Show of hands.

How many of you ever went to the movies at Columbia Cinema, on Grant Road in East Wenatchee?  

James Hulsey Collection via CINEMATOUR
Photo: Southern Comfort via


Columbia Cinemas, a Yakima-based company opened East Wenatchee’s Columbia Cinemas in 1977 with 3-screens. 

The theater opened just in time for the arrival of Star Wars.

The HUGE George Lucas classic opened to the big cities on May 25th,1977. It finally made its East Wenatchee debut at Columbia Cinema on July 1st, 1977.

A long time ago in a theater far, far away

Gary Fong (The Chronicle)
Star Wars opening day, The Coronet, San Francisco (Gary Fong/The Chronicle)


If you remember Columbia Cinema being a 5 screen movie house, you were right. Two more screens were added at Columbia Cinema in the 80s.

Phil Lassila, Sun Basin Theaters’ president and owner, opened his first theater in 1971 in Port Angeles. He then purchased Liberty Cinemas and Vue Dale Drive-In, here in Wenatchee.

In 1999, Sun Basin bought Columbia Cinemas. The Cinema had a great run of nearly 40 years in East Wenatchee before getting demolished in 2011.

Sun Basin sold the property using the sale proceeds and equipment from the theater to help open the 14 screen Gateway Cinema in the Olds Station area of Wenatchee.

What became of Columbia Cinema?

After Sun Basin closed the doors of the theater in 2016, it was sold to Walgreens Boots Alliance, the parent company of Walgreens.

The former site of the once beloved Columbia Cinema, today is the East Wenatchee Walgreens at 470 Grant Road.

Google Street View
Google Street View

If you stand in the pharmacy section of Walgreens, close your eyes.

Then drift away and imagine the sound of a Columbia Cinema, with a full house of moviegoers in 1977. Chewbacca growling at Han Solo the Millennium Falcon. The price of a movie ticket is only $2. A box of popcorn, with the hot melted butter selling for just 60 cents!

INFO: Sequim GazetteThe Digital Bits

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