River Oaks Theatre

2009 W. Gray Street,
Houston, TX 77019

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main auditorium

The last of the deluxe neighborhood theatres. The was soon taken over by Interstate Theatres Inc., headed by Karl Hoblitzelle & Bob O'Donnell.

The theatre opened on November 28, 1939 with Ginger Rogers in “Batchelor Mother” and was one of a number of deluxe neighborhood theatres built and operated by Interstate Theatres Inc. Seating was provided in orchestra and balcony levels. The interior decorations were by Buck Winn.

The building has an excellent location in the upscale River Oaks shopping center. Landmark Theatres did a good job maintaining the property.

I just wish they had not triplexed the building. But it was one of Houston’s last true movie palaces. Sadly closed on March 25, 2021 due to a failure to come to an agreement on the rent with the landlord.

Contributed by Stan Gilmore

Recent comments (view all 53 comments)

cinecism on November 9, 2020 at 6:41 pm

All of the movies I, an out-of-towner, have seen here in my life (I think): “The Crying Game,” “The Scent of Green Papaya,” and “Dancing at Lughnasa.”

rivest266 on November 23, 2020 at 4:35 pm

The River Oaks opened on November 28th, 1939. Grand opening ad posted. Appears to be opened by someone else and taken over by the end of 1939 by Interstate.

DavidZornig on March 6, 2021 at 9:38 am

Current article about the risk of closure.


MCompton on March 21, 2021 at 8:48 pm

It’s closing. https://preview.houstonchronicle.com/movies-tv/weingarten-realty-says-the-river-oaks-theatre-16039852

dallasmovietheaters on March 25, 2021 at 11:22 am

Landmark closed the River Oaks closed on March 25, 2021 with Oscar contenders, “Minari,” “The Father,” and “Nomadland.”

DavidZornig on April 10, 2021 at 7:19 pm

River Oaks Theatre mentioned in this article.


djsoffar on May 14, 2021 at 5:12 am

Does anyone have a picture of the interior of one of the upstairs auditoriums? I took pictures of most everything else, but missed that and now it is too late.

Murphy2044 on May 18, 2021 at 3:58 pm

RIP. The only movie I ever saw at this theater was a screening of The Room (2003). I wonder if there are any similar theaters still open?

JackCoursey on June 21, 2021 at 12:45 am

The River Oaks was one of those rare cinemas, like the Garden Hills in Atlanta, which you would assume that as long as there was a market for art and foreign films that it would always be around. Regretfully such fare is no longer palatable for those prefer all major character’s don capes and that dialogue is kept to a minimum. Art cinemas were a class unto themselves, the perfect frame for a perfect picture. Felini, Bergman, Cohen brothers and Wes Anderson are served better in venues such as the River Oaks than at the mall with yet another Batman remake playing next door.

Murphy2044 on June 29, 2021 at 6:22 pm

Gone but never forgotten.

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