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Matinee Idols: Local Moms Movie Club Expands to Montclair Theatre

One of the Matinee Club groups waits for the film to start. Credits: Catherine Lyness
Helene Hulse, left, and Catherine Lyness begain The Matinee Club for stay-at-home moms in 2006.
SUMMIT, NJ - Neighbors and friends, Summit's Helene Hulse and Catherine Lyness had a dilemma. They wanted to go to a movie during the day when their kids were at school, but the local movie theater did not open until the evening and the 'big theaters' along Routes 10 and 22 opened too late to catch the flick and make it back to the Hilltop City for the traditional 3 p.m. pick-up.
The spoke to the local theater's management who told them that, while they were unwilling to open early, they would rent the theater to them for a private party. Figuring they weren't the only stay-at-home moms who were movie fans, they decided to give it a try.
The duo signed a contract with the Summit theater for five Tuesday mornings between January and May of 2006 and "The Matinee Club" was born. Over the last decade, the response has been so great that they have continued to add locations and groups. Last season, "The Matinee Club" had close to 1,000 members in five locations.
The abrupt closure of the Summit Bow-Tie Theater forced Hulse and Lyness to move their nearly 400 Summit members to the Millburn venue, and this season they are adding Roberts Chatham Cinema as their fifth location.

Roberts Cinema, as well as their Montclair location -- the Clairidge Cinema -- both specialize in independent, art and foreign films, and are a nice, eclectic addition to The Matinee Club's other locations - Bow-Tie theaters in Madison, Millburn and Ridgewood which feature the more mainstream films.
Members subscribe to a particular location but are welcome to attend alternate venues if they prefer the film selections in a particular month, or if they can't attend their normal location due to a scheduling conflict.
The cost is $85 for the eight-month season, which runs from October to May, with doors opening at 11 a.m. and shows screening at 11:30 a.m.
According to Lyness, "Helene and I love doing it and we attend all the movies, to check in the club members and then to enjoy the shows.  We eat WAY too much popcorn."
The club celebrated its 10-year anniversary last fall with a party at the HAT Tavern in Summit, complete with cake and champagne and door prizes. About 100 Club members and supporters attended.
The club also hosts drives for local charities, including the ABC Baby Center (diaper drive), Dress for Success (handbag and shoe drive) and Apostles House food pantry (peanut butter drive). It also donates club subscriptions to many local non-profits for inclusion in fundraisers, especially focusing its support on charities that benefit on women and children.

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