Kings Court Theater

3807 Forbes Avenue,
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

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Kings Court Theater

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In 1965 George and Ernest Stern of Associated Theaters converted an old city police station in Pittsburgh’s Oakland section into a first-run motion picture theater that was adjacent to the campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Because the outside of the police station had a sort of English castle motif, it was called the Kings Court Theater. Its location next to Pitt’s campus made it a popular theater for a number of decades, premiering many of the hot "youth-oriented" pictures of the late-1960’s and 1970’s and for years running midnight movies, especially “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” wherein patrons would dress like the characters in the film and act it out along with the screening.

I worked at the theater in 1980 and 1981 as a cleaner after showings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. What a mess it was—rice everywhere, along with toilet paper, playing cards, toast, and other things, all watered down from being soaked with water from spray bottles. Then there were the bathrooms, where patrons frequently had consumed too much alcohol before attending the showing and didn’t make it. I worked with another woman and we usually filled 18-20 large garbage bags with trash. But it was a lot of fun to work there!

The theater was later sold and leased by a coffeehouse chain and was turned into a combination coffeehouse/movie/concert theater called the Beehive Oakland, which also was very popular. But after a number of years, the building’s owners and/or realty management company refused to renew the lease. The building currently is empty.

Contributed by Ron Miller

Recent comments (view all 31 comments)

SusanD
SusanD on December 8, 2010 at 6:12 pm

I remember when I was 16 or 17 seeing the movie “Clerks” here (a Generation-X moive if there ever was one). By then it was the Beehive and yes, the Beehive made a mess of it trying to look “eclectic”.

milanp
milanp on December 26, 2010 at 10:20 am

I remember driving to Pittsburgh with my parents to see “The Last Picture Show” in March 1972. It was the first time I’d ever seen a movie outside of my (Youngstown) hometown, and the KC felt inordinately sophisticated and “big-city” to me. Loved the whole experience! Over the years, I went back there a few times and saw movies like “The Little Prince” (Xmas ‘74), “Hearts and Minds” (May '75) and “Next Stop, Greenwich Village” (Apr. '76). A wonderful theater that played some of the best movies of the “New Hollywood” era. Like so many other shuttered/demolished old Pittsburgh movie theaters, it’s greatly missed.

milanp
milanp on December 26, 2010 at 10:23 am

I also remember an item in George Anderson’s Post-Gazette column from August ‘72 when Woody Allen’s “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex” premiered at the Kings Court: Anderson commented on huge lines around the block on opening day. “Sex” wound up playing a little more than three months at the KC until it was replaced with “Play It As It Lays.”

femmeshui
femmeshui on January 23, 2011 at 4:48 pm

I drove through Oakland last visit to Pgh and was sad to see the Old English font missing from the marquee, BUT if they turned this old police station into a movie theater in 1965, then they can always turn a T-Mobile store back into one in the future.

JohnJohnD
JohnJohnD on August 25, 2011 at 2:24 am

I was an usher (in full tux and bowtie) for midnight showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show at this theater from 1980 to 1982 while I was attending Pitt. It was a cool little theater and we ushers, the other staff and the “shadow” actors all had a great time. As an usher, I was a full participant in the RHPS participation madness, including carrying an umbrella, toast, rice and other stuff. The cleanup afterwards was a true mess, but it was worth it for all the great fun that we had!

TheLazyComic
TheLazyComic on January 29, 2012 at 9:25 pm

One of the projectionists was a friend of mine, and I got the grand tour of the place in 1981. I learned how the films ran, (I never knew), and got to see all the little nooks and crannies of the place. It was really cool. (And now… it’s just another Oakland store that T-Mobile occupies). Blech.

Jack Oberleitner
Jack Oberleitner on January 29, 2012 at 11:43 pm

It is sad to see the Kings Court as a storefront. In it’s day, it was an elegant roadshow theatre under the direction of Tom Bryant. Tom was one of the handful of Associated Theatres managers that was a true professional and showman. He managed his theatres with pride. Tom was later promoted to run the Associated downtown Pittsburgh theatres, Fulton, Gateway, Fiesta, etc. A true management star.

JohnJohnD
JohnJohnD on January 30, 2012 at 7:49 am

There are a couple of Facebook pages that ex-King’s Court and ex-Manor/Squirrel Hill Theater folks might want to visit, with discussion about “the old days” and lots of information, newspaper clippings, etc.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Knights-of-the-Kings-Court/56709306700

http://www.facebook.com/groups/71314204775/

RobertDorsett
RobertDorsett on June 11, 2013 at 9:18 pm

I went to this theater in the 1960’s and saw the movie “Camelot” the perfect venue for that film.

grofyssss
grofyssss on August 31, 2014 at 9:36 pm

My father made the sign (RK Neon) and we came to watch the first movie screened (Camelot, I think). Decades later I watched the sign being dismantled as the building became a cellphone company, I think.

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