Charleston Theater to be Demolished


Citadel Mall theater to be razed to make way for megaplex

April 12, 2008

By John P. Mcdermott – The Post and Courier

The aging movie theater at Citadel Mall, which AMC Entertainment Inc. is closing after the final show Sunday, will be reopened for a limited run and replaced next year by a new 16-screen complex.

Southeast Cinema Entertainment, which has acquired the West Ashley site, plans to temporarily resume operations this coming Friday at the Citadel Mall 6 and demolish the aging structure in July, said Bryan Smith, regional manager.

The Charlotte-based company plans to complete a bigger replacement “megaplex” theater by next April, Smith said. “We plan on building a really upscale facility,” he said.

The proposed megaplex will a feature all the modern amenities that movie-goers now expect for the rising price of admission, such as stadium-style seating and 3-D capability. It also will include several screens dedicated to art films, Smith said.

“They’ll be set up a little different from the others … We’re kicking around the idea of putting leather chairs in them and maybe having a little bistro satellite to do an upscale menu,” he said.

Southeast Cinema is a family-owned company with a handful of theaters scattered around the Carolinas and Virginia, including the Northridge Cinema 10 on Hilton Head Island. It also operates a brokerage businesses that books first-run releases for independent movie houses.

Smith said the company started scouting the local market for a theater site about 18 months ago. “Charleston was on our list, so we drove to the area,” he said.

Smith said it became obvious that the area west of the Ashley River, despite rapid residential growth, was underserved as a movie theater destination. The company then “worked backward” and determined that the mall “is the biggest draw” in the area, he said.

“We were hot on the spot so we went after it,” Smith said.

The company thinks a new movie theater will draw business not only from from the immediate area but also from James Island, Johns Island, Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island, Hollywood, Ravenel and other places.

“You have a lot of movie-going types, that being retirees and college kids,” Smith said.

At least two other megaplexes have been proposed for the West Ashley area over the last decade but both projects were eventually scuttled.

Citadel Mall 6 opened in 1981, around the same time as the nearby namesake shopping complex. It has not been upgraded in recent years, which has made it difficult to compete with the state-of-the-art megaplexes in Mount Pleasant, North Charleston and Summerville.

AMC Entertainment said this week that it decided to close the theater because it is not meeting performance standards. The Kansas City-based company, one the largest film exhibitors in the country, also is shuttering its eight-screen movie theater near Northwoods Mall after the last showing Sunday. That building will be razed to make way for the region’s first Sportsman’s Warehouse outlet.


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