Willowbrook Cinema

1400 Willowbrook Mall,
Wayne, NJ 07470

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moviebuff82 on March 17, 2018 at 5:35 pm

Come next year, the movies will return to willowbrook with cinemark opening up a 12 plex where the Sears auto shop used to be.

MovieMan____1952 on June 21, 2014 at 3:28 pm

As manager I opened the Willowbrook Cinema in 1969 with 1000 seats. We (Spyro Lenas)later added the “Little Cinema” in a different location. We did show “I AM Curious Yellow” to a large turnout and some complaints. A better program was the reserved seating showing of “Hello Dolly” which was presented in 70mm. “Patton” was also presented in 70mm and stereo sound.

I left this theatre in 1971 and don’t believe it was ever operated by Loews Theatres. Lenas did sell the Anthony Wayne Drive-In Theatre(next door)to Loews which put a 6 plex on that site.

Ken Lehman, First Manager

95Crash on January 16, 2013 at 9:52 pm

I remember seeing “The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh” here in April 1979. I was 10 years old.

Oleksij on May 12, 2011 at 11:52 am

I first went to the Willbrook Mall in the summer of 1972. It was the first mall I had ever been to and I thought it a wonderful, magical place. Not long thereafter I went to see “The Posiedon Adventure” at the Willowbrook Cinema. It was a huge, beautiful theatre with a giant screen. I remember shrinking into my seat in awe as the tidal wave swept across the screen towards the ship. Incidentally, this was the first cinema I remmember being in where the seats rocked.

For some reason, although I went to Willowbrook Mall frequently, I think this was the only film I saw at the Willowbrook Cinema. I guess they rarely showed anything I wanted to see. I often went to the neighboring Little Cinema, however. Nevertheless, I was sad when it closed. I’d never get to sit in those rocking seats again!

tblink on August 3, 2010 at 1:51 pm

I grew up in neighboring Verona, and I loved this cinema. It was mod-60s comfort and style with nice size. The area-exclusive run of HELLO DOLLY, mentioned in an above posting, was accompanied by a lavish display of costumes from the film all around the mall. The promotional posters and displays were everywhere in the then almost brand-new mall. It was thrilling for a kid with a growing interest in movies. The Willowbrook was different from the other cinema inside the mall, the Little, which was indeed showing porn films by the late 70s on at least one of their screens. It was also different than the better known RKO Theatre outside the mall which lasted longer. The Loewes multiuplex on the other side of the parking lot came much later (maybe the 80s) and has nothing to do with the three theatres (image that, three for 1 mall) in and around the mall dating from the mall’s construction in the 60s and expansion in the early 70s. The Willowbrook was packed for the Bond film “Diamonds are Forever” and later (in the twin phase) I remember lines deep into the mall for “Saturday Night Fever” in Dec. 1977. I’m sorry it was demolished, but I’m glad that it was spared becoming one of those theatres of ugly cut up boxes. It was wonderful as a single-screen, and at least acceptable as a twin. Does anyone remember any more? When did it close?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 19, 2010 at 3:09 am

The Little Cinema page should also be listed in Wayne. Its map link doesn’t work either.

CSWalczak on May 19, 2010 at 12:36 am

It is in Wayne; Willowbrook is just the name of the mall the theater was in, and of a nearby road, on which is located the AMC Loew’s Wayne 14. The heading should be corrected.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on May 19, 2010 at 12:26 am

When you go to the map, it shows the United States. My guess is because my Rand McNally lists no Willowbrook in New Jersey. I think Willowbrook Shopping Center is in Wayne, but I don’t know for sure, I’m 40 miles south of Chicago, what do you think?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 18, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Before Hollywood revamped its rating system to eliminate the X rating, which had been co-opted by the porn industry, a number of mainstream movies (“Midnight Cowboy” for example) did get an X rating, and the Willowbrook did run some of those films. One Boxoffice item from 1970 reported on the local controversy that erupted in Wayne when the Willowbrook Cinema ran the X-rated Swedish film “I Am Curious (Yellow)” It’s likely that the Little Cinema also ran early X-rated films too, though I don’t know if they ever ran out-and-out porn.

markp on May 18, 2010 at 8:32 am

This was NEVER under the Loews banner. Also as I recall, the above mentioned Little Cinema ran adult movies, while the Willowbrook ran mainstream. After the renaming as a quad, all 4 cinemas ran mainstream.

John Fink
John Fink on May 18, 2010 at 7:39 am

I vaguely remember two twin theaters, one where the current food court is and one where Macy’s Furniture is at the edge of the mall. I have no additional info to offer up, sorry.

CSWalczak on May 18, 2010 at 2:31 am

It would seem to me then that this inside-the-mall theater was most likely never under Loew’s management. What is now the AMC Loew’s Wayne 14, at 67 Willowbrook Drive, was born as the Loew’s Wayne 6 in 1982 and has always had Loew’s as at least a part of its name. If this mall theater was known to be under Lenas' management up to at least 1978, it seems to me unlikely that Loew’s would have taken it over just to open a free-standing sixplex nearby just a few years later, but I suppose it could have happened.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 18, 2010 at 1:13 am

Here’s something from Boxoffice of September 22, 1969: “Spyros Lenas is scheduled to open his newest indoor, a 1,500-seater in the Willowbrook Shopping Center complex Wednesday (24).” Other Boxoffice items give a seating capacity as low as 1,200 for this house, though.

As far as I’ve been able to discover, Lenas' house was the first movie theater in the Willowbrook Shopping Center. The house appears to have been quite successful in its early years. Boxoffice of August 24, 1970, reported that the Willowbrook Cinema had just completed a six month area exclusive run of “Hello Dolly,” with five months as a hard ticket road show event and one month as a continuous performance presentation.

The single-screener was twinned in 1977, and was then advertised in conjunction with the adjacent Little Cinema 1 and 2 as the Willowbrook 4 or the Willowbrook Quad. It’s mentioned frequently as a Lenas operation from 1969 to 1978, but I’ve been unable to find anything about it as a Loew’s house. I haven’t found it mentioned in Boxoffice under any name after 1978.

I’ve posted about the Willowbrook Cinema on the Cinema Treasures page for the Little Cinema, which gives the same address as this page does.

The Willowbrook Shopping Center was designed by the Los Angeles architectural firm Welton Becket and Associates, architects of the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood.

TLSLOEWS on May 17, 2010 at 7:41 pm

First I have heard of this LOEWS. Any info of photos out there?