Johnston Cinema

1530 Hartford Avenue,
Johnston, RI 02919

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Jerry Lewis Cinemas

Functions: Retail

Previous Names: Jerry Lewis Cinema, Cinema 6 Twin, Hartford Showplace

Nearby Theaters

Former Johnston Cinema

This theatre originally opened as a Jerry Lewis Cinema in the 1960’s with second run attractions, then became a porno house. It is now an Amazing Express pornography retailer with porno booths.

The place is not to be confused with the Johnston Theatre, which was two miles away and was demolished in the 1970’s.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 9, 2004 at 6:34 am

I haven’t been in it under this incarnation. I thought it was just booths, but you may be right. Perhaps I should take a peek and verify. There was a police raid here a couple of years ago or less, where some men were arrested because of sexual activity. One commited suicide right after. And before that, when it was just a porno theatre, Town of Johnston officials tried to close the place down several times. One of the movies I remember seeing here when the theatre was still new is IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 13, 2004 at 10:42 pm

Roger, I checked it. The entrance to the porn emporium is through a newer door on the left SIDE of the former cinema auditorium. Videos and mags are sold from racks in the auditorium itself (the floor has been leveled.) There is also a storage area in what was the front of the auditorium, to the right of the sales counter. The former lobby area is where the booths are. The original entrance is sealed off. I couldn’t spot any indications of the former projection booth.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on December 2, 2004 at 3:24 am

Gerard Damiano’s “The Devil in Miss Jones” played here in May, 1973. As with a number of porn theatres of the time they used 35mm prints. Interesting that a film like this would be advertised with the director’s name prominently featured in ads. Other 35mm porno films shown during this pre-video period were “Behind the Green Door” and “Teenage Cheerleaders.”

RobertR on December 2, 2004 at 4:53 am

In the old days 90% of straight XXX features were on 35mm and almost all of the gay ones were on 16mm.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 2, 2005 at 7:28 am

After the initial porno stint, the theatre went back to regular films for a time….possibly because of an anti-porno campaign by the town of Johnston. It was then known as the Cinema 6 Twin, because it is located on Route 6. So it was twinned (not noted above.) A newspaper ad from August 1978 lists it with a group of cinemas under the heading “Econo-Cinema Guide.” Other cinemas in that group were Four Seasons, Apple Valley, Meadowbrook, Park. Cinema 6 Twin was showing “The End” and “Coma” on that date.

Porno movies are not shown today (only in private booths.) It is primarily an adult retail emporium and there are no more auditoriums with seating.

hardbop on August 4, 2005 at 7:38 am

Isn’t it ironic that a cinema that was set up to program “family fare” ended up showing pornography?

I did grow up in Rhode Island and do remember when those “Jerry Lewis Cinemas” opened (late 60’s I think) and remember attending films there. I was a kid, but didn’t the Jerry Lewis Cinemas show exclusively family fare? I also remember when the whole concept imploded. They didn’t seem to be open for all that long before reverting to other, I assume, individual owners.

My memory may be playing tricks on me as it often does but it seemed that the Johnston Cinema went from Jerry Lewis/family fare to porno over night.

I have never read anything about the whole Jerry Lewis Cinema concept and why it didn’t work. I would like to know more.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 4, 2005 at 1:19 pm

It should be clearly noted that this place is closed as a cinema. It is a porno shop with videos, magazines, paraphernalia, and booths. It could have been opened anywhere. Instead it was opened inside a former movie theatre.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 11, 2005 at 12:22 am

A February, 1994 newspaper ad said the theatre was temporarily closed due to storm damage but that the rental store was open. The place was advertised as the “Johnston Video Cinema.” Now it is only a store, with viewing booths…no theatre.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 12, 2005 at 8:05 am

The notorious Deep Throat played at the Johnston Cinema in 1975. A Providence Journal article of April 15 reported that councilman Joseph Falvo complained that the theater’s then current feature was…“the filthiest movie ever shown on the screen.” He promised to call a town council meeting to “decide what action should be taken.” A 1972 Superior Court ruling had restrained the council from interfering in the theater’s operation.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 12, 2005 at 8:09 am

A 1979 ad for the theatre calls it “Hartford Showplace” and touts “Adult film and live exotic dancers.”

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