Retro Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary

November 16, 2018 by Carolina Theatre

DURHAM, NC (November 16, 2018) — One of the largest repertory film programs in the country, the Carolina Theatre of Durham’s Retro Film Series will mark its 20th anniversary tonight at 7 p.m. with a double-feature of two perfectly creepy, on-brand films: Friday The 13th: Part 2, the first movie the program screened in 1998, and The Shining.

The freshly re-branded weekly showcase, known to fans simply as RETRO, has become an oft-emulated model of film programming, presenting curated cinematic treats from familiar silver screen gems to rarely seen cult classics.

The first 200 fans attending tonight’s 20th anniversary will get a free commemorative t-shirt from Holy Mountain Printing and a Retro-branded zombie stress ball. Tickets to each Retro double-feature cost $9.50 and are available at the venue’s box office in downtown Durham, online at or by calling (919) 560-3030 between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Each Friday, Carolina Theatre Senior Director of Film Programming Jim Carl transports Retro attendees back in time to the films’ release dates, dropping well-researched information about the movies and their resonance in popular culture both then and now. Carl then leads into the double-feature with trailers of movies that were “coming soon” or “in theaters” on the date of the Retro film’s initial release.

“It all started 20 years ago when a group of criminally-handsome guys, including myself, Matt Pennachi, and Adam Hulin, ran a midnight screening of Friday the 13th: Part 2,” Carl said, wryly.

“There was no science fiction double feature in those days, no Me First and the Gimme Gimmes singing ‘how something went wrong for Fay Wray and King Kong,’ and there were absolutely no door prizes,” Carl said, referring to traditions that have become weekly staples of Retro.

What started out as a quirky late-night showcase for film fans has grown like its home city over the past two decades, blossoming into a must-see attraction for Triangle residents and newcomers alike. Retro has since spawned a slew of break-out film series like FantasticRealm, SplatterFlix, Anime-Magic and Hulin’s own Cinema Overdrive, which will come to the venue in 2019.

The growing program continues to serve an impressive legion of moviegoers, breaking in-house records at the box office over the past two years. Illustrating the strong community of Retro, many long-lasting friendships have developed as a result of the Friday night double-feature picture show. A couple that got engaged prior to a Retro screening in January 2017 returned to the Carolina Theatre on their wedding day in October 2018 just to have their picture taken with Carl.

The cinema wing at the venerable 92-year-old Carolina Theatre will mark 25 years in downtown Durham next February. Thanks to the Retro Film Series, a whole new generation of movie fans have found a home for cinema in downtown Durham’s historic showplace.

Enthusiastic cheering and thunderous applause now ensue…