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This is from a comment by “dmorgan” made on the page for the Candler Road Mini Cinema which was located across Candler Road from the mall. We were talking about the incredible jump in business during the summer of ‘78 at South DeKalb after the twin was quaded in the fall of 1977:
“I remember SD would get Jaws 2, Grease, Heaven Can Wait, Foul Play, and Jungle Book that summer. Saw those movies there or the Glenwood Drive In. Boy, talk about timing. I would say summer 1978 was the first official blockbuster summer as we would come to know it. (Star Wars, of course, kicking things off the summer before with Jaws as a primer in ‘75.)
Like you, and as more of a youngster moviegoer, I was saddened with the butchering of SD into a quad. That being said, they sure got to play a lot of successful product, and nobody seemed to care as I can remember packed houses, lines outside past the Barrel of Fun. (Although I do remember long line down the mall for Freaky Friday on a Saturday when it was a twin!) I think they were the only quad around except Akers Mill at the time."
South DeKalb was in a great location for an intermediate break house when it opened. All of the first run theatres were either downtown or on the north side, and getting a hit from one of those locations was like getting it first run. In 1974 I remember The Sting, Herbie Rides Again, and Longest Yard having repeated sellouts when they arrived after the end of their exclusive northside runs.
After the days of exclusive runs ended starting in 1977, South DeKalb still did tremendous business since the closest first run competition was Stonemont on Memorial Drive. The Belvedere never was much of a factor and Candler Road Twin did not even register. 1978 was one of the busiest summers ever but I remember Escape From Alcatraz, Prophecy, and Amityville Horror in 1979, Airplane, Empire and Urban Cowboy in 1980, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Tarzan, and Eye of the Needle in 1981.
I left South DeKalb after that summer and followed Tommy Pike up to Greens Corner which was a brand new and even busier location. South DeKalb started a slow decline about 1984 or so, but was still doing well when GTC sold out to UA Theatres in 1987. UA had little use for a quad in those days when eight was starting to seem small, and no use at all for the employees they inherited from GTC. I do not recall when this location closed, but those years I was there from 1974 until 1981 were very happy and enjoyable times.
Thanks for taking the time to record your memories of that very busy and fun time. I am impressed by your memory. I can remember those days, but then I was living those experiences every day for a living while you were just an avid moviegoer. I am going to cut and paste your South Dekalb paragraphs onto that page and comment there. That way anyone interested in that location will see them.
GTC made a mint with that UA contract and it was safe since they did not need to do any bidding, blind or otherwise to get good movies. Sometimes there were off years like ‘74, but then '75 was one of the all time busiest so they had a good deal there. Just the 007, Pink Panther, and Woody Allen movies insured a good flow of product. The only ones I remember them not playing were the roadshows of Fiddler on the Roof and Man of La Mancha, the Cineramas like Mad Mad World and Last Tango In Paris because they did not want to be raided.
Cone, glad to see you are still keeping up with this site. You may be interested to know that the site of the Sandy Springs, which has been the Brickery Restaurant for decades is about to be demolished. The entire shopping center has been sold for a big new retail and apartment development. Thanks again for providing me with a great place to work during my college years.
I think that when Candler was first sold it was part of a block of mini cinemas and perhaps GTC did not want to take on the whole lot. Or, maybe they were interested but Weis outbid them. A couple of months earlier GTC had been involved in the strangest change of ownership I ever saw when they purchased the Parkaire Twin from Loews. (You can read that one on the Parkaire page if interested.)GTC was a pretty conservative outfit and maybe Parkaire took up all of the money they were prepared to risk.
Also, 1974 was shaping up to be a bad year at the Lenox Square since it was tied to the United Artists Pictures contract. I think that the top grossing film there all year was Sleeper which was really a Christmas 1973 release. Point is, although 1974 was a very good at several of the theaters I worked in, the owners were obsessed with Lenox. If things were bad there they might have been less inclined to expand.
In the fall of 1977 SD was twinned on each side and Christmas of 1977 and spring and summer of ‘78 were huge. When Weis left town a year of so later it is probable that they did not consider Candler worth worrying about to the point that they did not even track it. I recall that in late '80 or so SD was booked with Coal Miners Daughter. The manager called the booker to tell him that Candler, a dollar house at the time, was at that moment running that movie. The response from the booker was: “O, thanks. I forgot about that (blank)hole.”
As to its location, you are correct. I saw it every night when I was managing SD since I had to use the NBG right next to it for the night deposit drop. (The family that owned GTC also owned a lot of NGB stock.) However, the shopping center extends out towards Candler Road more than I remembered it so I could not find the exact spot when I last was by there.
Second point first. Being Ultravision, the South Dekalb auditoriums were almost square and had 540 seats. So when split they were not quite as long as Village and Suburban after twinning but with 338 seats were almost as big. In all three cases, they used the seats removed for the wall to add rows in front. I was only in the original Village a couple of times but I recall thinking that it had a wider and shallower auditorium than the Eastern Federal houses where I was working at that time.
I worked at the Village for most of the summer of 1974 and got to know the twins well. They might have been a little wider than South Dekalb because I remember that they had six seats per row on the new wall side and seven on the outer section. However South Dekalb and Suburban had rockers and the Village had smaller stationary seats so that might have been the reason. I was one of the unfortunates who was tasked with the job of pulling and reinstalling those Village and Suburban seats. At the Village, two men could move a seven seat row by themselves. At Suburban we had to break them up into threes.
As to your question about business, my stock answer is that any theatre, given the right movie at the right time will pack ‘em in. I can remember capacity crowds at almost every theatre I ever worked in. I even saw them shut the gate at the Starlight Drive In to avoid a gridlock because all of the fields were full and the driveways as well. I can remember full houses at the Village both before and after the dollar days which started about 1977 due to the opening of the GCC Northlake in the summer of '76.
Georgia Theatre almost never sold out of a location and I did see them close a few down, like the Hammond Square. So, since I was obviously wrong in my earlier comment about the Village closing in 1978 instead of maybe as much as 10 years later, it probably made money as a dollar house. If they got a big movie that had not played at Northlake they could do pretty well. Superman played at Stonemont and Buford Highway so Village was well positioned to draw new crowds when they got it.
As to the closing date of the Village, I think that can probably be guessed as sometime after 1987. That was the year Georgia Theatre sold out to United Artists Theatres. UA wanted an Atlanta presence without having to build one up so they just bought GTC just as Regal later bought up Storey. Those people came in here with a vengeance intent on getting rid of as many of the GTC people as they could as soon as they could. As they were only interested in locations like the Lenox, Southlake 8, Shannon 8, and Greens Corner, this applied to theatres as well.
All of the drive ins and the rest of the indoors were soon closed up and their employees let go. No effort was made to match the managers, projectionists, or janitors with openings that the theatres they were keeping open. Indeed, those people had been moved out with the same undisguised glee as the people at the closed up locations were. Those of us lucky enough to stay in the business by finding jobs at other theatres had the pleasure of watching this initial group of thugs kicked out when UA went through an ownership change, and later that group hit the road when Regal took over.
Sometimes payback is not a bad thing.
This is an interesting theatre. I worked at all of the General Cinema Theatres in Atlanta and I am familiar with all of the Georgia and South Carolina locations and I have never known one to be located in anything other than a purpose built location. It was always either a new free standing building or part of a new shopping center.
The 70MM projector was probably a Cinnemaccanica Victoria 8. All of the comments here seem to indicate that this location was equipped the same as two Atlanta locations opened at that time, the Merchants Walk 8 in 1986 and the Parkside 8 in 1987. They also had the single THX / 70MM house. The only 70MM to play there were Far and Away and Dick Tracy.
When Gcc closed down, Merchants Walk was taken over by Georgia Theatre Company and converted to stadium seating. However, the Parkside had a history much like this one. In fact, the current operator has also just removed the original seating and put in recliners. The seat count in the large auditoriums dropped from 340 to 133.
That story may be exaggerated somewhat, but it is what I was told. Actually, it makes some sense. GTC never met a theatre that it considered too small to build or twin. The final incarnation of the Lenox Square Theatre, their pride and joy, had two theatres in what had once been the lobby of the original #1 house. They seated 110 and 118 respectively and had such tiny screens that the sides of the scope picture and the top and bottom of the flats were cut off.
GTC had an odd habit of buying up theatres that they really had no use for just to keep the competition from getting them. In the 10 years or so that I worked for them this happened four times. The theatres were the Loew’s Parkaire, the Garden Hills, the Georgia Cinerama (Georgia Twin on this site) and this one. In each case there was a successful GTC nearby that they wanted to protect, in this case, South DeKalb.
While they were willing to buy and operate them that did not mean that they were willing to compete with their own locations or operate them at a loss. I had forgotten until I looked up its page that the Septum started out as a four, but when word got out that it was on the way, that is when GTC started to look to get out. Having Conyers to yourself (except for the Moonlit) was one thing, but they were not interested in trying to operate Salem Gate against a brand new quad.
I doubt that GTC would ever have put in the type of money involved to quad the Salem, but it made for a good story. And, since Septum ended up buying it, maybe it is true. Now, maybe someone can tell me why GTC never bought the Candler Twin.
I can not say for sure when this location closed, but it was probably later than 1964. Cobb Theatres took over the operation of the Waters Drive Ins and their only indoor, the Eastwood Mall in the late 60’s.
Dennis: I actually have a copy of the opening day issue of the Atlanta Times. I hope those people in the picture got their fill of movies quick because I do not think that the Times lasted even a year.
Evan, can you shed any light on the Septum connection to this location:
The Birmingham Rewound website has blessed us with this page:
It is the program for the grand opening of the Eastwood Mall Theatre. Among other revelations, it shows that I was wrong in my first comment where I wrote that the theater was opened by Cobb Theaters. It was opened by Newman Waters who operated most of the Birmingham area drive ins including the Starlite Drive In which was located adjacent to the mall. The Waters family was also the developer of Eastwood Mall.
The opening of the theater took place on Christmas Day 1964 at 2PM, and the feature was “The Pleasure Seekers” starring Ann-Margaret.
Thanks Josh. My second hand story told to me by someone who was not there at the time was that AMC took over the old Cineplex and expanded it to an 8. He did not know if they just split the auditoriums or expanded the space. They certainly expanded it when they went to 16.
I hope the CT people will leave the pages as they are. Market Square should qualify as a different theater and have its own page. Otherwise they might just list it as an AKA on this page. The problem with that as with many other locations on this site is that the search engine does not recognize AKA names so anyone typing in the former names gets a no listing found message.
You are absolutely correct Joe. I don’t know why I did not notice that. Not only that but there are not one but two pages for the current AMC 16 and to make matters worse I actually commented on one of them, something I have no recollection of. Guess that is what too many hours of listening to film click through the gates does to your mind. I never worked at any of these theaters and never was inside the quad or the 16, so my only information comes from my memory of the newspaper ads (back when there were ads in the paper) and talking to someone who once ran the booth for AMC.
Raymond Stewart is pretty knowledgeable about theater history in Atlanta and he seems to think that the space of the Cineplex was incorporated into the AMC. Maybe Josh can confirm this one way or the other. In the meanwhile I will let someone else clean up the mess regarding the duplicate pages and the question of having a separate page for the Market Square. While I only know a little of the history of the theater on this page, I know nothing dependable about the other two.
Maybe I should spend my time checking to see if there are any other rogue comments of mine out there.
Dennis: Thank you for posting that picture. I have never seen a view of the theater from the Martin days. That group standing in front is too large to be the theater staff I would think. Do you know who it is?
Josh, thank you for the correction. Since I have not attended a movie at North DeKalb Mall since Freebie And The Bean in March of 1975, when the theater on this page was still a single, I will yield to your superior knowledge. Actually, all of my information regarding Cineplex and AMC came from a conversation with an employee of the AMC 16.
If I am correct about the CT policy, the Cineplex quad should have its own page separate from this one and the AMC 16 since it occupied a different space even though it is in the same mall. Just like the two Phipps Plaza theaters have their own page.
Like most first generation malls, North DeKalb underwent a rebuild in the mid 80’s. The theater wing was torn down and what stores of the original mall were left were remodeled as was the surviving mall area. (The theater was never actually part of the mall but had an outside entrance just outside the southern entrance to the mall area.) The Cineplex quad that was located in a newly built area on the west side of the mall was not officially one of their “Jewel Box” designs but looked a lot like them.
It was at this point that the mall was renamed Market Square probably because the mall was located in almost dead center DeKalb County and had two newer malls located to the north within the county limits. When it was built as the Atlanta areas first enclosed mall in the early 60’s it may have been located in the northern part of the population map, but by the mid 80’s it was central DeKalb in all respects. Some marketing expert probably came up with the new name which did not last long. Everyone likely to shop there knew where North DeKalb Mall was and before long the name was changed back to North DeKalb.
I do not know how long Cineplex stayed there, but I would guess that it was at the same time that they closed their Jewel Box theaters which were all 6plexes that AMC took over this location. I think that it was still a quad then and AMC increased it to eight. Later they doubled it again to 16. To answer you question Dennis, the Cineplex quad was located somewhere within the footprint of the existing AMC 16.
PS: Thanks Dennis for that great picture you posted on the Suburban Plaza page.
An ad from the Birmingham News on June 20th 1975 shows the Midfield in the Cobb Theaters ad. Midfield 1 was playing Race With The Devil and Midfield 2 was playing Cornbread, Earl, and Me on a double bill with Sheba Baby. That program was also playing downtown at the Melba. At least Midfield 1 was not running the same program as the Empire which was That Man Bolt, Trick Baby, and Willie Dynamite.
Thank you for posting this theater so quickly. I have found an address in the 1967 Birmingham phone book of 185 Bessemer Super Highway 35228. The shopping center at this address is now called Weibel Square. The Google overhead view shows what I think is the theater location. It is a grassy lot at the south end of the center closest to the Highway with a new building taking up part of the space. If the header can be changed to this address it should also self correct the city. It should be Birmingham since Blountsville is a small town well to the northeast of Birmingham.
Thank you Walter for that well written and informative comment. I am only occasional visitor to NYC but I used to work for Loew’s and Walter Reade so I enjoy following the comments for these NYC theatres. Although I am sure it was old news to New Yorkers I enjoyed the article in the Post that you linked to as well as a link in the article about some of the long gone NYC theatres.
Atlanta has done even worse than New York when it comes to plowing under its theatre history and replacing it with the slick megaplexes of today. One survivor which might be of interest to followers of this page is the old Martin Rialto which is almost an exact duplicate of the Ziegfeld. Since it was built in 1962 you could even say the Ziegfeld is a copy of the Rialto.
On the Rialto page are some photos from which anyone who has attended the Ziegfeld can see the resemblence. There are also photos of the Rialto today in its role as the performing arts center for Georgia State University.
I think that the theatre was twinned on May 2, 1975. Mike, if you can confirm that and make a correction I will delete this post.
Mike, this is probably from the year 1975. YF was a Christmas 1974 release and Strongest Man was winter of 1975. Also, Martin started to use that font in 1973 or so. Thanks for your efforts in loading all of these ads for us to enjoy.
The Birmingham Rewound website has a lot of movie ads in their “This Month In History” feature. In the one for March of 1977 there is an ad for a company called Bowie Theatres. Among their listings was one for the Ritz which was playing Woodstock one show per night at 8PM. ABC was still in town running the Alabama, Roebuck, and Bessemer Twin, so apparently they had disposed of the Ritz before they sold out to Plitt, which soon sold out to Cobb.
They have also reproduced an article from the Birmingham News from 1967 announcing that ABC had hired a director of promotions to promote the upcoming opening of “The Bible.” It stated that she would be working out of the ABC offices in the Ritz theatre.
Regarding Ed’s comment of 8/7/14: I was in this visitors center in 2006 when I was last in NYC. I was there to attend one of the classic series the Ziegfeld was running in those days. I could tell that this used to be a movie theatre because the one sheet frames were still in the entrance. The visitors center itself was i what I thought at the time was the old theatre lobby. However, I found out later that area was actually the auditorium itself, and if the seat count is correct even that must have been a tight fit. It was certainly not one of the movie palaces like the State or Rivoli.
Looking at the Google picture at the top of this page, the two signs on the front of the building are for an ethnic supermarket and the Chop Suey Inn. A website called hsvmovies.com has some basic information on many Birmingham area theatres. Its listing for Green Springs shows that this location opened as a quad on February 25, 1971. The opening features were Joe, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Tora, Tora, Tora, and Paint Your Wagon.
It gives a closing date of between 1990 and 1992.
To Ed Solero regarding your post in March of 2013: I finally got around to writing a comment on the page for the Suburban Plaza Theater:
In it you will find some information, hopefuly accurate, about the Martin chain and how they dabbled in Cinerama and first run theatres before retreating to their old small town roots.
Thanks for those screen shots which are nice reminders of those eight years or so.
Several of the Birmingham area drive in pages list Waters as the operator or owner before they sold out to Cobb in 1968.
I attended this theater several times, mostly for the type of summer kiddie show that would charge a minimal ticket or more likely six Coke bottle caps for admission. In other words they were in the snack bar business on those mornings. The program would consist of cartoons, a short, and a feature. The only title I can remember of all of those was “Onionhead” with Andy Griffith. On those mornings my mother, or one of the other neighborhood mothers would drop off a carload of us single digit age children and then be waiting at the curb a couple of hours later to pick us up. (We would also attend shows like this downtown at the Alabama although on those occasions there would usually be an older sibling, maybe 13 or 14 in charge.) Then it was home for lunch and an afternoon of play or maybe helmetless bike riding. A different era for sure.
The only regular night time feature I recall seeing here was “Sink The Bismarck.” Ocassionally the four big first run downtown theaters, the Alabama, Ritz, Empire, and Melba would be booked up and a first run feature would open at the Homewood, or even the Shades Mountain Drive In, also a Waters theater.
I can vaguely recall when this place closed up and 1963 seems about right. I do remember being shocked that a movie theater would close up. I had no idea what was in store for me in this respect. Of the dozens of theaters I worked in during my 40 or so years in this business there are only two still operating and very few of the closed ones are still standing.
One odd thing about this location is that when it closed it became a Schwinn Bicycle store, as mentioned above. I was also the owner of a bike from this store, my Christmas present in 1964. It is no longer Schwinn, if they even make those anymore, but it is still a bike store. That means that in its 80 or so years of existence this building has served only two roles: A movie theatre for about 30 and a bike shop for the last 50 or so.