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Nicest drive in setting I have ever been in. In the early 70’s we had to make the drive from school in Milledgeville to Macon for most of the first run movies. Sometimes there were more movies available than indoor screens and both the Riverside and Weis would get an occasional first run.
After my first visit to see a first run of Life And Times of Judge Roy Bean, I came back several times. They even ran triple features occasionally so I would make a night of it with a stop at Shanes Steak House on Riverside Drive, followed by a triple feature at the drive in and then on home to Atlanta for the weekend.
Oh to be young again.
In June of 1972, I was attending college in Milledgeville and made the drive to Macon because I wanted to see just what an air conditioned drive in was. The field had several large air conditioning units per row, each with about 8 grill capped hoses attached. This allowed the cars parked next to the unit and the ones parked next to them to hook the grill to their windows and enjoy a/c in the summer and heat in the winter.
This was not a very successful set up even in those pre energy crunch days. There were only enough units to serve about a third of the lot, and they made so much noise that it distracted from the movie. I was working for Georgia Theatre Company in the late 70’s when they bought out the Weis operations in Macon, and the first thing they did was remove these units.
As for my visit, I enjoyed the show. It was first run Play It Again Sam, doubled with Odd couple. The theatre itself was nice and well kept up. I believe that there was an identical theatre to this one built by Weis in Augusta. There was also a weis Drive In in their hometown of Savannah.
I made a good living for many years working for GCC, but must admit that in the late 60’s to mid 80’s they built the blandest theatres with poor presentation of anyone. The comments about the layout and design mentioned here apply to every GCC I worked in. I would only add the very customer and employee hostile two position seats to the comments.
As far as location, it seemed that GCC often went to great pains to place their theatres in the most obscure locations available, almost as if they were ashamed of them. One particular location I worked in was located behind the shopping center and the lobby had a fine view of the dumpsters and loading docks of the stores that faced the road.
The ad that shows above the overview is from Christmas of 1982. I notice that none of the theatres are showing Airplane 2, not the hit the first one was but a much better draw than Honky Tonk Man or Trail of the PP.
That would be the AMC Fork and Screen, not spoon.
Leah’s last name was Libman.
The closest I have ever come to Savannah was watching “Midnight In The Garden…” so I do not know much about this theatre. However, I did work for Georgia Theatre Company in the 70’s and can supply a little information. ABC was the main builder of Ultravision equipped theatres, but the opening of the Phipps Plaza Theatre in Atlanta must have impressed the GTC folks. In 1970 they opened an Ultravision twin in the new South Dekalb Mall in Decatur.
I am sure that it was around this time that the Oglethorpe was built as the Ultravision fad did not last long. That is too bad because with the curved screen, curved seating area, square auditoriums, and sharp focus, the presentation was outstanding. I always thought that the South DeKalb was the best looking theatre with the best picture of any I ever managed.
In 1977 the South DeKalb was twinned and I am sure that this was about the time the Oglethorpe was as well. This turned these once beautiful theatres into long shoeboxes with poor presentation and no personality. It still pains me to think of the day that I saw the optiverters from the South DeKalb loaded into the metal recycle truck along with the frames for the curved screens and the 6000' reel magazines.
Savannah was home to the Weis Theatre chain and during this time they dominated the market there. I think that the Oglethorpe was the only GTC effort and other then twinning it they did nothing else in this town until they sold out to United Artists Theatres in 1987. UA ran it for a while but I am sure that it was closed before the sell out to Regal.
GTC had a strong relationship with United Artists Pictures (not to be confused with United Artists Theatres, a completely different company) so it is probable that all of the Bonds, Pink Panthers, Woody Allen’s and any other UA features played here whenever the screen was available. James Barringer, the manager who followed me at the Lenox Square Theatre left Lenox to come here in 1976 and managed here for several years.
I see that the Oglethorpe has now been listed:
Regarding the labeling of the theatres, Weis did exactly the same thing with the Riverside Twin in Macon. He also changed all of their multi-screen locations to the Cinema Centre name, spelling it “re” although I never understood why.
Swamp30439: There is one theatre, the Oglethorpe, which has never been listed here even though it was a first run Ultravision equipped house. Can you recall any memories of it?
That would be Christmas ‘83. Also, there was a Hardee’s in the front parking lot if that helps clear anything up.
I thought that this was a Septum built theatre. Septum was an Atlanta based chain that started out picking up former Jerry Lewis locations and then began building their own new construction starting in about 1982. I know they had a quad on Highway 41 in Griffin and do not see any other 4 screen locations listed for Griffin. The map location, if it is correct is about where it was located. I saw “Sudden Impact” here in, I think, Christmas of ‘84, or whenever it was released.
Bob: I was busy writing my comment while yours was posted, so I was gratified to see your last sentence agrees with my thoughts.
What’s wrong with a 40th anniversary article? I enjoyed it and in addition to being happy that I did not have to wait another 10 years for it who knows if any of us will be around in 2023? Ronald Reagan went to Normandy for the 40th anniversary of D-Day in 1984. Even I went to France in ‘84 and was impressed enough that I went back in '94 for the 50th. I seem to recall that I have a 40th anniversary DVD edition of the Sound of Music as well as a 45th anniversary Blu-Ray. They did not see the need to wait for the 50th.
Like millions of other children of that era I have memories of attending the drive in dressed in my pajamas with pillows, blankets, etc… filling the back seat of the family sedan, in our case a Chevy. This was the closest location of any of the Birmingham theatres to our house. Because of the small number of first run theatres in town it was not unusual for lower profile first run product to play here, although two of my more distinct memories concern seeing 10 Commandments and The Longest Day, both sub runs, at Shades Mt.
Shortly after we moved, this location was demolished and the Red Lobster that now sits in the parkingl lot of the shopping center marks the rough location of the screen and box office. Cobb moved down to the foot of the hill near where 31 crosses I-65 and built a single screen drive in there called the Thunderbird. This was a very fast growing area and that location did not last long before it also was torn down for another shopping center. Cobb opened a twin there that later became a draft house cinema and is now retail.
We checked on the Empire angle and while I do not remember where it played after its four week 70MM exclusive at Phipps. I am sure that it did not play here. As far as Jedi is concerned I do not recall ever looking. I think that it also opened at Phipps and if so it is unlikely that it would have played here. PM and PP are pretty close to each other and in those days of more limited releases probably would have been exclusive of each other, at least for a release of this type. Now, that is a different story as was made clear to me when GCC Parkside, where I was working, and the Regal Perimeter Point both ran Independence Day. I doubt that those two are even 2 miles or 10 minutes apart.
Russell: I first met Steve Crisp in 1972 when he was the manager of the Capri in Buckhead when it was a Weis theatre. In 1975 he followed me as manager of the Loews 12 Oaks. A couple of years later he joined GCC at Akers Mill. Within a few years I was working as a projectionist and worked for him there as his regular operator. He was a great guy, both as a friend and manager. He left Akers to open Merchants and a few years later, against his better judgement, moved to Parkside after a long series of managers failed to tame that place. He left in ‘97 after 20 years with GCC and retired to Ashville. I am sad to report that he died a couple of years ago of a heart attack, much like your friend Craig.
I knew Larry and Stu when we were all managers for Loews. Larry took Webb’s place at PM when Webb went to booking. Stu took PM when Larry went to Akers. I was not working in theatres in the late ‘70’s but would occasionally work for Stu at this location when he needed crowd control help. I always got along with Stu, but I know what you mean. He liked to do things his own way. The last time I saw him was in the late 80’s. He was working for NCN, the outfit that sold the slide projector ads, when he came by a booth I was working to check the presentation.
Larry left GCC as a DM to be COO of the Septum chain. I knew that would not last and sure enough he was back within a year, still as a DM. He later left and went to work for Storey shortly before they were sold to Regal. Last I heard he was in NC.
Aaron and Jim Williams both left Northlake to go to the new Gwinnett Place theatre and that is when I went to work at Northlake. The manager then was Lex Austin. In 1997 I took Aaron’s place at Gwinnett when he retired. Sad to say that he died a couple of years later. Jim is still alive and I see him when we have our retiree lunches.
I am afraid that most of this has nothing to do with the Perimeter Mall page, but there is not one for GCC itself. Hope this brought back some old memories.
Man, I hate to start down this road, but here it goes. I believe that Dune was a Christmas ‘84 release. At that time I was working the GCC Northlake and do not recall working Perimeter Mall at any time during the Dune run. I do not recall if Dune ran at Perimeter Mall or not but if it did is had to have been in 35 since PM never had 70MM equipment.
As I stated in my first long post on this page, I worked at PM more than any other single location during my projectionist years, at least up until the time it closed in 1999. I appreciate all of the work that came my way because of GCC, and not once did I ever have a paycheck bounce, unlike other companies I worked for. That said, I must be honest and also say that the GCC theatres of that era (Perimeter, Northlake, Southlake, and Akers Mill) had as bad a presentation as any I ever put on the screen. Shotgun theatres, shadowbox masking which left the sides of the flat picture raw, very slow installation of Dolby, and the atrocious two position seats made for a very poor movie going experience. Not that the public seemed to care since it obviously did not keep them from coming back.
My point is that none of these locations ever had 70MM projectors. PM got 4 track Dolby for Star Trek in 1979, and in 1995 Dolby Digital, but that was it as far as projection upgrades. The first GCC theatre in Atlanta to get 70MM capability was Gwinnett Place which opened in 1984. By then, GCC, in another downgrade in presentation, had quit equipping booths with Century projectors and had switched to Cinemeccanica’s. One house at Gwinnett was equipped with a Vic 8 35/70 as was one house of Merchants Walk and Parkside a few years later.
I wish I could tell you which if any theatres had a 70MM run of Dune. For a city of this size Atlanta played very little 70MM. The closest theatres to PM with 70MM were Phipps Plaza and Holcombe Woods. Next time that I am in the film room of the library I will try to find the Dune ads and see which theatres had a 70MM engagement.
We ran Times Square at Lenox Square in the fall of 80. I was worried that it may become another Rocky Horror with all of the attendant crowd problems, but it bombed out after only two weeks.
All of these people that are sure that they saw Star Wars here makes me wonder sometimes. However, I have never known Michael Coate to make a mistake on this kind of topic, especially when Star Wars is concerned as he has some type of official release record. Also, just to make sure, I went back and looked at the newspaper ads for those days. No doubt that it did not play here during its initial release of summer 1977. After that, starting in spring of 78, who knows. It might have been brought back as a second run filler like so many theatres used to do with Gone With The Wind, 2001, Zhivago, etc…
I think that the all time record holder for Perimeter Mall was Driving Miss Daisy, followed by Forrest Gump and My Best Friends Wedding. As far as busiest seasons, the summer of ‘87 comes to mind with Roxanne, Predator, LaBamba, and the one that kept bringing them back time after time, Lost Boys.
Edisaurus: Nice memories, especially the last two paragraphs. The theatre itself was still in pretty good shape into the 80’s, but there was also retail on the Peachtree sidewalk frontage and the old Barnett Sign Shop space in the rear facing Piedmont. Also there was a huge basement area that was impossible to secure from the outside. There were constant homeless living there who would occasionally smoke the theatre up with their camp fires to say nothing of the rat attracting garbage they would leave.
Your first paragraph is also nice and accurate as far as the movie goes, however, you have the wrong theatre. Song of Norway payed at the original Phipps Plaza Theatre in 70MM Christmas 1970. It did so poorly I do not recall it ever getting a sub run in the neighborhood theatres.
I hope you will post some more of your movie theatre experiences here. I think that all of the Cobb County theatres from that era have pages.
One other note: The Google map showing the location at the top of this page is way off. The Melba, Empire, Ritz, and Alabama were all located within a 6 square block area a good 20 blocks east of where the red dot indicates. Melba and Empire were on the east side of 21st street and the Alabama and Ritz a block or so west of 21st.
The Empire was located one street up on 3rd Ave. The Melba and I think the Empire as well were operated by Cobb Theatres in their final years as horror and Blaxploitation houses. I do not remember another 2nd Avenue theatre on that side of 21st Street so it must have been gone by the late 50’s which is the earliest I can remember attending movies at the Melba and other downtown theatres.
Mike: I knew Karen Shaw when she worked at South DeKalb during her high school years.
Ed: Martin was a big chain in the southeastern US. and is known as Carmike today although it has been through bankruptcy and ownership changes over the years. Martin had several drive-ins and a couple of indoors in Cobb County, which would be like Long Island is to NYC. In 1961 they purchased the old Rialto in the center of downtown Atlanta, tore it down and rebuilt it as a first run theatre. (The Zieg in your town is almost an exact duplicate of the layout and floorplan.) They also bought the old Tower Theatre across the street from the Fox and turned it into the Martin Cinerama. A couple of years later they built a new single strip 70MM house, the Georgia Cinerama in the suburbs.
Those nice screen shots you have posted could have been used at any of these theatres. I think that this theatre (Martin’s Cinerama) opened with Brothers Grimm followed by HTWWW and then on to IAMMMMW in 70MM. After that it was Mary Poppins and Sound of Music while most of the single strip Cinerama played at the Georgia.
Alice opened the same day as Lenny, 2/14/75. It did very well on its own, and even better from the overflow on the shows that Lenny sold out. A couple of times Lenox played the same movie in both houses with alternating show times, something common today but unheard of back then. As Cliff said, movies would sometimes move to #2 when still doing well when they had to leave the big house. Cliff is incorrect on another point. No Russ Meyer film ever ran here. I think that Midnight Cowboy was the only X to run at Lenox. They even passed on Last Tango In Paris.
Great picture from VJ day 1945. On the far right, Loew’s Grand, next to it is the Paramount / Howard, and up Peachtree on the left is the Roxy marquee. Just below the Roxy sign you can just make out the top of the marquee of the Capitol.
Reade owned the US rights to War and Peace. In Atlanta we ran it as a midnight show in August 1972 and March 1973. Intermission at 3AM, out at 6:30AM. Included in the ticket was breakfast at the coffee house across the street for anyone who made to the end. 23 reels if I remember correctly.