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Jacksonville's Five Points Theatre

Historical and cultural impact


Five Points Theatre
Credit: Edward R. Jenkins

The Five Points Theatre in Jacksonville's Riverside district has a long and storied history dating back to 1927.

Notable architect Roy Benjamin designed the theatre, as well as the San Marco Theatre and the historic Florida Theatre.

The theatre opened in March of that year on Park St., where it still sits today. Originally known as the Riverside Theatre, it became the first theatre in Florida to show "talkies" (sound films), and only the third venue in the entire country. The first non-silent film shown was Don Juan.

The theatre flourished for decades, until it closed in 1977. In 1949, the building was renovated and the familiar exterior marquee was added. Following another renovation in the early 1980s, the building housed the River City Playhouse, a venue showcasing theatrical performances.

River City Playhouse, however, would not last long. The theatre closed shortly thereafter. In 1991, Club 5 opened in the historic building. Throughout the decade, the nightclub became a popular Five Points destination, although it also became a haven for drugs, particularly Ecstasy.

RELATED: Five Points Photo Gallery

In 2001, Bruce Chambers, the owner of Club 5, sold the building to investors and the club shut down. The investors planned on renovating the building and opening a theatre, which they named Marquee Theatre. Chambers tragically died later in the year, after an altercation in a Jacksonville Beach parking lot.

The group included local car dealer Mike Shad. Over the next few years, the building underwent a $4.5 million overhaul, including the restoration of the exterior marquee.

In 2008, the theatre finally re-opened, and its final name was decided: Five Points Theatre.

The venue originally opened as a traditional movie house, showcasing new releases. However, in 2010, it switched to an independent/art-house format, which it continues today.

On any given weekend, you could find the latest indie sensation or an old classic like The Princess Bride. Local films are also showcased from time to time.

The Five Points Theatre maintains an active social media presence, including a blog on the venue website, where you can also find upcoming show times and purchase tickets.

The theatre also has a full-service concession stand, which even serves light alcohol, such as beer and wine.

Five Points Theatre is one of the highlights of Jacksonville's unique Five Points community, and is often the center of, or directly involved in area happenings, such as the Rocky Horror Picture Show bash and First Fridays, a community-wide even that takes place on the first Friday of each month.

Recent films shown include Jane Eyre, The Big Lebowski, Blue Valentine, Repo: The Genetic Opera and Atlas Shrugged.

Movie tickets are $8.50 for adults and $7.50 for students (ID required) and seniors, although prices may be higher for special events, or lower during promotions.

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