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Tampa Theatre’s new downtown microcinema opens this June

interior of a cinema with 50+ brown leather seats

The Tampa Theatre is one of the most significant businesses in the heart of downtown Tampa. In 2026, this astonishing movie palace will celebrate its Centennial on Franklin Street. Ahead of the big birthday, a brand new microcinema will open on the property. Called John T. Taylor Screening Room, this small-scale venue will vitally expand the Tampa Theatre’s offerings and is set to open the first week of June. Officials will host an official ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 31 at 2pm.

The new microcinema is named in recognition of a leadership gift from former Theatre board member and philanthropist John T. Taylor. His donation gave the organization the momentum it needed to secure the additional funding needed to build out the new space, primarily from the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissions and the Downtown Tampa CRA Board.

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“I’ve always loved the movies,” says Taylor. “I grew up going to the Arc Theater in Lafayette, Indiana, eating 10-cent popcorn and watching Roy Rogers and Gene Autry on the big screen. But my first visit to Tampa Theatre was for a tour. I met John Bell, and eventually joined the board of directors here in 2012. Everything about this theater is just so fascinating to me, and when I sold our family farm in Indiana a few years ago, one of the first things I did was give them the money to kickstart this whole thing.”

interior of a small cinema with green and gold carpeting
Photo via Tampa Theatre (FB)

New microcinema debuts this June in downtown Tampa

The first film shown on Tampa Theatre’s second screen will be The Old Oak from legendary British director Ken Loach, so chosen for its themes of bringing people together for a shared experience and the power of a gathering space to help build a community. Tickets are on sale now for the first week of screenings:

  • 7:00pm Saturday, June 1
  • 2:15 & 5:00pm Sunday, June 2
  • 7:00pm Monday, June 3
  • 7:00pm Tuesday, June 4
  • 7:00pm Wednesday, June 5
  • 7:00pm Thursday, June 6

The Taylor Screening Room will also host a series of open houses during its first week of operation, which are free and open to the public:

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  • 11am–3pm Monday, June 3
  • 4pm-6pm Tuesday, June 4
  • 11am–3pm Monday, June 5
  • 4pm-6pm Tuesday, June 6
  • 11am–3pm Monday, June 7

The new 43-seat screening room will occupy the storefront under Tampa Theatre’s historic marquee that formerly housed The Nature Shop at 711 North Franklin Street. There will be both a street entrance that leads directly to a full bar, and an access point in the main lobby.

Tampa Theatre’s dreamy new microcinema

With this expanded viewing area, Tampa Theatre will be able to secure screenings of some of the top films in the world. Currently, due to the theatre’s lone screen and consistent events programming, it can’t always secure some of the more sought-after cinema hits.

In addition to opening the doors to more new movies, the more intimate T2 venue will offer opportunities for local filmmaker screenings, live comedy events, author talks and so much more. T2 will be available for rent as a venue and should prove more approachable for more intimate events looking for a local Tampa home.

Interior of a movie theatre with brown leather seats
Photo via Tampa Theatre (FB)

Expanding the theatre’s offering, and making it more competitive

Local architectural firm Kreher/Barna has already begun the early design phase, working closely with Boston Light & Sound – the industry-leading company also responsible for A/V at the Sundance Film Festival and Martin Scorsese’s private screening room – to create a superior viewing experience from the ground up.

“Our guiding principle with Tampa Theatre has always been faithful restoration and preservation of the historic building first, with compelling programming coming in a very close second,” said Tampa Theatre President & CEO John Bell back in 2022. “But with T2, we have – for the first time – an opportunity to start with a blank piece of paper and design the ultimate screening room with top-of-the-line technology and perfect sight lines. I want Tampa’s true cinephiles to consider it the best screening room in town.”

Visit Tampa Theatre’s website for tickets to events and screenings. Follow Tampa Theatre on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about the venue.

exterior of a movie theatre with a large marquee reading "Tampa"
Photo via Tampa Theatre (FB)

Historic inspiration for a new cinematic experience

“In the early planning for this space, our first step was to hire Boston Light and Sound – the best in the business – to specify the sightlines, the acoustics, and the projection and sound systems,” says Tampa Theatre President and CEO, John Bell. “These are the people that Martin Scorsese called when he wanted his own personal screening room built, so if it’s good enough for Marty, we figured it would be good enough for us.”

The look of the 1,200-square-foot room draws inspiration from Tampa Theatre’s original architect, John Eberson, by imagining what type of space he might build for his own, personal use. The Taylor Screening Room’s design takes colors, textures and details that Eberson used in his 1926 plans for Tampa Theatre and incorporates modern touches that pay tribute both to Eberson’s career as an architect and to his personal family collection of art and photos. 

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