RCE Elizabeth City Theaters 1 & 2

1417 W. Ehringhaus Street,
Elizabeth City, NC 27909

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RCE Theaters (Official)

Additional Info

Operated by: RCE Theaters

Previously operated by: Carmike Cinemas, Martin Theatres, Schneider-Merl

Functions: Movies (First Run)

Previous Names: Gateway Cinema 1 & 2

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 252.338.3937

Nearby Theaters

RCE Elizabeth City Theaters 1 & 2

Opened January 19, 1973 as the Gateway 1 & 2 under Schneider-Merl Theatres. It was later operated by Martin Theatre and finally by Carmike Cinemas. Carmike abandoned this theatre in the mid-1990’s. It came under management by an independent chain. It is the only movie theatre operating in town. By January 2023 it was operated by RCE Theaters and was soon expended to 4-screens.

Contributed by NightHawk1

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

DavidDynamic on May 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm

NightHawk1, I don’t know about matinees—since I only attended with nighttime dates. The booth port windows were quite large and one could see the film threaded about the place and the projector in operation.

I do not know when the practice of co-showing XXX movies ended since by the early eighties my work and other social factors put the damper on my movie attendance. I would guess the availability of this type of movie at several video rental outlets took the profits away—also there was competition, eventually, from the South 17 Drive-In. The Gateway is now promoted as inexpensive family entertainment.

raysson on December 10, 2014 at 6:22 pm

DavidDynamic and NightHawk1: I found the opening date information on this theatre and revised this onto the Cinema Treasures site. The cinema’s original chain was under Schneider-Merl Theatres Corporation(which also owned and operated several movie theatres in North Carolina in Durham, Raleigh, Fayetteville, Gastonia, Asheville, Burlington, Elizabeth City, and Winston-Salem).

It opened as the Gateway Cinema I & II and it was Elizabeth City’s first-ever twin theatre under Schneider-Merl on January 19, 1973. It was owned and operated later on by Atlanta-based Martin Theatres and later on Carmike Cinemas. By 1994, Carmike Cinemas abandoned this theatre and it was picked up and operated under another owner which was an independent based chain. It was a twin theatre from the start. As of this record, it is the only operating theatre in town under that independent chain.

raysson on December 10, 2014 at 6:31 pm

DavidDynamic and NightHawk1: About those matinees…..

The Gateway Cinema along with other theatres under the Schneider-Merl chain were showing porn matinees alongside its regular features. Most of these matinees were showed on the right side of the cinema while the regular first-run features were shown to the left. The Gateway was not alone here in the business of showing adult films during matinees. Not to mention having porn films as part of its weekend late shows. Other theatres under the Schneider-Merl chain were doing this as well until ownership changed hands by 1976 when Atlanta-based Martin Theatres took over all of the Schneider-Merl operations. Under new ownership by Martin Theatres, all porn matinees were ceased and the porn films were even giving special showings or weekend late shows. If they were adult films shown they would be given one showing during the evening performances and not during its matinees(which were given to the regular features and special children’s matinees)which was under strict company policy of Martin Theatres which lasted until the early-1980’s. By the time Carmike Cinemas took over in 1982, the showing of adult matinees and pornographic material were completely gone and a new era which was home video that killed the porn matinee business.

raysson on December 10, 2014 at 6:34 pm


1973-1976 Schneider-Merl Corporation

1976-1982 Martin Theatres

1982-1994 Carmike Cinemas

1994-Present Independent Family Operated Chain

raysson on December 22, 2014 at 3:25 pm

From NightHawk1’s Question about this theatre: Did the Gateway run porn only at night or did they have porn matinees as well? The answer to that question is when it was under the Schneider-Merl theatre chain during the early-1970’s. The Gateway,along with other theatres under the Schneider-Merl chain did run porn matinees as well as porn evening late shows. Most of these porn films would run on a limited basis and it was separate from the mainstream first-run films. By the time Atlanta-based Martin Theatres took over this theatre in the mid-1970’s,the showing of porn matinees was eliminated and the placement of films with “X” rated content were shown as late night features on Friday and Saturdays only. By the time Carmike took over in the early-to-mid 1980’s the showing of any pornographic material was ceased immediately which was the end of the porn matinee as well as the porn late shows.

raysson on January 27, 2015 at 1:52 pm

Opened on January 19, 1973 as the Gateway Theatres….

Grand Opening Attractions were……..

GATEWAY CINEMA I-Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine in “Irwin Allen’s THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE”– Rated “PG”

GATEWAY CINEMA II-Charles Bronson and Jack Palance in

Jesslea85 on July 15, 2016 at 8:01 pm

It’s gross….the seats, I put a blanket down for carter, my son, to sit on, completely sanitized throughout the whole movie. The carpet is absolutely disgusting, and stained and the bathroom had pee all over the seats, the sink was gross, and the trash can had a little tiny white trash can stuck in it, wasn’t even the original, very grossed out and disappointed. I WILL NOT be going back, it’s a $4 movie, I get that, but it’s needs to be fixed!!!

raysond5366 on January 15, 2023 at 11:27 pm

Schneider Merl owned and operated several theatres in North Carolina during the 1960’s and early 1979’s before the chain was acquired by Atlanta based Martin Theatres in the mid 1970’s and by the early to mid 1980’s was sold to Carmike Cinemas…These theatres were located in Boone, Raleigh, Durham, Asheboro, Gastonia, Burlington, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, Asheville, and Elizabeth City….

dansdriveintheater on January 16, 2023 at 1:56 am

Now rce theatres Elizabeth city please update

JackCoursey on June 30, 2024 at 11:06 am

The theatre has expanded to 4 screens.

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