Birthplace of Motion Pictures, New Jersey Still Boasts Indy Theaters

Keith-Albee Theater in West Virginia, Courtesy of Pixabay

Did you know that New Jersey is considered the birthplace of the motion picture industry? It started in Newark when an inventor patented celluloid film. Then motion picture technology was invented by none other than Thomas Edison, at his laboratory in West Orange.

So it’s fitting that the state is still home to a bunch of movie theaters offering foreign films, independent films, Oscar Nominated shorts, and other movies not available at the big cinemas. No need to catch a train to NYC because, once again, the Garden State truly has it all.

The Asbury Park Showroom, Photo Courtesy of The Asbury Park Showroom

Asbury Park

The ShowRoom calls itself Asbury Park’s Art House and shows critically-acclaimed foreign films, movie festival winners, family movies, local films, and short films. Live performances and community events are also part of The ShowRoom’s repertoire. Joint ventures with galleries, retail establishments, and restaurants fulfill The ShowRoom’s objective to be a “cultural crossroads” for cine-philes as well as less frequent movie-goers. Dinner and a movie Wednesdays, for example, offer Korean Fusion Tacos with a movie ticket. (732) 502-0472 – 707 Cookman Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Darress Theater, Photo Courtesy of Darress Theater


Darress Theater was built in 1919 and is one of the few surviving vaudeville theaters. The theater now offers independent and foreign films, silent films with live organ accompaniment, the occasional new release, plays, stand-up comedy, and concerts. Darress is for sale if you’d like to have your own independent theater. (973) 334-9292 – 615 Main Street, Boonton, NJ 07005

Roberts Chatham Cinema, Photo Courtesy of Roberts Chatham Cinema


Roberts Chatham Cinema promises the best of art, independent, and foreign films. (973) 822-1550 – 641 Shunpike Road, Chatham, NJ 07928

New Vision Cranford Theater, Photo Courtesy of New Vision Cranford Theater


New Vision Cranford Theatre offers foreign and older films in addition to current popular movies. (New Vision has purchased several old theaters in New Jersey and continues the tradition of screening foreign and independent films.) Tuesday movies are $5. (908) 276-3070 – 25 N Ave West, Cranford, NJ 07928 


ACME Screening Room is a non-profit weekly independent and documentary film series founded by The Lambertville Library and the town of Lambertville in 2008. The building that houses the screening room was formerly an ACME supermarket. Authors, directors, and activists are guest speakers for post-film discussions and/or exhibitions are paired with films.(609) 483-5457 – 25 S Union St, Lambertville, NJ 08530


Maplewood Theater shows the popular movies that the Multiplexes screen, but also offers independent and foreign films. (973) 763-3100 – 155 Maplewood Avenue, Maplewood, NJ 07040


Princeton Garden Theatre opened in 1920. It shows classic movies and foreign language films. Filmmaker appearances and lectures are also hosted. First-run films of high artistic quality are shown as well. Princeton Garden offers Oscar-nominated Live Action Shorts and Oscar-nominated Documentary Shorts. The theatre is nonprofit. (609) 279-1999 – 160 Nassau St, Princeton, NJ 08542

Sparta Township

New Vision Sparta Theatre offers foreign and older films in addition to the current popular movies. Tuesday movies are $5.00. (973) 729-2804 – 25 Center Street, Sparta Township, NJ 07871


Montgomery Cinemas focuses on presenting the best in art, foreign and independent films. (609) 924-7444 – 1325 US Highway 206, Skillman, NJ 08558

New Visions Rialto Theater, Photo Courtesy of New Visions


New Vision Rialto Theatre opened in 1922 and showed silent films. Today they screen foreign films and independent films in addition to the blockbusters. On Tuesdays movies are $5. (866) 640-9040 – 250 East Broadway, Westfield, NJ 07090

Side notes:

Bow Tie Cinemas has purchased several independent theaters and continues to show independent and foreign films. Also, AMC Theaters are not independently owned but if you’re searching for foreign films you should know that AMC Theaters screen Bollywood, Pantallas (Latin), and Asian-Pacific films.

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