Eric Twin at Independence Mall
2465 South Broad Street,
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Previously operated by: Sameric Corporation
Previous Names: Eric Theatre at Independence Mall
The Eric Theatre at Independence Mall was opened on April 18, 1973. It was later twinned. Its fortunes seemed to run concurrent with its "anchor", Independence Mall: by the end of the 1980’s it became all too apparent that the only course of action was to either close and demolish the Mall as it was, or rebuild it and try to get away from its seedy, dangerous reputation. When the decision was made to tear down the existing open-air mall and rebuild and redesign it, the Eric Twin’s days were numbered (as were ALL Eric/Sameric theatres, really). With no other first-run cinemas in the immediate area, this one thrived…until a year or so before its closure, by which time it had gone beyond ‘well-used’ and into the area of your stereotypical urban-area dump: sticky floors, dusty surfaces, shabby carpeting, rundown, out-of-date decor, that unmistakable scent that mishandled theatres always have…That the crowd, the Mall (with its poorly-lit, creepy, dark, foreboding corners and stores that seemed more like ghost towns), or the area surrounding the theatre, or all three, had grown unsavory certainly didn’t help matters.
This Eric was as every Eric Theatre you ever saw: cookie-cutter, nothing particular memorable, decor-wise, but not unpleasant, just…outdated, as time wore on and changes weren’t made to keep things fresh and new. By 1994 or so, it was history, and it sat there, empty, abandoned, a sad reminder of the ‘old’ Independence Mall. The new theatre, the Destinta 12, unlike the Eric Twin, is now directly connected to the Mall, which, once again, is open-air but infinitely safer in appearance.
One very interesting bit of trivia about this particular Eric Twin: in 1982 it trumpeted in the local newspapers ("The Trentonian" and "The Trenton Times", for those who are curious) that it had been showing "An Officer and a Gentleman" for over six months. Now that I think about it, they DID seem to often keep some films for a long time. Sadly, when it did finally shut its doors for good, that area of Trenton was left without a cinema, until the Destinta opened, making necessary a trip to Lawrenceville or Princeton for the Quaker Bridge AMC 4, the Mercer Mall General Cinema, or Market Fair).
On a sidenote: I remember their popcorn as being merely so-so, while the soda was very watery.
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Recent comments (view all 6 comments)
The comments by John are very true. The last film I saw here was “Messenger of Death”. There’s not much to say about it other than it had dirty drapes and sticky floors. I recall that there were rocking chairs in the rear of the auditorium. I believe it was built as a single screen theater along with the Eric Lawrence in the Lawrence Shopping Center in another suburb of Trenton.
It almost fell victim to the contruction of I-295 in the mid-eighties. The interstate eventually abutted the SE side of the building. As indicated above, the entire Independence Mall (open air) hit hard times and ended up mostly abandoned. It used to house S. P. Dunham’s and Hurley-Tobin Department stores (both buildings still stand) and a Murphy’s (razed). Only part of the mall was torn down. The Eric was completely razed and a strip center was built on that portion of the lot.
The RKO Hamilton on South Broad Street (now a church) is nearby.
John, Thanks! Ask and ye shall receive!
“THE SHOW STARTS ON THE SIDEWALK” by Maggie Valetine
Hondo59 is right: only PART of the mall was torn down. He’s also right about its possibility of closing with the I-295 construction in the 80’s. Sorry to have left those out but thank you to Hondo59! Touching on the mall’s unsavory reputation, can anyone verify what I had always heard as a kid: a young woman was mugged and killed there, in one of those awful, dark corridors? For an open-air mall, it could be – even during daylight, mind you! – ridiculously foreboding and downright scary. Any word on how the Destinta is doing? We moved from the area in 2003.
This opened on April 18th, 1973 and twinned, opening along with the Fairless Hills on November 12th, 1976. Listings stopped in 1989. ads and pic posted here.
Trenton area grand openings are at http://sdrv.ms/1czjwIR
He’s right about the popcorn being so so. I worked there as an usher. It came pre-popped in hefty sized plastic bags that were stored in the supply room with a mouse problem. It was common to find bags with the corner chewed open. It was put in a ‘popcorn machine’ that was just a glass box with a heat lamp to warm it up.The ‘butter’ came in gallon jugs. Nobody who worked there actually ate the popcorn unless they had a mental disorder. The soda was always watery because no one knew what they were doing behind that concession stand.They barely knew how to count correct change. There is also no mention that,as early as 81,they would occasionally have a porno for a week or so. At the age of 16 I got to watch movies like ‘Fire Down Below’ and the various ‘Emmanuel does..’ Most memorable moment: The guy who came out to the lobby in the middle of ‘Maniac’,threw up and then fainted,landing on one of the poles holding the velvet ropes and cracking a tooth.‘Tsk tsk tsk…blood in your hair.What will we do.What will people say’ (line from Maniac for the uninitiated)