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Yes, the Ultravision was a Carmike cinema before it closed. I thought it had 3 screens (one of the two original large cinemas being divided into two), but I don’t remember. Perhaps they divided both original cinemas.
To clarify the newest Northwoods Stadium Cinemas is the 3rd theater to be operated on the property. The original cinema was a twin theater located inside the mall just inside the mall entrance next to Sears (where Books-A-Million) us currently located. It was operated by a number of movie companies including Plitt and Cineplex Odeon before it closed. The theater was too small to compete with others popping up around the area. When the mall was remodeled and expanded in 1985, General Cinemas decided to build an 8-screen freestanding megaplex in the parking lot adjacent to the newly constructed Thalhimers department store (now Dillard’s). General Cinemas was sold to AMC and ultimately AMC closed the Northwoods 8 Cinemas and it was acquired by Southeast Cinema Entertainment of Charlotte, NC who is in the process of expanding the building by adding additional screens and remodeling the existing building. After AMC closed the cinemas, it was originally to be raised for the construction of a Sportsmen’s Warehouse store but those plans never materialized and the space was sold to Southeast Cinemas.
I’m fairly certain that the cinema was constructed in 1985. This was when a major expansion took place at the mall and a new wing added that included a 4th anchor store, Thalhimers (now Dillard’s). The cinema building was added directly across from the Thalhimers building. If it didn’t open in 1985, it opened shortly thereafter and was definitely open prior to 1989.
Too bad that this building cannot be converted back to a theater. I believe that the space is currently available according to a commercial real estate listings site. I know that in recent years it was used for a costume shop and most recently as a women’s consignment shop. With all of the “artsy” revitalization taking place in this area of Charleston, now would seem the perfect time to take it back to a theater.
Southeast Cinema Entertainment of Charlotte, NC acquired the Citadel Mall Cinema 6 from AMC and reopened it. They operated it until Labor Day 2008 at which point they closed and demolished it, replacing it with a 16-screen IMAX cinema. It reopened as “Citadel Mall IMAX Stadium 16” on October 2, 2009.
Actually the original cinema at Northwoods Mall was located inside the mall and was not operated by General Cinemas. The original cinema went through a number of owners and ultimately closed in the early 1980’s. General Cinemas didn’t come into play until 1985 when they built a freestanding 8 screen cinema on an outparcel adjacent to the mall.
The freestanding General Cinemas Northwoods 8 was sold to AMC and closed in 2008. Plans were originally announced by a developer who purchased the property for the building to be demolished and replaced by a big box retailer. This never materialized and subsequent tentative plans were announced in late 2009 for the cinema building to be acquired and expanded by Southeast Cinema Entertainment of Charlotte, NC. The company hopes to reopen Northwoods as a 13-screen cinema.
The Ultravision in Charleston lasted quite a long time. I believe it was the early 2000’s when it was demolished. I remember it quite well, sitting on top of a hill at the front of the Westwood Plaza shopping center parking lot at Sam Rittenberg Boulevard & Ashley River Road (SC Hwys 7 & 61). When it originally opened, this shopping center was known as “Grant City West” as it was anchored by a large W.T. Grant Department Store (a.k.a “Grant’s”).
Even with the Ashley Plaza Cinema just a few miles down Hwy. 7 in one direction and the Citadel Mall Cinema 6 opening in 1981 just a few miles down Hwy. 7 in the other direction, the Ultravision remained popular right up until the day it closed.
I believe that the only thing that doomed the Ultravision were financial troubles at its parent. This location never seemed to be without business. When it closed, it was demolished and the hill that it sat on was leveled, making room for an additional wing to be added to the adjacent shopping center.
Just to comment on Billy Hamby’s post above, I remember seeing “Grease” and “Annie” at the Ashley Plaza Cinemas as a child. I also remember “Deliverance” playing there.
I, too remember the green Edward’s sign and the “Big K” crown shaped sign next to it. The store was originally the locally owned “Edward’s 5-10-25” based on King Street in Downtown Charleston. It was purchased by the national chain “Kuhn’s Department Store” who owned the “Big K” chain. It was at that time that the store became “Big K-Edward’s.” Big K was later gobbled up by Wal-Mart, and it was at this time that the Big K-Edward’s locations closed.
There wasn’t ever a Woolworth at Ashley Plaza (they were located at Northwoods Mall, South Windermere Center, Pinehaven Shopping Center and King Street). You may be remembering “Woolco” which was owned by Woolworth’s. Woolco moved into the space originally occupied by J.M. Fields Department Store. This space later was subdivided, rejoined and subdivided again and has housed Brendle’s Catalog Showrooms, United Clothing Co., Carolina Pottery and today is home to Dollar Tree, Pivotal Fitness and Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts.
The store that was located inside the mall adjacent to Big K-Edwards was actually a Magnavox TV dealer and then a women’s dress store named “Charles.” A Friedman’s Jewelers was also located a couple of stores down from Big K-Edward’s.
Wow, the Boxoffice Magazine article sounds very interesting. It does make me wonder if another cinema was planned at this site that never materialized. The information in the Wikipedia article is actually right on. The Ashley Plaza Cinema came onto the scene in the early 1970’s when the original Ashley Plaza shopping center was enlarged and an enclosed mall added. It was at this point that the 2-screen (later to become 3) General Cinema was added. It is true that the only access was via the inside of the mall.
The cinema building is plainly evident in the aerial photograph that you reference. It is the building just below the building that has the superimposed Burlington Coat Factory logo on it. The cinema building is directly below Burlington.
Ashley Plaza actually could have been built by Gate City Realty of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, as Ashley Plaza originally only consisted of two stores – a J.M. Fields Department Store and a Pantry Pride grocery store, both owned by the same company which I believe was headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale.
My family lived adjacent to the shopping center’s site in 1963 and there was never a cinema here prior to the mall’s construction in the early 1970’s. To my knowledge, the only cinema on Route 7 in Charleston was the famed “Ultravision” at Route 7 and Route 61 in what was then known as “Grant City West” shopping center.
If I had to guess, perhaps the original developers of Ashley Plaza envisioned the cinema referenced in Boxoffice Magazine, it never materialized and instead the mall was constructed on the remainder of the site with the Ashley Plaza General Cinema I-II built at that time.