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Frank Theatres Cine Bowl & Grille: Inlet Square Murrells Inlet: 14 May 2016   1 comment

Posted at 12:51 am in closing

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Murrels Inlet's hardluck mall Inlet Square took another blow in May with the closing of Frank Theaters.

This is actually the second set of theaters in this spot. I don't think I did a closing on it, but for many years this site was a Regal Cinema, and the setup kind of used to amuse me, since they often tore your ticket at the window and had no ticket taker inside. I'm sure many a teen just wandered in, and into a any showroom despite any lack of money or sufficent age for an "R" film.

After Regal closed, Frank Theaters leased the spot and did an extensive remodel for their cinema/restaurant/bowling/arcade conceptCine Bowl & Grille. I don't think the airport type restaurant and bar was really credible in the area, but the bowling alley portion seemed to do a good business as did the movies from what I could tell. There was no "attraction" screen like an "Imax" or "RPX", but it was all digital, and had pretty comfortable seats. I'm trying to recall the last movie I saw here, which would have been around Easter, but I'm drawing a blank.

At any rate, I was pretty surprised on my last trip around Memorial Day when I was googling movie times and nothing was coming up in Murrells Inlet: The Sun News has the story. On reflection, however, should have seen it coming. Several years before, I had seen this story about how the theater was way behind in lease payments to the mall. Since the place stayed open, I figured the two sides had worked something out. Apparently however, the theater was playing the same game as Borders Books, the "We're too important to you for you to kick us out" ploy. Given the sorry state of Inlet Square, you might almost expect that to work, but in the event, not.

In the past, when we stayed on Pawleys, we had the options of movies in Georgetown (The Hub), Litchfield (Tara), and Surfside (Deerfield Cinema), all south of Myrtle Beach. Now, the closest place is Market Commons.

Workshop Theatre, 1136 Bull Street: September 2014 (moving)   no comments

Posted at 11:58 pm in Uncategorized

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I know we came to Workshop several times when I was a kid, but as I recall I only went under my own steam three times, once for Noises Off, once for The Foreigner and once for A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. You can see a trend there -- light comedies all. In each case, I thought the show was very well staged and acted, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Well, to reverse the opening theme to Forum, "Comedy tomorrow, tragedy tonight", as the venerable Workshop building has been torn down (along with other structures on the block) so the property can become part of the USC law school. For the nonce, Workshop is presenting at 701 Whaley while building a new home.

Here's a WLTX story on the demolition.

Interestingly, on FreeBSD Firefox, their web page renders as Orkshop Theatre, though it looks all right on Windows..

(Hat tip to commenter CayceKid)

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by ted on September 25th, 2014

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The New South Music Hall / Columbia East Theaters, 7351 Garners Ferry Road: late 1980s   16 comments

Posted at 11:30 pm in Uncategorized

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I really can't remember the Columbia East Theaters. I think their heyday was when I was living in Fayetteville, and when I came home during that period, I had plenty of go-to theaters closer than these. Various commenters have described how they started out as a twin theater, later expanded to a quad-plex and ended life as a $0.99 cent venue.

Commenter Dennis mentions that the building pre-existed the theaters and was once The New South Music Hall, a live music club.

Currently the building, and surrounding defunct shopping plaza, is part of the Word Of God Ministries, a church which has also rehabilitated the old Intersection Center / Sam Solomon plaza on Diamond Lane.

7351 Garners Ferry Road is an approximate address, taken from a listing for former plaza business The Talk Of The Town Hair Gallery.

(Hat tip to commenter Brent Carter)

(The Original) Richland Mall Theater: Richland Mall: 1980s   26 comments

Posted at 11:01 pm in Uncategorized

I'm not sure when the Richland Mall Theater was built. I can remember going to movies before it was built (specifically at The Atlantic Twin and various theaters on Main Street), and my coherent memories start around 1965, so it can't have been built too long before the first picture I saw there 1968's "Oliver!". What I most remember about that movie is that it seemed interminable to a seven-year-old. IMDB clocks it at two hours 33 minutes, so I'm not surprised I felt that way -- I expect I'd feel that way now too!

The theater was on an outparcel of the "original" open-air Richland Mall. I recall it as more or less at the section of the parking lot fartherest down Beltline from Forest Drive, but I've been wrong here before about the original Richland Mall orientation vs the orientation of the current mall. I think it was more or less where Bank of America and the empty Black Lion building now are, as shown in the second picture, but I could be mistaken.

The layout of the theater was a central ticket window with doors on both sides, a central concession counter and a corridor to each screen at the left and right sides of the lobby. I say 'each' screen, there were only two -- though at the time even two was an innovation. As you can see from the ad in the 15 April 1973 issue of The State the theater was a "Rocking Chair" theater, and this figured heavily into their initial advertising. What this actually meant was that the seats were more thickly padded than "regular" theater seats, and they did indeed have springs such that you could rock them frontwards and backwards a certain extent -- and of course a certain number of kids were always going to be obnoxious about that! (The Palmetto at 1417 Main Street was also a "Rocking Chair" theater -- I expect it shared ownership with the Richland Mall Theater).

The whole "rocking chair" bit paled for me though. What I was always interested in was the theater's "time capsule". This was a bronze plaque set into the concrete of the theater's right-hand sidewalk. It was engraved to say when it was buried and when it was to be opened. I don't remember the date set for exhumation, but I assume it was probably 50 years after the theater opened, so around 2018. I was an avid science fiction reader, but somehow I couldn't even imagine a date that far into the future that involved me personally. In the event, it turns out I'm doing much better than the theater, and though of course you never know, I fully expect to be here in 2018, but the time capsule is long since gone. I don't really remember when the theater was razed to make way for Richland Fashion Mall, but I suspect that it was after I left town in 1985. Otherwise, I think I would have heard what happened to the time capsule. I'm sure it must have been dug up, but whether they opted to open it at that time or to continue to wait, I don't know.

Although I saw a good number of first-run movies at the theaters over the years, I think the bulk of my experience with them came through their summer kids' matinees. The idea was that a) it gets really hot in South Carolina in the summer, b) moms get really tired of having the kids around all day during the summer and c) we could use some matinee business at the concession stands. What Richland Mall (and other theaters) would do was have kid-oriented second-run movies every weekday during the summer for a nominal price (say, $1.00). Moms would drop their kids off (unsupervised!) at the theater and shop Richland Mall while they were out of their hair, the kids would get to see a fun movie and have lots of Milk Duds and popcorn out of the heat, and the theater would get to rake in concession sales during normally idle time.

Some movies I specifically recall seeing this way were Alkazam the Great (a US dubbed [Frankie Avalon!] version of the classic Chinese "Monkey King" story), The Apple Dumpling Gang, Blue Water, White Death (the precursor to today's "Shark Week".., and a bit strong for the kiddies, really..) and The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin (a now forgotten Disney flick that I loved!).

These programs still exist in some form during the summer, but as most moms work now and most households have air-conditioning, it's just not the same.

I'm trying to think what the last show I saw at the Richland Mall Theaters was. I'm not sure, but it could have been a midnight-movie showing of Peter Falk's classic The In Laws ("Serpentine, Shep! Serpentine!").

The new Richland Fashion Mall did (and does) have theaters on the top deck, but I don't believe they are related to the original Richland Mall Theaters. (And if they were, they aren't now, having changed ownership at least once, from "Litchfield" to "Regal").

"Please sir, I want some more."

UPDATE 3 Sept 2010: Commenter Dennis sends this link which has information about and pictures of a number of old Columbia theaters, including this picture of Richland Mall.

UPDATE 21 June 2010: Added [at top] pictures of Richland Mall Theater and a Richland Mall view with the theater in the distance from an old Chamber of Commerce promotional book.

Written by ted on September 3rd, 2009

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Spring Valley Commons Theater, 9005 Two Notch Road: 1990s   4 comments

Posted at 6:30 pm in Uncategorized

This small multiplex was located in the Spring Valley Commons strip mall on Two Notch Road. I believe the complex has a strong grocery anchor, but the rest of the place has been pretty transient.

I can only recall seeing one movie at this venue, the baseball comedy Major League in 1989. Through an odd sequence of events, involving a teenager, my father had become the semi-involuntary weekend host of a USC Japanese exchange student who spoke no English. (I wonder from time to time how that whole "go to college in a country where you don't speak the language" thing worked out for him). At something of a loss as to how to entertain the guy, my father recruited my sister and me to take him to a movie. As it turned out, the movie had a Japanese grounds-keeper character who spoke only Japanese, so at least the kid was able to understand a few words of the movie.

The theater itself was fine, not memorable in any way, but certainly OK. It was a pretty volatile time in the cinema market though, and I don't believe the place made it more than a few years into the 90s. The space is now one of the ubiquitous "self storage" operations.

UPDATE 23 October 2012: Add full street address and tags.

Written by ted on December 19th, 2008

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Dutch Square Theater, Dutch Square: 1990s   26 comments

Posted at 4:30 pm in Uncategorized

Too late to get a picture of this place I'm afraid. The original Dutch Square Theater was a twin-plex set against the far back corner of the Dutch Square parking lot. I believe it opened more or less at the same time the original Dutch Square mall did, and there was nothing particularly distinctive about it. It ran standard, first-run movies, and sold the standard theater food items at standard (high!) theater food prices. Since the place was on the other side of town from where I lived, it was not one of my regular movie spots, though I did see a number of shows there over the years.

It does have the distinction of being the only theater I've ever walked out on a movie at. The year was 1987, and my sister and a friend of hers were going to see Light of Day with Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett and asked if I wanted to tag along. Well, I knew nothing about the film, but I was of course familiar with Michael J. Fox and his classic "Marty" films, and I enjoyed Joan Jett's music, and had heard she was quite the character in real life, so I was expecting some kind of rock-and-roll comedy. Um, no. What I got instead was the most depressing drama I had ever had the misfortune to view. After about half an hour, I muttered something like "see y'all after the show" to my sister and walked out. Seeing the sunshine again was like having a leaden weight lifted off of me, and I spent a happy hour and a half just bumming around Dutch Square.

Not too long after that, Tapps closed, and Dutch Square's decline accelerated finally leading to re-development, complete with a new AMC 14 screen multiplex. Thus obsoleted, the original Dutch Square Theater was torn down, and now a Ruby Tuesday operates in the same location. And all the Ruby Tuesday training videos I've seen played in their stores are better than "Light of Day.

UPDATE 13 September 2009: Added theater ad from The State 15 April 1973.

Written by ted on July 9th, 2008

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The Movies at Polo, 9700 Two Notch Road (near Sesqui): July 2005   37 comments

Posted at 4:49 pm in closing

The Movies at Polo opened and closed while I was living in Aiken. I can't recall specifically that I ever saw a show there, though I was in town more weekends than not. I think this place is another example of Pat Berman's underfannied theory of the Columbia movie market. There are simply not enough fannies-on-seats week-in-and-week out in Columbia to support the number of theaters we used to have. Of course in this case, it probably didn't help either that a new theater was in the offing at the nearby Village at Sandhills, though I'm pretty sure The Movies at Polo gave up the ghost before that multiplex opened.

Unlike the Capiton Centre Theatre we can't see with any specificity which movies actually closed this operation, but there has been no lack of bombs in recent years. I like to think it was Son of the Mask.

At any rate, we can see that, as usual, it wasn't a shortage of parking that did the place in:

For restaurant buildings, the last stage is the "Asian Buffet" stage. For other retail space, the last stage is the "Self Storage" stage:

As an aside, The Movies at Polo was actually a rather misleading name, as the place is not that close to Polo Road. The Movies Near Sesqui would have been better.

UPDATE 11 September 2011 -- As mentioned in the comments, there has long been a sign indicating that a funeral home is coming to the property. In fact, the sign has been there long enough that it seems unlikely now. I guess there might be enough room in the old parking lot for such an establishment and its own associated parking, but it would seem rather crowded. The self-storage place mentioned above has been open in the old theater building, and several adjacent new buildings for a good while now.

Also, as indicated in the comments, commenter Andrew has pinned the closing date for this place as July 2005, so I have updated the post title to indicate that. Also added the full street address.

UPDATE 27 February 2014 -- Well, I'm not entirely sure what happened here. I always wondered how Shive's could possibly build a funeral home on this site given that Monster had the old theater building, leaving only the old parking lot open -- and funeral homes need lots of parking for visitation and organizing the funeral processions. At any rate, the sign proclaiming this as the new Shive's site sat there for years with no action, and it has finally been replaced with one saying that the new funeral home will be built on Trenholm Road Extension instead (but Monster's sign still welcomes Shive's..)

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UPDATE 21 April 2014 -- Just for the record, Shive's has broken ground on Trenholm Road Extension & Dawson Road now:

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UPDATE 7 June 2016 -- Either vandals, the wind or the property owner have done a number on the old sign:

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Capitol Centre Theatre, Capitol Centre: Feb 2000   8 comments

Posted at 1:23 pm in Uncategorized

Capitol Centre is a hard-luck strip mall directly across from Columbia Mall (it shares access from the loop road around the Columbia Mall parking lot). It has never prospered, and as Columbia Mall has declined, it has done even worse. Most of the places there that have come and gone, I didn't care about at all, but there were a few that caught my notice.

The Capitol Centre Theatres were one such place:

This was a typical multiplex, built before the current fad for stadium seating, not bad not great. I think its main problem was that being only a parking-lot away from the (twice dead and resurrected) Columbia Mall theaters, it was hard to establish a unique identity or to make it the default theater of habbit for locals. Back when Pat Berman was still doing movie reviews in The State, she did an interview with a local theater manager at a time when several local theaters were going under, and asked him if the market were overbuilt. He replied that no, it was "under-fannied" (too few fannies on seats). I think circumstances conspired to make Capitol Place Theater under-fannied.

You would think that working movie projectors would be valuable and salable assets, at least until the digital switchover of the last few years, but apparently not:

Not much of a theater without projectors in the auditoriums, but it wouldn't take much to put the lobby back in service:

This lets us date the closing to no earlier than 28 Jan 2000 when Eye of the Beholder opened:

It also lets us pinpoint the proximate cause of the theater's closure: Robin Williams

Written by ted on March 27th, 2008

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Jefferson Square Theater, 1801 Main Street: 1980s   31 comments

Posted at 6:11 pm in Uncategorized

When I was small, going to a movie always meant going downtown. We didn't do it often, but Main Street had at least four theaters and Five Points had one. The way I remember it, this all began to change with the opening of the Richland Mall Theaters (which deserve their own post). By the time I was in high school and college, the action had mostly left Main Street, with Dutch Square, Spring Valley, Richland Mall and Columbia Mall all having multiplexes (Columbia Mall effectively had two multiplexes).

The Jefferson Square Theater was the last theater downtown to play first-run major movies after the rest of the Main Street theaters had either switched to kung-fu, hard-R grindhouse or closed their doors entirely. "Jefferson Square" itself is still there, more or less at the end of the old Main Street shopping district. The theater building is still there too, though I don't know what's in it today. The last movie I remember seeing there was "Fame" in 1982. Even at the time, it was unusual to go downtown, and we had trouble parking (another part of what killed downtown theaters). I recall being impressed with the setup, which was on a larger scale than a typical multiplex. There was even a balcony, though it was closed at that time. We all enjoyed the movie (it seems to have fallen off the cultural radar now, but was quite a sensation at the time) and agreed that it was a nice place to see it, but we never went back, and I saw some time later that the theater had closed its doors.

I understand now that the Columbia Film Society is trying to move their Nikleodeon Theater from Main Street behind the State House to one of the shuttered theaters on Main in front of the State House. I don't believe that they are talking about Jefferson Square, but it will be nice to see a downtown theater of any sort again.

UPDATE 4 May 08: Added pictures of the current Jefferson Square courtyard.

UPDATE 12 September 2009: Added the Jefferson Square ad for "Two People" from the 15 April 1973 State paper.

UPDATE 21 April 2013 -- Commenter William sends in the picture below saying:

The current tenant DHHS leveled the floor by pumping truck loads of self leveling concrete. I am sending you a pic of the old projection room from about 2 weeks ago [circa 1 March 2013 -- Ted]. When I first went up there parts of the projectors were still there and you could see out the "windows". But as you can see in this pic they have been removed completely and windows blocked.

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UPDATE February 16 2014: Finally add the full street address to the post title.

Written by ted on January 29th, 2008

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