Cinemart

4302 Governor Printz Boulevard,
Wilmington, DE 19810

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Cinemart Sign 1970

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1968 was a big year for theaters in Wilmington, Delaware. The Branmar Cinema, in Branmar Shopping Center,(950 seats) and the Eric Theatre at Tri-State Mall (1,400 seats) were announced for 1969, but the biggest news was the opening of the Cinemart across the road from the Merchandise Mart shopping center on Governor Printz Boulevard. [boxoffice, 1/20/69 p.12]

The shopping center had been built just following WW2, and it quickly bacame the most popular shopping destination in Wilmington. What it didn’t have was a theater, although the Edgemoore Theatre was just down the road. So the ABC chain decided to build their only area theater directly across the road. It would seat 1,000 people, and since roadshows were popular, be equipped for 70mm Todd-AO with Norelco projectors. The boxoffice was designed so tickets could be sold for reserved-seat attractions through an outside window.

The auditorium was completely in gold with wide rocking chair seating. The front was deeply curved to allow for the screen, with curtains that went to the rear of the auditorium. If you’ve seen pictures of theaters like the various Cooper Cinerama locations, you’ve got the idea of what it looked like!

Incidentally, in the early days the name was spelled "Cine'Mart" in the newspaper ads. Films like "Hello Dolly" in Todd-AO played there, and it was joined by the Eric Theatre the next year as the only two Wilmington theaters equipped for 70mm.

Then, disaster. Concord Mall, in northern Wilmington had opened with an Almart department store in 1965, but was completed by 1971-72; including a theater. Merchandise Mart collapsed soon after, and so did the surrounding area-you did not want to be around there after dark! ABC sold Cinemart to Budco Theaters by the time the mall was completed, and bookings began to slip. Distributors always detested the habit of Philadelphia-area theater bookers scheduling porn along with mainstream films at many theaters-you literally could have the G-rated "Raggity Ann and Andy" one week and X the next!

Both the Edgemoore Theatre and Cinemart relied on explotation and porno bookings more and more by the later 1970’s and Budco closed both theaters in the fall of 1980. Interestingly, Budco booked "Midway" in Sensurround at Cinemart in the summer of 1977; it played for several months-the last big success for the theater.

Contributed by Edwin Graf Diemer

Recent comments (view all 52 comments)

jwheckert
jwheckert on September 19, 2011 at 8:20 am

Ronnie21,

If you really want to see what films played at CineMart the archives at the Wilmington Public Library and the UD library in Newark will have Microfilm copies of News Journal for 1980. You can get into the UD library for free even if your not a student. Copies can be printed for a nominal fee.

ronnie21
ronnie21 on September 26, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Hey, thanks jwheckert, Wheres the Wilmington public library? thanks i hope i find some good ones…

ronnie21
ronnie21 on November 13, 2011 at 10:13 am

Hey cinebob, could you post some more ads of movies that played here in 1980? thanks if you can..

ronnie21
ronnie21 on January 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Apocalypse Now shown here for at least 4 months. from October 79 through January 1980.

ronnie21
ronnie21 on February 4, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Just discovered ‘'TOMMY’‘ played here for 5 weeks in 1976., and The devil in miss jones played here Sept 20th 1973…

ronnie21
ronnie21 on March 27, 2012 at 2:47 pm

CINEBOB? hey bob, did you see the pics i posted here of the screen? what do you think????

JohnMessick
JohnMessick on March 28, 2012 at 2:32 am

Is the Cinemart building still standing?

ronnie21
ronnie21 on April 9, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Yes john, the cinemart is still standing. Look at the pics above.. Its amazing that its in the shape its in for being closed 32 years. But it looks a wreck inside where the lobby use to be.. The screen room looks really clean inside..

ronnie21
ronnie21 on October 23, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Would have loved the seen “Dawn of the Dead ” with “Halloween” on this big screen which played here in May of 79. then dawn , lasted another week on a double bill with the Exorcist..

ronnie21
ronnie21 on May 6, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Actually both theater s “Cinemart and Edge moor” closed in fall 1980. and Midway was summer of 1976…

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