Movie Theatre Information:  Huntsville and Decatur, Alabama

©1998-2006, Evans A Criswell

Historical Information: Alabama: Decatur

Regal River Oaks Cinema 8

Opening date: 1991/07/03

First movies shown:

This is the only Regal theatre in the Huntsville-Decatur area that was actually built by Regal. It opened on Wednesday, July 3, 1991 with the name "River Oaks Mall 8". Click here to see the movies that played on this theatre's opening day.

Located adjacent to the Colonial Mall in Decatur on Alabama Highway 67, this theatre has 8 auditoriums, one of which is 52 feet wide (auditorium 6), with the other 7 being 28 feet wide. The largest auditorium has movable side masking which resizes the screen from a 40-foot width for scope to a 30-foot width for flat and was the first auditorium equipped with DTS sound. The other 7 auditoriums have screens from 25 to 27 feet wide with movable top masking which moves vertically to resize the screen properly for flat or scope movies. Four of these smaller auditoriums (1, 2, 3, and 4) have standard optical surround audio. Four of the auditoriums (numbers 5, 6, 7, and 8) have DTS sound systems. DTS was installed in auditoriums 5, 7, and 8 during May of 2001. This theatre uses Simplex projectors.

Standard seating. Seats have cup holders.

Carmike Century Cinema 8 [Litchfield]

Opening date: 1982/06/18

First movies shown:

Fairlane Litchfield Theatres opened this theatre, the Century Cinemas, on Friday, June 18, 1982, with 4 auditoriums. Click here if you are interested in the movies that were shown on its first day of business! United Artists appears to have taken over the theatre sometime in 1987. Carmike took over the theatre on July 3, 1990 (at least that is when it began being advertised as a Carmike location). On May 5, 1992, this location became an 8-plex. Click here if you are interested in the movies that were shown on the first night of operation as an 8-plex. Some previous managers: Teena Carpenter (1983), Richard Swank (1984), Eric Entrekin (1985-1986, 1992), Jeff Kelsey (1987-1988), Ralph Owen (1996), Beverly Miller (1998), Lee Barnes (2000-2001)

Located on 14th Street in Decatur between US 31 (6th Avenue) and Central Parkway, this theatre has 8 auditoriums. It has 4 auditoriums that are about 44 feet wide (the originals built in 1982) and 4 that are about 32 feet wide (the ones built in 1992). The larger auditoriums have screens that are about 32-38 feet across in scope mode and about 27-29 feet wide in flat mode. The smaller ones are about 28 feet wide in scope mode and about 22 feet wide in flat mode. The four large auditoriums (1, 2, 7, and 8) have flat screens and the four smaller auditoriums (3, 4, 5, and 6) have curved screens. There is one auditorium with DTS (auditorium 2). Six others have standard optical surround audio. Auditorium 8 has optical mono audio.

Standard seating.

Beltline Cinemas

Opening date: 1978/08/16

First movies shown:

Beltline Mall in Decatur, Al opened on Wednesday, August 16, 1978. The Beltline Cinemas opened there on Friday, August 18, 1978, as a 3-screen theatre, with the following movies:

Animal House7:159:30

This theatre had 265 seats per auditorium and all three auditoriums had Dolby Stereo sound. Auditoriums 1 and 2 had V.I.P. rooms that could hold 12 people each.

The theatre's last night of business at the mall was Saturday, October 15, 1988, and it moved to the Gateway location and reopened December 9, 1988. See the Gateway page for details.

Gateway Cinema 4

Opening date: 1967/12/22

First movie shown: Valley of the Dolls

This was a second-run theatre located at the Gateway Shopping Center. It was the oldest theatre in operation in the Huntsville-Decatur area when it closed.

It was originally a single-screen theater, which opened on Friday, December 22, 1967, with "Valley of the Dolls" as its first movie, starting at 8:00 that night. This theatre originally had 680 rocking chair seats and a 55 foot screen, and stereo sound.

This theatre was "twinned" and its first night of operation as the Gateway Twin Rocking Chair Theatre was Friday, May 31, 1974. The movies shown that night were:

Theatre 1Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid7:059:10
Theatre 2Blazing Saddles7:259:15

The Gateway was remodeled in late 1988 and the Beltline Cinemas closed and moved to the Gateway. The Gateway reopened after this remodeling on Friday, December 9, 1988. The following movies were shown that night:

The Naked Gun3:005:007:009:00
My Stepmother is an Alien3:005:007:009:00

This theatre was later converted into a 4-plex. The first day of business as a 4-plex was Friday, March 30, 1990. On this night, the following movies were shown:

Pretty Woman7:159:30
Joe vs. the Volcano7:159:15
The Hunt for Red October7:009:30

This theatre became a second-run theatre after the Regal River Oaks Mall 8 opened.

Some previous managers: Glenn E. Gilley (1969, 1974-1978), Gregg C. Richardson (1971), Bob Zak (1981), Jeff Shelton (1982-1983), Craig Fincher (1984-1987), Ralph Freehauf

The theatres have movable side masking to handle scope and flat movies. 3 of their 4 auditoriums are 36 feet wide and their smallest one is 30 feet wide (slightly wider than the common 28 foot auditoriums elsewhere).

All movies in this theatre are shown in the correct aspect ratio.

Standard seating. The seats in the auditoriums are old, are from the old theatre that used to be attached to Beltline Mall (Beltline Cinemas), but these old seats are comfortable.

Presentation quality at this theatre was surprisingly good, considering that it was a second-run theatre that ran prints that had been run in other theatres many times before, which tended to make projection problems more likely. This theatre was actually providing better much better projection quality than the Carmike 8, a first run theatre no more than a half mile away. The theatre had good management and staff. Admission here was only $1.50 at the time that it closed. This was a great value. This theatre will definitely be missed.

This theatre's last night of business was Thursday, May 11, 2000.

Thunderbird Drive-In

Opening date: 1964/08/26

First movie shown: 4 For Texas

Opened Wednesday, August 26, 1964. The first movie shown was ????4 For Texas????. Last night of business seems to have been June 29, 1985.

Bowline Drive-In

Opening date: 1955/08/17

First movie shown: Ain't Misbehavin'

Opened Wednesday, August 17, 1955 at 6:00. ????Ain't Misbehavin???? was the movie (shown at 7:30 and 9:30). All-steel 110-foot curved screen, for correct Cinemascope aspect ratio. Free orchids were given to the first 300 ladies on opening night, and Koko the clown gave free balloons to kids. Complete playground, with rides, slides, swings, with attendant on duty, at no charge. Architects: Cail, Yates, and James. Last night of business seems to have been December 3, 1978, after which the Bowline closed for the winter season.

Sunset Drive-In

Opening date: 1949/07/21

First movie shown: Wyoming

The Sunset Drive-In opened Thursday, July 21, 1949 at 6:45. On the first two nights, "Wyoming" was shown, starting at 7:30. On Saturday (third night), "Spoilers of the North" was the movie.

The last night of business for the Sunset Drive-In seems to have been either Friday, January 17, 1958, or Saturday, January 18, 1958. There was no Saturday newspaper during this time period.

Elite Theatre

The Elite Theatre ("for Colored") [remember, it was 1949] seems to have opened at 505 W. Vine Street on April 8, 1949.

During this week: On Friday, "Bipp Bang Boogie" nad "The Killers" were shown. On Saturday, "Law of the Lash" and a "Hep Cap Serenade" short were shown. On Sunday and Monday, "Black Bart" was shown.

The last night of business for the Elite is difficult to determine since advertising was not consistent. It seems to have existed into 1953 (at least as late as February 1).

Roxy Theatre

Opening date: 1941/01/18

First movies shown:

The Roxy Theatre opened on Saturday, January 18, 1941 at 10:00 AM. It was located at 507 Bank Street. "Youth Will Be Served" and "Triple Justice" were run continuously until 11:00 PM. The theatre seated 467.

On Sunday and Monday, "Love They Neighbor" was shown. On Tuesday, "Li'l Abner" was shown, and on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of opening week, "Santa Fe Trail" was shown.

The last night of business for the Roxy seems to have been Saturday, May 27, 1961.

Capitol Theatre

Opening date: 1934/02/24

First movie shown: Fighting For Justice

The Capitol Theatre opened on Saturday, February 24, 1934 at 1:00 PM. "Fighting For Justice" and the first episode of the comedy cartoon "Perils of Pauline" were the first films shown. It was located on 2nd. Avenue and seated 379.

The formal opening of the theatre was on the following Monday, February 26, 1934. "Olsen's Big Moment" was shown that night. On Wednesday and Thursday of opening week, "My Women" was shown. There were 3 changes of program weekly.

The last night of business for the Capitol seems to have been Saturday, May 30, 1953.

Princess Theatre

Opening date: 1919/12/30

First movie shown: Tea for Three

The Princess Theatre opened as a playhouse and road show theatre on Tuesday, December 30, 1919. It is located at 112 Second Avenue, Decatur, AL.

The theatre opened with "Tea for Three" as its first show.

According to the newspaper article from that day, the theatre had a capacity of 1500, and 12 exits to allow the evacuation in under 3 minutes. D. M. Pixley was the original manager. Construction began during the summer of 1919 and all work was done by local contractors. The theatre featured cusioned seats. The number of seats varied throughout the lifetime of the theatre. The number of seats was 989 in 1954.

The site was originally a livery stable built in 1887. It was converted to a theatre in 1919, and was renovated in 1941 (art-deco style).

The Princess closed as a movie theatre July 18, 1978 and became a performing arts theatre in 1983. It has been remodeled and reopened as a playhouse recently. A ribbon cutting ceremony took place on Thursday, February 8, 2001 officially reopening the Princess.

New Star Theatre

The New Star theatre opened in or before 1912 and that is the only piece of information that I currently have. It may have been closed by 1922.

Delite Theatre

Opening date: 1912/03/21

The DeLite Theatre opened on Thursday, March 21, 1912 at 2:00 PM at 605 Second Avenue, New Decatur, AL, according to advertisement (3:00 PM according to newspaper article). Evidentally, there were delays in getting the theatre open because the first advertisement stated a March 10 opening, which was changed to March 18. The advertisements stated that carnations would be given to ladies on opening day.

Here is an excerpt from one of the advertisements for the theatre:

First motion picture theatre in the Decaturs to be equipped with two projecting machines, giving an absolutely continuous performance with no stops to change pictures. These machines are of the latest type -- Powers No. 6, the costliest made.
The advertisements for this theatre used the slogan "The House of a Thousand Delights". The movies advertised to be shown at the theatre for March were "East Lynne", "Lady From the Sea", and "She". There were continuous performances until 10:30 PM.

A later advertisment contained the following:

Carnations to the Ladies Friday, March 29th

Because we promised them to you before, and besides, we want you to see what kind of a picture the genuine gold screen gives, and how easy it is on the eyes.

and also
Screen installed Friday.
Whether this means that the screen was installed on Friday, March 29, 1912, or on Friday, March 22, 1912, is impossible to determine. It appears that either the screen was not installed when the theatre first opened, or the actual opening was delayed until after the screen was installed. Since an article appeared in the March 21 Decaturs Daily describing the grand opening, it appears that March 21 is the correct opening date.

Masonic Theatre

The Masonic Building was completed circa 1890. A theatre operated there in the early 1900s. It was on Johnston Street.

Unknown Name

No longer in operation. Theatre building with unknown name completed at Canal and Church Streets on October 10, 1906.

Opera House

In 1889, it was noted that there was no opera house or theatre in Decatur. The Opera House was built on a 100 foot by 140 foot side running south from Johnston Street and fronting on the east side of 2nd Avenue. It was built by the Cotaco Opera House Company, which incorporated on September 16, 1889.

Site created February 9, 1998

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