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"Murphy was an optimist!"

Knoxville’s Riviera Stadium 8 Grand Opening Celebration August 25, 2007 2:39 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Announcements, History, Of Interest, Theater
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Knoxville Riviera Theatre
Photo taken 8/18/07 by patti74_99

The new Regal Cinema on Gay Street opens this week. I will be juggling from 5pm to 6:30pm at the Opening Night Celebration. My understanding is that it is a street party although the first press release I read implied invite only. Same press release, different location.

Ah! Here is some better information. Looks like the events within the theatre are invitation only while a street party is being held for the public. I will be juggling in the street party. Watch for the fire! Michael Messing will be performing magic and there should be other entertainers.

On Monday, August 27, the Regal Riviera will host an Opening Night Celebration. On this evening, there will be an invitation-only party to celebrate the new theatre and recognize those who made this theatre project possible. The public is welcome to enjoy a “Street Party” on this evening as well. This free event will be held on Gay Street just outside the new Riviera. The “Street Party” will feature a live performance by East Tennessee’s own RobinElla and a ceremonial ticket tearing to commemorate the opening of the new theatre.

The exciting week of promotional events continues on Tuesday, August 28, Wednesday, August 29 and Thursday, August 30. Everyone is invited to these Preview Events for $1 movies, $1 popcorn and $1 soft drinks with proceeds benefiting local charities. Through September 30th Riviera patrons will be able to enter Regal Cinemas “Rediscover Downtown” Sweepstakes to win a $2,000 prize pack: $500 Regal Cinemas Gift Card, $500 Mast General Store Card plus $1,000 to spend as you like downtown. No purchase is necessary. Sweepstakes rules are available at the theatre.

On Thursday, August 30 there will be added entertainment available at the Riviera Stadium 8 with a free fireworks show presented by Pyro Shows. The night-time sky will light up at 9:30pm with a spectacular display choreographed to popular movie theme songs simulcast on WIVK 107.7 FM. The “Salute to Cinema Fireworks Show” will be easily viewed from all across downtown Knoxville with additional fireworks accentuating the Regal Riviera’s marquee on Gay Street.

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I think it is very interesting that the site of the theater is the same as the 1920’s Rivieria Theater. Good move Knoxville! From the Knox Heritage site:

510 South Gay Street – Riviera Theatre (1920)
Art Deco, two story brick with corbelled cornice, projecting engaged pilasters. Chicago window in central of three bays, flanked by two smaller windows. Vertical mullions divide top side and all windows are topped by transoms divided vertically. Flat roof. Altered storefront. GONE-Demolished in 1988.

The Riviera was built in 1920 into an existing Victorian building that stood on the east side of the 500 block of Gay Street. It featured a Wurlitzer organ and the innovative “Typhoon” ventilation system. It seated more than 1,000 and was hailed as “a shrine of the silent art.” It christened what would be more than half a century of movies with DeMille’s silent film, Conrad In Search Of His Youth.

Like most theaters, the Riviera featured its share of live entertainment, from dancer Ginger Rogers to early jazz bands like the popular local orchestra Maynard Baird’s Southland Serenaders.

In 1927 the Riviera showed what was almost certainly the only big-studio film shot in this area during the silent era, Stark Love. The star of the controversial film, which included a brief nude scene, was Helen Mundy, a reluctant actress whom the director had discovered in a downtown Knoxville soda fountain. The movie was a national sensation for about a week, hailed by some critics as one of the great films of the year; then, like its ambivalent star, it was forgotten.

The Riviera burned in 1963, sending an audience who had come to watch the special-effects adventure film Jason and the Argonauts fleeing into the street. Except for the façade, it was considered a near total loss but, remarkably, was restored, less grandly, in a matter of months, and reopened with the Audrey Hepburn/Cary Grant thriller, Charade. It continued showing films until Adios Amigo in early 1976, followed by a series of second-run films the following summer; after that came a dozen years of broken dreams, as one developer after another proposed reopening the Riviera as a performing arts center, a dinner theater or an “ultramodern” office building. Though there was a sentimental effort to restore the theater in the 1970s. The rear of the building, for years, displayed a large black-and-white mural of Charlie Chaplin, clearly visible from James White Parkway.

The building was torn down around 1988 with little comment. The site is now paved for a parking lot.

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They should update that bit about the parking lot. Cinema Treasures has another reference to the 1920s Riviera. See you in the streets!

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1. University Update - UN Studio - Knoxville’s Riviera Stadium 8 Grand Opening Celebration - August 25, 2007

[…] the Webmaster Knoxville’s Riviera Stadium 8 Grand Opening Celebration » This Summary is from an article posted at Reality Me on Saturday, August 25, 2007 [ Knoxville […]

2. Cathy - August 25, 2007

I like the subtle yet traditional class division.

3. Reality Me » I sleep deprive myself - August 27, 2007

[…] But it comes pre-loaded with plenty of interruptions. I should spend the day preparing for my performance particularly since Ian has set the bar pretty high. Btw Ian, thanks for the good words! To make […]

4. Pattie - August 28, 2007

I’m just thrilled we’re finally getting a theatre in South Knoxville. We’re finally catching up to the rest of Knoxville.

BTW, thanks for using and linking back to my photo. 🙂

5. Holrob Communities - August 18, 2008

Knoxville’s Downtown Regal Riviera Theater Enjoys First Birthday…

The Regal Riviera 8 Theater opened one year ago this month (August 2007) in Knoxville’s downtown. I’m happy to report that it is doing well, drawing customers not only to the theater itself, but to Knoxville’s other downtown establishments. Regal……


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