Home / 2011-02-24 / A legacy in jeopardy

A legacy in jeopardy

 Ashley Cinemas, one of Valdosta’s two movie theater complexes, is known for its cheaper ticket prices, but there might be quite a bit you didn’t know about this theater’s past.
 Now VSU wants part of Ashley Cinemas’ history. While long-term plans have yet to be made, the university wants to purchase the theater, keeping it in business and using the area for North Campus parking for the short-term.

 The proposal has yet to be approved by the VSU Auxiliary Services Real Estate Foundation’s board of directors and the Board of Regents, according to John Crawford, vice president for University Advancement.

 Ashley Cinemas, originally owned by Litchfield Theaters, opened in July of 1979 with only four screens, Ansley Scoville, Georgia Theatre Company’s advertising and promotions manager, said.

 Two screens were added to the theater in the mid-1980s before United Artists bought it in May of 1987.

 Georgia Theatre Company, the cinema’s current owner, purchased Ashley Cinemas in May 1991 and created the eight-screen theater we know today.

 Before Georgia Theatre Company opened Valdosta Stadium Cinemas 16, movies were shown at Ashley Cinemas and the Valdosta Mall, Kiley Thompson, 26, a life-long Valdosta resident, said.

 Ashley Cinemas has been a part of Thompson’s life for as long as she could remember.

 “They used to show discounted children’s movies during the summers,” Thompson said. “‘Milo and Otis’ was a personal favorite. Ashley Cinemas—and I know this sounds cheesy—just feels like home. You don’t have to put on your Sunday best to be entertained, and the price doesn’t break the bank, either.”

   A key appeal to Ashley Cinemas is the discount-ticket prices; however, admission was not always so cheap.

 “Ashley Cinemas didn’t become a discount theater until shortly after Valdosta Stadium Cinemas 16 opened,” Thompson said.

 Scoville stated that Georgia Theatre Company did not want to lose Ashley Cinemas, so the company reduced ticket prices.

 “This decision was made at the last minute since Ashley is so close to the college and was almost converted into an academic or medical facility,” Scoville said.

 While providing residents with cheap entertainment, Ashley Cinemas has participated in the Georgia Theatre Company’s annual ‘Film & Food for a Cause’ since its start in 2004, according to valdostatoday.com.

 Ashley Cinemas and Valdosta Stadium Cinemas 16 have raised thousands of dollars for local charities such as the Greater Valdosta United Way by selling concessions and tickets during the event, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

 Ashley Cinemas has been a large contributor to this event, raising over $16,600.

 “This is significant since the admission price for Ashley is only $1.99 and most folks have already seen the films they typically play since they first show at Valdosta Stadium once they are first released,” Scoville said.

 Scoville attributes the amount of money Ashley Cinemas has raised to the generosity of the Valdosta community.  It fluctuates each year depending on the film product out that particular week.

 The eighth ‘Food and Film for a Cause’ has yet to be confirmed, but Scoville is confident it will happen.

 Thompson hopes Ashley Cinemas remains as a theater, if VSU is successful in its purchase.

 “Having a ‘dollar theater’ makes the whole ‘dinner and a movie thing’ a lot more accessible,” Thompson said, “And, while a recent movie can be seen at a low price, cost is not the only thing that makes Ashley Cinemas so great. There are plenty of people who recognize the ‘dollar theater’ as a local landmark that holds old memories and continues to create new ones.”

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