Morristown cinemas closing May 19, bringing down curtain on long movie history

Morristown has top-notch restaurants, new luxury housing, a bustling downtown and a train to Manhattan.

But after May 19, 2013–and apparently for the first time in more than a century–it won’t have a movie theater.

Employees of Clearview’s Morristown Headquarters 10 cineplex have been told the curtain is coming down this month.

Although Cablevision is selling its Clearview chain to Bow Tie Cinemas, Morristown is among six venues that Bow Tie does not want.

Eric 'Fluffy' Glover Sr., the Ticket-Taker Guy from Morristown's Clearview Cinemas, is celebrating the BIG 5-0. Photo by Kevin Coughlin.

SO LONG, TICKET-TAKER GUY. The Morristown Headquarters 10, home to Eric 'Fluffy' Glover for 26 years, is closing on May 19, 2013. Photo by Kevin Coughlin.

“I’m going to miss it after being here so long,” said Eric “Fluffy” Glover, an employee in Morristown since AMC opened the complex at HQ Plaza in 1987.

Fluffy’s comical ticket-taking routine has won him nearly 12,000 Facebook fans; appreciative friends even gave him a Cadillac for his 50th birthday.

Now, he is crossing his fingers that he will get transferred to another Clearview property, at least for a few months until the Bow Tie deal closes.

Based in Ridgefield, CT., Bow Tie is acquiring 41 Clearview theaters in the tri-state region, including 21 in New Jersey.

The acquisitions will make the family-owned chain–established more than a century ago in the era of nickelodeons and vaudeville–the nation’s eighth-largest.

Bow Tie has pledged to install digital and 3D projection and spruce up concession stands at former Clearview sites, said spokesman Chris Beattie. Some of Bow Tie’s theaters are in downtown settings. He could not say why Morristown failed to make the cut.

A 2009 planning report rapped the fortress-like design of Headquarters Plaza for creating a “pedestrian dead zone” that divided the town.

Local officials are counting on long-awaited redevelopment projects along Speedwell Avenue to revitalize the vicinity, and ideas are percolating about how to dress up Pioneer Park, outside HQ Plaza, with everything from beer gardens to converted shipping containers.

A Cablevision spokeswoman confirmed the Morristown cinema’s closing date, without elaborating.

“The lease is expiring at that property and it is not being renewed,” said Kelly McAndrew.

Also closing within the next two months: Chester Cinema 6, Kinnelon Cinema 3 and Allwood Cinema 6 in Clifton, Kelly said.

A call to the property manager at Headquarters Plaza was not immediately returned.

“It’s a terrible shame. I can’t believe this community could not sustain a movie theater,” said Cheryl Turkington, assistant archivist at the Morristown & Township Library and author of three books about Morristown.

Stanley Kubrick's 'Full Metal Jacket' was among the hot movies at the 1987 opening of the cineplex at Morristown's Headquarters Plaza.  The theaters are closing on May 17, 2013.

Stanley Kubrick's 'Full Metal Jacket' was among the hot movies at the 1987 opening of the cineplex at Morristown's Headquarters Plaza. The theaters are closing on May 17, 2013.

Morristown once boasted four movie theaters, according to John Cunningham’s The Miracle on South Street.

Speedwell Avenue was home to the Palace Theater. Roth’s Park Theater was near the Presbyterian Church, and Roth’s Jersey Theater sat atop the Washington Street hill, near the Morris County Courthouse. The Mayo Performing Arts Center began in 1937 as the Community Theatre, a movie house.

The Palace came first, in 1911, followed by the Park in 1915 and the Jersey in 1927, Cheryl said.  AMC opened 10 screens at Headquarters Plaza on July 31, 1987.  They became part of Clearview Cinemas in 1998, according to Fluffy.

Morristown’s love of theaters pre-dates motion pictures; the Lyceum, once near the Church of the Redeemer on South Street, and Washington Hall featured live entertainment in the 19th century, Cheryl said.

Fluffy blamed the demise of Headquarters 10 on competition from the AMC Rockaway 16 complex, and from bootleggers who secretly record and sell new releases.

Over the years, the 10-plex at HQ Plaza has hosted special events including the New York Film Critics series, which has attracted stars such as Ed Burns, Kathleen Turner and Woody Harrelson to town.

Aspiring directors also have premiered their films at the cineplex. That’s where Morristown High School graduate Ben Donnellon test-screened his first feature movie, Know Your Logic, on a Sunday morning in March.

Morristown filmmaker Ben Donnellon, center, at Headquarters 10 test-screening of his new film, 'Know Your Logic,'  in March 2013. On his left is his former Morristown High broadcasting teacher, Norm Wallerstein. On his right is a member of his production team. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Morristown filmmaker Ben Donnellon, center, at Headquarters 10 test-screening of his new film, 'Know Your Logic,' in March 2013. On his left is his former Morristown High broadcasting teacher, Norm Wallerstein. On his right is a member of his production team. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“I guess I was lucky I got to do so,” said Ben, who grew up watching films at Headquarters Plaza, when tickets were cheaper, the projectors didn’t break so often, and a Sam Goody record shop and other stores made the mall more of a hangout.

“As a young filmmaker it’s always cool to see your film on a big screen in a real theater. And it was in my home town, and we filmed it in my home town, so it brought it all together, full-circle.”

For the record, Fluffy remembered these titles from opening day in 1987: Full Metal Jacket, La Bamba, The Lost Boys and Dragnet.

Rounding out the offerings, according to Cheryl’s sleuthing at the library, were The Living Daylights, RoboCop, The Untouchables, Roxanne, Spaceballs and Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise.

It looks like Iron Man 3 may be the 2013 finale.

 

 

 



Comments

  1. Dana Dunlevy says:

    I am completely bummed out! My husband and I were just there this weekend and I had no idea. We often make it a night in Morristown with either pre- or post- movie dining and/or drinks. And Fluffy!! What a community treasure he is! My Sweet Adelines friends and I serenaded him after a girls’ night out there to see ‘Pitch Perfect’ to thank him for being ‘aca-awesome’! While I am no fan of HQ Plaza, I hope that another movie theater opens in Mo’town soon.

  2. Andrew says:

    Sad to hear the news.

  3. So now the only thing to do in Morristown is eat. No great stores. Sad.

  4. My understanding is that the landlord has been unresponsive to Bow Tie’s plans for the theater – Clearview is operating it on an expired lease and the landlord will not cooperate with Bow Tie. I’m hoping Bow Tie will get it and be able to do their renovation….

  5. Beth Kujan says:

    **Sniff****

  6. Noreen McManus says:

    Will be sad to see Clearview Morristown 10 Cineplex go into the history books. I have always enjoyed seeing movies in one of the many theatres within the theatre. And any time I went and Fluffy wasn’t there, I missed him. He was a true performer who enjoyed his job and entertained the public. It is hard to believe that no other chain wants to purchase these theatres. I would much rather see a movie on a date night than watch it at home. Morristown is so convenient to Madison and has ample free parking available to all movie goers. Thank you for many memories. Hopefully, employees will be able to find other jobs and/or the Morristown Cineplex will find a new buyer.

  7. This is ridiculous. Clearview is being greedy and mad about losing a little bit of money from the success of their partnership with Cablevision and “Free Movie Tuesday” promotional offer. They should be celebrating the fact that their employees came up with such a great idea and were able to make it a success in the first place.That’s just a sign of poor management. I hope people remember this in the future when they have an option between Clearview and a BETTER movie producing organization.

  8. Wow, Morristown “appears” to be a center of activity, yet there is less and less to do over the past few years. More bars that all look the same, banks surrounding the green, and nothing to actually do. Unless you like to shop at Century 21 or a very limited number of expensive fashion and jewelry stores, what is so cool about town. The theatre is a place for all types to enjoy, hopefully it will reopen.

  9. So what happens to free Tuesday in other theaters?

  10. Kevin Coughlin says:

    Good question. Bow Tie Cinemas advertise discounted Tuesdays on their website.

  11. I hope Eric finds a job.

  12. Kevin Coughlin says:

    While we all hate to lose our movie theater, I respectfully disagree that there is nothing to do in Morristown. Every Thursday we publish our Weekend Preview and it’s loaded with great arts, entertainment and cultural events for all ages. Tonight, May 7, MorristownGreen.com is hosting WordPlay III, a free night of poetry, stories and comedy. On Saturday, a day of fun arts workshops are being offered for kids 6-13. And our sixth MG Film Fest is coming in August. Multiply that times many organizations and venues across Greater Morristown, and you have options that most communities would envy. :-)

  13. MrDoughnut says:

    It would seem all these corporations do is M&A, cut jobs, benefits, and target old people for layoffs while stuffing their own wallets. When the majority of people can no longer afford to be customers these big wheeler dealers can blame themselves.

  14. Is it possible for a different company to buy the location and reopen it?

  15. It is sad to see the theater closing. I remember the excitement when the theater opened up 1987. I went to see La Bamba on opening night.. It was such a nice theater then replacing the community theater. Hopefully bow tie cinemas will change their mind or another chain will take over and renovate the theater. It would be a nice location for the artsy type of movies. The closet theater to show those movies is the one in Chatham or the clairage in Montclair

  16. Peggy (Jean)Middleton says:

    So sad to hear of the closing. AMC was my first job and yeah i was there from the start in 87. We..the 1st crew always joked about laying Amc’s first bricks down never thinking this day would come. we were all dedicated to working there after school and weekends. Itwas the ‘funnest” job that we held in high school and college. Eric Glover is the constant amidst the change called Morristwn. I no longer live in Mo’town but am connected to this piece of history…as well as family. We ( 87-93) are still connected on facebook and still remain friends today. Thanks AMC for allowing us to meet, grow, and being the foundation of our good work ethics!

  17. Kevin Coughlin says:

    Thanks for sharing that, Peggy. Maybe Eric should run for office… sounds like he’s got the votes!

  18. Kevin Coughlin says:

    Hi Ken– Right now it seems to boil down to a matter of lease negotiations:
    http://morristowngreen.com/2013/05/07/update-on-morristown-cinema-closing-bow-tie-says-it-wants-in/

  19. Someone should contact the Digiplex chain. They might be interesting in taking it over as they are expanding in NJ and nationwide. Just a thought.

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