Cardinal 3

1916 Stone-Rose Avenue,
Rocky Mount, NC 27804

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Cardinal Theatres 3 brief revival as dollar house, Fall 2000

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located at Stone Rose Drive behind the K-Mart Plaza Shopping Center, the Cardinal Theatre was off Sunset Avenue near Wesleyan Boulevard just a mile down from the Tarrytown Mall. The Cardinal Theatre was Rocky Mount’s first-ever “Ultravision” theatre. The first for the town and the surrounding area. It was a modern theatre both inside and out complete with full lounge seating with full stereophonic sound throughout and giant Ultravision screening that was capable of showing both 70mm and 35mm films.

When it opened in 1972, it was a 750 seat single screen cinema operated under ABC Theatres. The opening attraction on November 2, 1972 was “The New Centurians” starring George C. Scott. By the mid-1970’s a second auditorium was built along side the original auditorium. Last operated by Carmike Cinemas in the 1990’s as a three screen cinema, it did constantly well showing some great films until it’s closing in 1999.

Contributed by raysson

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

NightHawk1
NightHawk1 on September 11, 2012 at 8:37 pm

K-Mart (Crossroads) Plaza and the Cardinal Theatres 3 were on the opposite side of Wesleyan Boulevard (US 301) from Tarrytown Mall (now Sam’s Club). Stone Rose Drive led into Tarrytown Mall’s parking lot, making it possible to go from the mall to the Cardinal without getting onto Sunset.

NightHawk1
NightHawk1 on January 2, 2013 at 8:55 am

The former Cardinal 3 Theatres are still standing; they have not been demolished. I do not know if the bingo parlor that was in this building is still operating, but the building is still there.

OldSchoolMan
OldSchoolMan on April 10, 2013 at 12:16 am

The Cardinal Theatre was a 2-screen theatre through the end of 1983. I know because I managed the theatre in 1983 before being transferred to another. (My best guess is that it became a triple screen around 1985.) The big auditorium played Return of the Jedi in the summer of 1983. We had long lines. Jedi actually opened up in Rocky Mount a few weeks after it opened in Raleigh. Employees wore Star Wars costumes and we cross promoted the film with Tarrytown Mall. I recall a coloring contest where we gave away Star Wars toys. We also had a torpedo style trash can painted like R2-D2. The smaller auditorium was added before 1983…probably the late 1970s. In 1983, we played first run movies (Jedi, Risky Business, Twilight Zone, Breathless, Krull, etc.) Also in the summer of 1983, we had kiddy movies every Tues-Thurs morning. We had a few late shows…mainly horror and Rocky Horror. The theatre was operated by Plitt Southern Theatres. Ushers wore red coats. The ladies wore smocks. I had a great staff that year. They were mainly high school kids. There was a marquee on the building and a sign at the top of the hill on Sunset Ave. Behind the theatre was an abandoned mini golf (Putt Putt) place. K-Mart was still operating. Next door was a chinese restaurant. A coin operated laundry mat was a few shops down the sidewalk. While in Rocky Mount in 2011, I stopped by the old theatre. It was abandoned. Trashy looking. I have a few photos of the theatre from 1983.

NightHawk1
NightHawk1 on June 22, 2013 at 6:28 am

Rocky Mount was apparently slow to embrace multiplex cinemas, as Tarboro got a three-screen cinema at Parkhill Mall in 1982. All of Rocky Mount’s operating indoor theaters in 1982 were twins. Rather odd of Plitt to keep the Cardinal a twin until 1985, as Plitt built the first quad cinema east of Raleigh in Greenville (Plitt Quad AKA Carolina East Center Cinemas) in 1980. The Cardinal eventually succumbed to triplexing and split its larger auditorium before Cineplex Odeon took over in 1987.

Viper652
Viper652 on October 8, 2013 at 7:50 am

I remember seeing Return of the Jedi at the Englewood theater in 1983

raysson
raysson on October 8, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Viper652: RETURN OF THE JEDI played first-run at the Cardinal in 1983 when it was a two screen cinema under Plitt Southern Theatres. It opened on June 24,1983. I have the original newspaper ad on where it played!!!! If you need to see it,please contact me at and I can sent it to you A.S.A.P!!!

ALSO VIPER…..Check the website Digital Bits too…. http://www.digitalbits.com Retrospective article on the 30th Anniversary of JEDI And where it played first-run in North Carolina!!!

Viper652
Viper652 on October 10, 2013 at 7:52 am

Thanks Raysson. I could have sworn I saw it at Englewood. I was just a toddler.

Must have been a 2nd run perhaps? I also remember seeing ET, Back to the future, and Goonies at Englewood.

righter40
righter40 on January 7, 2014 at 2:57 am

I managed this theatre from the summer of 1984 til the spring of 1985. “Karate Kid” was our big summer picture.

raysson
raysson on January 13, 2014 at 11:10 pm

“E.T.” also played first run at the Cardinal 1 & 2 in 1982 when it was still a two screen theatre. The film played in its largest auditorium to capacity crowds.

gvout
gvout on October 17, 2014 at 2:25 am

I started at the Cardinal Theater in January 1976 as janitor, and worked my way up to Asst. Mgr. for 2 and a half years and manager for just over a year. Managers I worked under were Tom Rickards, Robbie Presnell, Loren Montgomery and Willie Lackey.

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