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AMC Classic Columbia 10, 5320 Forest Drive: 7 September 2022   6 comments

Posted at 10:43 pm in closing

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I went to this theater twice this summer with my sister and niece, once to see Jurassic World and once to see Minions. Frankly those movies were not the best, but the experience was fine and my niece enjoyed playing the pinball machine in the lobby after the shows.

However, I figured that the writing was on the wall when I had a bit of unexpected free time on a Saturday in August, and, since I was already in the car, drove over to see what was playing. I got there about 8:30pm, and found that there were no further shows that day. So, if on a summer Saturday when the kids are still out of school, you are closing the ticket office at 8:30 -- that's not a good sign.

Sure enough, a few weeks later they locked the doors for good.

I have to say that after this, and Dutch Square, I would not place odds on the longevity of the Afton Court location in Harbison.

Here's The State on the closing.

(Hat top to commenter Thomas)

Written by ted on September 26th, 2022

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AMC Classic Dutch Square 14, 421 Bush River Road Suite 80: Mid August 2022   2 comments

Posted at 11:15 pm in closing

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I have seen many movies at Dutch Square over the years. This includes at the original Dutch Square Theater (where Mrs. B's is now) and this one (which is actually in the old Tapps location. I forget the most recent film I saw here, but I do remember two things about the experience: First it took a lot longer to get tickets than I expected, or than it should have taken, and second, it was obvious the theater was either overbuilt or understaffed -- they had a whole cafe area that was completely unused. It was also about this time that I showed up for a movie, got my ticket and walked to the auditorium and found a completely different movie playing. Apparently I had bought the only ticket to the movie I wanted to see, and I was a few minutes late, so they decided, What the heck? Forget about what we advertised and throw some more guys for Movie B in here!.

According to The State & WLTX the theaters will be re-opening on Thursday 1 September under Bow-Tie Management (The door signs say 2 September). I don't know the company, but the exercise of re-opening can be pretty iffy. I know it failed with Columbia Mall and B & B in Fernandina. On the other hand, so far it seems to be working for Movies Behind The Mall.

(Hat tip to commenter Steve)

Written by ted on August 30th, 2022

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B&B Theatres Amelia Island, 1132 South 14th Street (Fernandina Beach): 27 January 2021   no comments

Posted at 12:21 am in closing

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I wrote in 2016 about the closing of Island Cinema 7 in Fernandina Beach. Somewhat to my surprise, instead of staying vacant, or becoming a dollar cinema, B&B Theaters moved into the spot and the Island once again had a first-run movie theater.

I saw several films there under the new regime, and it was pretty nice. I know I saw one there in December of 2021, but I am currently unable to remember what it was, which is too bad, as it will be the last.

The Fernandina News Leader reports that the theaters closed on 27 January 2021, a little more than a month after I was there last. Apparently the spece is to become doctors' offices, though I saw no signs of that upfit during my visit in May 2022.

As before, the closest theater is now on A1A coming into the Island from Yulee.

Written by ted on June 24th, 2022

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Regal Columbia Cinema, 3400 Forest Drive Suite 3000: 6 February 2022   7 comments

Posted at 11:08 pm in closing

13 July 2008:

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8 February 2022:

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9 February 2022:

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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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Remember Movies?   1 comment

Posted at 10:22 pm in commentary

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As has been mentioned in Have Your Say several times today, Regal is re-closing its theaters Thursday after having reopened them (where it could) a month or so ago. The reason is pretty simple really: No Movies.

After the pulling of Wonder Woman, Black Widow, and as the last straw, James Bond, the theaters have nothing to show. Granted the box office of the few films that did limp out like Bill & Ted 3, New Mutants & Tenet was not good, but you have to keep the pump primed. It appears to me that the studios are cutting their own throats by letting the theater chains go under. Sure maybe you're not going to get your money back on the next few films, but you've got to keep people thinking about movies, and you're sure not going to get a billion dollar film over streaming.

In the meantime, I see that the St. Andrews bargain cinemas are doing what they can with screenings of classics like The Empire Strikes Back and Harry Potter.

Here's looking at you, kid

Written by ted on October 6th, 2020

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Tara Theater / Tara Conference Center, 14276 Ocean Highway: 27 February 2017   no comments

Posted at 12:22 am in closing

Island Cinema 7, 1132 14th Street (Fernandina Beach): 14 November 2014   4 comments

Posted at 11:14 pm in closing

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I'm not sure where the movie theater was originally in Fernandina. I know there was one, at least since the 1920s. My father told me that one of his tasks as a child was to accompany the old lady who was the theater organist to the theater for special early showings so she could see the movie and work out what she was going to play. (I'm not sure what function he performed exactly, or why this would have been a task given to a ten year old). One of the movies he always remembered with disappointment was 1925's "The Phantom Of The Opera" with Lon Cheney in the title role. Disappointment because about 20 minutes into the showing, the organist stood up and said "I've seen enough", and he never got to see the ending, something he regretted for 70 years, although I finally was able to get him a VHS of it in the 1990s if I recall correctly.

For most of my life, or at least for as long as I can recall seeing movies in Fernandina, the movie theater in town was on 14th Street near the new hospital. I know I saw probably at least a dozen movies there over the years, but for some reason the only one that I can specifically recall was a re-release of A Christmas Story with Ralphie shooting his eye out..

On my recent Star Wars pilgrimage, I was surprised and saddened to see the 14th Street theater closed. I found out later that there as a new multiplex out on A1A, complete with BigD large format screen. It appears that both theaters are Carmike properties and that there was an orderly transition, including staff retention from the closing of the old theater and the opening of the new one.

Here's the new complex, in the A1A strip next to the Winn-Dixie:
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UPDATE 2 March 2016: My sister has clarified my opening anecdote somewhat. She informs me that one of my father's older brothers worked for the theater and would run the advance screenings for the music lady. He let my father sit in on those screenings, so it was the older brother's job to help out the music lady, not my father's.

Written by ted on February 28th, 2016

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The Carver Theater, 1519 Harden Street: 1971(?)   10 comments

Posted at 1:27 am in closing

As far as I can tell, the old Carver Theater at 1519 Harden Street is currently vacant. This building was once one of the only two black theaters in Columbia during the years of Jim Crow. In the Waverly neighboorhood, and adjacent to the historically black Benedict and Allen colleges, the theater also had live talent shows as well as motion pictures.

I believe I can recall this place still being in business as a theater while I was growing up. This site says it closed in 1971 but this one suggests that it was open as late as 1974. My copy of The State movie listings for 15 April 1973 does not have an entry for The Carver, which supports the earlier date though I suppose they may not have advertised there.

There are a number of write-ups on The Carver Theater online as it is in the National Register of Historic Places. Here is one, here is another, and here is a third.

After the theater closed, the Agape Church moved in starting in 1998 and stayed for several years. The entry in the National Registry states that the current owners

are actively seeking to preserve this property as an important piece of history in Columbia and return it to its original use as a movie theater.

I certainly wish them success!

UPDATE 2 September 2022: Interesting! The State says that Allen University will be re-opening the Carver as a first run theater, and venue.

Also adding map icon and updating tags.

Written by ted on July 3rd, 2009

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