Savannah Theatre

222 Bull Street,
Savannah, GA 31401

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Savannah Theatre

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The Savannah Theatre is the oldest continuously operating theatre site in the country. The first theatre on the Savannah’s site opened in 1818 and was destroyed by fire in 1906.

In 1948, yet another theatre was built—this time as an Art Moderne movie house, named Savannah Theatre, it opened on October 21, 1950 with Burt Lancaster in “Mister 880”. Seating was provided for 997 in orchestra and balcony levels. Despite local support, the theatre struggled through the 1970’s and was sold in 1981 to the Savannah Theatre Company.

After 20 years of operation, the group is now foundering under mounting financial pressure and plans to sell the building to another, unnamed, theatre organization. So far, groups from across the country have inquired about buying the former movie palace, whose price in the surging Savannah real estate market is expected to be around $1 million.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 32 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 22, 2009 at 9:27 pm

The September 11, 1948, issue of Boxoffice ran an article about the intention of Fred G. Weis to rebuild the Savannah Theatre. It said that Weis, son of impresario Albert A. Weis, had been operating the Savannah since 1920. This item also named Robert E. Collins and Carl E. Helfrich as the architects for the project.

AndyCallahanMajorMajor
AndyCallahanMajorMajor on January 21, 2011 at 11:42 am

Here are my pictures from December 2010.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on January 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Was this one of Albert Weis' theatres?At one time in the seventies he had nearly the whole city,

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on February 17, 2011 at 4:39 am

This 1936 issue of Boxoffice has a history and photo.

View link

JohnMessick
JohnMessick on June 3, 2012 at 12:45 am

Cool looking movie theatre..Really like the ticket island.

HornerJack
HornerJack on June 3, 2012 at 2:00 am

what was the original seating capacity of this version of the theater. Facade implies if was a lot more than 350.

fyfas
fyfas on February 6, 2014 at 8:50 am

I came to this website to look through possible pictures of theatres I worked in (1967 to 1974) in Savannah, Georgia.

I worked for Weis Theatres which did essentially control exhibition in Savannah with five hardtops and three drive-ins. ABC theatres had the Lucas around the corner from the Weis and another hardtop (name escapes me) plus there were one or two competing drive-ins as well.

I started at the Weis Cinema on the southside of Savannah which was their 906 seat flagship. In time, I took on the print advertising responsibilities for the entire circuit (theatres in Savannah, Macon, Augusta, Statesboro and Atlanta).

To take that on I was moved to the main office adjacent to the Weis Theatre (approx. 1200 seats) which I managed, too.

The company was run by Albert Weis, son of Fred and Edna Weis. Fred was already dead but Edna was still very active and was a presence in my lobby nearly every day especially if we were busy.

It was Viet Nam and I had to join the Air Force in 1966. After training I was assigned to Savannah where my next door neighbor hired me to be his part-time assistant running the southside Weis Cinema. He left soon after for the Army and I was in charge of the Weis Cinema after the replacement manager was caught stealing. I was permitted to be generous with theatre passes so as to have my days free and satisfying the Air Force overnight.

Working for this company brought me into contact with all of the studios setting up co-op advertising budgets. In 1974 I left to go to work for Universal where I stayed until 1999. Universal first put me in the Atlanta office. From there I was in the New York office for two years and the at the Studio until retiring.

fyfas
fyfas on February 6, 2014 at 9:00 am

The Savannah Theatre was where “roadshows” were booked when such things existed; approx 800 seats, two shows a day. Films like LION IN WINTER, CATCH 22 and PAINT YOUR WAGON. Often a twelve week booking.

I tried to be there for the start of PAINT YOUR WAGON as often as I could. (Drove the 50'ish manager crazy; she thought I was spying on her.)

That film began with the soundtrack score only playing. The Grand Drape rose slowly while sepia toned footage began as the screen curtain opened. It was magic. And the ticket price? $1.75!

menright
menright on April 25, 2014 at 2:51 am

Was there a theatre on the site between 1906 and 1948? To say it was continuous would imply there was.

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