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Jack, when you were in Roswell recently, did you try to find the site of the old Roswell Theatre which was on the square? You and I are the only ones who have ever made any mention of that theatre on this site.
When this place was built in the mid 80’s, 6 screens was considered a big operation, so the addition of this venue to the Atlanta theatre scene was an event of some note. I have never visited this site, but I do have one story from it as related to me by an employee of Benton Brothers, the shipping company which handled all film transport in those days:
Soon after it opened, the HW6 scored a real coup by getting a 70MM print for their run of Cocoon. During the Saturday night of the second weekend of the run, an employee who was obviously unfamiliar with the 70 operation was sent to the booth to thread up the next show. That show ran OK. When the following show hit the screen there was a nice twin set of little pinpricks of light running exactly 35MM apart down the center of the picture. What had happened was that the previous film threader had threaded up the print using the 70MM sprockets correctly, but had let the film rest against the last 35MM sprocket. Since all of the sprockets in these 35/70 machines ran all of the time regardless of which type of print was in use, the 35 sprocket in question ran merrily along for the entire show tacking little holes in the nice new 70 print.
All Septums were by this time manager operated and as is usually the case, when the theatre was busy the manager sent whichever employee could be spared to start up the next set of shows while the manager was busy actually managing the theatre. While he or she can be faulted for sending an inexperienced employee up to thread up a 70MM print, you have to wonder how familiar anyone was with this rarely used format. I have always enjoyed running projection booths, but have always considered managing theatres a thankless, aggravating, stressful job. In my managing days I refused to go to a theatre that did not have its own projectionist, union or non. Occasionally, in an emergency, I have done both, but other than the single screen locations like the mini cinemas, I have always felt that in manager operated multiplexes neither job gets done right.
As for Benton Brothers, they would not only deliver the weeks film prints to small town theatres throughout the southeast, but concession supplies from Wil-Kin and Blevins as well. Another firm known as Theatre Service Company would provide this service as well. The site of the old Benton Brothers warehouse at Techwood and Baker now sits within the boundary of Centennial Olympic Park. The company, now known as ETS moved out to Fulton Industrial Blvd, and later on to the Southwoods Industrial Park in Hapeville. A few managers still drive in to get their prints just as most of us Atlanta area managers did in the old days, but in this day of the megaplex, most of that type of work is done by professional delivery companies.
Just one more example of the way this business has changed over the 35 years I have been working in it.
Lobby of the Rhodes Theatre as it looks today. Auditorium and entrance pictures are also included in the photostream.
Regarding the Star Wars poster mentioned above, the banner in the upper corner of the poster announced the upcoming episode using its original title: “Revenge of the Jedi”.
Opened in 1927 and closed in 1984.
For anyone interested in Birmingham history in general, there is an outstanding website named Birmingham Rewound and it is mentioned in several of the postings of Birmingham theatres on this site. This link:
will take you to the downtown theatre page. About half way down the page are several paragraphs on the Empire including several pictures.
I remember attending this theatre many times while growing up in Birmingham. Among the pictures I recall seeing there are: Nicky: Wild Dog Of The North, 633 Squadron, Is Paris Burning?, and Goldfinger, which is the subject of one of the pictures on the website.
Barbara: Thank you for that very interesting post. I do not recognize your fathers name, but he must have been the other half of the…“two lawyers who owned the theatre”. I do remember Cone Maddox very well as he was a frequent visitor to the theatre, especially when we had family films when he would bring his children. I also remember a man named Jeff (or Geoff) Tyre who I believe was English.
Perhaps you could clear up something for me. I was under the impression that your father and Cone owned the franchise to the Sandy Springs location and not the Mini Cinema chain as a whole, and that this is why went independent during the days that Storey was contracted to book and manage the chain. Do you know the story behind this?
Also, was the Peachtree Battle the first theatre in the chain? I always thought so but know someone who insists that it was the Ansley Mall which was first. I know that the Sandy Springs opened third, followed by Doraville and Candler Road. Was your father still involved when the last two were built?
I would love to hear anything you know regarding these or other aspects of the Mini Cinema operation. Oddly enough, I did not do much actual theatre work at the Sandy Springs since it required such a small staff. Usually just fill in for sick or vacationing employees or extra help during busy times. For most of those early years I worked at the North Springs, Cherokee, and Atlanta. However, I did do a lot of behind the scenes work there such as film and concession supply deliveries, marquee changes, trips to National Screen, and even spent the night there twice helping to pump out the auditorium when the Laundromat next door would cause a flood.
If you are interested, I believe all of the other Mini Cinemas have pages on this site:
Ansley Mall: /theaters/16291/
Peachtree Battle: /theaters/12131/
Candler Road: /theaters/16454/
As for the movie going experience, Peachtree Battle, Sandy Springs, Doraville, and Macon were good places to see a movie. Ansley and Candler somewhat less so. Still they were better than most of the auditoriums that you will find in the megaplex of today. If your dad is still alive tell him “Thank You” for me as I have very fond memories of the theatres and the people that I met while working in them.
Biggest projection booth I ever worked in. Wide and at least 300 feet long for screens 2 through 7 with smaller stubs at each end for houses 1 and 8. All Cinemacannica V8’s, 35MM with screens 3 through 6 equipped with push button Dolby. After it became obvious that this location was built well past the prime years for this area, the Dolby units in 3 and 6 were removed and installed in the Sandy Springs / Parkside 8.
As with most GCC builds of the 80’s, this place was not built until the area was saturated with competition. I think that it opened in 1988 and closed in 1999. Just as with the Parkside, it was reopened as a dollar house by the EFW outfit but closed again after about 18 months. There has been at least one other effort but it failed as well.
Since GCC walked out on the lease during bankruptcy, the had to leave the site intact. This made it easy for a small company to come in a rent a turnkey operation without having to go to the expense of equipping a theatre. As far as I know this is still the situation although I would hate to be the one who had to clean it up to say nothing of what the booth might be like.
This is a better quality building than the recently demolished Stonemont, and the shopping center is newer and in much better shape. So, perhaps the Hairston might dodge the wrecking ball for the foreseeable future, but I doubt that it will ever be more than a marginal location for an independent operator trying to take advantage of the low overhead to squeeze out a few bucks.
I spoke to someone who works this area and he confirms that the theatre and the east wing of the shopping center has been torn down. It seems that these stores and especially the theatre had become a haven for the homeless who were constantly breaking in, which probably accounts for the appearance of the place that I noted in my last post. Not only was the theatre completely trashed on the inside, but it also had an overwhelming mold problem. I wonder if this is a problem common to old closed up locations as someone made a similar observation on the Town and Country page of this site. At any rate, the place was a public nuisance and had to go.
In total this theatre lasted 30 years, about 25 of those in use, about average for the more successful examples of theatres built during its era. This gives it about the same longevity as the Perimeter Mall, but a good bit longer than either of the Northlakes, the North DeKalb, South DeKalb, Akers Mill, Suburban Plaza, Village, and any of its later neighbors along Memorial Drive. It even lasted a little longer, counting its Bollywood days, than the great Phipps Plaza Theatre.
As I said in my post on the Town and Country, this was just an example, among the nicest in fact, of the stopgap between the movie palaces of old and the megaplex of today. For someone new to this business looking back on this era, it does not seem like a big deal. However, it was to those of us who grew up and worked during this time, and I am grateful that I got to experience this example of the movie theatre business before it turned into the fast food / amusement park atmosphere of today.
As for the time capsule, I do not know what happened to it but I hope whoever got it is an honest person. Among the many news items and theatre memorabilia items inside were hundreds of polaroids of the children who attended the opening showing of “Peter Pan” that I described in the original post that started this page. The idea was that years later, when the capsule was opened they would be sent the picture to remind them of what they were doing on June 27, 1976. And just how, you ask, were all of these children, many with different last names, going to be located? Easy. Their mothers supplied the children’s Social Security numbers which were written on the back of the picture. I wonder how many of these now grown ups have had their identities stolen because of this well intentioned effort made in a more innocent time.
This link shows a newspaper ad from November 1971. The ad for the Broadview is at the bottom of the Weis ladder. The theatre was still a single at that time as the #2 house would not be added until July 1972. The first movie to do well at this location was “New Leaf” which ran from March – June of 1971. This ad shows the biggest hit of all for this location, “Red Sky At Morning”. It began its 8 month run in June 1971 and played until 2/15/72 when “Nicholas And Alexandra” began its own 8 month reserved seat run. For this 18 month period, 3/71-9/72, Broadview ran only these three titles. Also note that it was running an all day schedule as was the practice of all Weis theatres during those days.
It has been a while since I have read the intro that I wrote to start this page. I never noticed, or have forgotten, how much of it was cut out by the CT editor before the page was first posted. Some of these cuts cause my narrative to make even less sense than normal, and other edits make some of the narrative wrong or incomplete. I will try to find and repost the original, but until then here are a few corrections:
This was not the only 3 strip Cinerama theatre in Atlanta. The Roxy was the 3 strip venue during the 50’s although the placement of the extra projection equipment was something of a slapdash set up. I had thought that the Roxy played all of the 3 strip frist run engagements, but Michael has recently informed me that How The West Was Won opened here and had a 30 week run in 1963.
War and Peace did not play here but at the Martin run Georgia Cinerama, a single strip 70MM house. Reade became interested in an Atlanta presence after that episode, but Martin was still in charge for the run of 2001.
Several paragraphs were removed following the Fiddler on the Roof episode which described how this place foundered about trying to find and audience running such varried movies as Junior Bonner, Concert for Bangladesh, Slaves, Russ Meyer, and even Elvis. Also edited out was my description of our midnight show of War and Peace, all 6 hours of it.
Following the This Is Cinerama paragraph was a description of how the theatre finally hit it big with Super Fly TNT, and Bruce Lee kung fu movies. This huge increase in business attracted the attention of Weis Theatres who soon took over the lease from Reade who was all to anxious to get out of town by this time.
During the Columbia days, the 70MM Annnie effort may have been over by the end of the year, but the Columbia continued on for a while longer as evedenced by Dennis' photo of the marquee for Living Daylights.
If anyone here is interested, Michael has an excellent write up of the 2001 roadshow on his From Script to DVD website. This link will take you to that chapter which features a reproduction of the opening day ad from the AJC for this theatre:
Michael, Be careful assuming this role as it can be a full time job as you found out during the Stonemont Dolby episode. I was not living in Atlanta during the time of HTWWW and had always assumed that it and the other 3 strips played at the Martin. A few years ago at one of our lunches I was talking to the long time projectionist of the Roxy and he told me that the Roxy was the Atlanta home of 3 strip until the Martin was converted. I thought that he said that he ran all of the three strip through HTWWW, but he probably meant UNTIL. I am happy to hear this news as it means that the beautiful 3 strip set up at the Martin did get some first run use.
I never saw 3 strip at the Martin and my only connection to it there was to make use of the A and C booths which had been converted to storage rooms by the time I worked there during its days as the Atlanta. One of the managers I worked for during those days was Bob Carr, who I think you know, or know of.
I saw HTWWW in 1963 at the Ritz Theatre in Birmingham. If you care to check that page on this site /theaters/9396/ you will find my write up on that and some others I saw there. You will also find a link to an excellent website on Birmingham theatre history which has pictures of the Ritz during its conversion to Cinerama.
As for the Martin Cinerama, the first movie I saw there was 2001. I greatly enjoyed your write up on that one from your Script To DVD website. http://www.in70mm.com/news/2004/2001/release.htm Anyone who has not seen this should take the time to read it and enjoy its picture of the opening day ad from the AJC with the Martin Cinerama logo at the bottom.
Thanks for taking the time to make this correction. Anyone who can wade through all of the CT comments to root out these mistakes has my respect and sympathy.
In reply to the third post above concerning drive ins being replaced by indoors on the same lot: This link
takes you to a page with pictures at the bottom. The one in the lower right corner has two overhead views of the lot, one as a drive in and one with the new indoor.
Dennis Whitefield has posted on his flickr page many fine pictures of theatres and ads from days gone by. This one is a fine publicity shot of George Ellis in the character of Bestoink Dooley. Thanks Dennis!
Dennis has blessed us with another shot from the past. This link will take you to a picture of the AJC movie ad section from November 1971. The Martin ladder is the second column from the right. At the top is the Georgia Cinerama ad which reflects the closing of the theatre I mentioned in my above post when they installed the new screen.
Next is the Rialto ad for Play Misty For Me. I think that this was the next to last Universal to play at the Rialto. It was followed by the last one, Sometimes A Great Notion which was the Christmas feature. Below that is a listing of Martins Cobb County drive ins.
This is the page for the North 85 on the drive-ins.com website.
There are several fine pictures near the bottom of the page although the one at the top right is of the Gwinnett Drive In. There is a nice then and now comparison of the drive in as a twin and the current Hollywood 24.
Great photo of the Atlanta, taken during its days as the Columbia. In the background you can see the now demolished First National Bank building. On the roof are the outdoor signs that were used to promote upcoming movies using “24 Sheets” ordered from National Screen Service. (Normal lobby frame size posters were “1 Sheets”)
This site is linked to on other Birmingham theatre pages and it is an outstanding site for anyone interested in local history. The section on radio and TV history is particularly detailed and brings back many memories of growing up in Birmingham during the 50' and 60’s. This link will take you to the theatre page. Near the bottom is a lengthy section on the Ritz including pictures of how it looked over the years. There are several inside shots taken during the conversion to Cinerama.
As for the Krystal, the site also has a picture of the one downtown near the old Y. I can remember the shock of seeing the price of a Krystal hamburger go from a dime to 12 cents. Does anyone remember the old Dixie Cream Doughnuts shop around the corner?
Built as a free standing building in the Northlake Festival Shopping Center. I never worked at this place, or even went inside, but I believe that it was built in 1983 and opened with “Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom.” At this time the Northlake Mall area was served by the GCC Northlake 2 Triple, and the Georgia Theatre Company Village Twin ( /theaters/13468/ ) although the latter may have been closed by this time. The other nearby theatres were the Greens Corner to the north, the North 85 Drive In to the west, and the North Dekalb and Suburban Plaza to the south.
Until the Northlake and its AMC partner Galleria 8 were built I don’t remember any Atlanta theatres with more than 6 screens, so this was what passed for a megaplex in those days. Northlake was an instant hit and for the rest of the 80’s it competed with the Galleria for the title of #1 grossing theatre in Atlanta. The Northlake 2, which had been a very successful location for GCC was all but wiped off the map by the AMC 8, and staggered on until its close in 1990. Oddly enough, the AMC 8 did not last much longer, closing in the mid to late 90’s. Not having any connection to it, I have no knowledge of what brought about its end, but it could be that an 8 screen location was not worth the trouble to a big outfit like AMC by the time that 18-24 screens were the norm. By this time AMC had converted their recently rebuilt North DeKalb 8 into 16 screens and Regal had announced plans to demolish the North 85 Drive In and build what would become the Hollywood 24, so maybe that was what did it. Still, it is odd that the very busy and well to do area of Northlake Mall does not have a movie theatre in its immediate vicinity.
One odd thing about this place: A friend of mine who worked there said that there was a core of high school aged employees who started working there when the place opened that remained throughout their college years, and in some cases continued on after college on a part time basis. Just reliving the good old days I suppose. That’s a nice memory in these days when 24 screen theatres churn through employees like they were confetti and the employees seldom get a chance to experience what working in an actual movie theater was like. Maybe some of those old timers will see this site and write us some first hand accounts.
This site has several links on different theatre pages listed on CT. This particular link shows the Rhodes Theatre in 1944. The view is from Peachtree looking west towards Spring.
Although not a shot of the theatre itself, this link has a photo of the Peachtree Street frontage of Lenox Square shortly after opening and before the theatre was built.
This link shows a picture of a transit bus turning right on Forsyth from Peachtree. At the far right of the picture can be seen the sidewalk marquee of the Paramount.
This link to the Drive Ins.com website has some pictures of the snack bar and playground with the screen in the background.
While it may have been rather plain on the inside, from outside it was the most impressive looking of all Atlanta Drive Ins. The screen backed up to Piedmont Road and could be seen from a good ways down LaVista Road. It was decorated with neon script “Piedmont Drive In” signage. To get to the box office you drove down the entrance drive through the towering pine trees that dominated the lot. As was the custom in those days the box office had a large warmer so that boxes of popcorn could be sold along with the tickets. The exit was located in the rear of the lot and opened onto Lindberg Drive.
I only had the pleasure of attending a show at the Piedmont one time, this being in 1966 when I was in Atlanta visiting family. The feature was the pleasant but unremarkable “Born Free.” As usual, the co-feature was an older offering from the same film company, in this case Columbia. Although the purpose of the trip was to see ‘'Born Free" it was the co-feature that made the night memorable. It was the first, and only time in a theatre, that I saw ’‘Bye Bye Birdie’‘ although I have watched and enjoyed it many times since. If I watch it enough I may discover why Ann-Margaret calls the title character by the proper name of Birdie in the movie itself, while in the opening and closing songs she sings his name BurHEE. The fact that I attended this showing with my cousins, one of whom is named Anne, and the other Margaret, only made the show more memorable.
Sadly, by the time I moved to Atlanta in 1967, the Piedmont had recently closed. It was torn down and in its place was a K-Mart style discount store by the name of Arlands, or maybe just Arlans. The arrival of this chain was a major blow to the historical past of Atlanta. In addition to the destruction of the Piedmont, another fine drive in, the Stewart Avenue, was also destroyed to make way for another Arlands location. Even worse, they also destroyed the old Ponce de Leon Park baseball stadium where the Atlanta Crackers had played minor league baseball for years until the arrival of the major league Braves in 1966.
As it turned out, these fine Atlanta landmarks had the last laugh as the Arlands chain went out of business within a couple of years. The Ponce de Leon store was taken over by the government as office space and later torn down to make way for yet another strip shopping center. The old Piedmont Drive In location became the site of a major weekend flea market which drew bigger crowds than the drive in or discount store ever saw. That store was torn down and the MARTA Lindberg station built on its site. The front part of the property along Piedmont where the box office and screen were sited became a parking lot and later a huge Bell South office complex.
Across the street at Broadview Plaza, later renamed Lindberg Plaza, two indoor theatres were built in the early 70’s and are listed on this site as the Screening Room. They are also gone as that shopping center was torn down in about 2004 to make way for yet another and still larger shopping center. The way some things change never changes.
You have to be quick to beat Raymond to the comment section when it comes to Atlanta movie theatre history. Below is a comment I wrote on the Memorial Drive 4, but a lot of it applies to this location as well, and echos Raymonds comments about the decline of the area. The Stonemot Twin, which beat everyone else to this area by six years was the only one to enjoy any grat amount of success.
Opened by the Septum Cinemas chain in late 1982 or early 1983. This was the first attempt by competing companies to challenge the ABC (later Plitt) Stonemont Twin which had enjoyed an exclusive situation along this very heavily traveled section of Memorial Drive from I-285 to the Gwinnett County line. Later, Septum opened another 5 screen location a couple of miles down the road. Plitt countered with a 6 next door to the 5. Cineplex acquired the Plitt chain and opened another 6 just across the county line. Last, as usual, to the scene was General Cinema with an 8 at Hairston Road.
The reason for this concentration of screens was that while the town of Stone Mountain itself is very small, the surrounding area was a very fast growing and well off section of DeKalb County. None of these locations were actually in the city limits of Stone Mountain, but were in unincorporated DeKalb. By the mid 90’s this the boom days of this area were over and the Memorial Drive strip went into decline. Many of the strip shopping centers which lined the road were vacant and every one of the theatres mentioned here closed down at some point. There was a time when all of them were closed at the same time.
The Stonemont Twin, Hairston 8, and Cineplex 6 have been reopened by various independent operators, in some cases more than once. At this moment, the Cineplex is the only one operating. I do not know what happened to the two Septum’s, but the old Plitt 6 is an indoor amusement park and party room.
For a more detailed account of the glory days of this area, movie theatre wise, see the posting and comments on the Stonemont Twin page of this website.
This comment was written for the Memorial Drive 4, but some of it applies to this location which was then known as the Cineplex 6: