Written By: Will Lewis
After nearly 30 years of business, students will have to say goodbye to a local icon. Ashley Cinemas, deemed the “Dollar Theater,” closed its doors March 2.
The theater closed due to a recent decision made by film distributors to cease production of movies in 35mm film, the kind used by the projectors at Ashley Cinemas, and instead use the more popular digital format for modern theater projectors.
“The theater has been operating for almost 35 years and has been in the Georgia Theatre Company family for 23 years,” Bo Chambliss, Georgia Theatre Company president, said in an interview with the Valdosta Daily Times. “The theater industry is going through a dynamic change and Ashley Cinemas has fallen victim to those circumstances.”
GTC issued a statement to the Valdosta Daily Times saying that replacing the old 35mm projectors at Ashley Cinemas would be cost prohibitive. The improvement would also push ticket prices up from the current $2.50 price.
VSU purchased the Ashley Cinemas lot in January 2012 for nearly $2.4 million. The theater continued to lease the property but GTC issued a statement earlier this semester that it planned to terminate its lease by March 6.
Currently, VSU is planning on constructing an indoor softball stadium on the lot.
“An indoor batting/pitching building that will be used for practice is already under construction in the east parking lot of the theater behind the Steel’s Diamond at Blazer Park scoreboard,” Thressea Boyd, VSU director of communications, said in an email. “Construction should be completed by end of March.”
“At this time there are no confirmed plans for the building,” Boyd said.
“The parking lot continues to be used for north campus parking.”
Students shouldn’t fear expensive movie theater prices. Boyd said that CAB shows free movies at least once a month.
“Students organizations can also work with CAB to arrange movie showings that are open to all students,” Boyd said.
Students living in dorms can also take advantage of movies on demand, which are offered through cable in their rooms.
Ashley Cinemas was first introduced as a small four-screen theater in 1979. It operated as a traditional theater, receiving new releases, until May 2003 when the larger and more modern Stadium 16 theater was built next to Valdosta Colonial Mall.