ComedySportz

226 19th Street,
Rock Island, IL 61201

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Rocket Cinema 1940

Opened as the Rocket Cinema on November 22, 1939 with Deanna Durbin in “First Love” & Randolph Scott in “20,000 Men a Year”. The single screen movie house was operated by Tri-State Theatres, headed by A.H. Blank and a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures Inc. All 800-seats were on a single level. Interior decorations were carried out by Hanns Teichert. It became the Capri Cinema October 25, 1968, but descended into discount status in the 1970’s and closed at the end of the 1980’s.

A nightclub was later installed inside the Capri Cinema, but it too closed.

In spring of 2005, the theatre, renamed the Brew and View II at the Rocket Cinema, reopened with, as the name implied, a “brew and view” format, which also featured live acts. This lasted until March 2006, and the building again became vacant. In the summer of 2010, it was taken over by a comedy club.

Contributed by Mike Geater

Recent comments (view all 26 comments)

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on August 20, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Already a second run house in 1982.Next is closure.

JeffAdamson
JeffAdamson on September 13, 2010 at 2:48 pm

We have started work this week bringing the theater up to code. The bathrooms that were located in the basement, are being moved to the first floor for handicapped accessibility. Even though some major changes have been made to the inside over the years, we are trying to reproduce the art deco streamline look to the best of our capabilities. The screen is still there, but the projectors are gone be will be replaced soon. The venue will be used for weekly live performances and future film festivals.

JeffAdamson
JeffAdamson on November 28, 2010 at 5:38 pm

The old Rocket Theater has been renamed The Establishment Theater and opened this Thanksgiving weekend to three sold out shows. With a mix of improvisational comedy from ComedySportz and original films from local studios, tickets sales are exceeding expectations. After the original colors were back on the outside building and every light working on the marquee, the theater grabs your attention.

JeffAdamson
JeffAdamson on March 3, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Pictures from the website.
View link

TomBarrister
TomBarrister on September 8, 2011 at 2:04 pm

I remember the Rocket/Capri theater well. It was originally first-run, except for the Fort. You can see the old WHBF (TV and radio) tower behind it. Half a block south (to the viewer’s left) and catty-corner was the Fort Theater, which got most of the first-run movies. In the early to mid 70’s, the Capri became a budget theater: $1 matinees and I believe $2 evenings. Of course it was second-run by then. In the early 1980s it went to 99 cents anytime.

The Showcase Cinemas in nearby Milan, which opened in 1968 with 6 screens, eventually put all of the downtown theaters out of business. It went out of business itself in 2001.

Charlieg55
Charlieg55 on September 25, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Tom Barrister is wrong about the Showcase Cinemas in Milan, Il. This theater complex originally opened with 2 screens, expanded to 3 in 1971, to 6 1975 (they split cinemas 1,2 and 3 in half). By 1980, it was expanded to 11 by once again splitting the existing theaters. Sitting next to the cinemas until its demise in 1978, was the “Memri Drive-In” theater. A “Hy Vee” grocery store now sits at the site of both movie locations. I worked at the “Showcase Cinemas” from late 1970 until mid 1972 as an usher.

screenfx
screenfx on October 23, 2014 at 7:50 pm

I used to work there in the mid 70’s when it was a second run theatre. It was a dumping ground for parent that didn’t want to watch their kids on the weekends. I remember one night they ran a X rated movie starring Farrah Fawcette but it was only X rated because of some cursing. Really ticked off people hoping to see her naked. That was a weird night.

Trolleyguy
Trolleyguy on May 19, 2016 at 8:31 am

Comedy club website: http://www.comedysportzqc.com/

rivest266
rivest266 on July 2, 2017 at 2:48 am

This opened on October 25th, 1968 as Capri. Grand opening ad in photo section.

LouRugani
LouRugani on November 16, 2019 at 9:23 pm

Feb 21, 2006: Less than a year into its reincarnation, the Rocket Theater in downtown Rock Island will fall dark again, a victim of growing competition in the independent film market.

However, Rocket owner and operator Devin Hansen said a couple of as-yet-unnamed parties are interested in reopening the venue once again as a dinner-beverage-and-movie theater.

“I believe we were instrumental in ushering in the commercial independent film market, along with the help of the hundreds of independent film lovers in the area,” Hansen said in a news release Monday. “With the increased competition from the new cinemas in Moline, independent films have become a hot commodity.”

The type of films shown at the Rocket — and Hansen’s former theater business venture, Brew & View, which closed in August — began to be shown at Showcase Cinemas 53 in Davenport and Great Escape Theatre, Moline, taking away much-needed business from the theater that operates on narrow margins.

“ ‘March of the Penguins’ and ‘Brokeback Mountain’ became big hits in multiplexes across the country,” he said. “Had we landed one of these films, our future may have been different.”

While the Rocket owners tried to diversify by showing some mainstream movies and booking local, regional and even some national music acts, it was too little, too late.

“We might have been able to survive as a music-only club had we not had so much debt from both movie theaters,” Hansen said. “Movies were always our main focus, our bread-and-butter, and that simply died.”

Hansen said moving from the smaller Brew & View on 2nd Avenue to the larger Rocket on 19th Street was not a contributing cause to going out of business.

“True, we carried over some debt from the small venue, but it was imperative to our survival to have this larger facility,” he said. “We needed a larger venue to carry us through the dry periods. Unfortunately, we ran out of money and credit before we could see how successful this new venue could be.”

Hansen did not give specifics on the potential new theater operators. He did say that they are not purchasing the business from him, but rather starting from scratch. He said one of the possible operators is a national dinner/movie chain with greater resources.

(Tory Brecht, Quad City Times, Davenport, IA)

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