Riverside Theatre

3250 Riverside Drive,
Danville, VA 24541

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50sSNIPES on March 1, 2022 at 5:38 am

The Riverside became a twin on Christmas Day 1974.

50sSNIPES on August 8, 2021 at 4:23 pm

The Riverside Theatre opened its doors on July 27, 1967 with John Wayne in “El Dorado”.

This theater is a rocking chair theater with ultra-vision and 6-channel surround stereophonic sound system, including free parking at front door parking. The Riverside Theatre’s screen is 50x20ft, with a 12ft mammoth curvature which is designed to eliminate distortion and present a perfect picture. It also includes an electronic air conditioner system that can provide 25% more output. This system works with all 4 seasons as the temperature is automatically regulated with a direct relationship to the outdoor temperature. The projection is on a direct line to the screen providing a sharpness in distortion-free viewing. The wall-to-wall screen represents a combination of correlated elements, scientifically designed for the particular auditorium-taking into consideration on both sizes and curvature, property related to the height and width of the auditorium and to the width and length of the screen. The screen also reflects light evenly and efficiently over the entire area, providing a concept in depth of large-screen presentations. A full-range stereophonic sound system was installed as well. The theater contains the auditorium draped in material of rich blues, greens, and golds to completely harmonize with a huge amount of deep-piled green, from the carpet to the upholstered rocking chair seats to the large lobby and covered canopy entrance.

Paul Jones was the original manager, who has been apart of the business since being an usher in Greensboro, North Carolina at the National Theatre since 1925 while he was in high school. He explains on how his theater business was, but it was a very long story. He faced on with many popular silent films such as “Big Parade”, the original 1925 version of “Ben Hur”, and “Hell’s Angels”, including the first sound film for the National Theatre, “The Lights Of New York” as an usher. A short time after graduating high school in 1928, he left for High Point to work as a doorman. He thought that running both of those was tough and was not enough to support his family including his new wife Stella in 1930. Despite at that time being the highest paid job for $55 per week for being either a doorman or an usher was too much, but however, they used to refer themselves as the “privileged few”. Flash-forward more than a decade ago and right when World War II started to faded away in 1945, theatre managers became fallen for short supply. He was called to return to the office in a managerial capacity, but only until war concluded its stunt. By the time the war completely died, he found himself in the peculiar position of being more variable to his company in the front office than a projectionist. There were many men who took up a trade of projectionist while being apart of the military service. So he continued to stay year after year wanting to get back into technical field. He finally returned back to the theatre business in 1950. He operated a few theaters and drive-ins until 1957 when he worked as a sales representative for sometime between a year. For 6 months beginning in October or November 1957, his former home bases such as the Center Theatre in High Point, North Carolina, but he moved to Virginia in Danville later on and worked at Danville’s Rialto Theatre after the original manager, Al Barber, became ill, and started to fill his appointment on April 9, 1958. He was transferred to Charlottesville, Virginia in 1959 to be apart of Danville Enterprises. He thought that it was a big job but the position he told had been previously pleasant by such men as Charlie Abererombie, Charlie Lewis, and John Knight. He felt very happy to become the manager of the Riverside Theatre to fit his journey again. He would also later become the president and manager of the Riverside Merchant Association. Danvillians were starting to die down by 1977 possibly due to most Danvillians taken a huge vacation population. Paul noticed that helping throughout the years and into the nearby future “definitely really helps a whole lot, because there’s a whole lot of money put into their hands, so they come out here and spend their perfect time and money, and they enjoyed it”.

dbatman on February 12, 2016 at 9:59 pm

The six screen theatre never came to Danville at the mall. There was announcements about it being built on the upper level of the mall just above Hills Dept store. But with the movie business taking a slump in the 90’s due to videos and then later DVDs rentals, plans were cancelled by the company that was planning on coming here. It was just to risky at the time.

cc44 on December 29, 2013 at 11:06 pm

raysson, why not list it then?

raysson on December 29, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Oh yes,there was also a six screen theatre that is NOT listed here on Cinema Treasures that was located at Danville’s Piedmont Mall that was under Cineplex Odeon.

raysson on December 6, 2013 at 1:11 pm


1968-1971 Wilby Kincey Theatres

1971-1978 ABC Southeastern Theatres

1978-1987 Plitt Southern Theatres

1987-1991 Cineplex Odeon/Plitt Southern Theatres

1991-2000 Carmike Cinemas

hsc on April 19, 2013 at 9:56 am

I can’t remember the exact year it opened, but the Riverside opened in the mid-sixties as a single theater, and was “twinned” years later when the Riverside 2 was built onto the side.

It was located in the Riverside Shopping Center, and marked the shift of the hardtop theaters from along Main St. row (except for the drive-ins, the theaters in town were actually all along one continuous stretch that went from the North to the Schoolfield) to the shopping centers.

The Riverside had a wider auditorium and larger lobby than the other theaters, and the other selling points were “rocking chair” seating and “UltraVision”, which I suppose meant that the screen was wider and curved slightly.

The screen had curtains that closed before each showing, then opened to the appropriate width; if they opened wider than usual, you knew you were in for a treat. I remember seeing “Deliverance” there in first-run, and the wide-screen format was exceptional in this setting. The “Dueling Banjos” scene also kicked into surround sound, as did the whitewater scenes.

Another memorable Riverside experience was the re-release of Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”. Not only did the movie look great, but the opening and end shots of the film feature curtains opening and closing, to which the opening and closing of the actual theater curtains added an extra dimension.

The Riverside 2 was added to accommodate more films running in Danville; by this point, Danville only had three hardtops— the Riverside, the Park, and the Plaza— and all three became twins.

The Riverside 2 was a smaller, “no frills” theater, though I believe it also had “rocking chair” seating, which was pretty commonplace by then. It tended to get the less-“visual” features that would play the Riverside.

(Oh, yeah, I actually saw “2010” there, but not “Protocol”.)

raysson on May 18, 2012 at 10:43 am

“2010” was the unsuccessful sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 science-fiction masterpiece “ 2001”. It was no wonder that Kubrick was furious with MGM after what they did to his beloved film. Kubrick was set to direct the sequel,but was cut in favor of director Peter Hyams.

raysson on May 18, 2012 at 10:41 am


On the marquee from December of 1984,indicating that this was a twin cinema..aka The Riverside Twin.

Screen 1: Roy Schneider and John Lithgow in “ 2010”

Screen 2: Goldie Hawn in “Protocol”.

By 1984,this theater was under Carmike Cinemas.

raysson on May 18, 2012 at 10:38 am

Any indication on the status of the Riverside Theater.

Did this opened as a single screen cinema?

What year did the Riverside opened? 1967? 1968?