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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.
Dennis: Thank you for your comments. You know a lot more about GCC than I do since they only came to Atlanta in 1973 and I did not work for them until 1977. I can only speak for the Atlanta area, but we started getting shopping center theaters here in 1963 or so and those theaters had very large screens and much nicer seating, usually rockers, but even the stationary ones were better than those two position seats that GCC was still installing in 1978. I always thought that those two position seats were uncomfortable since the straight up position was too upright and the reclined position tended to make you feel like you were sliding forward. Maybe you had to be just the right size for them to feel right. Never the less, I never met a GCC manager or floor staff that did not hate the things since they all had to be pushed back upright during between show clean up.
As for the screens, I have worked in many theaters with shoebox auditoriums and small screens that were the result of twinning. However, as I said in my comment of 10/17/2005 (hard to believe that I have been writing on this site for over 10 years), Akers, as well as Southlake and Northlake, were built in this shoebox style by design and the poor presentation could not be blamed on twinning. By 1984 when the Gwinnett Place 6 was built they were beginning to make some improvements in auditorium shape and screen size and by 1986 with the Merchants Walk and Parkside 8’s they were finally building nicely designed theaters although there were still limiting their Dolby installations to two to four screens per location.
As I have said before on other GCC theater pages, I appreciated the presence of GCC in Atlanta as I made a good living working for them for a good many years. However, the first generation locations of Perimeter Mall, Northlake, Southlake, and Akers, had as poor a presentation as any theater I ever worked in. In Atlanta at least, those early locations were in very high profile places but by the time they were building the better quality theaters they were placing them either behind or on the back end of shopping centers or hard to find access roads.
All that said, the quality of the presentation never seemed to bother the public as they flocked to these shiny new GCC theaters for a good 15 years before the newer designs made them obsolete.
By the way, the DM’s in Atlanta in my time were Larry Anderson, Larry Pittman, Dave Pollard, and Jeff Lynn. Did you know any of them?
I have just re-read the comment by Dallas and realize that I misunderstood it the first time. As a result, my reply to Michael’s comment is not really relevant. So, I will try again.
Since Tuscon in 1975 was not nearly the city it is today, it is possible that they had an exclusive run on Jaws with the only restriction being a minimum length run which was certainly not an issue here. Not only would Universal been unlikely to care if another house was added, they might have even been in favor of it. That way, even more of the box office would be earned at the start of the run when the film rent was higher.
I have seen this done a few times when theaters knew that they had a hard opening date for the next attraction booked and wanted to get in as much business on their current hit as they could before they had to let it go. Much more common, at least in my experience, was the practice of putting an exclusive run hit in the smallest house knowing that people would wait for the crowds to die down since there was no where else to see it. This way, the the run could be extended and more of the box earned later in the run after the rental rate had decreased.
Of course this was all during the 70’s. Now there is no such thing as exclusive runs and the first weeks gross is an important part of the word of mouth campaign.
Perhaps it was not an official or even contractually legal two screen booking. I can recall many episodes especially in the pre megaplex and multiple print years where theaters added an extra house for a night or even a week. Much more common was moving a hit into a larger house and vice versa with a flop despite the bid being for a specified number of seats house.
Chris, thank you for the compliment. I do my best although my memory does play tricks on me from time to time. It is nice to know that there are people out there who value such efforts.
As for your question, the above ad is on the correct page. This is confusing to someone who did not live it, but the easiest way to keep it straight is to remember that the other theater never had “Sandy Springs” in its name and kept the same owner the entire time. It opened as “Cinema 285” and before too long was renamed “Hammond Square Cinema” when the shopping center it was in was renamed. (The reason for all if this is in my intro for that theater on its page.) It was run by Georgia Theater Company for its entire run.
This location started off as “Sandy Springs Mini Cinema” the third of what would be a chain of five mini cinemas in the Atlanta region plus some out of town locations. In 1971 it was renamed “Sandy Springs Theater” by its franchisee when they pulled it out of the Mini Cinema chain when the chain was sold. In 1973 another new owner purchased all of the Atlanta properties and reunited them under the Mini Cinema name calling them “A Division of Conners Capital Corp.” (Except for the Peachtree Battle and Ansley Mall locations which had already been sold off.) In the summer of 1974, all of these plus the under construction triple on Franklin Road in Marietta were sold to Weis Theaters which was a major player in the Atlanta first run/exclusive run market.
This might not be exactly accurate, but it is the way the story was told to those of us who worked there at the time. The ad above is from the spring of 1974 based on what was playing. By this time I had graduated from college and was managing a theatre for Georgia Theatre Company. I can date this by the Papillon sub-run ad and the Great Gatsby ad to the right. (The Lenox ad was for Where The Lillies Bloom.) This was just a month or two before the chain was sold to Weis. The reason such a low rent film was playing in this neighborhood location was simple. The current owner, not nearly as nice to work for as the original people, owed money to all of the major studios for unpaid film rent plus National Screen and every concession supply house in town. The only distributors he could get product from were minor independents that he did not yet owe money to.
As to why Weis even got involved I do not know. They were a Savannah outfit and controlled that market, but they had no sub-run locations here. Maybe they wanted some or maybe they foresaw the coming of the end of the exclusive first run days and wanted a wider presence for the wide break patterns to come. If so they were very smart as in 1977 they got three of the four Atlanta bookings for Star Wars. However, they soon blind bid their way into the poor house and sold off their properties and left town.
Sandy Springs was the only one of their locations that did not continue on as a theater for at least a few years.