Hart Theatre

227 Convention Street,
Baton Rouge, LA 70802

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Grand opening ad

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Often forgotten in discussions of the opulent (and connected by passageway) Paramount Theatre, the Hart Theatre was opened in 1941 as a pure movie theater with a showing of "Meet John Doe." It was operated by Paramount Pictures Inc. through their subsidiary E.V. Richards (who also operated the Paramount Theatre). It had a miniscule facade and entrance for such a large building. The main area of seating in the Hart Theatre was backed by a large stadium-style rear portion. Patrons entered from Convention Street down a long hallway to the concession stand, and then into the auditorium in between the main and stadium sections.

The Hart Theatre played the biggest and best of new releases into the early-1970’s, when it began to lose some of its drawing power. Big hits were still to be found throughout the mid-decade, but second runs and many second-tier martial arts projects often filled the bills. Still popular to the end, however, were the "Loose Late Shows" on Saturday. Some of Richard Pryor’s biggest hits of the late-1970’s (notably "Which Way Is Up?" were among the last big moneymakers at the Hart Theatre.

The Paramount Theatre had closed it doors in October 1978, but the Hart Theatre plugged on for another couple of months. After booking one of the bigger potential hits of the Christmas season with "Force Ten From Navarone" the theater announced its closing right around New Year’s Eve.

By September 1979, Baton Rouge movie fans mourned the rubble that became the entire half-block of downtown that had housed these two great theaters thanks to the wrecking ball.

Contributed by Fred Sliman

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

FredSliman on August 10, 2011 at 7:02 pm

What a surprise to find this great old theatre featured in the opening scene of “Last of the Mobile Hot Shots,” the Tennessee Williams adaptation with James Coburn from 1970. Though set in the New Orleans and plantation areas, the production designer, Gene Callhan, was a Baton Rouge native and obviously had the idea to use the marquee and facade to suggest a television station (WART) with the H covered by a W to match the other letters.

rivest266 on January 11, 2012 at 4:17 pm

This opened on June 21st, 1941. The grand opening ad has been posted here. In 1973-1974 it was part of the Riverside Mall Cinema Center.

WilliamCarroll on February 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm

I was just reading about the restoration of the Lakefront Airport in New Orleans, and about some of the Xavier Gonzales murals inside. I was suddenly reminded of a beautiful mural depicting the city of Baton Rouge, that was inside the lobby of the Hart Theatre. It showed the Baton Rouge skyline, including the old and new state capitol buildings, as well as enormous round tanks over at the Standard Oil refinery. I am not sure who painted the mural – it may have been by Gonzales, or by his friend and colleague Conrad Albrizio. Albrizio is remembered today for his murals inside the lobby of the new state capitol building in Baton Rouge. Albrizio and Gonzales both painted murals inside Louisiana post office lobbies during the 1930s.

Rockman on February 5, 2015 at 8:34 pm

I remember the airplane murals on the walls near the screen. Also the long walk to the concession counter after entering. And the ancient little ladies at the concession counter.

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