Oglethorpe Theatre

7804 Abercorn Street,
Savannah, GA 31406

Unfavorite No one has favorited this theater yet

Showing 5 comments

fyfas
fyfas on February 8, 2014 at 3:08 pm

StanMalone is correct about everything he says in the last two paragraphs, above. While I always thought Georgia Theatre Company’s Lenox Square Theatres were well run and certainly did excellent business, in general I felt that the Stembler family was a little slow circuit-wide to react to competition. As the “new guy” in Savannah they had difficulty because, as was said, they were at the mercy of relying on United Artists product. Thus the Oglethorpe was sort of a corporate step-child. It also didn’t help that John Stembler was responsible for the Oglethorpe though inbased in Atlanta. My memories of John then was that he preferred to party.

Weis had the screens and had relationships with Paramount and Warners; sometimes Fox. In Savannah, Fox often played the two ABC houses, the Lucas and the Terrace Cinema (MASH played the Terrace.

When I was downtown in Savannah running the Weis, I had a good friend, Tony Rhead, who ran the Lucas and was responsible for the Terrace as well. He was a life-long employee of ABC but ultimately left to join Carmike; first as a regional manager of many theatres. In time he became the circuit’s head film buyer and oversaw all of the bookers.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 9, 2013 at 11:16 pm

The Oglethorpe Theatre was on the list of theaters opened the previous year that appeared in the January 19, 1970, issue of Boxoffice. The house most likely opened between September and December, 1969.

Unfortunately, the last three months of that years' issues of Boxoffice are missing from the magazine’s online archive. The opening of the Oglethorpe Theatre might have been noted in one of those missing issues.

StanMalone
StanMalone on September 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm

The closest I have ever come to Savannah was watching “Midnight In The Garden…” so I do not know much about this theatre. However, I did work for Georgia Theatre Company in the 70’s and can supply a little information. ABC was the main builder of Ultravision equipped theatres, but the opening of the Phipps Plaza Theatre in Atlanta must have impressed the GTC folks. In 1970 they opened an Ultravision twin in the new South Dekalb Mall in Decatur.

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/11762

I am sure that it was around this time that the Oglethorpe was built as the Ultravision fad did not last long. That is too bad because with the curved screen, curved seating area, square auditoriums, and sharp focus, the presentation was outstanding. I always thought that the South DeKalb was the best looking theatre with the best picture of any I ever managed.

In 1977 the South DeKalb was twinned and I am sure that this was about the time the Oglethorpe was as well. This turned these once beautiful theatres into long shoeboxes with poor presentation and no personality. It still pains me to think of the day that I saw the optiverters from the South DeKalb loaded into the metal recycle truck along with the frames for the curved screens and the 6000' reel magazines.

Savannah was home to the Weis Theatre chain and during this time they dominated the market there. I think that the Oglethorpe was the only GTC effort and other then twinning it they did nothing else in this town until they sold out to United Artists Theatres in 1987. UA ran it for a while but I am sure that it was closed before the sell out to Regal.

GTC had a strong relationship with United Artists Pictures (not to be confused with United Artists Theatres, a completely different company) so it is probable that all of the Bonds, Pink Panthers, Woody Allen’s and any other UA features played here whenever the screen was available. James Barringer, the manager who followed me at the Lenox Square Theatre left Lenox to come here in 1976 and managed here for several years.

swamp30439
swamp30439 on September 8, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Hi all the Oglethorpe theater was the first time I saw a 007 movie and it was right at the mall I used to ride my bike there to see movies

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 7, 2013 at 9:12 pm

This Yahoo Groups page lists a number of theaters that used the UltraVision process, with dates of opening, or of the installation of Ultravision in some cases (<Boxoffice is cited as the source for the information.)

The Oglethorpe Theatre was dated August, 1969, which must have been when its UltraVision equipment was installed, as the very first UltraVision Theatre wasn’t opened until September that year, at Charleston, South Carolina. The Savannah house must have opened not long after, as installation of the screen and projectors would have been done when the project was nearing completion.

Being among the first of its kind, it’s also likely that this theater followed the Charleston prototype closely, using the elliptical auditorium that was developed for UltraVision by architect William B. McGehee, of the firm Six Associates. If anyone recalls the Oglethorpe Theatre looking like the Charleston house as seen in this article from Boxoffice of September 29, 1969, I think we could safely credit William B. McGehee as its architect.