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Opened in November of 1967, an odd time of year for a drive in to open even in the sunny south. The opening night program was “Rough Night In Jericho” with two co-features, “Deadlier Than The Male” which was a summer attraction at the Alabama Theater, and Rick Nelson in “Love And Kisses.”
Also on opening night, 10 Thanksgiving turkeys and 10 hams to the lucky winners along with performers from the Shrine Circus. AH, showmanship.
Thank you Greg for that fine comment. Entries like yours are the reason I wade through so much CT clutter in the hopes of finding such theater stories to compare to my own. I generally look through the comments of any theater 8 screens or less since stories from the megaplexes are so different from my memories.
In Atlanta, UA kicked out the projectionists union in 1990 although the way they did it got them slapped with an NLRB complaint and as a result the union got two more years. In 1972 I learned to run the projection equipment the same way you did although in my case it was the union projectionist who was tired of the work and was more than happy to let this enthusiastic young kid do the work for him. Lucky for me since I made a good living at it for the next 40 or so years. I still get the occasional call to run a movie at a film festival since most people working in theaters today have never even seen film much less run it.
I hope you will take the time to put more of your stories here.
It is probably more like a “2” missing in front. 8plexs were the standard GCC build in the 1986-88 era and there were 8 or so of them that were identical plans with the only difference being the on exterior caused by the nature of the individual locations.
If this is one of them then the auditoriums were probably arranged as two sets of four with the seating capacities of 378, 302, 220, 171. Times two of course.
Another note related to my first comment. An ad from August 1966 has a kiddie show at 10AM on Saturday. It was playing at Eastwood, Capri, Fairfield, and College. Apparently all of these were Waters Theaters. On the CT page for the Capri, the intro consists of a mention of these Saturday morning kiddie shows.
On the CT page for the Homewood Theater, also run by Waters, I mentioned in my comment that I recall attending several kiddie shows there although my recollection is that they were on weekdays. That would have been 1960-62.
This is a link to the Birmingham Rewound website which offers a fine history of Birmingham mostly via old newspaper articles. This entry for June of 1966 shows some movie ads with a “ladder” style ad which includes the Fairfield. It shows the current attraction as “Battle of the Bulge” which was the Christmas feature at Eastwood Mall.
There is no theater company name on the ad but most if not all of the drive ins listed were operated by the Newman Waters Company which also operated the Eastwood Mall Theater as well as the mall itself. It is possible that Waters owned all of these theaters but did not include Eastwood in order to keep its first run and first class status distinct from the neighborhood and drive in trade. Or, it is possible that by this time they had disposed of these theaters.
This theater is an exact copy of the Parkside 8, later renamed Sandy Springs 8 that GCC opened in Atlanta in 1987. This is the CT page for that theater:
Compare the photos and it is hard to tell them apart. The independent that runs the theater now did the digital conversion and the place is still going strong after 30 years and four owners.
In 1988 GCC opened another almost identical theater the Hairston 8 in Stone Mt. just outside Atlanta.
In November 1965, while still operated by Waters, this location and its sister Fair Park, College, and Fairfield Drive ins presented the Birmingham premiere of the AIP classic “Doctor Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine.”
I have never seen it, but when running the Drive Invasion dusk to dawn shows at the Starlight Drive In in Atlanta I did run an old preview of it that I found stored away with all of those Filmack drive in intermission classics. Although faded, it was in good shape and in scope no less. Very rare for those days.
The correct address for the Capri was:
2304 Center Point Road.
I do not know when it was built, but the first appearance in any of the papers I have looked at is in March 1965. The feature was “How To Murder Your Wife.”
Article in the local paper about running a preview for an R rated movie in front of Finding Dory. If you read into the article it seems that they might have decided at the last minute to add a house for Dory and then started the previously scheduled R rated movie instead.
I am sure that many of us who worked in theaters have similar stories to tell.
“I saw some similar shows there, for example something set in a swamp with Claudia Jennings and many alligators…”
That would be “Gator Bait.” Great drive in movie. Ran it at the NE Expressway Drive in in Atlanta with its co-feature of “Unholy Rollers” which was another Claudia Jennings movie we had run a couple of years earlier. Those were the days.
Mike, I think that the date is wrong on this one. Cactus Flower was a Christmas 1969 release and Airport was summer or spring of 1970. Boatniks was also a 1970 release.
In a follow-up to the comment of David Zoring on 2/22, I read recently in the AJC the Larry’s body is still at the county morgue, unclaimed. I know that I grew up in a different era, but you would think that the Fox would cough up a few bucks to have him cremated. After all, he was the organist for 20 years or so.
I would say that they should put the urn on the organ lift and let him ride up and down for eternity but they would never go for that. I can also see that they might worry about precedent, but still….
It has been about 8 years since I have worked the Fox, so I am not familiar with the culture there now, but there was a time that if management refused to get involved then the employees might have taken up a collection. Just as with the whole Joe Patten eviction saga, a sad commentary on the way things are today.
Don, Good to see that you have found this site. I will contact you soon. In the meantime, if you have not already done so check out the Screening Room (Broadview) page. I am sure you remember that engagement. Also, the Silver Screen (Peachtree Battle) one as well. I think that Heather was there when that one ran.
The status of this location should be changed to “Closed” probably for eternity. Roughly speaking, the original mall theater lasted about 25 years, 10 as a 1000 seat single and 15 or so as a twin. This parking lot location lasted about 15 years total although it was closed in between some of the different owners.
This is a link to the al.com website with a story on the opening of this location. In the body of the article are links to drive in history in Alabama and a feature on the nine Alabama drive ins currently in operation.
On May 5, 2016, Coyote opened their second location in Leeds, Alabama, just east of Birmingham.
Yes, Joe is gone at the age of 89. There was a small private memorial service in the chapel of Crawford Long Hospital for family and a few close work associates. There is talk of a public memorial service in the future, but no word on if the Fox will offer to host it.
In a very appropriate alignment of events, James H. (Jimmy) Williams, a long time Atlanta projectionist died on the same day at age 90. Jimmy moved from the Roxy (also managed by ABC) in the late 50’s and worked as a regular Fox projectionist for many years. After the Fox reopened in ‘78 he would occasionally work a shift on the Summer Movie Series.
All of the old timers who were such a part of those great years are now moving on. Those of us who were young enough and lucky enough to have worked with them in their later years have some great memories, to say nothing of the many stories we post here.
It is hard to make out those showtimes, but it looks as if they were running this 92 minute movie every 100 minutes.
My parents, who are long gone now, grew up in Atlanta in the 20’s. There was a sidewalk photographer who set up between the Grand and Paramount and would take candid shots of people as they walked by hoping to sell them the next day. I have pictures of both my mother and father, who did not know each other at the time, walking up the sidewalk with the Grand marquee in the background.
This link to the Atlanta Time Machine website shows both the Capitol and Roxy theaters. It has been linked to before on this page but the link no longer works.
Here is another picture from the great Atlanta Time Machine website. The Howard Theater is on the right and across the street and almost out of sight to the north is the marquee of the Capitol Theater.
This picture has been linked to before on this page but the link no longer works.
Sounds like Steve did you a favor. I doubt that you would have had that much fun working at Akers Mill. Your comments about how much fun it was to work at the Promenade are so common to that era of mid 70’s to mid 90’s. When I was a teenager the theaters were all single screen locations with much smaller staffs. I don’t recall more than four or five employees working at the same time, and often that was about the total number on the staff. Not as much social activity together as a result.
Now, with the size of these megaplexes, the staffs are so large that all of the employees probably don’t even know each other. Some of these places have more managers on the staff than I had employees when I was managing theaters from ‘74 to '83. As Mike Rogers is fond of saying, “ours was a different era for sure.”
This is a link to an article at al.com reporting on a multiple shooting in the parking lot of this theater on Christmas night. It makes no reference to anything happening inside the theater and the shooting seems to have taken place among the “hundreds” of people milling around in the parking lot.
You must have worked there before 1986 since that is when they removed that island concession stand, put the new one against the wall and surrounded that mirrored post with game machines. I started working the booth in 1985, so if we were there at the same time then I accept the compliment. The projectionist belonged in the booth, not downstairs socializing.
As for Steve Crisp, he was a good manager and friend. I first met him in 1972 when he was managing the Capri in Buckhead (Buckhead Theater on this site) which was the flagship of the Weis operation here. In the late 70’s when Weis sold out and left town Steve followed me as manager of the Loews 12 Oaks. Loews left town a couple of years later and Steve moved over to Akers and GCC replacing Larry Anderson as manager. Larry, who had moved over from Perimeter Mall to open Akers became a DM. Steve left Akers in 1986 to open the new Merchants Walk 8. In 1995, against his better judgement, he was talked into moving to Parkside which had opened in 1987 and had failed to find a manager who could get the job done. The fact that the southeast division office was located upstairs at Parkside did not help.
By the end of the decade the theater business had changed a lot from what it was when Steve and I started. I finally left Parkside, where I was the projectionist, in 1999. I lost track of Steve when he left a few months later and moved to Ashville NC. I regret to say that Steve died of a heart attack a couple of years ago.
Steve was a good friend and a good man to work for. He had the ability to be even tempered even in the most stressful or aggravating times, and was good at balancing the duties of management while making his theater an enjoyable place to work without having the staff running wild.
On one of the Mini-Cinema pages, Cone Maddox, the co-founder of the chain along with Bob Gentry noted that the Madison was the first theater that they operated. Since they started building and opening their mini cinemas in 1968, this would have been some time before that.