The City of Kannapolis is excited to announce the reopening of the Gem Theatre to the public on Thursday, May 16 following extensive renovations.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Gem Theatre is one of the oldest single screen movie theatres in existence in the United States. It is located on Laureate Way in downtown Kannapolis. 

For 88 years the Gem Theatre has been the star of downtown Kannapolis, and the renovations carefully took into consideration the historic original materials, design and colors of the theatre.  Much needed renovations to the interior of the theatre began in December of 2023 and included the installation of new seats, refurbishing the original seats in the balcony, refinishing the stage and floors, a new screen, curtains, and projector, and repair of much of the original plaster work. The lobby, restrooms, and concession area have also been restored and updated. Other elements of the project include the addition of historical artifacts throughout the facility.


“We are pleased to reopen the Gem Theatre for everyone to enjoy. As one of the most iconic movie theatres in the United States, we hope everyone enjoys the new amenities, such as the seats, while surrounded by the glamorous art deco design of our 1930s theatre, commented Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant. “We want to thank the hundreds of people who donated to the Gem Renovation Project without their assistance we could not have completed these renovations.” 

Donors were able to contribute to the project by sponsoring a new seat, a marquee brick or the purchase of the Gem’s vintage seats. Bricks and new seat sponsorships are still available. 

“These renovations will allow the Gem Theatre to continue serving the community of Kannapolis by providing a comfortable and high-quality atmosphere to enjoy first run movies, while preserving the memory of this historic landmark”, said Parks and Recreation Director Gary Mills. 

The opening night movie will be IF, starring Ryan Reynolds. Showtimes for opening weekend are: Thursday 7 p.m., Friday 4 & 7 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 1, 4 & 7 p.m.  Ticket prices will remain affordable and family-friendly. Seniors, children and matinee (before 6 p.m.) tickets are $4. Adult tickets are $5.   

The Gem Theatre originally opened on December 31, 1936. A few years later, in 1942, The Gem Theatre was extensively damaged by fire. It was rebuilt and opened in 1948. It has been in continuous operation since that time. The City of Kannapolis purchased the theatre in 2015 as part of the Downtown Revitalization Project. In 2021 the City completed the renovation of the marquee, replaced the roof and HVAC and added new first floor restroom facilities. In 2022 the City purchased the business operations of the theatre.  

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