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Opened as a twin cinema under Stewart & Everett in 1974. By the mid-1980’s it expanded its operations from two to four screens when Carmike Cinemas took over all of the Stewart & Everett chains in the Carolinas. Carmike operated this theatre as the Carmike Cinema 4 until its closing in 2005 when Carmike built a newer, flashier state-of-the-art 10 screen multiplex on the opposite end of Shelby’s Cleveland Mall that opened later that year.
The Sunset was one of the five drive-ins in the state of North Carolina that upgraded to digital projection.
70mm print of great movies got first-run billing at this theatre making it the most popular multiplex in all New York.
Opened on January 19, 1973 as the Gateway Theatres….
Grand Opening Attractions were……..
GATEWAY CINEMA I-Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine in “Irwin Allen’s THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE”– Rated “PG”
GATEWAY CINEMA II-Charles Bronson and Jack Palance in“THE VALACHI PAPERS”-Rated “R”
This theater’s days be numbered since GATES construction has started building a 67,000 square foot movie theater at Chapel Hill’s University Mall that will be a seating capacity of 1,500 and 13-screens on the site of the former Dillard’s Department Store that will put this cinema(which opened in 1994)in competition once its opens being it is the ONLY Carmike Cinema venue between Durham and Chapel Hill.
The days of this theater are about to be numbered when GATES construction has started building a 67,000 square foot 1,500 seat movie theater with 13-screens and luxury seats at Chapel Hill’s University Mall on the site of the former Dillard’s Department Store that is scheduled to open in July of 2015.
“The Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins” played here first run.
This theater has reached its $50K goal and it is set to remain open according to the owner and manager of this theater. Read about this in The Daily Tar Heel
That is a very good question Patsy. The last theatres that Downtown Wilmington had that was operational was the Bailey Theatre and the Manor Theatre. The Bailey closed in 1980 and the Manor was gone by early-1985.
In effort to save this theater and not to mention facing competition from the huge 13-screen multiplex at University Mall scheduled to open in mid-2015, the Varsity needs everyone’s help to stay open. I have great memories of this theatre…..The original STAR WARS played here first-run in 1977.
CHAPEL HILL’S VARSITY THEATRE SEEKS PUBLIC HELP
Downtown Chapel Hill’s landmark since 1927 is about to close it doors without it’s support. Go Digital or Go Dark Campaign……
See article about this landmark theatre…….
Thank you Cinema Treasures. Happy Holidays!
And a wonderful 2015!!!
“PATTON” was the only Reserved Seat Engagement Showing in the Carolinas at Charlotte’s Carolina Theatre in 1970.
It was the only CINERAMA Theatre in the Carolinas…..
The Reserved Seat Cinerama Engagements for…..
“The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm”
“How The West Was Won”
“Krakatoa: East of Java”
“Ice Station Zebra”
“2001: A Space Odyssey”
“This is CINERAMA”
“CINERAMA’S South Seas Adventure”
The Cinerama Engagements of “How The West Was Won”,“Circus World”, “Ice Station Zebra”, “2001”, along with“Battle of the Bulge”, “Krakatoa:East of Java” to“The Wonderful World of the Brother Grimm”, not to mention “Custer’s Last Stand”, “Khartoum” to“The Greatest Story Ever Told”,“It’s A Mad,Mad World”
MARTIN’S CINERAMA THEATRE OF NEW ORLEANS
From NightHawk1’s Question about this theatre:
Did the Gateway run porn only at night or did they have porn matinees as well? The answer to that question is when it was under the Schneider-Merl theatre chain during the early-1970’s. The Gateway,along with other theatres under the Schneider-Merl chain did run porn matinees as well as porn evening late shows. Most of these porn films would run on a limited basis and it was separate from the mainstream first-run films. By the time Atlanta-based Martin Theatres took over this theatre in the mid-1970’s,the showing of porn matinees was eliminated and the placement of films with “X” rated content were shown as late night features on Friday and Saturdays only. By the time Carmike took over in the early-to-mid 1980’s the showing of any pornographic material was ceased immediately which was the end of the porn matinee as well as the porn late shows.
Last operated under Plitt Southern Theatres when it closed in early-1981.
THEATRE HISTORY OF THE GATEWAY CINEMA:
1973-1976 Schneider-Merl Corporation
1976-1982 Martin Theatres
1982-1994 Carmike Cinemas
1994-Present Independent Family Operated Chain
DavidDynamic and NightHawk1: About those matinees…..
The Gateway Cinema along with other theatres under the Schneider-Merl chain were showing porn matinees alongside its regular features. Most of these matinees were showed on the right side of the cinema while the regular first-run features were shown to the left. The Gateway was not alone here in the business of showing adult films during matinees. Not to mention having porn films as part of its weekend late shows. Other theatres under the Schneider-Merl chain were doing this as well until ownership changed hands by 1976 when Atlanta-based Martin Theatres took over all of the Schneider-Merl operations. Under new ownership by Martin Theatres, all porn matinees were ceased and the porn films were even giving special showings or weekend late shows. If they were adult films shown they would be given one showing during the evening performances and not during its matinees(which were given to the regular features and special children’s matinees)which was under strict company policy of Martin Theatres which lasted until the early-1980’s. By the time Carmike Cinemas took over in 1982, the showing of adult matinees and pornographic material were completely gone and a new era which was home video that killed the porn matinee business.
DavidDynamic and NightHawk1:
I found the opening date information on this theatre and revised this onto the Cinema Treasures site. The cinema’s original chain was under Schneider-Merl Theatres Corporation(which also owned and operated several movie theatres in North Carolina in Durham, Raleigh, Fayetteville, Gastonia, Asheville, Burlington, Elizabeth City, and Winston-Salem).
It opened as the Gateway Cinema I & II and it was Elizabeth City’s first-ever twin theatre under Schneider-Merl on January 19, 1973. It was owned and operated later on by Atlanta-based Martin Theatres and later on Carmike Cinemas. By 1994, Carmike Cinemas abandoned this theatre and it was picked up and operated under another owner which was an independent based chain. It was a twin theatre from the start. As of this record, it is the only operating theatre in town under that independent chain.
Now that you’re leaving Cinema Treasures for other venues, let me asked you if Cinema Treasures is hiring for any and all positions at this time. E-Mail me at
Also shouts out to Michael Coate as well for his valuable information concerning classic movies and classic movie theaters.
CORRECTION; “My Fair Lady”, “The Ten Commandments” and “Doctor Zhivago” played at this theatre. “My Fair Lady” was the Center’s reserved seat engagement.
“The Sound of Music” however played at the new theatre which was called THE LAKEWOOD CENTER THEATRE in early-1967. It did not played at the Center Downtown since it was already closed by 1966.
CORRECTION: This theatre was operational from 1939-1966. It closed in August of 1966 when it moved to the new state of the art movie theater at Lakewood Shopping Center that opened in mid-November of 1966.
Are they getting ready to close this beloved site?What is going on here?