Gem Theatre

111 W. 1st Street,
Kannapolis, NC 28081

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Related Websites

Gem Theatre (Official)

Additional Info

Functions: Movies (First Run)

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 704.932.5111

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News About This Theater

Doors into the Gem Theatre Kannapolis,N.C. May 2013

The Gem Theatre opened for business on December 31, 1936, under the management of Cannon Memorial YMCA. At that time, it had a seating capacity of 1,200; however, it seats about 900 now.

A fire destroyed the back portion of the place in early-1942, but it was soon rebuilt and reopened. The theatre was rebuilt again and had a second grand opening on March 15, 1948, at which time admission was 12 cents for kids and 40 cents for adults.

The theatre is built in Art Deco style, which began in the mid-1920’s and continued into the 1940’s. Many of the original Art Deco architectural details have survived: the neon sign above the marquee, the decorative chevrons incorporated into the building’s fa├žade, the sconces and the decorative coverings over the theatre speakers. The Gem Theatre has been “The Showplace of Kannapolis” for 72 years now.

The price of admission has gone up since 1948, but not much. For movies starting before 6 p.m., admission is $2 a person (any age), and after 6 p.m., admission is adults $4; kids 2 to 12, $2; seniors 55 and older, $2. The box office opens 30 minutes before the scheduled start time of the movie and accepts cash only. Popcorn is $1.25 or $2 for the big bucket, drinks are $1.25, $1.50 and $2 and all candy is 75 cents.

On December 3, 2021 the Gem Theatre was added to the list of National Register of Historic Places.

Contributed by Cordelia Anderson, Kenneth B. Walter

Recent comments (view all 79 comments)

kenbob62 on April 22, 2009 at 10:21 am

Here are a few old photos of the Gem from a book I have.

View link

View link

kenbob62 on April 22, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Also have a picture of the Colonel here

View link

towelcitycanon on January 10, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Hello, Cinema! Nice to see this site. My hometown, Kannapolis, NC’s Gem Theatre, boasts lots of history and it’s very nice to see others throughout this country and the diversity the offer. I’m a photographer and graphic designer here and try to capture images as often as I can. Please visit, to see my gallery. Thanks!

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 22, 2011 at 5:17 pm

I loved that one-sheet on “OSTERMAN WEEKEND” we played it 1983 I think,so by the time they got it it must have been second run.I wish I would have kept the one-sheet instead of giving it away.Great pictures.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on April 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Might have been for small towns,Hope the print was decent.still wish I would have kept that one-sheet.

buffalodavid on March 6, 2012 at 11:51 pm

I was an usher there in the late sixties. The first movie when I worked there was The Dirty Dozen. There were trap doors and hidden passageways everywhere. I’ve been told that the hidden telephone booth is still on the second floor, and is still hidden. I used to change the marquee, and rearrange the letters , just for a few minutes. Then change them back. Once, the movie was , A Man Called Dager. It was supposed to say “ A Secret Agent You’ll Get Stuck On”. For a few minutes it said … You Can Suck On.

Once, we showed “ Nobody’s Perfect” and I put the P in backwards. I got caught, but Clyde, the manager liked it and told me to leave it in.

QualityGEMsNC on January 22, 2015 at 9:10 pm

I’ve been working at the GEM Theatre for 8 years coming up in February, and it is an awesome place to be at. My first major movie that I worked was “Ghost Rider” with Nicholas Cage in early 2007. Many of the relics of the past still accompany the theater, like the older style curtains, the art deco over the side speakers, and the old Century projector. I have been a projectionist since late 2007-early 2008 and I have seen the projection equipment change over time from 35mm to full digital. Right now we are using a digital projector, which has a beautiful picture with full 5.1 surround sound. I like the new projector for it’s automation and computer capabilities, but I miss the simplicity of the 35mm Century projector and how each different projectionist had his own way of making the transitions work.

The info on this site is a little behind, but you can find out all you want to know from our website at and I will provide some of the info as well. We are no longer cash only, as we do accept credit & debit cards from Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. Movie Prices before 6PM are $4 for everyone, after 6PM $4 for children 2-12 (children under 2 are free) and seniors 55+ and $5 for adults. Summer Movie Matinees will be cheaper, but usually aren’t new/first run movies. You can preorder tickets online from or from our website at and we have an easy to use mobile site as well! Concession prices are as follows: Fresh and Delicious GEM-Theatre Popcorn: $1.75 Small, $2.50 Medium, $4 Large. Pepsi soda drinks: $1.75 Small, $2 Medium, $2.50 Large. All Candy are $1 each. Siberian Chill slushies are $2.50 Small and $3.50 Large. Bottled Water, Gatorade and Green Teas are $2 each. NEW DippinDots icecreams are $4 per pouch.

I grew up in this theatre, I’ve worked in thins theatre, I’ve brought dates to this theatre. It’s the greatest theatre in my opinion because it’s affordable and we get the majority of big releases. I hope all of you can visit and enjoy your time at Kannapolis' Jewel, the GEM Theatre!

DavidZornig on August 22, 2017 at 8:39 pm

1970 photo added courtesy of the Cannon Mills, Kannapolis, NC 1887-2003 Facebook page.

DavidZornig on May 17, 2021 at 8:51 am

Reopening plan with upgrades.

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