Paramus Picture Show

65 Route 4 West,
Paramus, NJ 07652

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Located in Paramus' Plaza 35 strip mall near the intersection of Route 4 and Route 17, the theatre was built for the Jerry Lewis Cinemas chain, but they never operated it. It opened under independent management in December 1973. After a 1983-early-1990’s stint as a UA and as a sub-run bargain house, the theatre gained independent ownership and, in May of 1997, began billing itself as Bergen County’s only showcase for independent and foreign language films.

Despite the efforts of ownership, the new format didn’t succeed in holding off the multi-plex competition. After showcasing “The Triplets of Belleville” in late 2003 and early 2004, the theatre converted to a full-time live music venue. It has featured acts such as Richie Havens, Dave Mason, Mountain, and Leon Russell.

In its exhibition configuration, seating capacity was variously reported as 314, 315, and 335. (Knowing the proclivity of theatre owners to inflate such numbers, the 314 count is most likely accurate.)

Film exhibition was still possible in the facility, as evidenced by a May 2004 free preview screening of “Super Size Me”.

The theatre closed in December 2004 and has been converted into retail use.

Contributed by Damien Farley

Recent comments (view all 49 comments)

mdvoskin on June 13, 2016 at 7:14 am

The Cinema 35 opened in November of 1973 with the film Executive Action. I was there opening weekend and still have some of the promotional material that they gave out for their Grand Opening.

The theatre was built intended to be part of the Jerry Lewis Cinema circuit. Jerry Lewis Cinemas were franchises generally marketed to people outside the exhibition industry, unlike their competitors which were company owned locations. The Cinema 35 was originally owned by a lawyer, I forget his name.

Network Cinemas, the corporate name for Jerry Lewis Cinemas went bust before the Cinema 35 opened, and the Cinema 35 never had the Jerry Lewis name or signage. While the Cinema 35 has many independent owners over the years, the last of which renamed it The Paramus Picture Show, as far as I know, the theatre was never part of the UA circuit.

Back when ET was originally released, films were distributed by what was called in the industry “track”. If you look at newspaper ads from back then, you would see theatres grouped as “Blue Carpet Theatres” and “Red Carpet Theatres”, among others. What these “tracks” were, were an unofficial product splitting arrangement between distributors and exhibitors, where the owner of a given location would agree to play all of a given studios films in return for being unofficially guaranteed that they would get every film. Officially, films were put up for “bid”, where the various theatre owners would bid against each other for how much they would pay for the rights to play a given film at a given location. Product splitting was an unwritten agreement not to bid against each other. Tracks were phased out in the mid 1980’s, when the Justice Department started looking into the anti-trust implications of product splitting.

Remembering that the Stanley Warner was just a twin or triplex at the time, there were more studios than screen. The Cinema 35 ran on the same Universal track as the UA Fox in Hackensack. A few years later, as the Stanley Warner expanded to their eventual 10 screens, they tried to pull the Universal titles from the Cinema 35, and the owner of the Cinema 35 sued them. I believe he won the battle but lost the war, in that by being forced to bid against a large national circuit for films proved too costly for a single screen independent.

optimist008 on June 13, 2016 at 10:04 am


Excellent information above, but in some court cases,way back in the 1960’s, the courts ruled that splits were illegal. I had seen articles about them in the online issues of Boxoffice magazine.

Were tracks and splits basically the same thing as clearances which are now under the Justice Dept radar. ???

mdvoskin on June 13, 2016 at 10:59 am

Formal splits were illegal because they were agreements to not compete among certain exhibitors, harming the distributor. Tracks included the distributor, guaranteeing them screens for their less than big pictures in return for not complaining about exhibitor splits. This may seem silly today, but back then when most theatres were single screen, and a large multiplex might have 4 screens, getting screen time for small pictures was a challenge for the distributors.

Neither splits nor tracks were absolute. Every now and again a new exhibitor would enter the market who would “bid” for films, and if the “bid” was high enough, get to play the film.

There were always clearances, which were always of dubious legality. Exhibitors then as now pay a percentage of the boxoffice vs a guarantee minimum payment to play a film. Obviously, exhibitors would rather have as an exclusive a run in a given area as they can get away with. Back in the days of 35mm film, were there were a limited number of prints, the distributor would want their film playing in the highest grossing theatre in a given area. Now that 35mm film is all but gone, the excuse for clearances is even more questionable. Several studios have recently discontinued the practice.

These days film terms are negotiated between the distributors and the exhibitors. Actually, the big circuits negotiate, the small independents are told what it will cost, take it or leave it.

moviebuff82 on June 13, 2016 at 2:06 pm

ET wasn’t shown in 70mm and, or Dolby Stereo, right? It was one of the longest running engagements at this theater, judging by reading various news clippings on Google News from New York Magazine.

PeterApruzzese on June 13, 2016 at 3:06 pm

Cinema 35 was not equipped with 70mm. When I worked there in 1992 it did not have stereo, so I’m not sure if it ever did.

moviebuff82 on January 10, 2017 at 4:20 pm

What was the longest engagement at this theater?

moviebuff82 on May 4, 2017 at 11:32 am

I believe ET played from June to the fall of 1982 here until Halloween III played, another Universal film.

moviebuff82 on May 8, 2017 at 5:41 pm

Conan also played here nearly 35 years ago; it was the last major original blockbuster to be mixed in mono.

moviebuff82 on June 12, 2017 at 11:17 am

35 years ago yesterday ET made its Paramus debut at this theater and made box office history while the Route 4 sevenplex had Grease 2 in Dolby Stereo. The film would become one of the most popular in this venue.

moviebuff82 on September 14, 2017 at 4:45 pm

When E.T. was reissued for the first time in 1985, Back to the Future played here instead of ET, as that movie played on the Route 17 Triplex. In 2002, ET played at the Tenplex, and in recent years it has been shown as part of TCM Big Screen Classics at the Garden State 16.

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