Movie Theatre Information:  Huntsville and Decatur, Alabama

©1998-2006, Evans A Criswell

Historical Information: Alabama: Gadsden

Premiere 16

The Premiere 16 opened during the October 29, 2003 to November 1, 2003 time period. An article from the Gadsden Times from October 13, 2003 stated that the theatre would open on October 29, 2003 with half its auditoriums running, with the other half opening in November. The showtimes provided by the company seemed to indicate that November 1, 2003 was the opening day, with 8 auditoriums in use. This information will be clarified by examining actual newspaper advertisements from that period.

The theatre was opened by Premiere Cinema Corporation and will have a total of 2842 seats. Four of the auditoriums have 50 foot screens and seating capacities of around 340, with the other auditoriums being smaller. The theatre is located in the Gadsden Mall in the old Belk building, in which J C Penney later came and went. The building is 67000 square feet. Stadium seating and digital sound are in all auditoriums, along with high-backed, love-seat rocking chairs with fold-up arm rests.

Rainbow Cinema 8 [Litchfield]

Opening date: 1979/12/21

First movies shown:

Fairlane Litchfield Theatres opened this theatre, the Rainbow Cinemas, on Friday, December 21, 1979, with 4 auditoriums, at 948 Rainbow Drive (US 411), across from Gadsden Mall. The first 100 moviegoers received one All-American meal from McDonalds. The following movies were shown on the theatre's first night of business:

The Black HoleDolby Stereo(2:20)(4:20)7:209:15
The RoseDolby Stereo(1:45)(4:20)7:009:30
Roller Boogie (2:30)(4:30)7:209:15
1941 (2:00)(4:30)7:109:25

The theatre was upgraded to an 8-plex during 1988. Ads from January and April of 1988 listed 4 movie showings. Ads from July and October of 1988 listed 6 movie showings. 8 movie showings were listed in January 1989. The theatre did not appear to have all 4 back auditoriums added and opened all at once.

The theatre closed for a brief period in early 2001. Hamilton Theatres, who have been in business for 51 years (as of 2001), took over the operation on February 1, 2001, and began renovations. The back four auditoriums: 5, 6, 7, and 8, were expanded and were expanded by adding approximately 100 seats to their original 80. All auditoriums were upgraded to digital sound and improvements were made to the projection systems. The theatre reopened February 9, 2001 and 2 auditoriums at a time were closed for renovation.

Mall Triple Cinemas [Georgia Theatre Co.]

Opening date: 1974/07/31

First movies shown:

Gadsden Mall Cinemas opened on Wednesday, July 31, 1974, at 1:45 PM. It was located in Gadsden Mall, which opened that same day. The theatre featured rocking chairs and two auditoriums. There was an open-house on July 30, 1974 (with the rest of the mall). The movies "The Great Gatsby" and "Three Musketeers" were shown on the theatre's first night of business.

The third auditorium was opened August 3, 1979. Movies shown that day were the following: "Just You and Me, Kid" at 2:30, 4:30, 6:30, 8:30, "The Concorde: Airport '79" at 2:00, 4:20, 6:40, and 9:00, "Amityville Horror" at 2:15, 4:35, 6:55, and 9:15.

During its final years, the theatre was operated by Carmike Cinemas under the name "Mall Triple Cinemas". It closed in 1999. During its lifetime, it was operated by Gadsden Theatres (who also operated the Pitman, Rebel Drive-in, Rainbow Drive-In, and Gadsden Cinemas) during the July 1975 to 1980 time period. Georgia Theatre Company operated these theatres in 1974 . and 1975 before Gadsden Theatres took them over.

Quarles Theatres reopened this theatre in October 2000. It closed after the Premiere 16 Cinemas opened in the mall.

I saw one movie at this theatre during either late summer, or fall, of 1987. It was "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles". It was the third movie I'd ever seen in an indoor theatre.

Gadsden Cinemas

Opening date: 1970/04/30

First movie shown: King of the Grizzlies

The Gadsden Cinema officially opened Thursday, April 30, 1970 at 2:00 by Gadsden Theatres, Inc. with 863 rocking chair seats. It was located next to the Agricola Shopping Center. The first movie shown was Walt Disney's "King of the Grizzlies", showing at 2:50, 4:40, 6:30, 8:20, and 9:50 opening day. The theatre featured a transistorized sound system, Xenon projection lights, and fully draped walls. A premiere showing was held the night before, and around 400 attended. H. R. Bramlitt was the city manager of Gadsden Theatres, Inc. at the time of the theatre's grand opening.

The theatre was twinned in the Spring of 1976, with the grand opening as a twin theatre on Friday, May 28, 1976. Upon reopening, its advertisements identified it as the "Gadsden Cinema I and Cinema II", with "Gadsden's Newest and Most Modern Twin Cinemas" in the ad. The movies shown on this reopening night were the following: In Cinema I, Walt Disney's "Ride a Wild Pony" at 7:00 and 9:45, and "Dumbo" at 8:40, and in Cinema II, "Tommy" at 7:00 and 9:00. I have heard that after twinning, the original radial seating was not redone, so that the seats in each auditorium were angled toward the center of the original screen, which ended up being the corners of the new twinned auditoriums.

This theatre closed in 1989 and officially reopened on Friday, March 19, 1993 as a second-run 4-plex theatre. The main advertising point was $1.00 shows, although Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night shows were $1.50. "Why Pay More" appeared in the ads. The opening ad claimed that the theatre was "Totally Renovated, Completely Remodeled". An open house was held on Thursday, March 18, 1993, the night before the reopening, from 6:00 to 9:00. Free Pepsi and popcorn were advertised for the open house. The movies shown on the official reopening night were the following: "Forever Young" at 7:15 and 9:15, "Home Alone 2" at 7:00 and 9:15, "Alive" at 7:05 and 9:30, and "Nowhere to Run" at 7:25 and 9:20.

This theatre later closed again and reopened later as a first-run theatre on November 5, 1999. The theatre closed again in mid to late 2002.

Bama Theatre

No longer in operation. Located on Forrest Avenue. Managed by Thomas Gentry. Westerns were shown on Saturday mornings. Probably opened in the late 1940s or in 1950. Closed in the 1955 to 1959 time frame. A skating rink was later located in the building.

Pitman Theatre

Opening date: 1947/09/26

First movie shown: Slave Girl

The Pitman opened on Friday, September 26, 1947 (Slave Girl was movie shown on opening night), and seated around 1100 (other source said 850). It is located on the 600 block of Broad Street, and had the largest screen in Gadsden at time of opening, and had air conditioning and push-back seats. The theatre was erected and owned by Dr. H. W. Frank, for use by Aiga Theatres, Inc. (Charles S. Pitman was the head of Aiga). James E. Rourke was the first manager of the Pitman. The opening advertisements stressed that no outside screen advertising would appear on the Pitman screen, and that the screen would be used for entertainment only. On January 9, 1981, the theatre began to operate on weekends only, and closed in 1981. It opened for a one-week period from September 27, 1983 to October 2, 1983 for showing of a film series (which ended with Singin' in the Rain). The theatre was purchased by the city of Gadsden in 1986.

Rebel Drive-In

Opening date: 1964/08/07

The Rebel Drive-In opened August 7, 1964 and closed in October 1985. Was originally the Grove Drive-In which opened in 1949.

Lake Rhea Drive-In

Opening date: 1968/08/01

First movie shown: The Texan

The Lake Rhea Drive-In opened on August 1, 1968 and was co-owned by Cecil Quarles. The first show was ????A Matter of Innocence???? starring Hayley Mills, followed by ????The Texan???? starring Audie Murphy. Closed by 1974.

Attalla Theatre

No longer in operation.

Rainbow Drive-In

Opening date: 1952/09/26

First movie shown: The Dual at Silver Creek

The Rainbow Drive-In opened Friday, September 26, 1952 at 6:00 by C. S. Pitman. R. Ward Wright may have begun the building of the theatre and sold interests to C. S. Pitman, but that is unverified. ????The Dual at Silver Creek???? was the movie shown on opening night. On June 30, 1977, a tornado destroyed it. Rainbow Cinemas was built on same site.

Ranch W Drive-In

Opening date: 1952/07/19

First movie shown: Calvary Scout

The Ranch W Drive-In opened on Saturday, July 19, 1952 on Piedmont Highway about half a mile from the Gadsden City Limits (1.5 miles behind GoodYear). It could accommodate 300 vehicles and featured water-cooled projectors. ????Calvary Scout???? was the movie shown on opening night. The theatre was owned and operated by R. Ward Wright. Existed in 1954.

Etowah Theatre

No longer in operation. Existed in 1950. Closed by 1970.

Princess Theatre

No longer in operation. Located at 503 Broad Street. Opened in the late 1920s (existed January 1927). Seated 1119. Renovated in 1937 to compete with the Gadsden Theatre (auditorium enlarged and expanded, an art-deco facade was added to the exterior, air-conditioning added). Had vaudeville shows and motion pictures. Managed by D. B. Dixon in the 1940s. Last night of business was Monday, November 4, 1963. After closing for the night, the theatre was destroyed by fire.

Lyric Theatre

No longer in operation. Existed in the 1930s in Alabama City.

Ritz Theatre

Opening date: 1927/07/04

No longer in operation. Opened July 4, 1927. Located in Alabama City. Closed by 1965.

Grove Drive-In

Opening date: 1949/07/09

First movie shown: Three Daring Daughters

The Grove Drive-In opened on Saturday, July 9, 1949 at Alabama City on Attalla Boulevard. It was owned and operated by R. Ward Wright, could accommodate 500 vehicles, and featured a modern refreshment bar with curb service. The movie shown on opening night was ????Three Daring Daughters????. The theatre closed in 1957 and reopened August 7, 1964 as the Rebel Drive-In.

Tower Drive-In

Opening date: 1947/09/30

First movie shown: Centennial Summer

The Tower Drive-In opened on Tuesday, September 30, 1947 and when it opened, was called simply ????The New Drive-In Theatre????. It was located in East Gadsden on Anniston Highway (US 431) at the current site of Public Wholesale, which was earlier a Wal-Mart. The movie shown on opening night was ????Centennial Summer????. R. Ward Wright owned and operated the theatre. ????Bring All Crying Babies???? appeared in the advertisements when the theatre opened. The theatre closed in late 1956.

Coosa Theatre

No longer in operation. Located at 723-5 E. Broad Street. Existed in 1950. Closed by 1960. Seated 840.

Dixie Theatre

No longer in operation. Existed in 1940. (Was not there November 1938, May 1939). Opening date is after May 1, 1939. Closed by 1955.

Capitol Theatre

No longer in operation. Opened in the late 1920s. Closed by 1955. Was located at 516 Broad Street, across the street from the Princess Theatre. Was famous for showing great Western movies. The lady who sold tickets was known as the lady in red since she always wore red.

Liberty Theatre

No longer in operation. Located in Attalla. Existed in 1945. Closed by 1955. Seated 456.

Carver Theatre

No longer in operation. Negro theatre. Was located at 113 N. 6th Street. Probably opened in the late 40s or in 1950. Replaced the Gem Theatre, which was located a few doors down. Managed by Harold T. Spears. Still existed in the late 1950s. Seated 475. Was used as a gathering place for Civil Rights marches organized by Q. D. Adams in the 1960s.

Gem Theatre

No longer in operation. Negro theatre. Located on North Sixth Street. Existed in 1954. Opened around or before 1946.

Belle Theatre

No longer in operation. Located at 505 Broad Street. Opened in 1911. Owned and operated by J. Roy Hunt. Populartiy took off in 1915 when Hunt began filmings in North Alabama to show at the theatre. Later sold to Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Wood. Hunt went to Hollywood for a career as a cinematographer. He filmed over 150 movies.


No longer in operation. Located at Canterbury Station in Alabama City. Opened around 1910.

Air-Dome Theatre

No longer in operation. Located on South Third Street next to the Hayden-Pake Theatre. Canvas structure similar to a circus tent. Seated 1000 people and had both motion pictures and live shows. Opened in 1910.

Pasttime Theatre

No longer in operation. Located at 435 Broad Street. Opened in late 1900s.

Alamo Theatre

No longer in operation. Located at 506 Broad Street. Opened in 1908.

Gadsden Theatre

No longer in operation. Located at 120 S. 3rd Street. Opened in 1908. Closed on October 31, 1954 (had 851 seats then). Demolished in 1958 to make room for drive-in tellers and parking lot at American National Bank. Originally called the Hayden-Pake Theatre and could originally seat 1200 patrons. Live shows starring Boob Brasfield and his daughter Bonnie were popular.


No longer in operation. Motion picture theatre located on Broad Street. Opened in December 1906.


No longer in operation. Motion picture theatre located on Broad Street. Opened in December 1906.


No longer in operation. First movie theatre in Gadsden. Located at 315 Broad Street. Opened in December 1906.

Kyle's Opera House

Opening date: 1881/11/29

No longer in operation. Opera house that opened November 29, 1881. It was built and operated by Colonel R. B. Kyle. It was in the 400 block of Broad Street. It was the second brick building erected on Broad Street (the first was the Kyle building next door). There was a store underneath the opera house, with stairs leading to the main doors. Lucrecia Borgia was first engagement, starring Clarie Scott. Capacity was 1100 seats. On July 4, 1883, a fire burned nearly two city blocks of downtown Gadsden. The fire burned itself out when it reached the brick walls of the building. Suffered a destructive fire in 1902.

Dramatic Hall

No longer in operation. Cultural art theatre that operated in the 1870s. Small wooden building that was constructed like a Greek temple.

Site created February 9, 1998

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