Little Cinema

1400 Willowbrook Mall,
Wayne, NJ 07470

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Additional Info

Architects: Welton Becket

Firms: Welton Becket & Associates

Nearby Theaters

Little Cinema - Willowbrook Mall

The Little Cinema opened July 10, 1970 with Kenneth Nelson in “The Boys in the Band”.

Contributed by Robert R

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

teecee on June 20, 2005 at 3:16 am

Located inside the Willowbrook Mall.
Main address:
1400 Willowbrook Mall
Wayne, NJ 07470

John Fink
John Fink on June 20, 2005 at 11:10 am

I think this house was where the food court currently stands and closed around the time Loews Wayne opened.

jimmyt on September 6, 2006 at 2:06 am

originally built inside the mall as a four screen house, the Little Cinemas never were profitable.Two of the screens were converted for retail after about a year of operation in the late ‘70s and the remaining two screens met the same fate the following year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 17, 2010 at 11:12 pm

The June 15, 1970, issue of Boxoffice reported that Spyros Lenas would soon open a 250-seat automated theater on the site of a former restaurant behind his Willowbrook Cinema. This became the house that was called the Little Cinema. Later Boxoffice reports gave the seating capacity of the first Little Cinema as 300.

Boxoffice of June 12, 1972, has an item saying: “DeVisser Theatres announced the grand opening of Little Cinema II, its third theatre in Willowbrook Shopping Center in Wayne, N.J.. All three theatres, including the Willowbrook Cinema and Little Cinema I are owned and operated by Spyros Lenas.”

Boxoffice of December 13, 1976, says this: “Lenas' Willowbrook Cinema in Wayne, which is adjoined by Little Cinema 1 and 2 is advertising that a fourth unit soon will be constructed alongside the existing three. The multiples are all located on the main mall inside the Willowbrook Shopping Center.”

But instead of building a fourth auditorium, the original Willowbrook Cinema was split. Boxoffice of December 19, 1977, said that Lenas' Willowbrook Cinema had reopened as a twin, with approximately 560 seats on each side. They were designated as Cinemas 3 and 4, with the two Little Cinema auditoriums designated as Cinemas 1 and 2. This item said that the originaal Willowbrook had seated about 1200 as a single-screen house, though Boxoffice items at the time of its construction had said that it seated 1,500.

I think the theater listed on Cinema Treasures as Loews Willowbrook must actually be Spyros Lenas' original Willowbrook Cinema (that page gives it the same address as the Little Cinema.) As all four theaters were adjacent, either the Willowbrook Cinema should be listed as being in in Willowbrook, or the Little Cinema should be listed in Wayne. Or, since the whole complex was last advertised as the Willowbrook Cinema 4, maybe they should share a single Cinema Treasures page.

Here is an article about Spyros Lenas (right-hand page) in Boxoffice of August 31, 1972. Lenas was also the operator of the Anthony Wayne Drive-In, adjacent to the Willowbrook center. The Loews six-plex built in 1982 might have been erected on the site of the drive-in, but I’ve been unable to confirm this.

The Willowbrook Shopping Center was designed by the Los Angeles architectural firm Welton Becket and Associates, architects of the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood.

markp on May 18, 2010 at 6:35 am

As i seem to recall, this theatre in its early days ran adult movies.

Oleksij on May 12, 2011 at 10:43 am

The Little Cinema 1 & 2 were cozy and comfortable, as I recall. They started off as mainstream cinemas. I first saw “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” in one of them. But they soon converted over to adult films and did quite well. After all, they were much nicer, and easier to get to, than any porno palace on 42nd Street, or the Montauk in Passaic. (And yes, I attended the theatres during this period, leading to an awkward moment when I encountered the director of one of my high school plays attending the same X-rated film that I was!)

MovieMan____1952 on June 21, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Joe Vogel has it mostly right, except the original Willowbrook Cinema was 1000 seats. The first “Little Cinema” was around 240 seats and replaced part of Lena’s restaurant in the mall. As manager I opened both of these theatres in 1969.The Anthony Wayne Drive-In Theatre (next door) was sold to Loews Theatres.

I left as manager in 1971

Ken Lehman

moviebuff82 on March 17, 2018 at 3:36 pm

Didn’t return of the Jedi played here?

rivest266 on July 9, 2018 at 1:37 pm

This opened on July 10th, 1970. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

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