113 E. Main Street,
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Royal Theater (Official)
Functions: Live Performances
Styles: Art Deco
The Royal Theatre was opened by 1933. This great place is familiar to anyone who has seen “The Last Picture Show” or its sequel, “Texasville”. It is located on the town square in Archer City.
When I visited in spring of 1992, the Royal Theater and indeed the entire town looked just as it did when the movie was filmed in 1971, and probably as it did in 1952 when the movie was set. The theater burned in 1965 but the production dressed up the front to make it look like an operating theater. The lobby and auditorium were burned out and were too small for filming anyway, so the interiors were shot in the Westex Theatre in Olney, Texas, a few miles to the south of Archer City.
Amazingly enough, in 1992 the ruin of the theater was accessible for exploration to anyone who wanted to brave the rattlesnakes or the burned out stairs to the balcony.
The detailed website for the theater gives an account of how the it was restored starting in 1996 and its re-opening in August of 2000. I have read that the burned out theater was leveled and is now a vacant lot next to the restored theater which is really in the space of the adjoining storefront. I don’t know about this. When I visited in 1992 there was already a vacant lot next to the ruin and the picture on the website looks like the same spot to me.
At any rate, it occupies the north end of the strip of stores that lines the west side of the square. If you are ever in north central Texas, this place is a must for fans of “The Last Picture Show” or old theaters in general.
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