Although the Emperor Caltzontzin Theater was built in the first half of the twentieth century, the history of its origins is closely linked to two important colonial institutions: the convent of the order of St. Augustine, built in the first half of the seventeenth century, and the Dr. Gabriel García Civil Hospital (originally called the Hospital de Indios), founded in 1672 by the Hospital order of San Juan de Dios.
The Emperor Caltzontzin Theater was built on land belonging to the former former convent of the Augustinian order, which was built under the mandate of Prior Fray Francisco de Villafuerte in the seventeenth century (Source: Roberto Jaramillo Escutia, Los agustinos de Michoacán 1602-1652 : the difficult affirmation of a province, Mexico, 1991). The convent was confiscated by the federal government along with all ecclesiastical goods in 1832 as a result of the application of the Reform Laws. In 1882 the Government of Michoacán ceded the former convent to the Pátzcuaro City Council to establish the municipal house, but the work was not carried out. Subsequently, the former convent was divided into 5 parts that were sold, as municipal property only the temple and an annexed land were left where the theater would later be built.
In 1936 General Lázaro Cárdenas del Río, president in turn of Mexico, gave the order for the construction of a “city theater” for Pátzcuaro. For the achievement of this project, General Cárdenas granted the town hall the remaining property of the former convent of the order of San Agustín, although the property right was reserved to the federal government. The play of the theater was in charge of the architect Alberto le Due and the engineer H. Gómez, and was inaugurated on January 1, 1938.
The theater hall has important murals in the style of post-revolutionary muralists, with the theme of pre-Hispanic cultures and crafts of the region. During the life of President Cárdenas, many of the most important films of the golden age of Mexican cinema were shown.
In 1939 the Theater was leased by the federal government to a board of trustees for the maintenance of the city’s Civil Hospital. The lease would be for 25 years but the board of directors withdrew from it in 1960. In 1961 the then President of Mexico Adolfo López Mateos decided to renew the lease to the board that administered it. Currently the site depends on the city council.
In 2001, during the efforts as municipal president of Eng. Antonio García, the Emperor Caltzontzin Theater was rehabilitated by the architect Antonio de Jesús Alba Vázquez. One of the last large-scale maintenance works that were carried out in the theater was the restoration of lighting in early 2010, thanks to the State Cultural Infrastructure Support Program, program of the National Council for Culture and Arts , in charge of the General Directorate of Cultural Linking.
Currently the Emperor Theater Caltzontzin has a medium-sized function room and is arranged in a quadrangular form; It has a capacity for 476 people seated. The stage, which is of Italian type and with wooden floor, shows a great arch that serves as a frame.
As of October 1, 2010, improvements were made in three stages in acoustic aspects, lighting, with new seats, projection booth, automated cinema screen, candy store with palomera, bathrooms and an EDUCAL book store. In the room doors were installed that isolate the sound environment of an area of that city with high traffic flow and a projector for 35mm films was acquired. In June 2014, a Barco 10Sx brand digital projector was installed, capable of projecting high definition DCP movies, as well as a Dolby 7.1 surround sound system. It is considered, without a doubt, the most important historical cinema-theater today in the state of Michoacán and one of the most important nationwide.