Re-Opening Franklin Theatre: The Downtown Movie Theater Becomes More Than Just A Franklin Cinema

by Lindsy

Historic Stuff, Movies

franklin-cinema-closed-2007.jpg Those of you who went to the downtown Franklin movie theater know how great it was!

After 70 years of showing movies in downtown Franklin, the Franklin Cinema closed its doors in January 2007 due to the ever-increasing rent in the area.

That was such a sad day for those of us who frequented the theater.


Franklin Cinema In The Past

Besides playing current movies, Franklin Cinema was a neat venue and it offered a unique service.

The historic building offered 2 movie houses with not only comfy seats, but also tables in front of each seat to either put your food and drinks on or to rest your feet on.

Besides the typical soft drinks and popcorn, Franklin Cinema also offered beer and pizza! It was just a cool place to see a movie and I always ran into friends there.

I will never forget the night my husband and I went to see Austin Powers in Goldmember. (Yup, we like goofy movies!) We were still new to the area and didn’t know too many people. The movie was funny and we had a good time.

When we were leaving, we noticed a couple from our neighborhood was there. They were our age and didn’t have kids yet either. So we stopped and talked to them. Then, another couple we kind of knew from the neighborhood came out of the theater too. Again, our age, no kids. Well, the 6 of us stayed downtown Franklin and had dinner and laughed about the movie. Seven years later, we are all still great friends!

That is the kind of experience we had at the Franklin Cinema.

Efforts To Re-Open The Franklin Theatre

So, what’s happening now?

Thanks to The Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County, efforts are being made to re-open the theater. They have purchased the building and are in the process of determining how the theater can be profitable.


They are going to be renovating it first, and they’re planning to use it as a mixed-use entertainment facility for not just movies but also live entertainment and events. These other events will financially help sustain the movie theater portion of the building.

What they need now are the funds. They estimate needing around $7 million. The community has shown that they are behind this renovation. They got a good start on their goal by getting almost half of the money from 2 locals who believe in the cause, Emily Magid and the Cal Turner Family Foundation.

Also, Southern Exposure Magazine’s annual Turning the Tables fundraiser benefited Save the Franklin Theater in 2008. This event is big and brings in local celebrities as servers for the evening of food, drinks, and entertainment. As well, Franklin resident Jimmy Gentry donated the money from his movie premier, “An American Adventure” to the theater renovations.

Help Get The Franklin Movie Theater Re-Opened

How can you help?

Here are a few ways you can help to save the Franklin Theatre:

philanthropy-franklin-tennessee.jpg 1. You can purchase Franklin Theater t-shirts from Philanthropy, a downtown boutique near the Franklin Cinema. They are neat looking with the historic 1937 photo of the theater on the shirt. (I bought 2!) They sell them for $25 and half of the money goes back the theater.

2. The Heritage Foundation is selling framed shadow boxes with a piece of the original 1937 curtain for $40. (I purchased one as a Christmas gift for a friend.)

3. Of course, you can simply make a donation. The Save The Franklin Theatre brochure has all of the details.

Nowadays, all 3 couples from that one night at Franklin Cinema 7 years ago have kids. Hopefully, one day we can all take them to the Franklin Theater too.


Keep your eye on these sites for the most recent updates: Franklin Theatre Facebook Page and Franklin Theatre Tweets. Here’s the official website for The Franklin Theatre.


UPDATE: Franklin Theater Re-opens!

The new Franklin Theater opened its doors on June 1, 2011.

Here’s a little of the history behind the Franklin Theatre.