FORT LEE — Before Hollywood, there was Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Recognizing the Bergen County borough as the real birthplace of the modern film industry, a new attraction is set to open in October along Main Street.

"This is the place where people will come from all over the tri-state area to see films that they can't see anywhere else," Nelson Page, president of the Barrymore Film Center, told New Jersey 101.5.

A 260-seat cinema will show classic films in their original format, including Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, from 1920, on Oct. 22, featuring a live organist. The 1925 version of Phantom will screen on Oct. 29, featuring a live orchestra.

When a film screening isn't occurring, the site will take on panel discussions, student filmmaker boot camps, and the work of emerging artists. A free-to-the-public museum will be open five days per week, with exhibits that rotate every six or seven months, Page said.

The first exhibit honors the Barrymore family (yes, relatives of actress Drew Barrymore), who made some of their first films in Fort Lee.

Barrymore Fim Center from Sirk Productions on Vimeo.

"Early in the 20th century, Fort Lee, New Jersey was the motion picture capital of the world," Page said. "It was the first film town."

The Barrymore Film Center is set to open to the public on Oct. 21, and operate Wednesdays through Sundays.

"As filmmaking continues to evolve and thrive, a new chapter in American cinema will once again be written and preserved on the streets of Fort Lee, in the halls of the Barrymore Film Center," said a trailer for the upcoming opening.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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