Northgate Theater

3202 Thomas Street,
Memphis, TN 38127

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obitguy on January 31, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Never had the pleasure of seeing a movie here, but I do remember getting in a fight with my dad over wanting to. We were on a family drive to Shelby Forest when we drove by the theater. It was showing Ray Harryhausen’s “Valley of Gwangi.” I begged my dad to drop me off while they went to the park. It got ugly. Had to wait several more years to see the cowboys vs. dinosaurs saga and then it was on TV.

ghsong on November 23, 2010 at 3:22 pm

the northgate theater holds a special place in the hearts of a lot of kids who grew up in frayser in the 60s…it was the site of many a first kiss.
the theater was run during that time by a very nice lady known only to me as “mrs.ellis”…it showed second,third and fifitieth run double features with a couple of cartoons in between.there were a lot of horror/sci fi movies.ones i actually recall are ‘alligator people,house on haunted hill,4d man"…there were also westerns and every movie elvis ever made..“clambake…change of habit…viva las vegas”…i saw them all there at northgate.a one dollar bill in 1966 would give you admission,a coke and a bag of popcorn…not a bad deal even then.
there was occasionally music there.i recall as a very little boy going there with my dad to see carl perkins.that must have been about 1960.
mrs. ellis would now and then let local garage bands play there at intermisson.

the last time i recall ever going there was about 1971 for a matinee of ‘gone with the wind" which i had never seen.i think it closed shortly after that.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 6, 2009 at 12:17 am

The Northgate opened in 1956. The September 29 issue of Boxoffice gave the opening day as Thursday, which (assuming it was the previous Thursday) would have been the 13th. The 1000-seat, stadium-style theater was operated for its first seven years under lease by Augustine Cianciolo, who also operated the Plaza, Rosemary, Luciann, and Rosewood theaters.

An article about the Northgate in the March 2, 1957, issue of Boxoffice credits the Union Realty Company as the architect of the theater. A photo of the auditorium shows the 47-foot screen almost filling the 50-foot width of the theater, which probably made this one of the first movie houses with a wall-to-wall screen. Thoughtfully, the designers also provided a wheelchair section in the theater, long before such accommodation was required by law.

The December 16, 1963, issue of Boxoffice reported that Nat Reiss would take over full operation of the Northgate Theatre on December 20. The item also said that Cianciolo Theatres had operated the house until December 1, so perhaps it was closed for a few days. The theater was owned by the Belz family, owners of the Northgate Shopping Center.

kidware on February 18, 2007 at 5:57 am

I used to go to this theater nearly every Saturday morning after my bowling league (there was a bowling alley in the basement of the adjacent building). Nothing spectacular, just usual Saturday kids matinees. I remember the shopping center … the first McDonalds I ever went to (15 cent burgers) and a Woolworths with 39 cent banana splits.

Backseater on February 4, 2007 at 9:28 am

It was in the Northgate shopping center way up North of town on the way to Millington, and was already closed when I first saw it in 1973. Appeared to be a typical shopping center theater of the 50s-60s, like the Bellaire in Houston (q.v.) Sorry I can’t tell you more, but I didn’t get up to that part of town much.