Center Theatre 4

2000 Chapel Hill Road,
Durham, NC 27707

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center theatere at lakewood

Located in the Lakewood Shopping Center, it opened on November 24, 1966 as the Lakewood Center Theatre. It was the Triangle’s first Ultravision theatre and the first modern design theatre that had rocking chair seating (with reserved sections), six-channel stereophonic sound and a 180-degree Ultravision widescreen that was capable of showing bigger presentations. The auditorium was huge and spacious with a seating capacity of 800. It was one of several designed by architectural firm Six Associates. By October 24, 1971, a second auditorium was built adjacent to the original, that was also a 180-degree Ultravision screen, and a seating capacity of 600. It was re-named Center 1 & 2 under ABC Southeastern Theatres. By 1983, the original auditorium was split down the middle into two sections creating two shoe-box auditoriums that had smaller screens and 400 seats in each when it was under Plitt Southern Theatres.

By 1986, the second auditorium was split down the middle into two sections as well, that made the auditoriums seem quite long and narrow with 300 seats in each, making this a four screen quad cinema complex, now run by Cineplex Odeon. Carmike Cinemas took over this theatre in 1991, when it still proved quite a draw for showing major blockbuster films when a screening of “Boyz In The Hood” drew record crowds.

The Center Theatre 4 remained the place of movie-going crowds. All of that changed by the mid-1990’s when newer and bigger multiplxes that were being built, and the Center Theatre 4 fell out of favor., and began to screen second-run films in order to stay afloat. Also, the surrounding area around Lakewood was losing business which didn’t help to draw in movie-goers to stay open. Carmike closed this theatre in 2001, and was later converted into a surplus store run by Duke University.

Contributed by Jimmy Storey, Raymond

Recent comments (view all 42 comments)

raysson on November 12, 2012 at 7:10 pm

David Dymond:

Carmike basically had total control of all indoor moviehouses in the Durham area. This was Carmike’s decision to closed The Northgate Twin in 1985,not to mention the closing of the The Yorktowne Theatre on Chapel Hill Blvd. in 1996,and the Ram Triple in Chapel Hill in 2000.

When the Center 4 closed in 2001 only three moviehouses under Carmike Cinemas remained opened…The Carmike Cinemas 7(off Avondale Drive which closed in 2004),and the Willowdaile Cinemas 8(off Guess Road in North Durham closed in June of 2005)

In 2001,the Wynnsong Cinemas in Durham REMAINS the only Carmike operated movie theatre between Durham and Chapel Hill. And to this day is still operational.

raysson on December 13, 2012 at 11:06 am

David Lean’s LAWRENCE OF ARABIA played at the Center Theatre,aka The Lakewood Center Theatre in 1971 as a re-release.

raysson on December 13, 2012 at 11:08 am

This theatre in its heyday played GONE WITH THE WIND numerous times during it’s re-release….I remember seeing it in 1980 to packed audiences in DOBLY STEREO

raysson on February 28, 2013 at 3:53 pm

“THE EXORCIST” played here to capacity crowds on March 1, 1974.

“CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND” was the BIG Christmas attraction on December 16,1977.

rivest266 on November 3, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Waiting for the time capsule to open at the end of 2016.

Drewmike on November 13, 2015 at 1:10 pm

I saw back to the future 2 there in 1989. Lol I had no idea a time capsule was there for 2016. Ha ha 1 year after Marty McFly arrives.

raysson on November 23, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Drewmike: I saw not only “Back to the Future 2” here but also “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” in 1989…but the Center’s showing of “Boyz In The Hood” and “New Jack City” brought in capacity crowds in 1991…. Nobody knows that a time capsule was placed there for 2016…. November 24,1966 was the year this theatre opened replacing the Downtown moviehouse that closed….

raysson on November 23, 2015 at 1:33 pm

In it’s earlier days as a single screen movie house it was the reserved seat engagements of “Camelot” along with “The Sound of Music”, “My Fair Lady”, “2001” and the 70mm versions of “Gone With The Wind”, “Doctor Zhivago”,“Patton”,and “Ben Hur”(re-release)

rivest266 on October 6, 2018 at 2:45 pm

BTW: did anyone opened that time capsule? I uploaded the grand opening ad.

rivest266 on October 6, 2018 at 4:58 pm

October 24 and 29th, 1971 grand opening ads uploaded.

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