Music Makers Plaza Theater

1420 Route 36,
Hazlet, NJ 07730

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Associated Independent Theatres Inc., Music Makers

Previous Names: Plaza Theater

Nearby Theaters

The Plaza Theater was located on Route 36 in Hazlet, New Jersey in the Airport Plaza shopping center. It opened December 25, 1963 with Walt Disney’s “The Sword and the Stone”, operated by Associated Independent Theatres Inc. I remember seeing “Mary Poppins” there during its original run in late-1964 or sometime in 1965). One of the last films I remember playing there was “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan”. It was closed on August 28, 1982 with Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky III”.

Contributed by Barry Monush

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

MovieManBill on September 18, 2008 at 9:37 pm

The portion of the strip mall next to the bowling alley that contained the theater was demolished about 7 years ago. The building was replaced by a fitness center operated by Bayshore hopital. No part of the original structure still exists, it was leveled to the ground.

KGordonMurray on April 13, 2009 at 9:42 pm

The Plaza Theatre was, best to my recollection, originally built as part of a small chain of theatres by a company called A.I.T. I can still “see” the logo on the marquee when I saw THUNDERBALL there in 1965. It changed hands until the Music Makers Theatre circuit bought it. Music Makers was founded by composer Mitch Leigh (Man of La Mancha, and the jingle “Nobody Doesn’t Like Sara Lee”) in 1957 as a music and radio commercial production house. The Music Makers chain was comprised of acquiring single theatres and small chains throughout NY, NJ and DE. It also built new houses, one of which is not listed in Cinema Treasures (I have to fix that). I worked for this chain (1974-75) and there’s simply not enough room here to go into grand details. An interesting aside is that MM shrewdly owned the wholesale company that supplied the candy, soda and popcorn for all their theatres. A brilliant move in maximizing the profit stream. It was called the Andy Candy Company and managed by a very nice guy named Dan Frank for many years. I was told that “Andy” was Leigh’s son. It was, though, during this period that the company expanded pretty quickly as we were adding new screens and twining large single houses … the first of which was the Brick Plaza Theatre, Bricktown (long gone). The Plaza in Hazlet had a “twin sister” 55 miles away, the Interstate Theatre in Ramsey, NJ (also gone). Lobbies were laid out differently, but the auditoriums were identical. I remember laying new linoleum tiles around the candy stand in 1975! (I’ve cross-posted this missive in Interstate’s listing). Music Makers was also diversifying into new areas. If you’re from central NJ and remember the “Chicken Skillet” fast food restaurants, they were owned by Music Makers. I know of at least one structure that still exists in Eatontown on Route 35. Another was located in Neptune. “Chicken Skillet” never caught on, though. The company also owned Sunny Day coin-op laundry on Rte 9 in Howell. The MM folks were good people and if you showed an interest in their interests, it was recognized. The company’s booker was David Tuckerman, an incredibly smart man with a clever sense of humor, who later became head of theatrical distribution at New Line Cinema. Milton Herson, (such class, extremely smart) was the president. Locally, the Plaza was managed by Lillian Pyburn for many, many years. A genuinely wonderful woman.

KGordonMurray on April 13, 2009 at 9:47 pm

Oh, “Movie Man Bill” above is correct in stating nothing still exists of the original building. I know exactly when the Plaza was demolished. In February 2000 I had left for a 10 day trip to Los Angeles and the theatre was still standing. When I returned, it was completely gone. In a way, I’m glad I didn’t get to witness it.

KGordonMurray on April 25, 2009 at 12:09 am

Just realized I misspoke above when stating,“If you’re from central NJ and remember the “Chicken Skillet” fast food restaurants, they were owned by Music Makers. I know of at least one structure that still exists in Eatontown on Route 35.” This is incorrect, no structure survives.

BarryMonush on April 13, 2010 at 9:44 am

K Gordon,
I believe the restaurant you are referring to was called the Golden Skillet, no? That is, if it’s the same one that was in Eatontown that I’m thinking of. I think it was somehow connected with the theatres down there, as my friend worked at both briefly.
Getting back to movies, I remember seeing such films at the Plaza in Hazlet as BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, EIGHT ON THE LAM, THE CONCERT FOR BANGLA DESH, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, SILENT MOVIE, and LOVE AT FIRST BITE to name but a few. It always served the community well. I remember the strucutre sat empty for quite some time, but I didn’t realize it was nearly twenty years!! Yikes!

KGordonMurray on May 29, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Barry M! By golly, I do believe you’re right. It was indeed Golden Skillet. I got the main menu item (chicken) messed up with the name and I’m deeply grateful you corrected me. Thanks. As an addendum to my initial, lengthier posting I’ve since learned that the Plaza Theater’s long time manager, Lillian Pyburn, died April 8, 2010. She was 89. I knew her well. Lovely woman. And FWIW, I was working at the Plaza during the time of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (5-6 nights a week). Quite possibly tore your ticket! I just “loved” wearing those goofy red and white-striped usher jackets and red bow ties.

Barbdevaney on September 2, 2012 at 8:51 am

On Rt 9 in Bayville was also a Music Makers Theatre. I started working in that on in 1975. Louanna was the manager and Jerry Duffield was the projectionist. It as a very nice company to work for.

BarryM on June 13, 2013 at 11:46 am

KGordon, I too had to wear that goofy red and white-striped usher jacket and the red bow tie when I worked at the Plaza’s companion cinema on Route 34 for one summer. Thanks for reminding me of the outfit!!

rivest266 on March 27, 2016 at 9:10 am

This opened on Christmas Day, 1963 by AIT. Grand opening ad in photo section.

50sSNIPES on August 19, 2023 at 7:22 pm

Opened with Walt Disney’s “The Sword In The Stone”. The Plaza closed on August 28, 1982 with “Rocky III”.

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