Newtown Theatre

120 N. State Street,
Newtown, PA 18940

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HowardBHaas on January 8, 2017 at 7:13 pm

This email today from the theater-

An important message from the Newtown Theatre

It’s no secret we live in a world filled with endless entertainment options. Years ago, the Newtown Theatre was the only game in town when it came to movies. Today, we must contend with two nearby chain theaters, cable TV, on-demand movies, Netflix, Redbox, and countless other options. Compounding the problem is our busy world filled with work, errands, kids’ sporting events, social engagements and other responsibilities. All of this makes it extremely challenging to run a small single-screen movie theatre.

Instead of throwing up our hands, we are adapting to today’s reality. Beginning on Friday, January 13, we are going to limit the screening of regular feature films to Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. These are the days when 99% of our audience attends a movie. Movies will begin at 7:30 PM each of those nights, with an additional 4:00 PM screening on Sundays. This schedule change also gives us better flexibility to host special screenings, rentals, and other events on weeknights.

We have been screening movies for 110 years, and we’re not stopping now! But we must adapt to stay relevant and solvent. Rest assured that we will continue to bring you the same type and quality of movies we have been showing over the past year. It’s our hope you will continue making us your “hometown movie house” and bring along a few friends. Thank you for your continued support.

HowardBHaas on May 30, 2016 at 4:46 am

Yesterday, I enjoyed “The Man Who Knew Infinity” from the balcony. Digital projection was great! I knew the balcony doesn’t have surround speakers but sound was very good. Sightlines from the balcony are terrific. The screen looks very large.

HowardBHaas on June 2, 2014 at 5:04 am

May 30 began the 1st main feature with digital projection, the excellent “The Railway Man.”

HowardBHaas on May 26, 2014 at 6:03 am

May 26: Wizard of Oz at 3 p.m., 5:10 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. May 27: The Godfather at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. May 28: Singin’ in the Rain at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. May 29: Casablanca at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Admission to each movie will be the same price that was charged the year the movie was released. Those prices are: Wizard of Oz, .23 cents; Godfather, $1.70; Singin’ in the Rain, .53 cents; and Casablanca, .27 cents. Additional donations will be accepted at the door.

RickB on May 13, 2014 at 4:33 am

After a shutdown of several months for the digital changeover, theater will reopen May 26 with four nights of classics. story here.

RickB on June 3, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Theater is approaching its fundraising goal, with $12,000 to $17,000 still to go. story here.

RickB on September 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm

A fundraiser for the digital conversion will be held on September 29. Story from The Trentonian here.

RickB on March 19, 2012 at 5:34 am

Times of Trenton story on the theater and its attempts to raise money for the digital conversion here.

HowardBHaas on February 29, 2012 at 10:01 am

Email arrived that the theater is soliciting donations from the public towards the cost of $100,000 digital projector.

HowardBHaas on August 27, 2007 at 11:40 am

also from theater’s website (which also features year by year which films have played!)

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The Newtown Theatre has an extensive history dating back to 1831. It is, in fact, the oldest movie theater in the United States with it’s first movie being shown in 1906. Originally built to be a hall for town gatherings and a “non sectarian” church for traveling ministers, it soon became a center of entertainment in Newtown.

By the early 1850’s the “Newtown Hall” (As it was then called) was used regularly for performances. These ranged from social dances to concerts, to theatrical productions, and magic lantern shows . In 1883, the building was reconstructed, larger than the first, and designed with stage performances in mind. However, a fire escape from the balcony was not added until 1904.

In 1906 the first movie was shown. In 1936, the interior of the building was redone and new equipment was purchased to enhance the movie-going experience. With the coming of Television and modern movies, Newtown Hall movies were becoming outdated. Rescued in 1953 by the Newtown Community Welfare Council, who now serve as trustees, the little theatre survives complete with the flavor and posters of a bygone era. In 1972, Amos Farruggio, a movie buff and licensed projectionist, rented the hall from the Council, spruced it up, and kept the theatre alive in Newtown until his death. The theatre was then ably run by his wife, Mrs. Farruggio until her death in June of 2005.

Change came again to the theatre on April 29, 1999 when after years of use one of the Theatres old Carbon Arc lamps broke, and the old two projector system was rearranged to accommodate a newer xenon lamp system, and a platter, no longer will the projectionist have to change from machine to machine every 20 minutes, but all things being equal, the original flavor of the theatre still remains.

The old play props are now covered with dust behind the screen at the Newtown Theatre, relics of another era…

The theatre had Air Conditioning installed in 2002 for the Gala showing of “Signs” that was filmed in part in Newtown. The theatre now has upgraded sound with the installation of Sony SDDS and DTS, and recently updated the older optical sound system to a Red Light Reader to accommodate the newer film formats.

HowardBHaas on August 27, 2007 at 11:38 am
Movie Screen Size:
24 feet 3 inches wide by 10 feet 9 inches (Scope)
19 feet wide by 10 feet 9 inches (Fixed flat masking in place)

Distance From
Projector Gate to center of the screen 56 feet
from Edge of Balcony to center of the screen 40 feet

Simplex E7 35 mm

Orchestra 274 Seats
Balcony 82 Seats
Total 356 Seats

RickB on December 20, 2006 at 4:40 pm

Per a recent article in Tempo (a publication of the Princeton Packet in New Jersey), the theater was built in 1831 as Newtown Hall and reconstructed in 1883. The first film screening was in 1906 and the building has remained in use as a movie theater ever since; it is asserted to be the oldest continuously operating movie theater in the United States. The Community Welfare Council of Newtown bought the building in 1953. In 1972 projectionist Amos Farruggio leased the theater from the Council; after he died in 1980 his widow, Marjorie, took over operations. The Farruggios' son John replaced his mother upon her passing in 2005.

HowardBHaas on December 2, 2006 at 3:46 pm

Having been to the Newtown, I was pleased to write this blurb for 11-22-06 Philadelphia Weekly article on suburban Philadelphia movie theaters,

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Quaintest Theater
Built within a former church, the Newtown is a single screener with a balcony that recently added digital sound and this year has a classic series in 35 mm.

kencmcintyre on December 2, 2006 at 3:33 pm

Here are excerpts from an article in the 10/10/70 edition of the Bucks County Courier Times:


It’s not that things in Newtown don’t change. They just change at a slower pace than other places. Take Newtown Hall Theater for instance. Three generations of Newtowners have watched movies at the old building and it’s hardly changed in all those years. Of course, there are some changes. The piano is gone. There’s a bigger screen and the two outdoor toilets have been replaced by indoor plumbing.

The audiences have changed over the years, too. Dave Fulton, who has worked at the theater for the past 28 years, can remember when on a Saturday night people “dressed to kill.” Now, some of the patrons don’t even wear shoes, Fulton relates. Also the price is up to $1.25 for adults and 60 cents for children. But, mostly everything is the same at the Newtown Hall Theater.

The popcorn machine that went into the small lobby in 1945 is still there and the price is still 10 cents a bag. It’s one of those machines where you hold the bag under a spout while the popcorn spills out. It takes an expert hand to make sure all the popcorn
goes into the bag.

There are still the same seats which were purchased in the late 1930s. There still is no air-conditioning so if it gets real hot the front doors are opened. But, there is heating in the winter. An American flag stands at the front of the theater and a faded carpet, worn thread-bare runs up the aisle. The walls are in dire need of paint. But, the Newtown Hall Theater has a certain feeling of “soul” that the giant new movie theaters will never have.

You just step into the theater and it hits you â€" a feeling of nostalgia. Memories of Saturday matinees with Superman, Lash LaRue and Tarzan, fill every corner of the Newtown Hall Theater. Just standing in the empty theater, which seats 400, you can almost taste the popcorn, Tootsie Rolls, Good and Plenty, Black Crows and Hershey Bars which were as much a part of going to the movies as the movie itself.

There was a time when every town and every city neighborhood had theaters just like Newtown’s. Now they are all gone. Their place has been taken by the drive-in and the chains of large modern theaters which are surrounded by even larger parking lots.

In the old days the movies were always popular and frequently the 300 downstairs seats and the 100 balcony seats were filled and people were turned away from the box office. Now, Frank Fabian sometimes drives up State St. on a Saturday night when every store is closed and there is not a soul in sight. But, things do change in Newtown. Now there are nights when only seven or eight people come to the movies. The Newtown Exhibitors pulled out in the mid 1950s and then the Community Council took over.

Sometimes there is a pretty big crowd. It depends on the picture and on the night. Fridays are pretty good. But, it is almost never necessary to open the balcony. The crowds aren’t that large. The theater usually gets films that have already shown everyplace else or that are not in big demand.

David Fulton runs the place himself. Except for a ticket seller, Fulton does everything including mowing the grass in the rear yard. Fulton believes the yard was once a cemetery for paupers. He shows pictures on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings and there is still a Saturday matinee for the kids.

One gets the feeling that the Newtown Hall Theater is now on its last legs. It is badly in need of paint and repair. Financially the theater is just about covering expenses. There may come a day when the Community Council no longer wants to operate the theater and
the trustees will have nothing else to bring in any income. Perhaps the building will be demolished.

It would be a shame. The Newtown Hall Theater is a vanishing piece of Americana that deserves to be preserved. Some think it would make an excellent theater for a live theatrical group or if the revival of interest in old-time cinema continues to grow it would make a great show case for silent films. If you sit quietly in the theater and use your imagination, you can almost hear the ricky-ticky piano playing while Rudolph Valentino rides a white horse across the desert sands.