333 N. Callow Avenue,
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Charleston 333 (Official)
Functions: Live Performances
Previous Names: Colonial Theatre, Grand Theatre, Playtime Grand Theatre, Charleston Cinema
The Colonial Theatre was opened by 1931. It was listed as (Closed) in 1933 to 1935. By 1936 it had reopened as the Grand Theatre. In the early-1980’s it became the Playtime Grand Theatre, screening adult movies. It went back to regular movies around 1986 and closed soon after. It briefly reopened for a few months. The building then stood unused for eight years until it was reopened as the Charleston Cinema, this later had fallen into decay but was still showing films up to early-2005. The couple, Eric and Frances Meyer, who were last to run it threw in the towel and let it be taken over for use as a club called Gstyle Knights Nightclub, and they immediately mucked up the marquee so it wouldn’t even resemble a theatre anymore, painting their club name on it in freestyle lettering.
Yet the Meyers focused on children’s and family films always third-run and discount. For a while they had retro “Rocky Horror” first-Friday-and-Saturday of each month, and even had free matinees striving to serve the community as well as humanly possible. But nothing they did would bring in reliable audiences; they couldn’t even give the tickets away.
The Meyers' valiant efforts to keep the theatre alive included trying to start up a flea market and waging a campaign to get 1,400 people to donate $100 each to save the cinema, but getting other companies to underwrite free matinees was a great idea. If they’d had more knowledge of cinema they might have filled a missing niche in this area for independent cinema, foreign films, mini-festivals like of samurai films or Luis Bunuel – there would’ve been no competition. But trying to be family oriented in a neighborhood with no parking but plenty of porno and rifles never worked. They were heroic to last five years.
By 2010, the Charleston Cinema had reopened. By summer of 2016 it had dropped movies in favour of live performances.
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