11/30/07 — Longtime Goldsboro theater sells last tickets

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Longtime Goldsboro theater sells last tickets

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on November 30, 2007 1:45 PM

Employees and customers stood somberly around the lobby and reminisced at the Berkeley Cinema Four as the curtains on its four screens closed permanently.

Gone were the posters advertising upcoming attractions. The only items left were the popcorn and drink machines and a little candy in the glass case

The theater showed its last two movies Thursday at 8:40 p.m. -- "Good Luck Chuck" and "Superbad."

General Manager Paul Van Dusen, 26, said he was told Monday that the theater would close Thursday. He said personnel at Carmike Cinemas, which owns Berkeley Cinema Four, are trying to trim off some of its theaters that aren't making enough profit.

Van Dusen said there is a possibility that the Berkeley theater, which has been a landmark in Goldsboro since 1976, could be torn down.

The general manager said he had been coming to this theater since he was a child taking field trips with his school. He recalls seeing the Huck Finn movie with Elijah Wood.

Back then, he said, the theater was always packed.

When the new 12-screen theater was built in Goldsboro about two years ago, the Berkeley Cinema Four changed to a $1.50 movie theater.

He is sorry to see the Berkeley go -- as, he said, are many of those loyal customers who made going to the movies there a family treat.

John Heath is also saddened by the closing, too. He was the general manager there from 1992 until 2005.

"We did a ton of business back then," he said. "We could pretty much guarantee a sellout a lot of nights."

The 41-year-old remembers Berkeley Cinema Four as being a "fun place for the employees, customers and everyone. I saw regulars come in all the time."

He tells about going there as a child when it first opened. "The first movie I ever saw there was 'Foul Play,'" he said. "It's a big part of my childhood history."

Diana Parker, 60, not only liked the movies at Berkeley Cinema Four, but also the employees. "Everyone was so nice," she said.

"I would go there with friends and family and a lot of times just by myself. The employees would always open the doors for me and my electric scooter and ask if I needed anything."

She said she saw all the "Bourne" movies there.

"It's very, very sad that it's closing," she said.

Brittany Shealy, 17, sold tickets and popcorn at the theater. She was in class at Goldsboro High School when she heard about the closing.

"It tore me up inside," she said. "I hope they make another theater out of it. I don't want to see it get shut down."

John Loveday saw his first and last movie at the Berkeley Cinema Four the night it closed. He went with friends and was planning on going back to see more movies there until he was told it was closing.

Charles Lappiere took his sister, Carol, to see lots of movies at the Berkeley Four. He said they found out when they went to the theater Thursday night that it was closing.

Brandon Robbins has been going to the Berkeley Four since he was a small child. He is now 25.

"Probably the best memories I have is when I came to see 'Jurassic Park' and the line was wrapped around the building twice," he said. "I came out here to see the special edition of 'Star Wars' because I'm a big 'Star Wars' fan."

He said when it became a $1.50 theater, he went there almost exclusively. "I just really hate to see it go," he said.

When he found out earlier in the week that the theater was closing, he was "shocked and angry. Now tonight I'm a little bit sad. I really didn't care what I saw tonight. I just had to come and see the last movie they were showing."

Other moviegoers echoed that same sentiment Thursday night as they watched one last time.