World Theater

1830 Market Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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Showing 1 - 25 of 26 comments

RickB on July 21, 2018 at 1:20 pm

Last day of operation appears to be July 11, 1972; final feature was “Fritz the Cat.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 25, 2018 at 12:48 pm

A comment made by kencmcintyre back in 2009 says that the architects of the World Theatre were Roth & Fleisher. Gabriel Blum Roth and Elizabeth R. Hirsh Fleisher established their firm in 1941. Hirsh Fleisher was one of the first women licensed to practice architecture in Pennsylvania, and the first to establish a practice in Philadelphia.

Mikeoaklandpark on June 25, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Status needs to be updated to demolished. It’s been demolished since the late 60’s to early 70’s. They played the exclusive Philadelphia engagement of a Man For All Seasons. Does anyone know if it was a roadshow engagement like other big cities? They also ran concurrent with the Bryn Mawr.

msWORLD on June 24, 2018 at 1:55 pm

Wonderful memories—a GREAT theatre in Center City at the time.

I recall that they served coffee or espresso is ceramic cups in the front lobby after purchasing tickets. After they closed, I believe that the only other post-commercial theatre showing art and foreign films was the Logan, just west of Broad Street, above Olney.

TheALAN on May 11, 2014 at 11:22 am

Thanks Changedskyline! Under N would be where the World Theater would be found. Although this page is for the discussion of the (original) World Theater, some people insist on wondering off-topic. If you want the New World Theater, look up New World Theater. (You might even like it)!

changedskyline on September 21, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Great site, by the way. One thing that might help with the dilemma Chuck refers to is that the theatre that was built to replace the original World Theatre was actually called the New World Theatre, so more accurate information might be found if you search under N instead of W. I think, but am not sure, that the New World was not on the same site as the World. As I recall the New World and the office building which it was in the basement of, were built on the site of a Penn Fruit supermarket.

changedskyline on September 19, 2009 at 8:17 pm

The World Theatre at some point in the 60s was managed by David Grossman, who later became well known and beloved as the director of Temple University Cinematheque and later still of the Film Forum. He organized art exibits in the lobby of the World. My late father Robert Lenton had some paintings in a group show along with the late photographer Sam Moskowitz. Some subjects in Moskowitz’s photos sued the theatre and everyone associated with the exhibit, including my Dad. I don’t know what year that was, but it was most likely before 1964.

joesview on July 2, 2009 at 10:03 am

The World on Market St. was one of my favorite theaters when I was a Philly teen in the 1960s. It most definitely was open through the end of that decade because that’s where I saw “If…” and “Last Summer” in 1969.
The theater stood out from the other downtown movie houses because it was smaller and had a distinct “arty” vibe – the small lobby was painted white (with only a few posters and paintings as decoration). It was the place where I saw my first subtitled movie – the Swedish hit “Elvira Madigan” in 1967.
I also remember going downtown to see “A Man for All Seasons” there when it opened for its exclusive first-run engagement in 1966.
Thanks for triggering some nice memories!

zzppf on May 20, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Wow this is a mystery! If the original theatre closed in 1964, how can there be a photo from 1968 of the original theatre? The original theatre definitely did NOT close in 1964. I remember seeing and enjoying such post ‘64 features as A Man for All Seasons, Morgan, Romeo and Juliet (Zefferilli), Adalen '31, The Fox (photo by Chick 1231 above) and many others between 1965 and 1971 when apparently there was no theatre to see them in. Glazer needs to retract and correct.

kencmcintyre on February 3, 2009 at 6:34 pm

This is from the same source in September 1946:

PHILADELPHIA-Sam Cummins announced that his new house, the Pix, will be ready to open some time in November. It will seat 499, and will operate as a first-run house. Cummins said the cost of the project, started two years ago, has tripled, and will now cost from $250,000 to $300,000 when it is completed.

The house will contain the latest in modern equipment, with the cooling system as the highlight. Several new wrinkles have been worked into structure of the one-floor building. Architects are Roth and Fleisher.

kencmcintyre on January 14, 2009 at 6:31 pm

From Boxoffice magazine, January 1960:

PHILADELPHIA-Rugoff & Becker, New York circuit, has taken over the management and operation of the World Theater here. The World is owned by Pathe Cinemas and is a first run downtown house specializing in foreign and special domestic films.

kencmcintyre on December 3, 2006 at 7:37 am

Here is an article from the Bucks County Courier Times dated 10/30/75:

A film a day for a buck a day â€" that’s the new policy at the New
World Theater, 19th & Market Sts., Philadelphia. This novel idea, designed by Cinema 5 Ltd. vice president and booker Sol Horowitz, calls for a daily change in the film schedule and a $1 at-all-times policy. The program list includes numerous impressive offerings ranging from the classic Hitchcock thriller “The 39 Steps” to the futuristic science fiction piece “Silent Running”.

In 1972. the original World Theater was torn down as part of the
city’s urban renewal program for the Bicentennial On Feb. 26, the
New World Theater opened and continued its former policy of booking foreign art films of cinematic masters such as Federico Fellini, Vittorio De Sica, and Ingmar Bergman However, the management soon discovered that the former art crowd had deserted center city and moved to the suburbs, consequently, the New World has been losing money.

Cinema 5 also owns the Cinema 19 at 19th and Chestnut Sts., Philadelphia, and has used that theater as a house showing double bills for the last two years. The policy at the New World Theater is unique. Unlike most $1 houses that keep films for one week or more, the New World will only play a film for one day. That way, the theater can maintain a steady flow of classic films.

dennisczimmerman on February 11, 2006 at 7:05 pm

Chuck 1231: I would like to add two theatres to your very comprehensive list. They are:
16th & Market St, Fox Theatre (2,423), 1923-1980
19th & Market St, Stanley Theatre, (2,916) 1921-1970

RickB on January 26, 2006 at 3:39 pm

The New World shows up in the movie pages of the Inquirer of May 28, 1975, playing “Le Secret” starring Jean-Louis Trintignant. “Le Secret” was also playing at the Bryn Mawr at that time so it seems that the day-and-date booking policy that had been used for the Bryn Mawr and the original World was revived, at least for a little while. The address is given only as “19th at Market Street.” I don’t see the New World listed in May 1974 papers, so it looks like we can assume a 1974 or ‘75 opening date for that house.

kencmcintyre on January 26, 2006 at 12:28 pm

Here is the layout on Market Street in the late 1970’s, when I was in college. Forgive me if some of the theaters are misplaced. Walking from City Hall to 30th Street, the Fox was of course on the south side of Market at 15th, followed by a few adult film houses. There was at least one adult theater between 17th and 18th on the north side of Market. There was another adult theater on the south side of Market between 22nd and 23rd. I don’t recall seeing the World, but then again I can’t recall any theater names except the Fox.

mkmilan on January 26, 2006 at 11:40 am

Thank you for this site: I thought I would never find the name of this theater !!
I went to Central High from ‘60-'64 and remember getting $.50 and $1 passes for weekday shows when it was showing all the New Wave movies in a VERY grungy sorroundings. It then was renovated somewhat- st the same location- and went “upscale” with espresso and morsels being sold/served ? in the lobby …. I recall seeing Romeo & Juliet there before they closed (which must have been around 1968 at least) …. so it survived past 1964 …..
Mark K

dennisczimmerman on December 17, 2005 at 7:59 pm

Hdtv267 – The Mark 1 Theatre opened in December 1970 with the roadshow attraction “Song of Norway” I believe. It was a totally different theatre than the World. The theatre closed in Oct. 1989 as United Artists did not renew the lease after they purchased the Sameric theatre chain.

Mikeoaklandpark on March 9, 2005 at 5:47 am

The New World was located in the basement of an office building on 18th and Market. It didn’t last long. The last thing I rememebr there was a tennis club.
As far as the Stanley, it closed in Jan 1970. The last film to play there was Viva Max. The theater was not demolished until 1973 as the above post said.
As I said in a previous post, the original World closed sometime in the middle -late 60’s. I am 100% positive about this. They definately played A Man For All Seasons and Zefferrelli’s Romeo and Juliet.

dennisczimmerman on March 9, 2005 at 12:23 am

According to the info posted on the Stanley Theatre site, it was demolished in 1973. In Jan. 1973 I spent a weekend in Philadelphia. We stayed at the Holiday Inn on Market Street. We could look out our room and see the closed, but still standing, Stanley Theatre below us. I remember thinking at the time of all the movies I traveled from Lancaster to see at the Stanley – “Cleopatra”, “My Fair Lady”, “Camelot,” “Hawaii.” to name a few. That same weekend, we saw “Young Winston” at the Midtown. I still do not believe the New World Theatre was built on the site of the Stanley Theatre.

dennisczimmerman on March 7, 2005 at 9:51 pm

If the Stanley Theatre closed in 1973, how could the New World open on that site in 1972??????

mh052 on February 21, 2005 at 6:56 pm

DennisZ is absolutely correct. Please note my Bryn Mawr Theater Cinema Treasures Comment. Rugoff was not the complete name; Rugoff Cinema 5 was the full name…I stand corrected; I read DennisZ’s comment after my Bryn Mawr input. I believe New World (later the Center City Sports Club) was also operated by Rugoff Cinema 5. When I saw “The Wild Bunch” there ($1; revival engagement), I spoke to the head usher, and I distinctly remember him specifically telling me that Rugoff was the name of the chain.

deleted user
[Deleted] on February 8, 2005 at 7:37 pm

I show no listing for the World Theatre after 1964. The New World Theatre located at S 19TH ST and Market ST is another theatre entirely. If may share the name but not the building or location which makes it another theatre unto itself. The New World Theatre should be listed on this site as a seperate theatre. The New World Theatre operated for a few years in the 1970’s. I will look into this matter further.

dennisczimmerman on February 7, 2005 at 7:43 am

I am not positive, but the logo used for the World Theatre advertising was very similar to the Rugoff Cinema 5 Theatres in New York City. The name World was encased in a rectangular box much the same as the Cinema 1 and 2 and other Cinema 5 Theatres in NYC. The Bryn Mawr Theatre usually played day and date with the World and that theatre was operated by William Goldman Chain.

RickB on February 7, 2005 at 7:03 am

When the World building was sold there was a clause in the deal stipulating that the office building that was to be constructed on the site would have space for a theater. That did happen; the theater was called the New World and had an entrance on South 19th Street, around the corner from the original. The new theater never really caught on—I think the side-street location was a handicap—and it only lasted a couple years before becoming a health club or something.

Some people have said that the World was part of the William Goldman chain, but its advertising did not identify it as such (unlike Goldman’s more mainstream Chestnut Street theaters).