The Ritz was opened in December, 1938, at 213 S. Main Street on a site in Malvern which had previously been destroyed by fire twice (1897 and 1937). it was built in the "Art Moderne" style and was very glamorous in every detail. It was the first theatre in the south to have air conditioning. On February 25, 1948, the Ritz was destroyed by fire which reportedly did $125,000.00 in damages. It was re-opened on October 7, 1948. No stone was left unturned to give movie-goers of Malvern a modern and luxurious theatre. At this time, a cry room was added as well as tile restrooms. More neon and a larger marquee was also added at this time. The theatre remained in this shape until United Artists remodeled the theatre in 1982. The theatre was divided into three screens to make it more profitable. All neon was removed and interior ceilings were lowered.
Marla and Marty Nix, the current owners, purchased the Ritz in 1991. In 1992, another remodel began in hopes of bringing back some of her former charm and beauty. An old photograph was used to reproduce the old marquee. The interior color was painted a sea foam green, just as was its original color. In 1995, a delivery truck hit the marquee and took it off its foundation. It had to be removed and a new, lighter marquee was installed.
2004 brought the latest remodel of the Ritz. At this time, all new chairs, screens, sound, paint colors, and concession were re-done. Burgundy, black, silver, and teal blue are the colors used throughout the theatre. New neon was again installed on the black and purple marquee.
The Ritz Theatre just installed all new digital projectors, all digital surround sound and new, larger screens, and Real D 3D. This took place in July 2012.
The Ritz Theatre in Malvern is currently the second oldest operating movie theater in the state of Arkansas.