08 February 2018

Jerry Lewis Cinema - Hillsborough Cinema (1971-1991)

In this era of the of the ultra-mega-multiplex, can there be a child today who could even contemplate a movie theater with just one screen? Yet, for a two decade period not very long ago, thousands of Hillsborough Township boys and girls enjoyed just such a cinema experience at the corner of Route 206 and Andria Avenue.  

24 May 1970 Asbury Park Press

"If you can press a button, you can own a Jerry Lewis Cinema." This was the nationwide sales pitch made by Network Cinema Corporation and Jerry Lewis in 1970 seeking franchise owners for their Micro-Theatre (100 seats) and Mini-Theatre (350 seats) cinema concept. For an investment of between $10,000 and $15,000 - no experience necessary - you too could "make a lot of money."

3 July 1971 Home News
Six months after the successful area launch of a franchise in Basking Ridge, Hillsborough resident Robert Piechota and his partners held the grand opening celebration for their new 350 seat Jerry Lewis Cinema on July 27, 1971. According to The Home News, Piechota, in keeping with the Jerry Lewis family-friendly concept, promised to never show an X-rated movie - and only R-rated movies "if they're in good taste." The very first feature shown was Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man.

21 July 1971 Home News

Franchisees were expected to make money through the promise of low overhead. For instance, film projectors would be able to accommodate giant 60-minute reels - meaning that for a typical movie the projectionist would be able to switch to the second projector just once instead of every 20 minutes, hence the "press a button" idea. In January 1974 the theater was re-branded as Hillsboro Cinema, dropping the affiliation with Jerry Lewis.

27 July 1971 Courier News

The theater continued in Hillsborough for another 17 years, quietly going out of business in 1991. Robert Piechota never left the movie theater business, as he was still the owner of the Montgomery Township theater, and saw that theater through the expansion of the shopping center there. He made his return to Hillsborough with the opening of the multiplex on Raider Boulevard in 2000.

No comments:

Post a Comment