Carmike in Galleria gets a reprieve; South Hills leveled; Denis Theatre closer to goal

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As they say in the movies, "It's alive!"

The Carmike theater in the Galleria mall in Mt. Lebanon is not going to close June 17 as previously announced. The theater came to terms with the landlord and will survive to mark its 21st anniversary.

In mid-May, Carmike said the theater was closing due to dwindling business but that may have been only part of the reason or a negotiating tactic.

Dale Hurst, director of marketing for Carmike in Columbus, Ga., Monday confirmed the theater will remain open.

"Our guys talked to the landlord and got some things worked out," Mr. Hurst said, adding that he assumed nothing would change at the six-screen theater or Carmike's other operations in the area.

The location welcomed its first paying customers on June 16, 1989, and was scheduled to close after June 17. Its departure would have removed an anchor from the Mt. Lebanon mix of restaurants and shops.

Retrofitting the theater for other tenants would have presented a challenge had Carmike removed its equipment. New occupants would have faced a large space but one that featured sloped floors, high ceilings and no windows.

In other news, the Cinema 4 (more commonly known as the South Hills Theater) at 3075 W. Liberty Ave. is being demolished.

It quietly faded away in June 2001 after the building was condemned because of property maintenance violations, problems with the fire sprinkler system and a broken standpipe.

The theater, more than eight decades old, last operated with four screens and boasted some scattered remnants of its storied past, including Spanish-style ornaments resembling balconies. Long gone was the Wurlitzer organ that rose to center stage on a hydraulic lift.

Some of its auditoriums were awkwardly shaped, and seats were far from new although moviegoers who remembered it in its prime were stunned to see it being gnawed and knocked down.

The space occupied by the movie theater, as well as some adjacent property, is being torn down to make room for a 12,000-square-foot CVS that will open at the beginning of 2011, Dormont manager Gino Rizza said.

On a positive note, however, the Denis Theatre Foundation has received a $100,000 grant from the Pittsburgh Foundation. It will be applied toward the purchase and renovation of the theater on Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon.

The Denis closed in September 2004 and plans were announced in April 2008 to raise money to renovate and reopen the landmark. The foundation has until June 30 to exercise a purchase option on the building.

So far, about $400,000 of the $750,000 needed to buy the building has been raised but additional funding could be announced later this week. Organizers expect to meet the June 30 deadline.

All of this is part of a $2.5 million capital campaign started in October. Anne Kemerer, executive director of the Denis Theatre Foundation, said Monday, "We hope to have all funds raised by the end of 2011. Construction will proceed as funds become available."

At one time, the Denis had four auditoriums although not all were created equally or offered the same moviegoing experience. Organizers plan to open one auditorium initially and add two more.

And in one last bit of news, the Galleria is offering a family-friendly promotion on Tuesday mornings this summer. Admission is $1 and popcorn and drinks will be available for $1 each, also.

All shows will start at 10 a.m. The promotion begins today with "Night at the Museum" and continues with:

June 15: "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian."

June 22: "Aliens in the Attic."

June 29: "Ice Age."

July 6: "Ice Age: The Meltdown."

July 13: "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs."

July 20: "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium."

July 27: "Alvin and the Chipmunks."

Aug. 3: "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel."

Aug. 10: "The Tooth Fairy."

Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: or 412-263-1632. Kaitlynn Riely contributed to this report.


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