Ambler Theatre

110 E. Butler Avenue,
Ambler, PA 19002

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 2, 2013 at 10:58 am

There are three photos of the Ambler Theatre on this page of the web site of JKR Partners (formerly JKRoller Architects), the Philadelphia architectural firm that designed the renovations.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on May 27, 2013 at 7:36 am

Last weekend, I enjoyed 4k restored Lawrence of Arabia, in 5.1 surround sound at Ambler’s main auditorium. The curtain isn’t used often but it was opened after the overture music. Showing again 7 PM this Wednesday! Check out the wonderful lineup of classics including Gone with the Wind in August.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on March 17, 2013 at 4:41 am

Chuck, I didn’t set it that way so you shouldn’t receive that message. Recently a London England group asked me to include a couple photos, so they could see them. The Ambler photos that I posted there I have since pisted to photos on this page. I will try to double check settings later, if I can find them!

Late last year, the Ambler went digital, with 4k in its historic “front” auditorium. (Aud 2 retains 35mm in addition to digital). A week ago, I enjoyed “Emperor” in that auditorium. Thursday eve, I enjoyed 4 k restored print (hard drive) of “Dr. Strangelove” in that auditorium.

Stylesmith
Stylesmith on March 16, 2013 at 6:41 pm

My step-father installed the original organ when the theater was built. The management asked him if he would be the projectionist. He said, “No!” But they talked him into doing the job until they found a full time person. THEY NEVER DID! He worked there until her retired. His name was Charles H. Becker.

sguttag
sguttag on February 4, 2012 at 4:08 pm

The pylon (aka vertical) is working at the Ambler.

Note, all three theatres currently feature Kinoton FP30E Premiere projectors with 3-wing shutter mode so the images should be flicker-free!

The folks that run the Ambler (and County theatre in Doylestown) really do try to do the best by the movies they show.

atb
atb on February 16, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Chuck1231:

Don’t remember; with the cold, ice and the snow, I don’t think I looked up! That said, the lower marquee (movie titles)was illuminatred in a beautiful amber (or should that be “ambler”?) glow.

With regard to the previous post about the Theatre Historical Society: Note to the other non-profits trying to rehab community theaters (this would be you, Bryn Mawr Film Institute), visit this theater to witness how a small town can be revitalized by a well-run, well-designed movie house that caters to adults looking for an escape from the multiplex.

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on February 15, 2010 at 6:45 am

Theatre Historical Society visited the Ambler last summer as part of its 2009 Conclave in the Philadelphia/Baltimore/Wilmington area. The group was highly impressed by not only the careful preservation of the theater but the staff’s knowledge and respect for the theater’s place in history. It was certainly a star of the 5 day tour!

atb
atb on February 14, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Turly a landmark in both theater preservation and restoration. While the two “black box” theaters are well-designed, it is the main theater, literally built within the walls of the original structre, that is a true “show stopper.”

Saw “Crazy Heart” last night and was impressed by the caring staff, solid projection and dolby digitial sound and a very quiet audience, the Ambler is now my #1 choice for moviegoing in the Philly area.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on December 8, 2009 at 5:47 pm

http://issuu.com/bucksliving/docs/bucks_sept
Go to page 42 for article and photos of the Ambler Theatre

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on June 3, 2009 at 6:55 am

Here’s a link to photos of April 2009 installation of replica of historic marquee, shorter so it will not be hit by trucks (as the street is wider than before):
View link

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 18, 2008 at 8:20 am

Here is another recent photo of the Ambler Theater.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 15, 2008 at 5:05 pm

Some photographs from December 2007, courtesy of Howard B. Haas:
Exterior
View link
Ticket booth
View link
Front auditorium
View link

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 9, 2008 at 6:43 pm

Here is an expanded view of one of the PAB thumbnails:
http://tinyurl.com/27o9cd

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on October 25, 2007 at 3:29 pm

http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/articles/15680
24 October 2007:
Cinema Paradiso
The Ambler gets a new look and becomes the best first-run theater in the region.

by Andrew Repasky McElhinney

While you wait for the long-promised replacement of the murderous seats at International House or for the reemergence of big-screen film at the Prince Music Theater, a trip just 16 miles outside the city to Ambler reveals the near impossible: a discerningly programmed triplex housed in a classic old movie theater.

The process took about as long as a Kubrick movie shoot, but after nearly five years the Ambler Theater finally opened the doors of its main 270-seat auditorium earlier this month.

It was worth the wait. A recent excursion to see Ang Lee’s lugubrious snoozefest Lust, Caution revealed posh stadium seating, glorious sound and sharp, efficient projection inside the main auditorium. Featuring a giant sloped screen that moves to accommodate live events and, in its flexibility, creates the best possible sightlines, the Ambler is now, along with the Colonial Theater of Phoenixville, the best first-run moviegoing experience around.

The Ambler is a not-for-profit, community-owned venture, a sister theater to the still emerging Bryn Mawr Film Institute and Doylestown mainstay the County Theater. A trip to the Ambler recalls the days when each neighborhood had a movie palace and the cinema was not only an escape but also the soul of the community.

Built in 1928, the theater has been updated with a restoration that’s sensitive to the decor of the original and also progressively modern in its gentrification of a house that’s been dark since the mid-’80s.

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The Ambler hasn’t been slavishly restored to its original glory. Rather it’s enjoyed the type of chic utilitarian rehab dipped in classicism whose most prominent architectural models are those jewels of New York: Manhattan’s Landmark Sunshine Cinema and Brooklyn’s BAM Harvey Theater.

The architectural compromise of carving out two black box auditoriums from the original’s former rear, and modernizing the rear portion of the new main auditorium, won’t satisfy the most stalwart preservationists. But it does bring life to what was a dead theater.

The majestic return of the Ambler mirrors the evolution of the town itself. A down-and-out borough nearly crippled by an asbestos factory left abandoned in 1962, which had been polluting the region with vile toxins since the 1880s, Ambler has turned around in recent years. Once a blighted suburban skid row, it now boasts a refurbished R5 SEPTA train station, restaurants, cafes, one-of-a-kind stores and a young population seeking a return to small-town living.

The cozy small-town vibe is what’s most alluring about the theater. Cinephiles aren’t bombarded by advertising and endless infotainment prior to screenings. A repertory film series of classic pictures flourishes, but regrettably, its features play only in the smaller auditoriums.

The Ambler also offers movie history programs, creative booking, appearances by notable guest critics and filmmakers, and promises to become the mecca for movies northwest of the city.

According to Howard B. Haas, the leader of the tireless effort to save Philadelphia’s Boyd theater (also known as the Sameric), more than 95 percent of the nation’s historic movie houses have closed, and many of those remaining have been gutted.

“There are only a few movie houses in the entire Philadelphia region where you can walk in and enjoy an original ornate lobby and auditorium,” he says.

The restored Ambler Theater is the best of both worlds: old-school charm and state-of-the-art technical aptitude. It’s a new benchmark of quality that highlights the disappointing dearth of modern moviegoing options in Center City.

raymondgordonsears
raymondgordonsears on October 5, 2007 at 11:10 am

All three (3) screens are up and running. Yes the third Aud. is open and restored. rg

MainLineDoc
MainLineDoc on September 14, 2007 at 1:45 pm

What a nice place to see a movie keep up the good work!

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 23, 2007 at 4:16 am

This is the Ambler in b/w.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on May 17, 2007 at 7:06 am

Here is a 2007 photo of the Ambler Theater.

TheaterBuff1
TheaterBuff1 on November 22, 2006 at 9:04 pm

Movie theaters seem to arrive at their best level when they’re run as offshoots of something else rather than as stand-alone operations — as in corporations building beautiful theaters to give their employees a nice place to spend their money and time when they’re not working. Stand-alone theaters don’t have that advantage of corporate subsidization. As such, standing alone, they either have to be run as a cold hard business or as a charity, and neither makes for the best movie theater going experience. When you go to a theater you want it to be elegant and beautiful on the one hand, but you don’t want to have to spend a fortune on the other. You want it to be proportionate to what you can easily afford. The Ambler Theatre, however, is quite removed from that, while it would be interesting to learn what subsidized it at one time and whatever became of that. Today money being spent is money that was made in the past, at least in Ambler’s case. So given that I wouldn’t especially say it’s poised for anything. It could be if something were to rise up there to subsidize it. But there isn’t anything such as that on the horizon so far as I know. So it’s stand-alone through and through, and on a life’s blood that’s waning rather than waxing.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on November 22, 2006 at 5:01 am

Most Potential
Opened in 1928 and now a triplex forged from a single-screen theater (which, in its most recent previous life, featured Evangelical Christian propaganda), the Ambler shows indies, and art and foreign films, along with some repertory and loads of special events. Handsomely designedâ€"but sadly with its largest screening room unfinishedâ€"the Ambler is poised as the place to catch a movie of quality in the sticks.

from Philadelphia Weekly today:
View link

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 8, 2006 at 9:39 am

rg….I make mistakes, but I’m not that bad just yet. :) I’ll take a look at your comment in the Hiway Theater listing now.

raymondgordonsears
raymondgordonsears on September 8, 2006 at 9:06 am

Lost Memory: I new you would not make that type of mistake. Did you see my post on the Hiway Theater in Jenkintown, Pa. rg

mikemorano
mikemorano on September 8, 2006 at 8:44 am

Very cool photo’s. You are the man. haha

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 8, 2006 at 8:25 am

rg….I think the website is acting up. The Monica comment belongs in the Laemmle’s Monica 4 listing which is here:

/theaters/1138/

For some strange reason the comment was saved to two theater listings at once and it put my name on it. Are websites haunted? :)