on “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, the Maplewood Theatre began showing movies in addition to live performances in the 1940s.

The theatre was enormous and was one of the largest in New Jersey. It was cut into three and later four screens in the late-1980’s and early-1990’s.

“It is my general recollection however that the extravagent interior is still under modern covering… and a small part of the ceiling (with egg and dart moulding) can be seen peeking out of the dropped ceiling in one of the rooms. It is a candidate for restoration for sure, and it is in a very progressive town that gets behind these sort of things. The theater is still a huge success as a 4-plex and there is little chance of it going out of business.”

Contributed by John

Recent comments (view all 37 comments)

kencmcintyre on April 11, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Here is another life photo, circa 1953:

poland626 on January 11, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I think I overheard the manager talking about having Clearview start to buy this theater but I’m not sure. This was a few months ago, like October

The only good theater, IMO, is the one that has the 3D projection. The screen isn’t the biggest but it has the best sound in the whole theater and every other screen has crappy sound quality but I still go here because it’s the closest place with big screens.

John on November 26, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I posted some pictures including a handbill from 1936, some exterior shots from 60’s/70’s, an interior shot from about 5 years ago (Manager let me pop a ceiling tile and shoot the original ceiling)… and best of all, Bill Bojangles Robinson on stage in the 1940’s. Yes, that is Mr. Bojangles, and the show is “The Hot Mikado”. Glory days of the Maplewood Theater were the early 40’s that’s for sure.

John Fink
John Fink on November 26, 2011 at 11:03 pm

@Poland – – this is one of the rare downtown ones Clearview didn’t buy. Clearivew as an operation has gotten better, and spends resources upgrading the concession areas, bathrooms, and seats – – but never on correcting major mistakes made in the projection room when subdividing theaters. So many of the theaters they buy were poorly built/subdivided that you’d have a better experience in a discount house.

John on January 8, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Remember or hear family tales about the Maplewood Theater’s glory days? The Durand Hedden House and Garden Association wants to hear from you! In preparation for a forthcoming exhibit, Durand Hedden is collecting pictures, ephemera, and anecdotes about the Maplewood Theater’s 86 year run. Did you happen snap a Polaroid when Ghostbusters was playing? Found something on eBay you want to share with the world? Even as much as an old ticket stub, we want it! Stories and memories are also welcome. Contact or 973-763-7712 to help make this exhibit a success.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on November 26, 2015 at 6:47 pm

How did the exhibit go?

John on May 14, 2016 at 8:51 pm

The exhibit was… astounding. The original blueprints were found and used to build a three dimensional model of the auditorium. A Wurlitzer Style E Console (same as it originally had) was on display, with actual recordings of the organ from 1927 made by Edison Records and never released! The National Park Service had found them. The exhibit covered every decade, even the dark and dank 70’s and 80’s era… with a few highlights like when they managed to get Jaws and sell the place out every night. The theater manager in the 80’s saved the posters, including the Ghostbusters poster that hung out front for months. (Not a poster, THE poster from THIS theater). The best had to be the 1940’s when the theater brought back the lives shows and ran through a different show every week with A-names in the cast like Helen Hayes, Ethel Barrymore, Tallulah Bankhead, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Robeson, Teresa Wright (who lived in Maplewood!) among endless more. The climax was the first revival of the thus-far-failed Porgy and Bess where Cheryl Crawford cut down the opera into a musical which was moved to Broadway after leaving Maplewood. Amazingly, there were photographs of these productions from the Billy Rose Library… as well as huge clippings binders reviewing every show. The exhibit was simply everything this theater deserved and more.

reluctantpopstar on August 30, 2016 at 11:58 am

I believe I saw “Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother” here when my aunt took me. I would have been about eleven years old. RIP Gene Wilder. This was when the place still had only one screen. It really was enormous.

crazyformovies on January 12, 2017 at 4:25 pm

remember seeing a few movies there it was a good movie theater

poland626 on January 14, 2017 at 5:33 am

This theater was one of the few to get Dolby 3D instead of Real 3D at the time. I know because I remember seeing a film here and it having completely different glasses along with having to return them at the end to staff instead of just throwing them in a bin.

Is the Dolby 3D really different than Real 3D? I think the quality is a lot better imo

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