Philmont Cinema

11058 Rennard Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19116

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Jerry Lewis Cinemas

Functions: Event Center

Previous Names: Philmont Theatre; JL Philmont Cinema; Jerry Lewis Philmont Cinema

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The Philmont Shopping Center was announced in 1971 as the year-old Jerry Lewis / Network Cinema circuit added a franchisee here. Little did they know that the location at 11058 Rennard Street would be a lightning rod of protests and raids over the next 15 years.

As for the venue, the Jerry Lewis Philmont was opened on October 18, 1972 with Liza Minnelli in “Cabaret”. It was designed like many of the other 350-seat single-screen automated Jerry Lewis Cinemas (“JLC”). Located in a nondescript strip shopping center, this JLC pledged family-centric Hollywood fare at low prices. But by the time the Philmont JLC was ready to go, lawsuits were piling up in late-1972 against Jerry Lewis / Network Cinema circuit for price gouging, lack of support, and inflated claims.

The Philmont JLC lasted under the “Jerry Lewis” moniker just seven months (October 18, 1972 to May of 1973) as a Lewis-branded franchise. 1973 brought Jerry Lewis parting ways with the dying JLC concept and Network Cinema’s bankruptcy. On April 5th, 1973, Network Cinema’s phones were disconnected. Franchisees Daniel Weintraub and Dominick Pasciolla changed the name of the location to the JL Philmont Cinema.

The family-oriented policy was maintained at the JL Philmont Cinema for about eight months and then banished both “JL” and Hollywood fare altogether as the theatre turned to X-rated films including “Deep Throat” in time for Christmas of 1973. The Philmont Cinema drifted further turning to a policy of unrated, “XXX” films in May of 1974. As an adult theatre, the Philmont Cinema earned its battle scars being raided in 1978, 1981 and probably several other times in addition to countless protests from residents distraught over the adult film content.

The protests helped the theatre gain traction lasting with the adult content for more than ten years. But as home video was beginning to take root, the fun ended with an X-rated double-feature on November 24, 1985 with Shanna McCullough in “Physical Attraction” and Marilyn Chambers in “Insatiable 2".

Almost unbelievably, in the venue’s next chapter, protests got even louder when the New Life Church moved into the location lasting two years before zoning protests finally dislodged the controversial church in 1989. The venue was converted into a long-running event center and the protests finally ended.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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