Anton Shields remembers managing the projection booth at Hollywood Cinemas.
Hired 20 years ago to help open what was then a brand-new 14-auditorium theater, Shields worked his way up from ticket-tearing usher to the man in the big room above, running the movies.
Threading shiny strips of celluloid through the projector’s platter — a reel system widely used at the time — Shields also ensured the film was framed correctly, that the lights dimmed as the previews rolled and that the sound was just right.
“There was a magic to it, and that’s what I loved about that job,” Shields said.
It’s been awhile since he worked there, but Shields said it was no surprise that Regal Entertainment Group last week acquired Hollywood 15 Cinemas — formerly owned by Georgia Theatre Company.
“Regal is the winner in the theater world,” said Shields, a Gainesville resident. “It was only a matter of time before this happened. Regal has the financial resources that a lot of these other companies do not have.”
Sandra Heinig, director of public relations for Regal Entertainment Group, confirmed that as of Sept. 4, Regal had indeed taken over the cinema at 120 Green Hill Circle in Gainesville.
She said all employees working there while it was owned by Georgia Theatre Company were given the opportunity to continue to stay at the location.
“This is an exciting time to invest in the North Georgia marketplace,” Heinig said. “We are committed to bringing a premium theater experience for our guests and being part of the Gainesville community.”
Georgia Theatre Company gift cards purchased before Sept. 4 will be accepted through Dec. 31 at the Regal theater.
After about two decades operating under ownership of the Georgia Theatre Company, the newly christened Regal Hollywood 15 Cinemas will carry on the same traditions of American moviegoing that Shields recalls with nostalgia.
“The whole experience just stays with you,” he said. “You walk in and you smell the popcorn, and you see the bright color of the candy boxes, and the flashing lights of the video games ... man, I have some good memories of that place.”
Shields said when Hollywood 15 first opened, “the parking lot alone was a huge meet-up place for people. If you lived in Gainesville, it was a cool place to go. Hollywood when it opened was a huge deal. It was a hot spot.”
Nowadays, the movie projection system is all automated and digital. There’s no need for a projectionist like Shields up in the booth above the seats.
“The technology is changing fast,” Shields said. “It’s amazing to think about all of the transitions movie theaters have gone through in the past couple of decades.”