FRANKLIN, Tenn. — The Franklin Theatre unveiled plans for its grand re-opening on the weekend of June 3-5, including a 1930s-themed street party in downtown Franklin and a late-night screening of the Oscar-winning film classic “Gone With the Wind.”
The Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County, which owns the newly restored Franklin Theatre, announced plans to close Main Street on the evening of Friday, June 3, pending approval from the city of Franklin, to celebrate the historic movie house’s re-opening with a swinging ’30s-themed party. The Franklin Theatre originally opened in 1937.
“Beginning June 3, the Franklin Theatre will be back bigger and better than ever, and Hollywood will meet Main Street all over again,” said Heritage Foundation President David Garrett. “We’re going to throw the party of the decade to celebrate the theater’s rebirth and the return of movies on Main.”
Outdoor festivities — planned from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. CDT that Friday — include extended hours for Franklin’s downtown merchants and restaurants as well as free live entertainment. A swing band will perform on a stage constructed adjacent to the downtown Square. Sidewalk beer vendors will cater to adults with proper I.D. And an old-fashioned speakeasy will operate in Gray’s Drug Store nearby.
Giant movie screens will create Franklin’s version of a Hollywood back lot. Side streets where Fourth Avenue crosses Main will feature free simultaneous showings of two classic ’30s films — the original “King Kong” (1933), starring Depression-era diva Fay Wray, and everyone’s favorite musical fantasy “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) in Technicolor. Both are listed on the American Film Institute’s (AFI) top 100 movies of all time.
Inside the Franklin Theatre, moviegoers will enjoy a late-night screening of “Gone With the Wind,” the 1939 classic starring Hollywood legends Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. The nearly four-hour epic, set in the South during the Civil War and Reconstruction, won 10 Academy Awards and is the leading ‘30s film listed on the AFI’s top 100.
Friday night’s screening of “Gone With the Wind” is open to the public and begins at 9:30 p.m. CDT, immediately following a red-carpet reception for major donors who helped underwrite the Franklin Theatre’s multi-million-dollar restoration. An additional showing will be at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets in the 290-seat venue will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and can be purchased online when the theater launches its web site on April 28.
“Indoor and outdoors, we couldn’t think of more iconic films to set the stage as we raise the curtain on the new Franklin Theatre,” said Mary Pearce, executive director of the Heritage Foundation. “We’re grateful to the city’s leadership for their support and efforts to make this very special night a reality for the entire community.”
Rounding out events for the theater’s grand re-opening weekend will be a Saturday morning kids’ movie on June 4, “Charlotte’s Web” (2006), followed by the additional showing of “Gone With the Wind” in the evening. On Sunday, June 5, the theater will offer two evening screenings of the film classic “Casablanca” (1942), starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
Tickets for all of the grand re-opening movie screenings, as well as future movies and events, can be purchased online April 28 when the theater’s new web site goes live at www.franklintheatre.com.