Branmar Cinema

1812 Marsh Road,
Wilmington, DE 19810

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Class of 1984

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The Branmar Cinema, tucked away in a corner of the Branmar Shopping Center (#11), Wilmington, DE was typical of the kind of humble, no-frills suburban strip mall movie theaters built around the country in late-1960’s to early-1970’s.

From the entrance, it had a modest-sized lobby with concession stand attached to the main auditorium, resulting in an L-shaped layout. During its life it was operated by Budco and AMC Theatres.

Twinned in the 1980’s, closed some time in the early to mid-1990’s, the building still stands, its interior reconfigured to accommodate successive tenants, lately a karate studio. The poster window on the exterior facde of the theater still exists.

Contributed by Jordan Lage

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

WilliamSpainhour on January 21, 2010 at 2:56 pm

I managed this house in the late-Seventies, when it was owned by George M. Schwartz Theaters out of Dover, DE, but was booked from Philadelphia. They had an odd mix of first-run with the occasional porn flick. We’d drape the windows in the auditorium doors so the teenage concession workers couldn’t see the hard core sex. The Cinemart also started as a legit house, but was running porn about the same period. Don’t know when it closed.

ediemer on August 2, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Opened in 1969, with 950 seating capacity. (Boxoffice, 1/20/69, p.12) This was quite a classy house before George M. Schwartz sold out to Budco. If you called for showtimes, the message was recorded by Bill Harliman, a well-known local announcer on WDEL. (‘And coming next week-the ride of your life! “Rollercoaster” in Sensurround!’) Schartz also operated Cinema Center in Newark, Delaware, and the pair could just as well been nicknamed “The House of Universal” since for years they played every Universal release first-run. If “Airport ‘77” opened at Branmar, “Slap Shot” would be the attraction at Cinema Center. This was neat when “Sensurround” came along, and Branmar was the only theater in the state to play “Earthquake” first-run. “Rollercoaster” also played there, and “Midway” was actually booked for two weeks prior to the “Rollercoaster” opening-a “Sensurround” double-feature! For some reason, “Midway” was not booked first-run at Branmar; it played at CineMart instead on the other side of town.

ronnie21 on February 27, 2011 at 8:20 pm

the movie Zapped played here in summer of 1982…

offhollywood on April 17, 2011 at 1:30 am

I saw a version of The Nutcracker there in the 90s. They were having some issues and it wouldn’t play so we got a refund on our snacks and tickets and got to come back to see it another time.

I don’t recall what, if anything, was there between the movie theater and the karate studio. I know there had been a nice independent record store on that strip that finally closed down in the late 90s/early 200s. Nearby now is a movie rental place.

jordanlage on June 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Okay. Warning: personal indulgent comment about to begin. Blame the Branmar Cinema’s months-long booking of The Poseidon Adventure in 1973 for my wanting to become an actor. My brothers took me to see it early on in its run. I was so viscerally traumatized by it but excited by the film’s thrills & suspense (I was 10) I went back to see it on 9 successive Saturday matinees. Admission fee each Saturday matinee: $1. About the 8th time, the manager/usher did not tear my ticket and cautioned me not to lose my ticket. If no more than half a dozen people showed up, they wouldn’t be unspooling the film and I’d get my money back. Enough patrons attended and I got my weekly fix of the S.S. Poseidon capsizing and following once again “the combined talents of 15 Academy Award winners” in “Who will survive…?” I remember standing on line to get in to the Branmar in those years and enjoying the sweet odors emanating from a neighboring bakery. Paul McCartney’s “My Love” often played from another business' outdoor speaker that spring/summer of 1973. No atmosphere at this suburban strip mall theater; just memories of fun moviegoing. Believe I saw Blazing Saddles here and the immensely disappointing Jaws 2 on opening night with a huge crowd in attendance. Felt so awful that Roy Scheider had gotten himself caught up in that one. But when I was 10 I wanted to be Gene Hackman in The Poseidon Adventure! Inspiring everyone and leading them all to safety! I did become an actor. Still making a living at it, knock wood.

ronnie21 on August 13, 2011 at 7:49 pm

I think summer lover’s played here also in the summer of 1982.

cinebob on August 30, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Saw many movies her but I remember mostly “Earthquake” and “Rollercoaster” in Sensurround. Also waiting in a very long line for the opening weekend of “Jaws2” in 1978 – great fun for a 12 year old.

ronnie21 on February 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Other movies that played here.. JoySticks 1983.. i believe april of 83. Tron , summer of 82. also E.T. played here.. CreepShow in fall of 82.. and the original Halloween played here in spring of 1979.

chinatownkid on June 13, 2013 at 2:07 am

The Branmar, Concord Mall, and the Tri-State Mall were probably the three cinemas where I saw the most movies as a kid. I distinctly remember seeing Tron and ET here, plus tons of other films. My parents basically used movie theaters for babysitters.

TheALAN on January 3, 2014 at 10:07 pm

rave323: The Cine Mart has a page on Cinema Treasures. Look under Cinemart, 4302 Governor Printz Boulevard, Wilmington, DE 19810. The Cine Mart opened in 1968, seated 1,000 and closed in September, 1980. Because this page is for the Branmar Cinema, please see the Cinemart page.

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