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Central Cinema is a community moviehouse located in the heart of North Knoxville's Happy Holler neighborhood. Due to the continuing COVID-19 crisis we are closed for public screenings. You can find out more about our private auditorium rentals here.

Our Story

Central Cinema was founded by the creators of the Knoxville Horror Film Fest, who have been programming local film events for more than a decade. Years of sustained cultural momentum convinced us Knoxville deserves the type of eclectic film venue so many less-cool cities already enjoy. Hundreds of generous fans proved us right, contributing more than $30,000 to a GoFundMe campaign. After a year of fundraising and fine-tuning, we opened our doors in August 2018.


Every weekend we present a selection of classic films and/or first-run independents. This standard programming is complemented during the week by special film & arts events of all sorts. (Click through to our Films page to browse current & upcoming programming.)


Central Cinema's single auditorium features digital projection and 88 seats. At the end of the adjoining gallery hallway is our concessions lounge, featuring both inside seating and a deck for good times & discussion before and after film screenings.

Snack Bar

Central Cinema offers a popcorn, candy, nachos, bottled soft drinks and a selection of canned beers & ciders... all priced well below what you're used to paying at the concession stand.


Central Cinema's auditorium features wheelchair-accessible seating options. We do not currently offer captioning options for hearing impaired patrons, though open caption screenings are available as part of our private rental services.


1205 North Central was originally built as a silent moviehouse in 1916, becoming the first "suburban" theater in the burgeoning Knoxville metro area. The theater changed hands many times over the next four decades, operating under names including the Picto, the Central, the Liberty, the Cameo, the Joy,  and the Center. The building was repurposed in the 1950s, and most recently served as the Taoist Tai Chi Center until Central Cinema renovated the space in 2017.


Central Cinema
1205 N Central St
Knoxville, TN 37917


$10 Adult
 Students & Military
$8 Members & Seniors
$7 Kids

Matinee (before 4:30pm)
$8 Adult
 Students & Military
$6 Members & Seniors
$5 Kids

$15 Double Features any time


For your safety & comfort we are currently limited to 35% auditorium capacity, and require guests to wear masks when not actively eating or drinking.


We open for business 30 minutes before the day’s first scheduled showtime and close down our concession stand just before the final film lets out. (Due to limited staffing we may be closed during extended down periods between matinee and evening screenings.)


We’re located in the heart of Knoxville’s “Happy Holler” neighborhood, just one mile north of Downtown and easily accessible via I-275’s Baxter Avenue exit. Free street parking is available throughout the surrounding blocks.


Well, we tried again. Things were looking under control and we had some great movies to show so we opened back up in late October, and made it exactly one month before shutting down again in the face of uncontrolled community spread of the coronavirus. Huge thanks to everyone who made it out to the Knoxville Horror Film Fest, Possessor, Memories of Murder, Wolfwalkers, Ammonite and Jiu Jitsu... nearly all our customers were terrific about our mask guidelines, and we couldn't be more impressed or grateful. We remain optimistic about the future, and can say with some certainty that we'll be back in 2021. (Not that we don't need your help to survive intact... please check out our webstore for merch, memberships and gift cards this holiday, and take a look at our private rentals if you're aching to get back to the movies safely.)

Do us a favor, though: if you see folks complaining about how community health mandates etc are anti-business, please bear in mind that vulnerable small businesses everywhere are relying on a return to normal that's just not possible as long as people continue to act without regard for their family, friends & community. We shut down for the THIRD TIME because it's painfully clear the holiday season will coincide with mass infection and unnecessary deaths. We're deciding not to be a part of that, and you have the same power, and potentially the power to sway those around you. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to those who will help us chart a less tragic course forward. We will see you soon if Knoxville lets us.


Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we’re observing enhanced safety measures to promote your comfort and well-being.

Face Mask Required 

It's widely acknowledged that mask use is the most effective tool we have for preventing coronavirus transmission in public settings. To that end we are requiring masks to be worn at all times when not actively eating or drinking. Remember, this is not just for your safety... it's for the safety of your fellow moviegoers and the Central Cinema crew.

Limited-use masks are available for a nominal fee; if you find yourself here without one, please come in through our rear parking lot entrance and we'll fix you up.

Socially Distanced Seating

We’ve reduced our capacity to 35% to ensure safe distance throughout our auditorium. That means just 30 tickets are available per screening, so be sure to grab yours in advance!

Please be courteous when taking your seat by leaving six feet of space, or roughly three seats, in all directions between your group and others. The more thoughtful you are of others, the more everyone will enjoy their trip to the movies.

When the film is finished we encourage you to leave promptly and thoughtfully to avoid unnecessary crowding. We do, however, welcome and encourage you to take the time to wash your hands before you go.

Enhanced Cleanliness Measures

We’ll be working in accordance with Knox County Health Department guidelines to maintain high standards for hygiene and operational safety. Hand-washing is constant, bathrooms and relevant surfaces are regularly disinfected, and we've spaced out our showtimes to allow for thorough, uninterrupted cleaning between each screening. Markers have been placed in our lobby to designate safe queueing distance. Nachos & hot drinks have been discontinued for the time being, and our candy selection has been moved behind the counter.  We appreciate your patience if any of these measures cause delays or inconvenience.

Your Safety Is Our Concern

Going to the movies amid the pandemic remains an activity of at least moderate risk, and we obviously can make no guarantees of your safety. We encourage you to make your own informed choices for your health. Stay safe, Knoxville... and if you’re showing symptoms or have been exposed, please stay home.

If you'd like to keep up with local COVID-19 numbers (alongside state, national and worldwide statistics) we highly recommend Alan Sims' stellar, sober public service journalism at Inside of Knoxville.