West Newton Cinema
1296 Washington Street,
5 people favorited this theater
West Newton Cinema (Official)
Operated by: Bramante Brothers
Previously operated by: M & P Theaters
Architects: W. Chester Browne, J. Frederick Krokyn
Firms: Krokyn, Browne & Rosenstein
Functions: Movies (Family), Movies (Foreign), Movies (Independent)
Styles: Art Deco
Previous Names: Newton Theatre
The Newton Theatre was designed in 1937 by architects Krokyn & Browne of the Boston based architectural firm Krokyn, Browne & Rosenstein. This theatre combined elements of Art Deco and Art Moderne styles. The West Newton was part of the M & P Theatres circuit, which also owned the Metropolitan (Wang Center) in Boston.
The theatre was the area’s entertainment hub for thirty years, but, by 1967, had begun to deteriorate. As the crowds dwindled, the beautiful cut-stone facade and marquee were removed, and theatre was converted into a triplex.
The triplexing saved the theatre from demolition by increasing the flow of cash, but by 1977, the theater was again in desperate trouble. Rain flooded into the upstairs theatre and the rest of the facade and new marquee were removed. It was sold in 1978 and expanded to six screens in 1990. The new auditoriums were carved from unused space and brought back some of the theatre’s original Art Deco style flavor.
Today, the theatre specializes in an inventive mix of art house, family, and independent films. Tastefully restored and renovated, the theatre’s lobby gives notice that the West Newton was once a grand palace. The West Newton Cinema was sold to a developer in July 2022 with plans to demolish for an apartment building.
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Recent comments (view all 17 comments)
Photo of the West Newton entrance and marquee, summer 2004:
Hello, I was just surfing the web and came across this website. It’s great, considering my great grandfather is Martin J. Mullin! It’s interesting to look at, but unfortunatly I never go to meet him but his son, (my grandfather) Martin J. Mullin. Well just wanted to post a comment.
The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Newton Theatre has a facade photo taken in April 1941. The name on the marquee is just plain “Newton”. The address is listed as 1300 Washington St. The Report states that the Newton has been a MGM customer for less than 5 years; that it was built in 1935; that it’s in Excellent condition; and has 822 seats on the main floor and 340 in the balcony, total: 1162 seats. Competing theatres are located in Natick and Wellesley Hills. The 1940 population of Newton was 69800. If the theatre was actually built in 1937 instead of 1935 then that would conform to the fact that the house had been showing MGM films for “less than 5 years” in 1941.
Does anyone know exactly when the theatre was renamed from ‘Newton’ to ‘West Newton’ ?
Visiting the West Newton in the triplex days was a unique experience. The auditorium downstairs was c classic butcher job in which a wall was created the length of the theatre.
Upstairs the balcony provided the seating and a tufted fabric surface covered the area between the balcomy railing and the screen.
I also attended movie screenings such as “How the West Was Won', "Pink Panther”, “A Shot in the Dark”, “The Man with the Golden Gun”, “Cat Ballou”, “Murder She Said”, and a number of other cool movies at the West Newton Cinema back in the mid-1960’s, when I was a teenager. It was then a very nice movie palace of a theatre. However, when i came to see a movie at the West Newton Cinema several years ago, and then a movie called “The Golden Door” a couple of years ago, I noticed that the West Newton Cinema had sort of gone to seed. It was no longer the handsome movie palace that it had once been.
While visiting relatives with my family in 1950, I remember walking yp Cherry St. To the then Newton theatre(1 screen) to go to a movie. I didn.t care what was playing because I was bored at my aunts house. Well the movie that was playing was an acclaimed Docu. called Kon Tiki. Even at 10 yrs old I enjoyed it. I now own the DVD. The Newton was a beautiful theatre.
The West Newton was sold to a developer in July. I heard today that the plan is to close within the next year, and it will be torn down for a new condominium development.
From an email sent earlier today (1/12/2023) by David Bramante, co-owner of the West Newton Cinema:
“ To Our Supporters, Community & Friends,
This past July we announced that The West Newton Cinema was sold to Mark Development. As part of our agreement with the Mark team, our family was given 2 years to continue operations and explore possible options of preserving the Cinema as a center for media, visual and performing arts.
Our focus has been to transition into a non-profit to maintain the theater as part of the Newton community and continue to serve the surrounding areas.
During the past 6 months, a Steering Committee was formed. Steps were taken to create an IRS -approved 501 © (3) (The West Newton Cinema Foundation) as well as begin to create a business plan. We have formed the non-profit and have been approved. To build the founding Board of Directors and determine if there is support for this idea, the Steering Committee has commissioned the consulting firm, Mersky, Jaffe & Associates, to conduct a feasibility study.
If you would like to participate in the study or would like more detailed information about the project, please reach out to Bridget Bali chair of the steering committee and my daughter.
This theater has been around under the current ownership for over 40 years. It has been open as a theater longer than that. People should know that the profit margins are very small in theaters. About $.60 of each dollar goes right back to the movie companies. As they take percentage of 60% for new first run movies. Then you have to factor in the cost of utilities taxes paying the staff and other expenses. Now the theater has to compete with streaming services and less people coming to the theater because of streaming services and people still concerned about the virus. If you want this theater to stay open people in this community have to come out in larger numbers. Also buy things at the concession stand. This is the way the theater makes a small profit. Once theaters like these are gone they’re gone Forever usually. Too many independent theaters are closing down across the United States.