Bow-Tie Clairidge Cinemas

486 Bloomfield Avenue,
Montclair, NJ 07042

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Clairidge Theatre 1

The Clairidge Theatre opened as a deluxe movie palace in 1922. All seats were on one level—no balcony, and the house featured a Wurltizer organ (now at the Paramount in Middletown, NY). By 1941 it was operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. In the 1960’s the Clairidge Theatre became a Cinerama house (there are historic photos in the lobby). Divided into a triplex on May 13, 1983, then eventually a six-plex, the current Clairidge Cinemas is housed in a metal ‘box’ in the original theatre.

In the HVAC room off of the projection booth, I discovered a hatch in the ceiling. After climbing the ladder through the hatch, I was in shock when I saw that the orignal theatre is still almost 100% intact!! There is some damage to the proscenium and organ screens from the metal ‘box’ described above, and someone stole some of the stained glass light fixtures ringing the ceiling dome, but otherwise the theatre is all still there and can be restored in the future!

Contributed by Joe Masher

Recent comments (view all 90 comments)

moviebuff82 on June 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm

I agree. Maybe landmark?

Astyanax on August 10, 2013 at 5:24 am

Now that Bow Tie has become the new operator can we hope for some upgrades? The marquee shows some effort at improvement with the addition of the new corporate signage.

Staff remain welcoming and the product is always top-notch. It’s just that nest of claustrophobic, catacomb theatres that make you want to keep your eyes shut until the feature begins. In any case, I remain a loyal fan of this venue.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 10, 2013 at 8:40 am

I saw Blue Jasmine here last Thursday. I think it was in the biggest of the 6 theaters, and the widescreen projection was just fine. It was also really crowded, especially for a Thursday afternoon. The movie was so good, it deserves to be popular. One sad thing: the framed photos of the Cinerama days that had been hung in the lobby, the ones I got in trouble for rephotographing in 2007, have all been taken down. At least they can still be seen on this page.

RHETT52 on December 27, 2013 at 9:17 am

Used to go here alot to see the indies. However, the theater is poorly managed by people with no movie theater experience and run with high schoolers who could care less. They never even shut the doors when the film plays. The theaters are poorly constructed and it’s usually a bad experience. haven’t been there in a decade and will not go back.

John Fink
John Fink on December 27, 2013 at 10:12 am

The theaters are still awkwardly chopped up but the experience has vastly improved over the years – Clearview remodeled the theaters a few years ago (new seats, carpets, concession stands and restrooms) and Bow Tie has installed digital projection which has been a big improvement (although I haven’t seen a show in theater #4 which had a poorly placed port window that greatly distorted the image – digital projection can correct for keystoning). Over all I enjoy the theater now – the staff is friendly, the place is clean, and they’re the first to show some great movies (although I admit I miss the days when Montclair had 11 art house screens….even if I don’t miss The Screening Zone).

moviebuff82 on May 17, 2015 at 10:26 am

long before megaplexes started showing indie movies such as AMC, this theater was one of the few in NJ to screen such fare along with the Screening Zone and to a lesser extent, the Bellevue theater. The Wellmont also showed some indie movies before it became a concert hall.

moviebuff82 on June 12, 2017 at 11:31 am

35 years ago yesterday ET made its debut at this theater.

moviebuff82 on November 16, 2017 at 8:14 am

This is the only theater left in the montclairs showing movies.

moviebuff82 on March 6, 2018 at 4:18 pm

Looks like Bellevue might be revived….

rivest266 on July 17, 2018 at 3:31 pm

3 screens on May 13th, 1983. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

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