The Marianne Theater: A Silver Screen Icon

This decades-old theater is a beloved landmark waiting for its revival.

Photograph by Wes Battoclette.

It’s been called both “the crown jewel of Bellevue” and a “$1.2 million hot potato.” But despite its status as a beloved local landmark on the National Register of Historic Places, the Marianne Theater is still waiting for its big revival. Built in the 1940s, the single-screen theater was, for decades, a go-to destination for Northern Kentucky movie-goers. When megaplexes and big-name blockbusters shuttered many small, local theaters in the 1980s and early ’90s, the Marianne stubbornly hung on, showing films until the turn of the century, when it was finally shuttered. The inside of the 500-plus-seat theater (now owned by the city) is frozen in a bygone era, stuck in the age of Austin Powers and Varsity Blues, but its colorful Art Deco facade, complete with neon lettering and a freestanding box office, remains a Fairfield Avenue staple. Could redevelopment be on the horizon? It’s tough to say. In 2015, there were tentative plans to turn the theater into a brewery. A few years later, there were whispers that the Marianne would be reborn as an event space à la Oakley’s 20th Century Theater. But more than two decades since the Marianne ran its final reel, the theater is still waiting to get its sequel.

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