Maplewood Theatre

155 Maplewood Avenue,
Maplewood, NJ 07040

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misterrick on November 3, 2022 at 8:56 am

The company taking over the Maplewood Theater’s lease is CinemaLab which also owns The Village at the SOPAC in South Orange. Cine-Lab is motion picture film processing company in Massachusetts, they have nothing to do with theater ownership.

Joshua Bilmes
Joshua Bilmes on July 25, 2021 at 9:35 pm

this article says that the Maplewood will reopen in 2022 under same group as has just reopened the South Orange theatre.

ridethectrain on December 7, 2020 at 9:09 pm

Please update closed

ridethectrain on December 7, 2020 at 9:09 pm

From Please update, theatre is CLOSED: Movie Theater Leases End at South Orange Performing Arts Center, Maplewood Theater By Mary Barr Mann access_timeDec-07-2020

The operators of movie theaters in South Orange and Maplewood have both ended their leases, town officials have confirmed.

Bow Tie Cinemas ended operations at the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) several weeks ago, according to South Orange Trustee Steve Schnall.

Meanwhile, the Maplewood Theater operator removed its property from the building on Maplewood Avenue last week.

“The COVID pandemic has impacted every aspect of our community including our small businesses and broader business districts,” said Maplewood Mayor Frank McGehee when reached for comment. “We continue to work with our county, state and federal representatives to provide information and advocate for additional resources.”

Maplewood Theater (credit “In the interim, we encourage residents to shop local and not only during this critical holiday season but in the months to come,” added McGehee. “Our small businesses are what make Maplewood such a vibrant place to live and we all need to do our part to support them now more than ever. This includes buying gift cards, shopping online and promoting them heavily. We will get through this and it’s our community that will make the difference.”

In South Orange, Schnall noted that when Bow Tie opened again during the summer, “attendance remained too low based on state guidelines, and the corresponding drop in concessions dropped revenues way too much.”

Schnall reports that “the SOPAC board has created several internal work groups to consider alternative uses for the spaces and even whether operating a movie franchise would be viable. Meanwhile, SOPAC staff is actively engaging individuals and businesses to rent some of the very special space (including the stage and performance hall) for usage and thus rental income.”

SOPAC At Night The news isn’t specific to South Orange and Maplewood, as theater chains struggle nationally and globally with COVID-19 shutting down or restricting theater audiences, major film debuts being delayed, and at least one major studio — Warner – announcing that all of its 2021 films will debut online.

Overally, businesses are struggling in the two towns. Maplewood Kings was shuttered this past weekend after its parent company, which is in bankruptcy, failed to find a buyer. South Orange Village Center announced recently that 13 businesses in the town center have closed in 2020 (although three more have opened, with another scheduled to debut before the end of the year). The towns’ special improvement districts have responded with special COVID-19 marketing and socially distanced/remote events as well as open air markets, gift cards and other incentives to shop local.

Maplewood historian and President of the Duran-Hedden House & Garden Association Susan Newberry notes that the Maplewood Theater building, which is now 93 years old, has been through hard times before — and was even closed for two years from 1988 to 1990. In January 2015, Newberry helped research and write a fascinating history of the building and its illustrious history with live theater as well as film:

poland626 on January 14, 2017 at 2:33 am

This theater was one of the few to get Dolby 3D instead of Real 3D at the time. I know because I remember seeing a film here and it having completely different glasses along with having to return them at the end to staff instead of just throwing them in a bin.

Is the Dolby 3D really different than Real 3D? I think the quality is a lot better imo

crazyformovies on January 12, 2017 at 1:25 pm

remember seeing a few movies there it was a good movie theater

reluctantpopstar on August 30, 2016 at 8:58 am

I believe I saw “Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother” here when my aunt took me. I would have been about eleven years old. RIP Gene Wilder. This was when the place still had only one screen. It really was enormous.

John on May 14, 2016 at 5:51 pm

The exhibit was… astounding. The original blueprints were found and used to build a three dimensional model of the auditorium. A Wurlitzer Style E Console (same as it originally had) was on display, with actual recordings of the organ from 1927 made by Edison Records and never released! The National Park Service had found them. The exhibit covered every decade, even the dark and dank 70’s and 80’s era… with a few highlights like when they managed to get Jaws and sell the place out every night. The theater manager in the 80’s saved the posters, including the Ghostbusters poster that hung out front for months. (Not a poster, THE poster from THIS theater). The best had to be the 1940’s when the theater brought back the lives shows and ran through a different show every week with A-names in the cast like Helen Hayes, Ethel Barrymore, Tallulah Bankhead, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Robeson, Teresa Wright (who lived in Maplewood!) among endless more. The climax was the first revival of the thus-far-failed Porgy and Bess where Cheryl Crawford cut down the opera into a musical which was moved to Broadway after leaving Maplewood. Amazingly, there were photographs of these productions from the Billy Rose Library… as well as huge clippings binders reviewing every show. The exhibit was simply everything this theater deserved and more.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on November 26, 2015 at 3:47 pm

How did the exhibit go?

John on January 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Remember or hear family tales about the Maplewood Theater’s glory days? The Durand Hedden House and Garden Association wants to hear from you! In preparation for a forthcoming exhibit, Durand Hedden is collecting pictures, ephemera, and anecdotes about the Maplewood Theater’s 86 year run. Did you happen snap a Polaroid when Ghostbusters was playing? Found something on eBay you want to share with the world? Even as much as an old ticket stub, we want it! Stories and memories are also welcome. Contact or 973-763-7712 to help make this exhibit a success.

John Fink
John Fink on November 26, 2011 at 8:03 pm

@Poland – – this is one of the rare downtown ones Clearview didn’t buy. Clearivew as an operation has gotten better, and spends resources upgrading the concession areas, bathrooms, and seats – – but never on correcting major mistakes made in the projection room when subdividing theaters. So many of the theaters they buy were poorly built/subdivided that you’d have a better experience in a discount house.

John on November 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm

I posted some pictures including a handbill from 1936, some exterior shots from 60’s/70’s, an interior shot from about 5 years ago (Manager let me pop a ceiling tile and shoot the original ceiling)… and best of all, Bill Bojangles Robinson on stage in the 1940’s. Yes, that is Mr. Bojangles, and the show is “The Hot Mikado”. Glory days of the Maplewood Theater were the early 40’s that’s for sure.

poland626 on January 11, 2010 at 2:05 pm

I think I overheard the manager talking about having Clearview start to buy this theater but I’m not sure. This was a few months ago, like October

The only good theater, IMO, is the one that has the 3D projection. The screen isn’t the biggest but it has the best sound in the whole theater and every other screen has crappy sound quality but I still go here because it’s the closest place with big screens.

kencmcintyre on April 11, 2009 at 11:16 am

Here is another life photo, circa 1953:

moviebuff82 on March 26, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Starting tomorrow, Monsters vs Aliens will be shown in 3D.

JerseyChris on January 19, 2009 at 9:04 am

I grew up in Maplewood and have many fond memories of going to the movies at the Maplewood Theatre during the 1970’s, when it was one big auditorium. I especially remember going to Saturday matinee or having pizza at the Roman Gourmet before or after a show. I recall as a very young kid, during which must have been the very late 1960’s or maybe 1970, of seeing live singers before the movie began -I think it was a Christmas show. Great memories!

kencmcintyre on November 28, 2008 at 7:33 pm

Here is a photo of Tallulah Bankhead in front of the Maplewood in 1940. The photo is from Life Magazine:

MPol on November 23, 2008 at 4:56 pm

FilmNoir1944: I don’t reside in, nor have I ever resided anywhere in NJ, including Maplewood, but I think that this:

“ The only thing that will motivate them to go to the theatres again are large high quality event pictures—an animated family picture, an excellent horror picture, a restored classic which baby boomers want to see and share with a house full of other boomers. This is what I predict will happen to the Maplewood Theatre. I’m hoping that it will happen faster than we think.”

is right on the money, and, if yours (and mine) prediction is correct, it will not only happen to the
Maplewood Theatre in New Jersey, but to various movie palaces throughout the country.

poland626 on November 23, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Does this theater have an email address? I need to contact them. Someone please reply!

jpcollins on August 6, 2007 at 5:06 pm

Do they still not allow people to bring in anything larger than a purse? I remember me and my buddies used to try to sneak in food and sodas, and we would always get busted and have to put our bags in the janitor’s closet.

hollister22nh on July 10, 2007 at 1:37 pm

This theater had a Wurlitzer Organ. Because of its proximity to Thomas Edison’s West Orange laboratories, Edison happened to use it on several occasions to make recordings. If anyone is interested in MP3s of these organ recordings, I can send them. The folks at Edison National Historic site were nice enough to record them for me, including the “never released” recordings.
Let me know exeterxj12c at yahoo dot com

FilmNoir1944 on July 4, 2007 at 10:33 am

Thank you for your pictures. When I was in high school I worked in the Maplewood Theatre behind the concession stand from about 1980-1984. It was probably one of the best jobs I ever had and will ever have. I used to look up at the ceiling and wonder about its past. It was so cold, lonely and empty and I remember thinking that it was not long before someone hacked it up and destroyed it. Like so many other old theatres it is a local tragedy.
The concession stand was the old school kind—located at the end of the aisle where one could view the movies while serving or purchasing. I went to college in the city and was stunned when I came back to visit Maplewood one day and discovered it had been carelessly chopped up into a painful eyesore. I now have family who have returned to Maplewood and the demographics have drastically changed. For the last 5 years i have been feeling that the current movie theatre will eventual fade and the Maplewood Theatre will be restored and turned into a community theatre featuring: revival movie festivals, live theatre and big scale commercial family “event” pictures all rolled into one. I think that this use mirrors what the current community needs. I also think it might be a part of trend that happens in many other communities around the country. I believe this might happen in the next 5 or 10 years possibly sooner. People do not watch movies in theatres as much and wide screen HD TV’s will become very inexpensive. People do not want to spend their money to see a movie which will go straight to DVD in less than 3 months. The only thing that will motivate them to go to the theatres again are large high quality event pictures—an animated family picture, an excellent horror picture, a restored classic which baby boomers want to see and share with a house full of other boomers. This is what I predict will happen to the Maplewood Theatre. I’m hoping that it will happen faster than we think.

Thanks again for the pictures.
s h u a n g 8500 at yahoo………com
Feel free to email me as I think I might know a person who might have some interesting memorabilia from the theatre.

SteveW on October 30, 2006 at 1:53 pm

Glad you all like the shots, that’s what they’re there for :)

hollister22nh on October 30, 2006 at 1:35 pm

Whoops how did you all find my pictures? We were hiding those pending the publication of an article about the Maplewood Theatre in a local magazine. Steve Weintraub found the 1968 and 1973 pictures for my article (soon to be printed) about the Maplewood Theatre’s interesting past. If you click on here: View link you can see what the interior looks like behind the false walls and dropped ceilings. I went with the long time management team and they were gracious enough to grab me a ladder from the neighboring pizzaria… lift a few ceiling tiles… and grab these pictures using a huge flash. Its pitch black, and completely invisible, until you pull the camera down and see what you found. I know you old school theater buffs would call it a tragedy, but you have to remember how beat and destroyed this place was BEFORE it was triplexed. Now with 5 screens, this theater keeps the downtown vibrant in a way no single screen could (or did). Luckily its mostly still up there, just out of view.

BrooklynJim on October 26, 2006 at 7:02 am

Excellent shots, LM. I informed my Maplewood cousin about them.

It’s funny, tho, regarding the foibles of my “lost memory.” The ‘68 shot is far more vivid in my mind than the one from '73 – and my cousin didn’t actually move there until 1978 or so! Hope to snap a new pic soon…