When you’re looking for something to do in the North Jersey area, The Clairidge is a history-filled gem right here in Montclair. In June of 2021, Montclair Film took over the operation of The Clairidge theater, located at 486 Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair, and began remodeling the space — retaining all six of the theaters. Independently owned and curated, Montclair Film and The Clairidge has remained committed to providing visitors and the community alike with the best in independent, documentary, foreign language, classic, and mainstream movies. Its recently renovated space gives it a fresh + updated look — and it just installed new seating, adding to its historic charm — all while preserving its 100 years of culture and film history. It’s really an experience and something to add to your local bucket list (or regular routine if you’re a movie buff). Keep reading to learn more about film history in Montclair and what to expect at The Clairidge, Montclair Film’s incredible movie theater located in downtown Montclair.
The History of Film in Montclair
The historic Clairidge theater opened in 1922 and began as a single screen movie palace, serving the Montclair community and film lovers from all over the tri-state area. As trends changed and the film exhibition business shifted to meet patron demand, The Clairidge changed ownership frequently. It moved to a three-screen multiplex cinema in 1983, followed by an expansion to six screens in 1997, along with a new focus on independent films, documentary, and foreign language films. Now, the theater runs as an independently-run movie house, providing the best in film to the local community.
Montclair Film is a non-profit organization that also runs the annual Montclair Film Festival. The organization has been around for twelve years, bringing films, educational programs, conversations, special events, and more to the movie lovers of Essex County. In the reimagined space at The Clairidge, Montclair Film shows movies every day of the year.
“When we took over the cinemas, we redesigned the lobby and concession stand with a modern design, refreshed the projection system, and invested in fixing the screens + sound system in each theater,” Tom Hall, the Artistic Director at Montclair Film told Montclair Girl.
Most recently, Montclair Film replaced all the seats in the theaters. The project was funded in part from a Capital Arts Grant by the New Jersey State Council on the arts and private foundation support. “The grant allowed us to replace the old seats that were starting to fall apart and elevate the experience for our patrons,” stated Executive Director/Co-Head Beth Gottung.
The theater reopened on September 1st, 2023 ready to welcome back moviegoers with the new seats in place. The new Irwin Signature seats are wider and more comfortable with more legroom and improved sight lines. In addition, theater six, which is often used for party rentals, now features fully reclining seats for a luxury viewing experience.
The Montclair Film Philosophy
The mission of Montclair Film is to connect global filmmakers with audiences in a diverse, culturally-vibrant community by presenting films and programs that engage, entertain, and educate through the power of visual storytelling.
“We are passionate about film and the value of film as a way to engage our community, and so
having the opportunity to bring films back to The Clairidge every single day gives us an entirely new level of engagement with our patrons and the film industry,” said Montclair Film Executive Director Beth Cottung.
As the leading non-profit film organization in Essex County, Montclair Film relies on locals to invest in the community by coming to see movies, becoming members, and participating in other events. The organization’s programming staff chooses which films to bring to audiences each week, curating a list of films that reflect the diversity of the community while aiming to expand the local film culture.
“Our programming staff are leaders in the film community from years of programming the Montclair Film Festival,” said Jill Montague, the Marketing Director at Montclair Film. “They are bringing that same passion to The Clairidge, screening films that they know our community will love.”
Member Perks at The Clairidge
Montclair Film Members get access to discounted tickets to The Clairidge, first access to Montclair Film Festival tickets, and Montclair Film events throughout the year. Members also get $5 matinee tickets throughout the week, including all day on Tuesdays.
“I love seeing patrons discuss the films they see and being glad to come back to our theater as we continued to operate during the pandemic,” the Assistant Manager at Montclair Film, Christine Wisniewski, mentioned. “Our patrons are passionate about the films, and it’s great to continue to offer great opportunities for them to see wonderful films.”