Mainstream Movies


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Prepared for August 9, 2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All

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The Movies: Garden Theater

As the new breed of movie palaces steadily supplants

the old, the Princeton Garden Theater — long a fixture at the

corner of Nassau and Vandeventer, just across from Princeton


Firestone Library — closed its doors on Thursday, August 3. Yet

there’s light at the end of this particular tunnel. Renovation and

re-opening for the twin-screen cinema is promised by Princeton


the owner of the property, and Theater Management Corporation, which

leases and operates the movie theater, with completion possible in

time for the Thanksgiving and Christmas movie season.

The renovation is expected to keep the theater dark for about 12 to

16 weeks, says Theater Management president Louise Stephens.


the age of the building and the possibility of encountering


conditions once we begin the work, we can make no guarantees as far

as the date when the theater will be back in business," she says.

The extent of necessary work cannot be established until construction

is underway.

The Garden Theater, originally conceived by a leasing group of


citizens as a place to accommodate the university’s Triangle Club

and other live performances, opened its doors on September 20, 1920,

with a screening of "Civilian Clothes," starring Thomas


The silent film featured a live orchestra and palms and ferns arranged

on the stage. The fabled Triangle Club never performed at the Garden,

and in 1929 it opened its own newly-built permanent home, the


McCarter Theater, named for alumnus donor Thomas N. McCarter, and

upgraded recently with a multi-million dollar renovation. The Garden

was maintained as a movie house by the leasing group, known as the

Princeton Theater Company until 1975 when the Sameric Corporation

assumed control. Sameric turned the facility into a twin theater in

1981, and ran it until 1988, when United Artists then operated the

facility for four years and then let it go dark. The Garden was


by Theater Management Corporation in 1993.

The scope and exact cost of the Garden’s current renovations will

not be clarified until work begins, but Robert Durkee, Princeton


vice president for public affairs, says the university expects to

spend more than $600,000. The renovation will be overseen by two


and one general contractor: Princeton architect George Fett, who has

experience on several area residential, historic, and commercial


New York City architect Robert Strada, who is internationally renowned

for designing interior retail environments; and New York City general

contractor Stephen Ventor, who specializes in movie theater


Structural renovations, such as repairs to the roof and electrical

system, are planned. The project will also significantly upgrade the

movie-going experience by installing new seats, bathrooms, and



"The Garden is an important facility for the university and the

broader Princeton community," says Durkee. "Louise [Stephens]

has done an excellent job in selecting movies and responding to the

interests and special requests of students and student organizations,

alumni, and local residents. But anyone who has sat in the Garden’s

seats or used its restroom facilities knows that the theater is in

need of significant improvement and upgrading. The Garden is not


into a multi-plex or moving into a mall. Its charm is that it will

still be a two-screen, downtown theater — but now it will be able

to offer a degree of comfort that movie-goers have a right to


Princeton Borough Mayor Marvin Reed, who helped get the theater


in 1993, says that having a theater downtown is critical to the people

who live in Princeton Borough. "The residents and the students

need a facility within walking and biking distance from their homes,

so they are not trapped in a situation where they have to drive


miles to get to a theater. The theater at that location also makes

an important contribution to the after-hours liveliness of the


he says.

During the past few years, the theater also has played an integral

role in community life by hosting fundraisers, movie premieres, and

special programs for community groups such as the Arts Council of

Princeton and the Eden Institute, and for university groups.

Theater Management Corporation, which operates neighborhood theaters

throughout the northeast, assumed management of the Garden in 1993.

At that time it had been dark since October, 1992, when United Artists

decided it was no longer financially viable. Although the university

and Theater Management have spent nearly $200,000 on the building

over the past seven years, Durkee said "it became clear that we

needed to make a more significant investment to keep the movie house

running, and that the extent of renovation would require temporarily

closing the facility."

— Nicole Plett

Top Of Page
Mainstream Movies

Confirm titles with theaters.

Big Momma’s House. Martin Lawrence plays an FBI agent

disguised as a grandmother protecting a woman from an escaped convict.


Blood Simple. The Mercer Mall theater is promising one

screen dedicated to current art films. Mercer.

But I’m a Cheerleader. Marketfair.

Chicken Run. Inspired animation fuels this colorful tale

about a flock of English chickens who want to fly the coop. AMC,

Destinta, Loews, Marketfair.

Coyote Ugly. AMC, Destinta, Loews, Mercer, Regal.

Croupier. Mike Hodges (`Flash Gordon,’ `Damien: Omen II’)

directs this film about an aspiring novelist with a talent for



Disney’s The Kid. Bruce Willis stars as an image


whose 8-year-old self doesn’t like what he has become. AMC,


Loews, Marketfair, Regal.

Gladiator. Russell Crowe stars in this sword-slashing

Roman epic drama about loyalty and passion. AMC, Mercer.

Hit and Run. AMC.

Hollow Man. AMC, Destinta, Loews, Mercer,



Loser. AMC, Loews, Mercer.

Me, Myself, and Irene. Jim Carrey stars in this Farrelly

Brothers (`There’s Something About Mary’) comedy about a Rhode Island

State Trooper and both his personalities. AMC, Mercer, Regal.

Mission Impossible 2. The TV action series spinoff sequel

directed by John Woo. AMC, Mercer,

Nutty Professor: The Klumps. AMC, Destinta, Loews,

Mercer, Montgomery, Regal.

The Patriot. Mel Gibson stars in the Revolutionary War

epic that’s been dubbed `Lethal Musket.’ AMC, Loews,



The Perfect Storm. The surf-splashed true-life best-seller

becomes big screen fiction. AMC, Destinta, Loews,


Montgomery, Regal.

Pokemon the Movie 2000. AMC, Destinta, Loews, Mercer,

Montgomery, Regal.

Scary Movie. A Wayans Brothers’ comedy that spoofs those

summer teen horror flicks. AMC, Destinta, Loews, Marketfair,


Shaft. Samuel L. Jackson plays the righteous nephew of

the iconic 1971 private eye. Mercer.

Small Time Crooks. Woody Allen wrote, directed, and stars

in a comedy about an ex-bank robber who wants to retire with his wife

(Tracy Ullman). Mercer.

Space Cowboys. AMC, Destinta, Loews, Marketfair,

Montgomery, Regal.

Sunshine. Ralph Fiennes stars in this tale of three


of Hungarian Jews facing the fallout of the postwar Communist legacy.

By director Istvan Szabo (Mephisto). AMC, Regal.

Thomas and the Magic Railroad. AMC, Destinta, Loews,

Marketfair, Regal.

What Lies Beneath. AMC, Destinta, Loews,


Montgomery, Regal.

X-Men. Marvel Comics saga about a band of dispossessed

mutants. AMC, Destinta, Loews, Marketfair, Montgomery,


Top Of Page

AMC Hamilton 24 Theaters, 325 Sloan Avenue, I-295 Exit

65A, 609-890-8307. 24-screen, stadium-seating. $7; $5 matinees &


Destinta, Independence Plaza, 2465 South Broad Street,

Hamilton, 609-888-4500. Stadium-seating 12-screen. $6.75; $5 matinees.

Loews Theaters, Route 1 South, New Brunswick,


Stadium-seating multiplex. $8.50 adults; $5.25 matinees.

MarketFair-UA, Route 1 South, 609-520-8700. $7.50

adults; $4.75 matinees.

Mercer Mall General Cinemas, Route 1, 609-452-2868.

$7.25 adults; $4.75 matinees.

Montgomery Center Theater, Routes 206 and 518,

609-924-7444. $7 adults; $4.25 matinees.

Regal Cinemas Town Center, 319 Route 130 North, East

Windsor, 609-371-8473. Stadium-seating, 15 screens. $8; $5 matinees.

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