Pascack Theatre

182 Center Avenue,
Westwood, NJ 07675

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moax429
moax429 on August 15, 2017 at 6:39 pm

During the brief time I lived in New Jersey (1983-1986), I have never attended this theater, and, judging from what hotwatterbottle said about the management having attitude problems, I’ll be sure to avoid going to the Pascack the next time I come back to Jersey for a visit.

But I do remember reading about an incident that happened at the Pascack in the summer of 1984: The movie “Gremlins” was supposed to open at the Pascack that July, but somebody broke into the theater and stole the prints of the film. Although I don’t remember any follow-up articles about the incident in the Bergen County Record, I’ll most likely bet the perpetrators have long since found a home behind bars.

(I saw “Gremlins” at the Route 46 Triplex in Totowa in late July 1984 and then – when it was rereleased in September 1985 – I saw it again at the Route 17 Triplex in Paramus. Both theaters are now closed, as indicated in their entries.)

unclejay73
unclejay73 on April 24, 2012 at 11:17 am

I went to this theater once in 1989. I’m from Newark, but my mother had an art show right next door to this theater. I’d usually help her out, and when there was a theater in the neighborhood, I’d see a film to kill time till the show ended. Saw a double-feature that day: “No Holds Barred” and “Lords of the Deep.” Nice little theater.

Jazzbabe
Jazzbabe on June 26, 2011 at 7:07 pm

I haven’t been to the theater in years. I was very impressed with the improvements and upgrades the new owner made. The sound system was great! The theater was clean as well as the remodeled restrooms. The owner and employees were extremely courteous and friendly. The chairs were a better quality and more comfortable than AMC. It is nice to have a local theater in town that is comparable to the big chains.

mdvoskin
mdvoskin on November 12, 2010 at 7:13 am

New movies were generally released on Wednesdays up through the early 1980’s, when the industry switched to Friday openings. Up until the 1970’s, many theatres outside of major cities ran split weeks, Wed->Sat, Sun->Tue or some variation of this.

John Fink
John Fink on August 17, 2010 at 10:36 am

Does anyone know which 3-D system they’re using because the person that answered their management line doesn’t!

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on August 2, 2010 at 11:03 pm

I recall that growing up in Cleveland, that many neighborhood theaters ran films (especially those that typically ran double features) on a Sunday-Monday-Tuesday and then changed features for Wednesday-Thursday-Friday-Saturday; there was a lead-in insert sequence in front of the previews that would indicate which sequence of days a particular set of films would be running. If a film did well, it would be “held over” with this fact appearing in the newspaper ads and with a banner over the posters. Based on the note on the poster, this is quite likely how the Pasack ran films during that era.

buymovieposters
buymovieposters on August 2, 2010 at 10:30 pm

i own an original one sheet from hitchcock’s vertigo taken from the pascack theatre. at the top of the poster in the white border handwritten it notes in red paint “pascack wed-sat.” does anyone know if back in the 50’s movies were released on fridays as they are today? reason i ask is why wouldn’t the movies also be shown on mon. and tues? sunday? were there any theaters open at all on sundays?

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on March 17, 2010 at 11:52 pm

An article about this theater with two pictures:
View link

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on August 3, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Saw this theatre on Sunday as I got off the train for a family function. The rear of the auditorium is very visible as there’s a parking lot behind it. Doesn’t seem big enough for 1000 seats, though. I went to the front and just like above link for the drawing, it’s spot on. Not too plain, not too over-the-top (that is, in reality, not the picture).

mjodry
mjodry on April 27, 2007 at 5:43 am

Does anyone out there have a photograph of this theater from the sixties? I would appreciate this very much. Thank you

hotwaterbottle
hotwaterbottle on April 24, 2006 at 2:50 pm

I have'nt been to this theatre since last September, when new management took over. They were very stiff and rude. While the old management would let you buy your ticket and wait inside the lobby by the candy stand, the new regime makes you wait either outside or in the lobby and does'nt allow wandering around the theatre. When I asked if I could wait by the candy stand, I got a very curt “no!”. I felt that the cattle prods would come out if I asked any more questions. This situation may be better now, but I have'nt been back to find out.

teecee
teecee on March 2, 2006 at 4:04 am

Listed as part of Skouras Theatres Corp. in the 1961 Film Daily Yearbook.

teecee
teecee on March 2, 2006 at 3:11 am

Listed as a UA Theater in the 1970 Film Daily Yearbook.

teecee
teecee on June 9, 2005 at 5:38 am

The Record (Bergen County, NJ), Feb 4, 1997 pL1
PASCACK THEATER GETTING FACE LIFT; NEW PAINT, SOUND SYSTEM. (NEWS) Paul Rogers.
Full Text: COPYRIGHT 1997 Bergen Record Corp.

By PAUL ROGERS, Staff Writer

Ever since a spiffy crowd filed under its bright marquee to see “The Skyscraper,” starring William Boyd, on Aug. 30, 1928, the Pascack Theater has stood as a landmark in downtown Westwood.

Generations of moviegoers have lost themselves for an afternoon or an evening at the art deco cinema on Center Avenue, transfixed by giant images of the stars of the day, from Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford to Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep.

James Ransom, 84, remembers taking the woman who would become his wife, Ada Mead, to see shows there after graduating from Ridgewood High School in 1930: “That was a favorite spot back then for fellows to take their dates.”

Today, 12 years after it was converted from a single-screen theater to a modern “fourplex,” and nearly 70 years after it opened as a venue for vaudeville and film, the venerable Pascack is receiving a face lift.

Spiros Papas of North Arlington purchased the theater from United Artists in December and has begun to spruce it up. He has had the walls and bannisters painted pink and magenta, improved the sound system, and placed curtains at the sides of the screens to eliminate blank white borders.

Papas, who said he bought the brick movie house for $1.5 million, plans to adorn the now-undecorated lower marquee with the theater’s name, wraparound yellow lights, and a brass frame. He said he will replace a marquee above it with a new one that will list current showings.

Borough officials say they are pleased that the Pascack is being renovated. As a “gesture of goodwill,” the Parking Authority has reduced the amount it charges the theater for permitting customers to park in a metered, municipal lot a few doors away, said Administrator Charles Bellon. Papas will pay $200 for a six-month trial period, compared with the $500-a-month fee paid by United Artists.

Some Westwood residents, however, worry that the changes being made to the theater could destroy what few reminders remain of its earliest days.

“Nobody is denying that it’s got to be upgraded,” a longtime resident said. “But we are afraid that he doesn’t understand a lot of the interior – the art deco – and the history.”

But Papas, who owns a theater in North Arlington and one in Wayne, said the renovations will be made with the original architecture in mind. “We’d like to upgrade the theater but also keep it the way it’s supposed to be,” he said.

The theater was built at the end of the silent-film era, when ornate movie houses were being constructed across the country to meet the growing popularity of motion pictures. The Depression had yet to arrive.

“Theater owners made a lot of money during World War I, so they started investing it quite widely in those palaces in the early and mid-Twenties, and we see them being refurbished all over the country, if they haven’t been destroyed,” said George Stoney, a professor of film at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

In North Jersey, many old cinemas that became unprofitable have been demolished or converted to other uses. Among them are the Oritani in Hackensack, the Queen Anne in Teaneck, and the Sharon in Fort Lee.

Others remain, like the Pascack, the Highway in Fair Lawn, and the Bellevue in Upper Montclair.

More common these days are multiplex theaters, many of them in shopping malls, which account for about 90 percent of the state’s 800 movie screens, said Jesse Sayegh, president of the New Jersey chapter of the National Association of Theater Owners.

The challenges of operating a small theater – with five screens or fewer – can be steep, Sayegh said. If there is a massive theater within a mile or two, he said, film distributors may be more likely to have hit movies shown there than at the smaller cinema, which must find other, less popular films to run.

In the Pascack’s case, though, the nearest theaters, the Emerson Quad and the Washington Triple Cinema, are no larger than it is, and there are plenty of different films to be shown at each, Sayegh said.

In the eyes of many moviegoers, old, downtown theaters offer an ambiance absent in newer movie houses in the malls. Joe Vanore of Ridgewood, whose wife, Jinny, plays a Wurlitzer organ before Saturday evening shows at the Pascack, describes such nondescript modern theaters as “shoe boxes.”

“The older theaters had more architectural individuality to them, and the shoe boxes are nothing but concrete and cinder block walls covered with Sheetrock,” Vanore said. “It’s like sitting in a large, more or less overgrown living room.”

For all of its history, some old-timers say, the Pascack has retained only a limited amount of its early charm.

After dividing the theater into four screening rooms, United Arts covered over two murals on the original side walls with plaster and curtains. One showed a chariot scene reminiscent of “Ben-Hur”; the other depicted an Egyptian woman who could be Cleopatra being led down to the Nile.

Years ago, said Ransom, a past president of the Bergen County Historical Society, “you could sit down and see both side walls, the great lighting, and everything else. It’s far from being the same.”

Article CJ70747153

teecee
teecee on February 15, 2005 at 7:14 pm

Here is the history of the organ and some photos:
http://www.gstos.org/brook.htm

Doris
Doris on January 2, 2005 at 4:33 pm

The management and assistants were very unhelpful and very rude in dealing with the customers.

davidcapo
davidcapo on August 31, 2004 at 9:49 am

I worked for United Artists in their cable television division. We operated the cable tv system in Westwood and a large portion of Bergen and Passaic counties. When we launched the BRAVO network, I rented the auditorium that contained the pipe organ so we could have a BRAVO launch party and showed the premiere of a film who’s title escapes me. It was an independent film, circa 1989 or so about farming and foreclosures. Even though we were part of the same parent company, we indeed had to pay a fee to rent the auditorium, in addition, we made a contribution to the Pipe Organ Society.

William
William on January 15, 2004 at 1:50 pm

The Pascack Theatre is located at 182 Centre Street and as of the mid 50’s it listed as seating 1691 people.