Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Columbia 4 goes to dollar format

As many of you may know, the Columbia 4 movie theater recently went from a first-run format to a discount/second-run format. This means that you can now see a movie in Grand Forks for just one dollar. That's right...literally one dollar.

Personally, I'm excited that Grand Forks once again has a dollar theater. I used to go to the old Plaza Twin discount theater at South Forks Plaza frequently back in the late 1990s. I was disappointed when that theater shut down a few years ago.

I have to admit that it is a little odd to have a discount theater right in the heart of the city's busiest shopping district. It seems like such theaters are usually in older or even blighted neighborhoods. I wonder what Columbia Mall thinks of having a theater like this located on one of their busiest entrances? Is this a sign that Columbia Mall is becoming Grand Forks' next South Forks Plaza? Let's hope not!

Also, the Columbia 4 building and property are clearly in poor shape. The front of the building hasn't seen a fresh coat of paint in years and looks terribly faded. The parking lot and landscaping are also in rough shape. The sign on the south side of the building has read "thea" instead of "theater" for years and years. Let's not even start talking about the inside. Needless to say, Carmike has neglected the building for ages.

Interestingly, Carmike's own business practices are what ultimately forced their formerly first-run theater to become a second-run theater. At least that's how I see it. The corporation's high ticket prices coupled with poorly maintained facilities led to the development of the locally-owned River Cinema 12 in East Grand Forks last year. That theater's success forced Carmike to turn around and convert the Columbia 4 into a discount theater.

Oh well, even if the paint is faded and the interior of the building is depressing, I'm still going to frequent this theater. A dollar doesn't exactly buy very much in 2008, but now it does buy a couple of hours of entertainment and escapism.

What do you think of the Columbia 4's new format? Do you think you'll use this theater more or less now that it has moved to a second-run format? Anyone willing to chip in for a fresh can of paint?

24 comments:

Andrew said...

A movie at the Columbia 4 is a terrible experience, but one dollar is definitely an attractive pull. I promise that I will sneak in food to assure that the theater gets no extra cash unless they can upgrade their food because unless it's a candy bar it is terribly nasty. I doubt they've cleaned some of the popcorn stuff in years because it always tastes sour and stale.

But one dollar....damn.

dale said...
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webmasterzero said...

Maybe Marcus Theaters will buy up Carmike's theaters in GF...

On one hand, it would be nice if they did because they would invest money in the buildings.

On the other hand, they charge alot for concessions and sometimes refuse to buy prints of really popular brand new movies (such as the case of Sweeney Todd - where they began to show the film in Fargo weeks after it opened nationwide).

??

I go to the theater pretty rarely (maybe once a month), so I'll just stick with Netflix and keep watching TV shows on Hulu for now.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't step foot in a Carmike Theater even if THEY paid ME to go! GF has been victimized enough by Carmike. Support the local guy, and help his business succeed.

Anonymous said...

Once the recession turns into the Depression a dollar for a movie MIGHT be the only movie we can afford (no crdit card debt or mortage and starting to feel the hit!)

Anonymous said...

We got drunk and saw Rambo at the Columbia 4. The movie was cheesy as hell, but we laughed the whole time. It's really about who you are with.

From a technical standpoint, the projector was old and horrible, and the sound was only 2.1. (A movie theater should AT LEAST have surround sound audio.)

The popcorn was terrible too, but for a ticket price of one dollar... well, it was something to do. You really make your own fun. :)

Anonymous said...

I remember working at the Columbia 4 back in the days when it was the newest theater in town. It used to be Midco's jewel of theaters, if you can belive that! I remember huge lines going out into the parking lot on Friday and Saturday nights, and some Tuesday's, too! Wow. Good times and good memories. Boy, we had fun working there.

Anonymous said...

I'm only 24 and i remember those days too! I gotta go check this 1 dolla movie. haha. popcorn fight maybe? anyone up for it this thursday? i want hottie guys to come! lol

24/f/ ~Blondie~

Justin said...

@ anon 3:29 - I too remember those days, good times, good times... Funny thing is with McD's next door we would run there, get food and bring it in to the theater, one of the guys who worked there said technically they could NOT prevent us from bringing our own food in :)

GFgruel said...

I don't think the Columbia 4 is that terrible, and for $1, c'mon that's couch change right there, and that's about a third of the price than renting at today's insanse rental costs. I saw One Missed Call several weeks ago, and it wasn't that bad of an experience for me, but yeah the popcorn was on the stale side, but oh well. Take the bad with the good.

dale said...
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Kelly Clow said...

If things are run the same way they were when I worked there, then they clean the popcorn machine thoroughly every night.

The problem is that, if things are still the same way, they take the unsold popcorn, bag it in a garbage bag, and sell it the next night.

Yuck, right? A good number of us tried to "accidentally" rip the bag and spill it on the floor each night before the manager saw us so it wouldn't get sold the next day.

Unfortunately, concessions are the only way a theatre makes any money. Damn near all the box office goes to the distributor.

Seeing the 4 turn into a dollar theatre is a sad thing, because that'll be the last thing it does before getting closed for good.

I still remember seeing Muppets Take Manhattan there when it first opened. I think I saw Spaceballs and Superman IV there too.

Anonymous said...

Kelly, you are right that the popcorn machine is cleaned thoroughly each night. However, the popcorn is popped fresh each day. The popcorn from the night before is thrown out.

Kelly Clow said...

Good to hear!

That policy was terrible. We could never understand why on Earth anyone thought selling old corn was a good idea. This was about seven years ago, so I'm sure things have changed. Sounds like for the better!

Do you work at the 4?

I heard you guys recently got a digital projector and new seats in there. If that's the case, maybe Carmike plans to hold on to the building a bit longer?

Anonymous said...

The Carmike theatres started operation in digital in April 2007. As of the Columbia 4 becoming a $1 theatre on Valentine's Day, they have returned to using the 35mm projectors. The Carmike 10 continues to use digital projectors. However, they do have a few of the old projectors as well.

Anonymous said...

Remember Tuesdays are bring your own bucket days at the Carmike 10 and Columbia 4. Check out www.carmike.com for movies and showtimes.

Anonymous said...

According to www.carmike.com, they will have the following 4 movies on Friday, April 4th-- National Treasure 2, Juno, Jumper, and Untraceable.

Anonymous said...

Yes, when I still worked at the Columbia 4 they had put in brand new seats and had hung up new curtains on the theater walls. That was only three years ago.

Anonymous said...

The seats at the Columbia 4 are more comfortable than at the Carmike 10. They have some good ones at the 10, you just have to look a little harder to find them. I'm not sure when or if the Carmike 10 has gotten new seats, but I knew the Col. 4 had gotten new seats fairly recently.

Anonymous said...

There are three different movies at the Columbia 4 Theatre starting on April 11th. The Bucket List, Step Up 2, and Spiderwick Chronicles return to the movie theatre. Check www.carmike.com for showtimes.

Beth~mom to 15 blessings said...

as a mom of 15 going to the theater has become history but with the this openning up it is looking like we just might be able to take in going to the show again.
Do you have a link to find out what shows are on as we are an hour and half from GF

GJB said...

You can go to www.carmike.com and click on the Showtimes button and work your way to the Columbia Mall 4 by selecting the state, and then the city and finally clicking on the Columbia 4 Theatre link.

GJB said...

Oh, and there's also:

www.moviefone.com/theater/carmike-cinemas-columbia-4-theatre/7475/showtimes

I don't know which one is the most current, but the moviefone site lets you look at the schedule up to two weeks in advance.

North Dakota Ward's said...

Looks like we are without a dollar show again. The Columbia Mall 4 closed down yesterday.