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Villa Theatre

2001 Photo from the Grant Smith collection
3092 Highland Dr
Salt Lake City UT 84106

Record #6263  
 Opened: 1949
 Closed: Yes (date unknown)
 Current Use:
Capacity: 1000 seats
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As:
 Previously operated by: National General Theatres, Carmike Cinemas

Information for this tour was contributed by Grant Smith.

The Villa Theatre was built in 1949 by Joseph L. Lawrence and David K. Edwards for $350,000. Favoring curves and "inorganic shapes," emphasis was given to make the theater comfortable and aethetically pleasing. With beautiful murals and velvet drapes adorning the auditorium, the theater was considered to be the most modern and luxurious in the Salt Lake area. Opening night (December 23, 1949) featured the Tyrone Power film Prince of Foxes.

The Villa was a leader in innovation during the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the movie industry was developing new processes for widescreen cinematography and stereo sound.

The ten-month run of South Pacific, which was presented in Todd-AO, attracted national attention to the Villa. In 1959, the theater showed Sleeping Beauty in Technirama-70, and in 1960, Windjammer in Cinemiracle.

The most successful of these widescreen processes was Cinerama, which premiered at the Villa in 1961. The Villa was originally set up for the three-projector system, but switched to a single-projection system in 1964, and continued to show Cinerama films until 1967.

Carmike Cinemas renovated the Villa in 1996, restoring much of its former splendor. One thousand new seats were installed, the sound system upgraded, the screen replaced, the lobby remodelled, the ticket booth expanded, the parking lot repaved, and the marquee restored. However, Carmike fell on hard times in the year 2000 and the Villa was placed on the selling block.

It is unknown what lies ahead for the Villa. According to the Enterprise, a local businessman has offered $2.4 million for the theater, with no indication of his intentions.

 Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

2001 photos from the Grant Smith collection.

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Photos from the Scott Neff collection.

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Last featured 1/23/2005. Last edited 6/3/2015.

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