Old Saybrook Cinema

166 Main Street,
Old Saybrook, CT 6475

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Old Saybrook Cinema - 2001

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built in the 1937 and adorned with beautiful murals in its outside dome, the now-twinned movie house was operated by Hoyts Cinemas until February 2000, when it was closed. Hoyts cited competition as the reason for shuttering it.

The former Hoyts Saybrook Cinema Two reopened as the Old Saybrook Cinema in June, 2001, however, under new management. Ray Welch, who owns three small cinemas in Dayville, Norwich, and Jewett City, operated the twinned theater and showed first and second run films at slightly discounted prices — $5 for adults, $4 for children and $3 for seniors. He also installed new seats with cup holders and new carpeting and concessions.

Sadly, business never materialized and the theater closed again in February 2002. The theater could not compete for first run movies with Hoyts Saybrook Cinemas Six down the street, and could not draw patrons to its arthouse fare due to the nearby art cinemas in Madison and Niantic. The theater’s end was particularly sad as literally no one came to the cinema.

The theater has been gutted and converted into retail space.

Contributed by Roger Katz, Cinema Treasures

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on March 26, 2004 at 1:23 am

…it’s just closed.

crownx
crownx on October 3, 2005 at 9:09 pm

It was operated by Interstate Theater Boston, Mass. during the fifties.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on October 3, 2005 at 9:22 pm

Function is retail.

SpikeSpiegel6262044
SpikeSpiegel6262044 on February 1, 2006 at 12:08 am

It has a real beautiful mural in the rotunda, I’m glad they’re keeping the outside. But if Katharine Hepburn was still alive, I’d think she’d try to save the thing, probably make it into a playhouse. Oh well, I guess a nice book store, cafe, er Starbucks, or Witch Shop will do just fine there.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on June 12, 2006 at 10:26 am

The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center is opening next year in a former theatre just up the street from this one.

moviectbuff81
moviectbuff81 on July 15, 2006 at 11:24 am

The lobby and much of the center of the theatre will be home to a new seafood restaurant. An antique store and an arts store are in the front while a nail salon, and offices are near the back. The rotunda near the lobby will remain and it appears offices will be located on the upper level accessible via stairs near the Main St door and via elevator near the parking lot door.

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on January 10, 2008 at 1:41 am

I was there yesterday at night as I was cycling from Hartford to Old Saybrook. The mural in the front is quite nice, a picture of a ship from the dock with a Norman Rockwell-esque child and dog feel to it. There are 2 retail shops open on the right and 1 large vacant one on the left. If you go around to the back, there’s a Romeo and Juliet balcony with pillars. The side of the former auditorium has 5 or 6 retail establishments that all look alike with 2 ionic pillars for each entrance.

I must say this is the nicest conversion of cinema to retail I’ve seen as it really fits in the with the charm of the area.

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on January 10, 2008 at 2:18 am

If anyone needs the few pics I took of this, you can email me at

mp775
mp775 on September 2, 2009 at 1:29 pm

This theater was built by Charlie Bonoff, father of Leo Bonoff who ran Bonoff’s Theater (now Madison Art Cinemas) in Madison. There is a 1940s photo of the Bonoff family in front of the Saybrook at www.bonoff.net. The same photo makes a brief appearance in The Tent: Life in the Round, a new documentary about the Warwick Musical Theatre in Warwick, RI, started by Charlie’s grandson Burton “Buster” Bonoff.

50sadchairs
50sadchairs on June 15, 2010 at 4:11 am

I grew up in the sixties in the area and there was a outside mural in the rotunda. The theme was that of Native Americans. Unfortunately, sometime in the late 90’s it was removed for some reason and has now disappeared, perhaps destroyed during the various renovations to retail. It was such an integral image of my childhood that I am sad that it has gone.

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