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Regal Columbia Cinema, 3400 Forest Drive Suite 3000: 6 February 2022   9 comments

Posted at 11:08 pm in closing

13 July 2008:









8 February 2022:




9 February 2022:


















The last movie I saw during the pre-COVID era at Regal Columbia Cinema was Frozen 2, in which I was highly disappointed (though my niece liked it). I know that I saw at least one movie there after the theaters re-opened, but for the life of me I can recall what it was right now. On both occasions the experience was fine (apart from the actual movie..), but you could tell that the place was definitely an older auditorium which hadn't kept up with all the new trends.

That was not at all the case when these cinemas opened. As I have written before this location was not the first theater at Richland Mall. The old open-air mall had a free-standing duplex on an out-parcel where I saw many a "summer movie" during those old "drop off the kids & shop" promotions. It also famously had a time capsule, though commenter Del says it eventually came to naught.

When the old mall was razed and the current mall was built, the new rooftop cinema opened as part of the Litchfield Theaters chain, and it was classy. There were real cloth curtains over the screens which would be closed between the trailers and the main feature, which would start after the famous "Sea Oats" logo. I'm a little hazy on what happened to Litchfield Theaters. I think perhaps the head guy perished in a plane crash and the chain fell into hard times without him, but I couldn't swear to that.

Anyway, after that, it became part of the Regal chain, and I always looked forward to the "policy trailer" with the animated monorail riding along a track of 35mm film (and the Kernel of Doom! popcorn). The trailer was updated many times over the years with increasingly elaborate train redesigns, state of the art CGI and audio effects. Most recently, it has lost a bit of its charm as people have forgotten what "film" was, and the 35mm tracks have been replaced with actual rails.

As you can see from the 2008 pictures, in the beginning, you could take the escalator from inside the mall to the roof and walk to the theater from there, and there were also "Now Playing" & "Coming Soon" posters in displays on the walls of the mall in a couple of places. Sometime after Belk closed its entrance to that side of the mall, they stopped running the escalator, and the only way to the theaters was to drive to the rooftop.

As I mentioned elsewhere recently, my impression in years past was that this theater and the theaters behind Golden Corral had a gentleman's agreement to not book duplicate movies in most cases, and it was usually the case that if you were in Forest Acres, your movie would be at this theater or that one, but not both. In recent years this broke down, especially with so few movies available recently, and I don't think that helped the bottom line for this place. Certainly being closed for months on end during the darkest days of the pandemic did not.

During that closure, the mall management put up traffic cones and sawhorses to keep you from driving back into the theater area, and as you can see in the 9 February pictures, those are now back. However the cones were set aside today as a number of vehicles were back in the theater area, perhaps getting ready to clear it out, as was a news crew from WOLO.

With the mall currently under contract to be sold and possibly razed, I doubt that any second operation or dollar cinema will move in here, but as predictions about the mall have always been iffy, we'll just have to see.

Here are stories from WLTX, The State & The Free Times.

(Hat tip to commenter Jeannette)

Written by ted on February 9th, 2022

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