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Fade Out: Southland 9 Cinemas Closed

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
August 26, 2016
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Above: Unidentified Southland 9 employees pose on the theater's last day. Photo via Facebook.)

Less than four months after the opening of the new Century Square Luxury Cinemas in West Mifflin, an older multiplex at nearby Southland Four Seasons Shopping Center has closed.

Georgia-based Carmike Cinemas has closed the Southland 9 theaters in Pleasant Hills, located behind the shopping center on Route 51. An announcement on the theater's Facebook page said the closing was effective yesterday.

The Southland 9's page on the Carmike website was deleted overnight.

Gina McKenzie, a spokeswoman for Carmike, said in an emailed statement Friday afternoon that members of the Carmike Cinemas rewards program and owners of annual popcorn buckets may continue to use them at the Galleria 6 in Mt. Lebanon and the Carmike 10 at South Hills Village. Both are less than 10 miles from Southland.

McKenzie declined comment on how many Southland 9 employees were affected by the closure, and whether any of them were offered jobs at other theaters.

Final films at the Southland 9, according to an online listing, included "War Dogs," "Sausage Party," the live-action "Pete's Dragon," "Suicide Squad," "Nine Lives," "Jason Bourne," "Bad Moms" and "The Secret Life of Pets."

Carmike, which operates nearly 300 theaters in 41 states, with a total of nearly 3,000 screens, acquired the Southland 9 in 1994 as part of its purchase of the Pittsburgh-based Cinema World chain.

The theaters opened in late 1986 in what was once Wesley Lanes, a bowling alley. Southland 9 replaced a smaller, four-screen Cinema World theater on Route 51, at present location of the Toys 'R' Us store.

Despite some upgrades over the years, the Southland 9 had remained largely untouched since Carmike purchased Cinema World more than 20 years ago. The carpets, for instance, still bore the "CW" logo of Cinema World.

Meanwhile, the nearby Century Square Luxury Cinemas, which opened in April, offers 10 screens with reclining chairs upholstered in fake leather, a bar serving beer, wine and cocktails, and a large snack menu.

Century Square Luxury Cinemas is owned by Golden Star Theaters, based in New Castle, Pa., which also operates movie houses in Cranberry Twp., the Shenango Valley and Maryland. The Century Square theater was formerly a bargain 12-screen multiplex also operated by Carmike.

Carmike did not own the building where Southland 9 was located. According to Allegheny County property tax records, the theater building, along with the adjoining shopping center, is owned by a limited partnership. Southland is managed by Johnstown, Pa., based Zamias Services, which is one of the members of the partnership, according to published reports.

The closure of the Southland 9 comes as Carmike shareholders are considering a takeover offer from a competing theater chain, AMC Entertainment Holdings Corp., in a $1.2 billion deal. AMC, which operates the Loews 12-screen theater at the Waterfront in Homestead, is controlled by China's Dalian Wanda Group.

The takeover, if approved by Carmike's shareholders, must also be cleared by federal anti-trust regulators.

Originally published August 26, 2016.

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