Archive for the ‘theater’ tag
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.