Park Theatre

3527 Park Avenue,
Memphis, TN 38111

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rivest266 on August 14, 2021 at 10:15 am

Opened in Late January 1947.

rivest266 on August 14, 2021 at 10:13 am

Taken over by Rand Theatres in 1981.

DavidZornig on July 2, 2020 at 7:40 am

Two auditorium photos added. Below description credit Charles Payne. “I grew up in the Sherwood Forest subdivision. My first job was as a concessionist at the Park Theatre. It was an 850 seat neighborhood movie theater located on Park Avenue near the intersection of Park and Highland. It was built in the 1940s and it had a complete apartment upstairs where the original owner lived.”

Iceberg on June 23, 2018 at 6:04 pm

The Park ended its days as a theater in 1984. I think FLASHPOINT may have been its final attraction.

zzralph on December 12, 2012 at 11:48 am

Saw “Battlestar Galactia” the movie in Sensaround, but IMDB does not list the movie. Also saw “Earthquake” & “Rollercoaster” with Sensaround.

TheParkRocked on May 12, 2012 at 8:49 pm

I worked at The Park in 1980-1981. It was the a great place to work.The first movie I saw there was Walking Tall, starring Joe Don Baker,in 1973. The Park got many great movies because it was so large. If I remember correctly it had 849 seats, making it the largest theater in Tennessee. It also had a larger screen than any other theater in Tennessee, was the first Tennessee theater to get surround sound, and the first Tennessee theater to use the 70mm platter system.) Most theaters, at that time, sat around 250. Malco Quartet was the closest thing to a multiplex in Memphis at the time and they weren’t about to devote 3 or 4 screens to one movie in order to compete.

The cool thing about the platter system was that we would have to splice the reels together and then run the movie to make sure everything was correct. We would run it after we closed and all our friends would come to watch the movie and party. Little did the customers know that as soon as the final showing of the night was seated, we loaded up the ice machine with beer. When the movie let out, the party began.

There was an apartment upstairs which was used for storage. We organized the storage in one of the bedrooms, and with some hand-me down furniture, turned the rest of the apartment into our personal party pad. For a time, there were even some “plants” growing beneath the screen stage. Hot looking, unescorted girls rarely had to pay for snacks and we got a few phone numbers and dates out of it. We made it all work out in inventory.

This was during the “Empire Strikes Back” and “Altered States” era,(among other flicks.) Man, I remember laying down to go to sleep and hearing the theme from Empire in my head as I was drifting off. Five showings a day Sunday – Thursday, and six on Friday and Saturday for a six month exclusive and I worked just about every one of them.

Ah, to be young again…..Those were the days!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 5, 2012 at 3:08 pm

This page of a web site called Elvis Presley Pedia list the opening of the Park Theatre as an event of 1940. No source is cited, but the site lists a few other theaters by opening year and it appears to be accurate in those cases.

cjburke on February 20, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I remember seeing Earthquake in “Sensaround!” and wondering if the building could survive repeated showings. I heard later that they had to close down for a short time because of the vibrations. I also remember my brother and his friend taking me with them to see Serpico – first time I remember hearing that many swear words in a movie, including some I’d never heard before.

ghsong on November 23, 2010 at 6:59 pm

i recall standing in line for two hours to get tickets to see ‘jaws'in 1975….the park got the exclusive on movies back then.i recall people brought lawn chairs to wait in line…and less that ten yrs later it was gone.

gannonwolf on September 2, 2010 at 12:10 pm

In 1964 I started working at the Park, the number one grossing theatre in the entire south. I was eleven when my father -John Gannon – was appointed general manager. Prior to that it was a neighborhood theatre showing second run movies like..The Blob. The first great movie to show at The Park was Cat Ballou and what followed was one great movie after another. Things looked alot different at the corner of Park and Highland than today. Needless to say working at the Park from 11 to 17 years of age was an adventure that included the greatest days of my life. To The Park theatre an independent theatre that was the number one grossing theatre in the entire south.
Michael Gannon

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on January 16, 2010 at 1:22 pm

PLaying First run at THE PARK theatre CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. Shows at 7:15 and 9:40 .I find this odd only two shows at a theatre in a city the size of Memphis.Usually cities that size play matinees and evening shows. Not here. two shows!

gspragin on July 23, 2007 at 6:55 pm

Count me in for “Altered States” and “Watership Down” during my Memphis State University days.

PineCabn on April 25, 2006 at 7:07 am

I remember standing in long lines to see “Airport” at the Park. I also saw “Jaws”, “Altered States”, “Brainstorm”, and “The Empire Strikes Back” which kept breaking because of a mis-aligned 70mm gate. The management gladly invited me back to see the movie once the problem was repaired. I also seem to remember a censorship controversy for “Love Story” when it played there.

cinema2 on January 17, 2006 at 5:58 pm

The Park Theater was still in operation into the 80’s. It was one of the last larger single auditoriums in the Memphis area, and possibly THE last one. A great building, too. After it closed it was used for quite a few years by a video production company. They used part of the street address (“35 Park”) as the production company name. I was surprised that the building finally got taken down by the wrecking ball, I suppose in the late 90’s. I believe it has been replaced by yet another national corner pharamcy. A pity, this one. Memphis, like other cities, isn’t particularly protective of its architecture.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on January 10, 2006 at 5:48 am

I saw Natalie Wood’s last film “Brain Storm” at the Park. It was still clean and well kept. I remember the hall being very long and narrow – something like a bowling lane. The sight lines were good with a decent slope to the floor. The most notable exterior feature was it’s late ‘Deco name sign on the triangle marquee. When the recording studio took it over, they kept the name “Park” and did a nice job with their adaptive re-use. Sorry to hear that it’s gone now.

Backseater on December 14, 2005 at 3:29 am

Update: the “satellite” feature of the map function now shows a vacant lot where the Park used to be. Don’t know when it was taken.

Backseater on October 1, 2005 at 3:55 pm

An interesting urban legend about the Park is that when it was built about 1947, Park Avenue was the Southern City Limit, and being on the South side of the street the theater was not legally in Memphis. Lloyd T. Binford was still the Memphis Movie Censor at that time, appointed by E.H. Crump himself in the 1920s. They booked Howard Hughes' “The Outlaw” into the Park —the one where Jane Russell leans over the bed and a soldier in the audience is supposed to have jumped up and shouted “Bombs Away!” It was done very hush-hush, but Binford heard about anyway it and got the Mayor and City Council up in the middle of the night to move the city limits of Memphis 200 yards to the South so he could ban the movie. “The Outlaw” played in West Memphis like all the other “banned in Memphis” shows. That’s the legend anyway. I went to lots of movies at the Park while a student at “Rhodes College” (—gag—) 1963-67, and then again from 1973-1983. It was a large open auditorium with no balcony. Saw “Being There,” “Apocalypse Now,” “Altered States”, and “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” there, among many others over the years. It closed not long after I left Memphis in 1983, was briefly a recording studio (I think) and then was boarded up for a long time. It was still standing in 1998, but I haven’t been back since then. Binford died in 1956, and I didn’t arrive in Memphis until 1963, but he was still a local show-business legend. I broke into show business by tearing tickets at the Guild (1705 Poplar at Evergreen) and the Studio (535 South Highland a few blocks down from the Park near MSU) and heard many amazing stories from the old-timers, most of them probably true. West Memphis had several drive-ins and several large indoor theaters, far more than you’d expect from its size, because they showed all the films that were banned in Memphis.

Shanghai5 on September 27, 2005 at 7:05 am

I know the Park was open when the movie “Midway” came out because that was the very last movie I ever saw there. That was in 1976. I moved from Memphis in 1984 and it was still open at that time.

JackCoursey on July 31, 2005 at 9:17 am

I have a listing for a Park Theatre at 3527 Park Ave in Memphis. The theatre opened sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s and doesn’t appear in any of the listings since 1960.