Village Plaza 5

141 S. Elliott Road,
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Eastern Federal Corporation

Previous Names: Plaza Theatres 1 & 2, Plaza 3, Village Plaza Theatres

Nearby Theaters

Plaza Theater 5, Chapel Hill, NC - Spider-Man/Men in Black double feature

The Plaza Theatres 1 & 2 opened on October 16, 1970 as Chapel Hill’s first-ever twin theatres. Located in the Kroger Plaza Shopping Center at the corner of S. Elliott Road and E. Franklin Street that was owned and operated under Eastern Federal Corporation. At the time of it’s opening the premiere attractions for the grand opening of the Plaza Theatres 1 & 2 were the Triangle engagement of “Patton” starring George C. Scott and “Monte Walsh” starring Lee Marvin. On August 9, 1973, a third auditorium was added to its expansion to screen 70mm presentations and later on a Dolby Stereo System was added for its bigger features.

Two more screens were added in the mid-1990’s when the second auditorium and its third auditorium were split into two sections, creating shoebox auditoriums with smaller screens. By the late-1990’s, auditorium one was split down the middle as well creating two shoebox size auditoriums. It closed in 2003, and was demolished in mid-2004 to make way for construction of a new ten screen by the same name which would feature stadium seating and digital sound, something the old Plaza was not equipped for, that was to be operated under Eastern Federal.

The proposed ten-plex for this site fell through when Regal bought out Eastern Federal which lead to other factors that made Regal Cinemas not to build the proposed theater. The lot where the Village Plaza Theatres once stood is now vacant.

Contributed by raysson

Recent comments (view all 29 comments)

Larry Jackson
Larry Jackson on May 4, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Foggy memory here. I originally thought it was spring of 1978 – I was actually involved in the install but could not remember the exact date(s). I was pretty sure the installation happened before Grease.

Coate on May 5, 2014 at 8:02 am

raysson’s latest comment contradicts my comment from January 2nd. Per his request, I recently sent him some information pertaining to early Dolby installations in North Carolina, but, unfortunately, it would appear he has misinterpreted that info. What I had mentioned to him in regard to this theater was that Dolby’s records suggest a timeframe of no earlier than December 1978 and no later than July 1980 as when this theater first had installed a Dolby cinema processor. If, however, he insists a Dolby unit was in place in time for “Grease” (June 1978), well, let him prove it!

(raysson: How is “Dolby” handled in the Chapel Hill newspaper ads for “Grease”? Is there explicit text indicating a Dolby presentation and/or new sound system installtion? If it’s merely the Dolby logo embedded into the ad, then I hardly think that qualifies as an indicator this theater ran “Grease” in Dolby Stereo.)

Larry Jackson
Larry Jackson on August 10, 2017 at 7:28 pm

The Dolby system was indeed installed prior to the release of Grease in 1978. As I stated earlier, I was personally involved in the installation, overseen by William Shearer, company engineer from Atlanta. We tested the system – holy cow it was nice and sounded great for Grease. The only proof I have is first hand experience and at least one other guy involved in the installation. No big deal really. I managed this theater for a time – trained there as well during which time the install took place – early 1978 without a doubt.

rivest266 on October 6, 2018 at 4:34 pm

Grand opening ad uploaded in the photo section.

StanMalone on October 8, 2018 at 4:20 am

William Shearer, well, that is a name from the past. Eastern Federal had a big presence in Atlanta by 1971 and he was in charge of their subsidiary, American Theater Supply. All booth and concession supplies, except the prepopped popcorn was ordered from there. At least for the Atlanta area theaters, I don’t know about out of town locations. Mr. Shearer also did the company’s booth repair and maintenance as well as supply all booth equipment, from carbons, to splicers, to reel to reel tapes of intermission music.

When I started working for EFC in 1971, ATS operated out of the basement of the downtown Coronet Theater, an area that also contained the theater bathrooms and the office of the City Manager, a fellow by the name of George Shepp. The Coronet was EFC’s flagship and a very busy theater. In the Spring of 1972 the company rented space in a strip of storefronts on Spring Street near Third. Several managers and doormen from different theaters were ordered to report to the Coronet basement and we spent the day moving all of the stock and equipment to the new location.

EFC was out of Atlanta by 1979 but I do not know about ATS. It was centrally located among the remaining EFC locations in the SE, so maybe it stayed. It’s old home on Spring Street remained in use as a very popular nightclub until a couple of years ago but has now been demolished as Georgia Tech continues to expand down Spring Street all the way to The Varsity.

Just like so many of the theaters it served, the time for ATS is over and it’s home is now in the landfill.

Larry Jackson
Larry Jackson on February 19, 2019 at 7:24 pm

All supplies mentioned by Mr. Malone to theaters in the Carolinas came through the ATS Charlotte NC location.

Element02 on October 2, 2023 at 10:44 am

I know I’m responding about 10 years after the original debate about this theater’s Dolby Installation. While I can’t prove that Grease played in Dolby in June of ‘78, I can prove that Dolby was installed at this theater before December of '78… a re-issue of Star Wars in September of '78 clearly indicates that that film was playing in a Dolby Auditorium (and Grease was still playing at this cinema at that time). Uploading picture now.

Rstewart on October 2, 2023 at 3:59 pm

In response to Stan’s post, ATS and the EFC City office had moved to 5891 New Peachtree Rd. by 1978. William Sheared was a good guy and in the summer of 1980 I purchased cleaning supplies from him/ATS for an apartment complex I was working at. My best story of him was a new manager changed out a lamp for a new one and somehow burned it up in less than 2 days. There was no extra on hand and he sent me with his keys to AST to get another while he figured out what the guy had done. He was absolutely furious about the lamp. He built a bunch of stuff for EFC since they were always looking for a way to save a buck.

MSC77 on October 3, 2023 at 9:55 am

Regarding the Dolby install…. The earliest example of a newspaper advertisement explicitly promoting a Dolby Stereo presentation at this venue was for ALIEN in June 1979. The Dolby references for ALIEN included a “first time in Chapel Hill” blurb which suggested a fresh install. Those earlier examples others have cited (GREASE, ‘78 re-issue of STAR WARS, etc.) seem to be a case where the Dolby logo was baked in to the ads.

raysond5366 on October 31, 2023 at 8:32 pm

Became a three screen cinema on August 9, 1973 and was renamed the Plaza 3 Theatres under Eastern Federal Theatres Corporation. It remained.a three screen cinema until the early 1990’s when itwhen from three to five screens as the Village Plaza 5.

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