Capital 8

An auditorium inside the Spotlight Cinemas Capital 8 theater.

A new movie theater has opened in Northeast Columbia, on property owned by a local church.

The Spotlight Cinemas Capital 8 has opened at 201 Columbia Mall Blvd., near Columbia Place Mall and not far from Two Notch Road. Spotlight Cinemas — a small chain that has seven theaters in Maine, New York and South Carolina — also operates a discount theater that shows second-run movies on St. Andrews Road. The Capital 8 is a first-run cinema. (As of Jan. 15 it was showing current hits such as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Aquaman, Bumblebee and Clint Eastwood's The Mule, among others.)

According to a release, the new theater "is part of The Meeting Place Church of Greater Columbia’s 23-acre property, which supports the church’s vision to revitalize the surrounding community."

The church reportedly bought the 200,000-square-foot commercial complex where the Capital 8 is located in early 2017. The project is located within an area recognized by the federal government as an opportunity zone. The zones are economically distressed areas that have been targeted for revitalization through private investment.

“I have to thank Bishop Eric Freeman and [theater owner] Rick Phillips for seeing and acting on a vision for a family- friendly movie theater in our city, particularly in this neighborhood,” Mayor Steve Benjamin said, in a statement. “This project is one of the first of what we hope are many successful, impactful Opportunity Zone developments in Columbia."

One thing the opening of the Capital 8 does is add to what is a robust number of movie screens in the Midlands. In fact, with the opening of the Capital 8, there are now 11 movie theaters in the Columbia/Lexington area, with a collective 101 screens: eight screens at the Northlake Pavilion in Lexington, 14 at the Columbiana Grande, 14 at AMC Harbison, five at the St. Andrews Cinema, 14 at the AMC Dutch Square, 10 at AMC Columbia, eight at the Capital 8, seven at the Regal 7 on top of Richland Mall, two at the Nickelodeon Theatre, 16 at Regal Sandhill and three at the Big Mo Drive-In.

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