Warner Theatre

332 5th Avenue,
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Stanley-Warner Theatres, Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

Architects: Charles Howard Crane

Previous Names: Grand Theatre

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Warner Theatre

This beautiful movie palace was a major theatre in Pittsburgh. It opened as the Grand Theatre on March 7, 1918 with Douglas Fairbanks in “Headin' South” and Winifred Westover in “Her Husband’s Wife”.

Renamed Warner Theatre on January 2, 1930. From October 1953, it was converted into a Cinerama theatre. It showed many of the reserved seat engagements during the 1960’s, such as "Ben-Hur," "The Alamo," "Exodus,".

The elaborate interior was primarily beige with deep red carpeting and curtains. Its large marquee posted huge mylars on its side, depicting the poster artwork for the current film. This made the theatre a special focus in the downtown center, especially at night.

The theatre was later left to deteriorate. I remember an article in the 1980’s about a poor woman who was hit by a portion of the ceiling while watching a film. Not long after, the theatre was closed on April 14, 1983 with a special benefit premiere of Jennifer Beals in “Flashdance”.

The auditorium was demolished, and a two story shopping center named Warner Center was built on the site. Today you can see the beautiful doors and a portion of the huge lobby which was retained.

Contributed by Kenneth Kunkel

Recent comments (view all 87 comments)

StarryGreen on October 14, 2013 at 10:21 am

I would have loved to go the Warner when it was open. Can anyone confirm that the theater is haunted?

johnbarchibald1 on November 21, 2013 at 5:52 pm

I saw a lot of movies at the Warner, mostly first-run roadshows, from “Seven Wonders of the World,” in 1957, up to “The Exorcist,” in 1973. The Warner was the only theatre in Pittsburgh that had the Cinerama franchise, with the 3-projector system of showing those extravaganzas. So, I saw “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm,” “How the West Was Won,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” and “2001” all there. I also saw “Ben-Hur” there many times, first in its original release, in early 1960, and later for its reissue, in 1969. I even saw a re-issue there of Disney’s “Fantasia,” in 1964, which had been stretched out to imitate widescreen. Weird. (Although, that was the last time the good folks at Disney included the original, uncut version of “The Pastoral Symphony,” with the little pickaninny, black centaurette, named “Sunflower,” who was disappeared from the next reissue, in 1970, and whose existence the studio has more or less disowned ever since. But that, as they say, is another story.) I still recall the long lobby connecting the street entrance to the Warner auditorium, where you entered in about the middle of the audience, and had to walk to your left to get up to the back of the downstairs seating. I miss all those movie palaces of yore!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 21, 2013 at 8:36 pm

StarryGreen: Yes, the description now states that the Warner opened as the Grand Theatre, but it didn’t say that at the time I asked the question. When I first visited Cinema Treasures I wondered why so many comments just repeated things that were already stated in the theater descriptions, but it turned out to be the other way around.

The descriptions are periodically updated by the site’s editor with new information that is posted in comments, such as K2’s reply to my question, confirming my suspicion that this house was once the Grand. Be sure to check back now and then to see if something new has been discovered about the theater.

rivest266 on September 12, 2014 at 4:28 pm

December 31st, 1929 grand opening as Warner in photo section

DavidZornig on December 16, 2019 at 1:44 pm

2005 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette piece on the Warner.


Cinerama on April 4, 2023 at 5:23 pm

Hey WarnerChatham,

When did you take the pictures of the Warner theatre?

WarnerChatham on April 7, 2023 at 3:23 am

The Pictures were taken between 1980 and 1983 when I worked there.

Cinerama on November 20, 2023 at 12:18 pm

So WarnerChatham, the deeply curved Cinerama screen was still there before they closed?

WarnerChatham on November 20, 2023 at 4:56 pm

That is correct. The curved Cinerama screen was still being used up until the Theater closed in April of 1983. The curtain still opened and closed properly as well.

MSC77 on December 26, 2023 at 8:40 am

Fifty years ago today THE EXORCIST opened here. The Warner was among only two-dozen cinemas in twenty-one North American markets to play the film at release launch.

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