Barrymore Film Center Coming to Fort Lee

Photos Courtesy of Barrymore Film Center

By Taylor Smith 

Last fall, construction began at the Barrymore Film Center, a $15 million project in Fort Lee. The 260-seat movie theater, museum, and education center is a striking 21,500- square-foot building designed by architect Hugh Hardy. The “veil,” as promoters call it, is a pyramidal structure that points westward, towards Hollywood, California. It is expected to be completed in October 2020.

The first exhibit to be staged in the museum is “The Royal Family of Fort Lee: The Barrymores,” which will include costumes that John Barrymore wore during his many stage roles, such as Shakespeare’s Richard III. A new exhibit is slated to occupy the 2,500-foot museum space every six months. 

In addition to the impressive museum, the Barrymore Film Center’s main attraction is the cinema, which will feature revivals of classic films, foreign films, the Reel Jersey Film Festival, and premieres by up-and-coming filmmakers. The art deco-style theater will have the capability to screen everything from the latest digital films to 70mm analog movies, and even celluloid films. 

The Barrymore Film Center is being built by the Borough of Fort Lee and will be operated by the Fort Lee Film Commission. Fort Lee is, in many ways, the birthplace of American film, as it was once home to Universal (1912), FOX (1915), and Solax (1912), the first film studio built and operated by a woman, Alice Guy Blache. 

Organizers are looking forward to the official opening day at Barrymore Film Center, when it is rumored that Drew Barrymore will make a special appearance. Drew is the granddaughter of John Barrymore. Her acting lineage extends to her paternal great-grandparents, who were also actors. 

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Photos Courtesy of Barrymore Film Center