1631 Gordon Highway,
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Southgate Cinemas was located in Augusta, in Southgate Shopping Center. It was a nice single screen theatre with great seats, a large marquee, and a dual projection booth.
Any Southgate moviegoer will tell you that the screen and theatre were both fine, but the concession stand was the pits. In fact, as lobbies go, one of the worst ever. And the restrooms were very tiny.
It opened on Friday, December 18, 1970 with the classic "Love Story" starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal. This film played at Southgate Cinema for several months.
A story floated in movie theater world that Southgate was quickly built to keep Jerry Lewis Twin Theatres out of town. That’s right, Jerry Lewis was actually in the theatre business during the late-1960’s and early-1970’s! Augusta was on the map for one of his theatres until Southgate was quickly built.
Southgate played a lot of United Artists movies — almost all the 007’s played there along with the first X-rated movie to play in a suburban theatre, "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls". Southgate also played "Hello Dolly" and "Soylent Green" had a long run there.
The theater seated I guess close to 500 people, and it stayed open until the late-1990’s when it was reduced to a dollar cinema. It became a church, who had moved out by 2016.
While playing golf in Augusta, Christopher Lee attended the 1st Augusta showing of "Man With A Golden Gun". He writes in his bio that he drove down I-20 from Atlanta to Augusta. Most stars fly into Augusta – Christopher Lee took a limo. I should’ve gotten down there but at the time I wasn’t yet driving!
Southgate Theatre was a Georgia Theatre, and did switch to United Artists for awhile until Georgia Theatres (in reorganization) got back in the Augusta market. And like all Georgia Theatre Co. theatres, they never played late shows!
Ellen Carter managed Southgate Cinema for 19 years. She was there during the first run films, and sadly closed the theatre with "Supercop" – all seats one dollar.
I believe all projection equipment is still in the theatre, and I assume the screen is still up. However, Georgia Theatres has a history of butchering a theatre once they move out. So the screen could be gone since it’s now a church. Guess I could drive over and check it out. I think there would be a market on that side of town for a theatre, but I also think the people that would attend would quickly tear it up.
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