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I am not aware of a Carleton Heist that ever managed a theatre, but for years I worked with someone of that name who was the projectionist at the Greenbriar, Shannon, and finally some General Cinema locations. I will pass this on to him. Can he contact you through your member profile?
I was never aware of this place when it was a twin. I do know that it was opened by the Martin chain in 1965 (January I think) on the same day that they also opened the Village and Eastgate. The Eastgate was later renamed Suburban Plaza. All three were later purchased by Georgia Theatre Company.
On occasion it would do good business over the years, but for the most part GTC would put most of their booking efforts into the 1100 seat Greenbriar Mall theatre across the Lakewood Freeway, especially after the Greenbriar was twinned. It was fairly common for the bigger attractions to open at Greenbriar and later move across to Westgate.
The biggest year I can remember for the Westgate was 1974. During the spring and summer Westgate opened The Sting the day after it left its exclusive run at the Georgia Cinerama and The Exorcist the day it went wide from its run at the Phipps Penthouse. Both of these locations were so far away from SW Atlanta that it was like getting these pictures first run. That, combined with an unusually strong slate of movies opening wide rather than exclusive run, made for big business here. Some of those other features were Mr. Majestic, Paralax View, My Name Is Nobody, and the prequel to Billy Jack reissue of Born Losers.
With its three screens, a megaplex in those days, a poor year at the Lenox, which was tied to the fortunes of the United Artists Pictures release schedule, and the fact that the Greenbriar spent some time closed for twinning, Westgate was one of the top grossing theatres for GTC in 1974-5. The EFC Ben Hill Twin just down the road was never much of a factor.
Since its closing the theatre has been a church, and amusement hall and even had a go as a nightclub following the demise of the famous Mr. V’s Figure 8 Disco with its trademark “Earthquake Sound.”
Movie Lineup 1983-1990:
For Howard, and anyone else who finds this type of thing of interest, here is a list of the attractions from some of our summer movie lineups. Just to correct a mistake I made in a previous post, Coca Cola has been the sponsor only in more recent years. Before that it was Delta Air Lines. I am still digging through some of the old paperwork on the earliest years, but here is the lineup, as complete as I can make it, starting in 1983, which was year seven. You can see that even then they were showing fewer classics and more of the hits from the previous year. Where the information was available I have made a note concerning 35 or 70MM and what type of sound, or any other notes regarding presentation.
Doctor Zhivago: June 13
Dark Crystal: July 8
Sound of Music: July 18
Fiddler on the Roof: July 20
Giant: August 1
Gandhi: August 29
Gone With The Wind
The Right Stuff: October 20 (Invitation Only Premiere)
House of Wax: 3D, Halloween weekend.
Around The World In 80 Days: June 8
Oklahoma: June 25
Yentl: July 2
Heidi: July 9
Thief of Baghdad: July 14
A Star Is Born: July 16
Superman: July 23
Cleopatra: July 30
3 Coins In The Fountain: August 6
Doctor Doolittle: August 20
Never Cry Wolf: August 27
Greystoke: September 3
Temple of Doom
American In Paris (1.33)
Bridge On The River Kwai
South Pacific (35MM mag)
The King And I
Bringing Up Baby (1.33)
Star Trek 3 (70MM)
Hello Dolly (70MM)
Daddy Long Legs
Chariots Of Fire (35MM Dolby)
West Side Story (35MM mag)
Back To The Future (70MM)
Gone With The Wind (1.33)
Chorus Line (70MM)
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Rocky and Bullwinkle (16MM)
Out of Africa: July 20 (70MM)
Glen Miller Story: July 28
New York New York: August 4 (35MM mono)
Funny Girl: August 6 (35MM mono)
High Society: August 22 (35MM mono)
Lawrence of Arabia: August 31 (35MM mono)
White Christmas: December 28
Music Man (35MM mono)
Top Gun: June 10 (70MM)
Grand Hotel (1.33)
Oliver: June 29
American Tail (35MM Dolby)
Color Purple: July 13 (35MM mono)
Little Shop of Horrors: July 17 (70MM)
Crocodile Dundee: July 28 (35MM Dolby)
Singing In The Rain: August 4 (1.33)
Star Trek 4: August 10 (35MM Dolby)
Camelot: August 24 (70MM)
The Mission: August 31 (70MM)
Thats Entertainment (70MM)
The Last Emperor (70MM)
3 Men And A Baby (35MM Dolby)
Some Like It Hot
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1.33)
Roxanne (35MM Dolby)
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1.33)
Bye Bye Birdie (35MM mag)
Empire of the Sun (70MM)
Phantom of the Opera (1.33 Silent) with Dennis James on the organ
Gone With The Wind: June 5-8 (1.33)
Accidential Tourist June 15
Pink Floyd: The Wall: June 16
Rainman: June 19 (35MM Dolby)
Babes In Arms: June 26 (1.33)
Big: June 29 (35MM Dolby)
Goodbye Mr. Chips: July 3 (1.33)
Wizzard of Oz: July 6 (1.33)
Roger Rabbit: July 20 (70MM)
Twins (35MM Dolby)
The Women (1.33)
Woodstock: August 16 (35MM mag)
Lawrence of Arabia (70MM)
Hamlet: November 18 (1.66)
Gone With The Wind: December 29 (1.33 Dolby) Fox 50th Anniversary
Littlest Mermaid (70MM)
Honey I Shrunk The Kids
The Bells Are Ringing
I. Jones and the Last Crusade (70MM)
Hunt For Red October (70MM)
Driving Miss Daisy (35MM Dolby)
Phantom Of The Opera (1.33 Silent) with Dennis James on the Organ
Has anyone heard of any plans to show How The West Was Won here on or before its Blu-Ray release date?
That was during my college years so I was the theatre gofer. I would change the marquee, pick up film, change light bulbs, and fill in whenever there was a need on the floor crew. Jack was one of that unfortunate group of EFC managers and projectionists who were carted off to jail for the crime of managing a theatre that was booked with “Oh Calcutta” all in the name of getting some free publicity for the Fulton County solicitor. Jack was the relief manager for the Atlanta area theatres at that time, but the manager of the Ben Hill quit rather than take the chance of going to jail so Jack got sent out to take the fall. For a short while after that he ran the Belvedere.
That was in 1972. By 1973 he was at the Toco Hill and he stayed there until at least 1975. The only notable thing that I can remember about his tenure at Toco was that “Deliverance” was booked on the intermediate break the day after it left its first run engagement at the 12 Oaks. The 12 Oaks was only about 5 or 6 miles away, but “Deliverance” ran at Toco for 14 weeks in the days that 4 to 6 weeks was considered a long run. It left for two weeks then came back for two more.
I ran into Jack again in 1977. By then he was managing a theatre for Georgia Theatre Company, the Village, I think. Later he was relief manager at Village, Suburban Plaza, South DeKalb, Westgate, but not Greenbriar for some reason. I always thought Jack a nice guy and pleasant enough to work for. He had one remarkable habit that I would never have had the nerve to try to get away with. In all of the times I worked for or with him I never knew him to have a home telephone in those pre cell phone days. Or, if he did he never told the company the number. This eliminated the aggravation of the company calling you on your day off and telling you to get to work, or switching you assignment for the day to some hell hole on the far side of town.
I have finally located the article from the newspaper announcing the first use of the digital projector at the Fox. “Narnia” was the feature. CT requests that we not cut and paste entire articles due to copyright concerns, but here are some sentences from the article that are of interest to this thread:
Projectionist Scott Hardin, who’s manned the booth for 29 consecutive Fox Summer Film Festivals, says he’s “kind of had to pinch myself” over the latest enhancement. “I’ve been anticipating this day for so many years.”
Instead of huge reels of celluloid, he’ll download “Narnia” from a removable hard drive into a new Dolby server, which will play it back through the NEC digital projector.
The projector is among the most powerful on the market. It has to be, because it must “throw” the image 160 feet, from the rear of the auditorium to the screen, more than double the distance in many cinemas.
Fox officials aren’t yet certain which remaining summer films will be available to be shown digitally, but they expect them to include “V for Vendetta” (July 31) and the recently booked “The Da Vinci Code” (Aug. 17). Other titles, especially older ones such as “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (July 17), will continue to be exhibited in 35mm format. And the lyrics for the follow-the-bouncing-ball singalongs before every feature will still be shown via the decidedly retro Brenograph glass-slide projector that, remarkably, operates from the same spot it did in 1929.
The article is dated 6/26/06.
First let me say that I have enjoyed your posts on the Ziegfeld and RCMH pages of this site. I need to say that the technical side of this business is not really my field. Having started out my theatre days downstairs, and later in management, this site, especially the Ziegfeld page which has turned into something of a blog on showmanship in general, is more in line with my interests.
Your Ben-Hur write up reminded me of something that I had known about but did not think to consider when this subject came up. As I remember the story, Ben-Hur was filmed in 2.76 to 1 but the action was centered within the frame in something like 2.55 to 1 so that the theatres of the day could show it without cropping out anything important. Sort of an early version of what I understand Super Panavision to be. If my understanding of that is correct then I guess I owe Mr. Wade an apology since it is possible that he did indeed see an earlier screening of Ben-Hur in the wider 2.55 version. There are a couple of reasons that this is possible.
First is the way the curtain and masking operate. Instead of the local megaplex method of having someone in the booth hitting a button to move the masking back and forth (or up and down as the case may be) to one of two preset positions, the masking at the Fox is set by stagehands pulling the ropes. This allows the masking to be set to accommodate even the smallest variables in the size of the image. Second is the fact that the head projectionist at the Fox, who has been there since that first showing 30 years ago, is a true perfectionist. Before each show, he makes sure that the side and top masking is set to expose every possible inch of screen surface. So, if the image on the print was greater than 2.35 to 1, I am sure that the masking marks were set at the points needed to show every bit of it. Also, the Fox has had several screens over the past 30 years, the first of which, like the projectors, was the refugee from the Loew’s Grand. It might have had different dimensions and been slightly wider than the ones that followed which were measured to fit the layout of the Fox.
As for your visit to the Fox booth, that must have been in the fall of 1974. The Fox was still a grind movie house in those days but would occasionally cancel an evening for live shows in an effort to keep the doors open. Those projectors are long gone. If you want to wade through my post from last year, that story is in there, somewhere. That was during my theatre managing days and was long before my days of working in the Fox booth.
Your comment on the Turner letterboxing story reminds me that there was a VHS release during the 80’s that was pan and scan except for the race which was letterboxed. I never actually saw it but have heard several people mention it so it is probably true.
Your mention of the Martin Cinerama brings back good memories as it was my favorite of all the theatres I worked in, even if I was only an usher working my way through college. It was located only a couple of blocks from the Fox, operated under several names over the years, and is listed on this site as the Atlanta Theatre. When Martin renovated it for Cinerama they put in the 146 degree ribbon screen. I never saw three screen Cinerama there, but did see numerous 70MM presentations using the projectors that were installed starting with Mad Mad World. I regret to say that the theatre now resides in the landfill and the site now serves as a parking lot.
Starting 30 years ago the Fox ran a true “classic” film series usually scheduled for ten straight Monday nights. As the Fox started to emerge from the run down shell it was during the mid 70’s into the palace it is today, more week long stage show and single night engagements made running a consistent schedule difficult. When the series started it was known as the Coca Cola Family Film Festival and the schedule consisted of the usual suspects of classic films plus a good number of more recent (for the 70’s) films that were available in 70MM. Although a couple of my favorites, Patton and Oliver, only ran once, others like Ben-Hur, My Fair Lady, and of course Gone With The Wind, ran numerous times. I will try to look up the titles of these years and post a list a la Michael Coate.
In more recent years 70MM has almost vanished. The last ones I recall were 2001 in 2002, and Lawrence of Arabia a couple of years later. Also, the classics started to drop out in favor of more recent releases and we are lucky to see more than one or two such films per summer. In the 90’s the “Family” aspect was also dropped so “R” rated films could be run. In recent years, the earliest of that summers releases have been available by the end of the summer for a final chance for people to see them before the DVD comes out.
As for the method used for presentation, it is either 35MM or 2K. For the recent releases, anything that was released in 2K or 4K and is available, is run in 2K. All of the older films that were released in the days of film only are still run on film since there does not seem to be any movement toward putting golden oldies on 2K digital. This summer is a good example with Casablanca and Ben-Hur on 35MM and everything else, so far, on 2K digital.
We can hope that one day the studios will see the value in putting classic movies on 2, 4, or 6K digital. That way they would be more available and the studio would not have to worry about someone cutting the leaders and tails off of their “archive” prints or damaging them in any number of other ways.
REndres: I enjoyed your post and I do have a couple of comments, but no time at the moment. Hopefully tonight.
Hello Howard: Always good to hear from another refugee from the Zeigfeld page.
Yes, Enchanted was shown in 2K.
Last year I was surprised to hear that even some of the recent movies released in Digital Cinema would not always be available in digital editions. The equipment used to send the download to the theatres has the content erased so that it can be reused. This makes sense although I would have thought that a couple of editions might have been kept intact just the way prints of old movies are. That may well be the case, since as far as I know the movies that have been released digitally have still been available up to a year later.
So far this year, the Fox has run a recently struck 1.33 to 1 print of Casablanca (mono), and the above mentioned Ben-Hur. Everything else has been Digital Cinema 2K.
I will have to confess that I am not a movie “purist” when it comes to new technology. As long as the content is not tampered with I am happy to see the classics updated from mag to Dolby stereo and Dolby and DTS digital sound. If no 70MM prints are struck for Ben-Hur next year, I would like to see it offered as a 2K or 4K digital download. As Mr. Wade noted, the Fox booth has a tremendous throw to the screen which is accompanied by a vertical keystone. Good people can disagree on matters such as this, but I think that unless you get a brand new well timed 35MM print, the digital picture looks better.
Although not the point of this comment, I will note that as I write this at 6:28 PM on 7/17/2008, exactly 30 years ago, almost to the minute, I was walking into the Fox Theatre to see the first movie presented there since the place closed up on January 2, 1975. The feature: Ben-Hur, in glorious 70MM. I have described that event in more detail than anyone would care to read in my earlier post so I will get to the point. This comment will hopefully clear up a few of the technical questions raised by Mr. Wade in the above post.
As for the media used to present Ben-Hur, I can assure everyone that there was nothing digital about it, even, unfortunately, the sound. It was a 35MM print struck on May 9, 1993. This meant that while the sound was Dolby Stereo, it was analog since Dolby Digital did not come along until mid decade. Considering its 15 year age it was in pretty good shape, but I think that its condition could kindly be described as “Best Available”. As with any print that old there were numerous and noticeable dirt type scratches at the beginning and end of each reel, and repeated build ups and tear downs for platter screenings had resulted in missing frames. Fortunately, the Overture, Intermission tag, and second half walk in music were included although splices at the beginning of the Intermission tag and end of walk in music indicated that at least once someone had run this print straight through without an intermission. A real crime against showmanship in my opinion.
The size of the screen at the Fox is as large as it has ever been, and as large as it can be. Although there is some more room on the sides for a wider screen, there is no more room at the top. Since all of the vertical space is being used, expanding the width would cause the top and bottom to be cropped off. This is a problem I described in my original post where I pointed out that the Fox is a hybrid, designed as an auditorium, not a movie theatre or stage show venue. The image projected for Ben-Hur and other cinemascope pictures is as wide as it can be given the height limitations of the stage. If you are sitting the balcony, it may seem that the screen can go higher, but this is not the case. For anyone sitting under the balcony, especially near the back, the line of the bottom of the balcony meets the top of the screen, so anything projected on a taller screen would not be visible to these patrons.
When it comes to the screen size used for different movies, that is determined purely by the aspect ratio of the film in question. This is not a technical site, but simply put, there are three main screen shapes used in films. Describing the ratio of width to height, they are 1.33 to 1 (roughly the shape of a pre HD television), 1.85 to 1, called “flat” in the industry, and 2.35 (or wider) to 1, called scope, cinemascope, or widescreen. Some years ago someone who had attended a screening of “Gone With The Wind” at the Fox had written to the Q and A section of the AJC to ask why the Fox had taken out its huge screen and replaced it with a small square screen. The explanation for all of this is that the Fox is very careful to present the movies it shows in their correct aspect ratio. (When we ran “The Searchers” the 1.66 to 1 lens and screen width were used, a very rare event.) This means that when a classic such as “GWTW”, “Casablanca”, or “Wizard of Oz” plays, the side masking is brought in to make the screen the correct 1.33 to 1 size. It may look small in comparison to the massive Fox stage width, but the full height of the stage area is used. To try to widen the picture would result in the cropping that I described above. (For a perfect example of this, read the story of what happened to GWTW when they blew the image up to 1.85 to 1 for its 1967 70MM reissue.)
All of these notes apply to digital projection as well as film. The type of projection makes no difference in the size of the screen. Aspect ratio is the determining factor. A scope picture presented in digital projection will be the same size as one presented via film. The same goes for 1.85 and 1.33. I should point out that when I say digital I am talking about the new Digital Cinema Systems that are now being installed in theatres across the nation. I am most assuredly not talking about using some digital capable projector to show a DVD on the screen.
Speaking of this past Sunday, anyone who attended Ben-Hur was able to see all three aspect ratios in use. The preshow documentary Mr. Wade referred to was a Public TV production and was projected at 1.33 to 1 using the digital video projector. The rest of the program was all film. When the 35MM film projector was started for the previews, the masking was pulled back to the 1.85 to 1 mark. When the previews ended, there was a pause for the lens to be changed to 1.33 to 1 and the masking was brought back in so the cartoon could be presented in its proper 1.33 ratio. (Oddly enough, the film company logo on the front of the cartoon was modern and in 1.85 ratio so there were black bars at the top and bottom just like on a letterboxed DVD until the cartoon itself started and took up the full screen. When the cartoon ended, the 1.85 lens and masking were returned to present the Fox policy and feature presentation strips. At this point the curtain was closed and the curtain lights came on for the Overture. During the Overture, the masking was pulled back to its full open mark and the 2.35 to 1 scope lens was put in place. When the overture ended, the lights dimmed and the screen opened to its full width for the MGM logo.
With regard to some other points by Mr. Wade, I think that the newsreel in question is used because it features the World Premiere of “Gone With The Wind” as its final story. I am happy to see that he took note of the fact that the curtain and lights were properly used during the Overture. Very few theatres even have curtains anymore, and the applause from the audience when the lights dimmed and the curtain opened to reveal the MGM lion seemed to indicate that they appreciated an example of the long lost art of properly presenting a big, class, roadshow production. At least to the degree possible.
As for the debate between film as opposed to theatre grade Digital Cinema, let me say this. I have been working with film most of my life. Even though I now see my future job prospects being rapidly eliminated by the advent of Digital Cinema, I will have to admit that the picture quality of a movie properly presented (usually meaning being bright enough) using the Digital Cinema process is better than that of film. On Sunday afternoon, before the night showing of “Ben-Hur”, the Fox presented a Digital Cinema presentation of the Disney movie “Enchanted” using the digital projector. Both movies are 2.35 to 1 scopes so the picture size was the same, but the clarity of “Enchanted” to say nothing of the lack of scratches, specks, flecks, and splices, was greater than the 35MM film presentation of “Ben-Hur”. It is too bad that a 70MM print of Ben-Hur was not available for the Fox as it has been at least twice in the past. The last two times the Fox has presented “Ben-Hur” it has been with 35MM, so perhaps 70MM is no longer available. Next year is the 50th Anniversary of this great film so hopefully MGM, or whoever controls the rights now will order some 70MM DTS prints for an anniversary run the way “2001” is touring the country this year.
George, I believe we met in the projection booth at the Starlight Drive Invasion last September. If you want to contact me at
I have no brief for the City of Decatur Police Department, but lets be fair about one thing here. While the theatre has a Decatur mailing address, it is really in unincorporated DeKalb County. This means that the responsibility for investigating the crime, to say nothing of protecting the citizens of this area, falls on the DeKalb County Police Department.
Lets also be realistic. This is not the type of victim that engenders much sympathy from the general public. While it appears to be more of a street crime and could just as easily have happened to the victim and his mother if they had been walking out of any of the stores in the shopping center, the emphasis that the news stories put on the adult theatre aspect of this incident makes it just that much easier for the police to file this one in the inactive file and get on with whatever they were doing. (Please note: I said I was talking realistic here, not fair or right.)
I am sure that the police would like to have this case solved, for statistical purposes if nothing else, and if someone cared to walk into the station and supply the name of the perp then I am sure that they would be happy to listen. That possibility aside, I am afraid that this type of crime, against this type of victim, in this neighborhood, is not going to attract much pressure from the public or effort from the police. On the other hand, had the victim been the son of a business owner walking out of her store in, say, Northlake or Perimeter Malls, then I am sure that the situation would be investigated, and reported differently.
Hopefully, someday the police will arrest someone that knows the identity of the murderer and that particular someone will offer the name in exchange for a deal.
As to the manager you worked for, would his name perhaps have been Jack Demestre? (Pronounced da MESS tree)
This blogsite has a picture of the Miracle on opening day as well as a shot of the site today. Nice story on the theatre as well.
My apologies Jack. I do not know why I was so arrogant as to think that my memory was better than yours.
As for you R2, this makes three times you have had to correct me. I think that from now on I will just send you my comments for vetting prior to posting. Either that or just end each comment with “…I think.”
No, but it is the same as the other Northlake 1,2,3 listed on this site. I guess Jack had a senior moment when writing this post and forgot that he had already listed it earlier.
Talked with a former Georgia Theatre Company co-worker the other day. He reminded me that the movie that did the most business at Parkaire was the Burt Reynolds effort, “W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings”. Don’t know how I could have forgotten. Following that, Parkaire was part of the wide break first run release of “Trial of Billy Jack”. I remember playing that three hour sermon at South DeKalb. Fall of 1974 I believe. It opened wide so that the film maker could make their money before word got out about what a snoozer it was.
At the time TRON was released I was working at the Greens Corner Cinema where we had a Dolby 35MM print. The game room next door did more business with their TRON video game that we did with the movie, especially after the first week. I remember that it opened at the same time as the Secret Of NIMH. That one was the creation of the animators who had left Disney and formed their own company, but to the public it looked like a Disney. All day, parents would come up to the box office with their children in tow and ask for tickets to “the Disney movie”. Of course they meant NIMH as opposed TRON which based on the poster did not look like any Disney movie they saw when they were children. At that theatre at least, NIMH was a much bigger draw.
Atlanta did not get a 70MM release. The Phipps Plaza Twin #2 and the Tara #2 were among the very few 70MM theatres in Atlanta that retained 70MM ability after the twinning. Other 70MM locations, like the Rhoades were out of the first run business by then or closed down. TRON opened at several locations around Atlanta, but the central booking was at the Lenox Square Theatre. At one time, Lenox had a 70MM set up second only to the original Phipps, but in 1978 the 660 seat auditorium was divided into two 320 seaters. Although the Century 70MM projectors were still used, the screens were pathetically small and no 70MM was ever attempted on them.
In 1984, the Lenox was completely reorganized and the wall came down and a 500 seat auditorium was created. 70MM was restored, and Top Gun, Die Hard and Aliens were among the 70MM offerings there.
As Michael mentioned in his article, TRON did play in 70MM later that year in some of the neglected markets. In Atlanta this occurred at the Phipps Plaza in October. Two week run, very little business. It was preceded by a 70MM run of Deliverance. Again, not much business but they both looked impressive in 70.
Winterset, Iowa is a must for any movie buff. The romantics can swoon over the covered bridges, while the rest of us can spend all day at the John Wayne Museum and birthplace. Something for everyone in such a small place, and less than two hours from the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, and the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. Vist in August and you are only 30 miles from the Iowa State Fair, the genuine “State Fair”.
There is also an Iowa Theatre (though not the same on as in the above picture) on the town square.
I saw CE3K opening week at the Phipps Plaza Penthouse in Atlanta. 35MM only since the Penthouse did not have 70MM equipment. This was the first film to use the new Dolby system here, and my first impression was that it was too loud. Too many people confuse volume with effect and do not think that they are getting their stereo effect unless they leave the theatre with their ears ringing. In the late summer of 1978, the Fox Theatre in Atlanta added CE to the end of their summer movie schedule. The Fox did not have Dolby then, but I went to see it because they had a 70MM print that would use the 6 track mag sound system that was there. There was a huge crowd, but two of the reels were in terrible shape and there were half a dozen film breaks in that section.
As for the movie, I enjoyed it and thought that it was a good, well made movie, but a little long is some sections. It has never been on any all time favorite list of mine. My favorite scene is when Richard Dreyfus wrecks his car on the way to Devils Tower. As the camera follows him as he climbs up the embankment to look around, you get your first glimpse of the Tower at the edge of the screen. This subtle effect is completely wasted on the millions of people who have seen the movie P&S on TV as the Tower is cropped off. In 1981, or whenever it came out, I was working in a theatre that ran the SE version. I thought the changes made the first version look like a masterpiece, but it did great business for a couple of weeks.
As for my theatre employee experiences with CE3K, I have two. In 1996 I was working the projection booth at the Fox, and one of the Summer Film Series bookings was an all day Spielberg festival of Jaws, Raiders, and at 8 PM, CE3K. Some people were there all day, and by 8 there were enough people to fill about three fourths of the 4500 Fox seats. Those of you who worked in theatres in the early days of Dolby might recall that the early Dolby features were released in two different versions, some with Dolby soundtracks, and the rest with mono soundtracks. As our bad luck would have it, the Jaws and Raiders prints had been struck recently, but not only was the CE print an original from 1977, it was mono as well. It was in good condition, but sounded terrible.
My other memory dates back only to March, 2006. In the early 70’s I worked at the Atlanta Theatre, which at the time was operated by Walter Reade Org. All I ever heard about from the managers and other company people who came to town from New York was what a great theatre the Ziegfeld was. I always wanted to see a movie there to see just how the theatre measured up to its reputation. When the Ziegfeld put on its Cinema Classics series I made a day trip to NY and caught an afternoon showing of CE. The theatre was nice, but I would have been much more impressed in 1971 when I was new to the business. The presentation was just fair. No 70MM, but 35MM Dolby. The movie was the third edition, which I believe is also the directors cut.
As do most people, I thought the SE version was a joke, and liked the original version best, although both the first or third versions are fine.
This is the link for the Moonlit page on the drive-ins.com website. Contains 6 good pictures. The comment section on this site is not up at this time, but one of the comments that had been posted said that the Moonlit operated into the 80’s which would put it well into the Salem Gate days. I know that it was still in operation during the late 70’s. Despite being located along the I-20 access road, from the dirt field itself you certainly had the feeling of being well out into the country.
Inside the can containing the Enchanted prints was a card explaining the opening so that the projectionist would not get confused trying to decide if Enchanted was flat or scope. The instructions were very explicit that the entire movie, including the opening, was to be run as scope. It specifically stated that the masking was to be set at the scope setting and that the sides of the first few minutes would be dark until the image expanded. This may be the effect they wanted, but more likely they did not want to leave it to the projectionist, assuming that there was one, to open the masking or curtain on cue.
Dennis has posted this photo of an ad from the AJC from the spring of 1963. On the right hand side is the drive in ladder where 15 of Atlanta’s drive ins representing several companies listed their attractions. The ad for the “Twin Starlight” is at the bottom. The North is playing “The Slave” and “Cairo”. The South has a triple feature of “Beast of Paradise Isle”, “Beast From Haunted Cave”, and “Beast With A Million Eyes”. Pretty standard drive in fare for those days.
Booth was equipped with Norelco 35/70MM projectors. These had the variable speed motors which allowed the 70MM version of “Oklahoma” to be run in its required 30 frames per second speed rather than the normal 24 frames per second. I do not know if it was ever run here, probably not, but the operator was known to run the moives at the 30 frame speed if he wanted to go home early.
During its final years it was operated by Georgia Theatre Company and was managed by Mr. Earnest Crowe, a former manager of the Martin Cinerama downtown. This was a pick up for GTC and did not have a house for the manager on site as was their usual custom.
You could get a nice overhead view of the Thunderbird when taking off to the east or landing to the west, although this proximity to the Atlanta airport probably did not do much for the moviegoing experience.
Like the Merchants Walk, Hairston, and Parkside, this location was closed down when GCC declared bankruptcy, which allowed them to break the lease. I am no lawyer, but apparently when you do that you have to just walk away and leave everything behind. Usually, when a theatre is closed, it is stripped bare, in part to either sell or store the furnishings, but more importantly to discourage the competition from coming in and reopening the site. As a result of the bankruptcy, instead of being stripped the theatres were left in operating condition, allowing the landlord the chance to market them as a turnkey operation which relieved the next operator the heavy upfront expense of equipping a theatre.
Of course “operating condition” is a relative term. I saw the Parkside after both EFW and Madstone shut down and walked out in the middle of their leases, and both times a lot of work was required to get the place in shape.
I do not know the condition of this place, but one encouraging factor is that it has not been reopened as a theatre since GCC shut down. GCC, for the most part, was honorable in the way they left the places intact. Unless the landlord has removed the equipment and furnishings it is probably in pretty good condition for a reopening, taking into account the fact that it has been closed for 7 years. Booth equipment especially has to be treated carefully when being started up after such a long shutdown.
I doubt if this is a viable location anymore. Georgia Theatre Company reopened the old United Artists 12 across the mall parking lot but I gather from the information on this site that it is now closed again. GTC also operates the Venture Mall 12 across Plesantdale Road as a dollar house. Although it had its moments, this theatre was never a blockbuster of a location. It did well given the right movie, but for the most part business was just OK. When AMC opened the Colonial 18 in Lawrenceville, the GP6 business suffered a noticeable drop. With the Discover Mills 18 having since opened up just up I-85, and a 12plex dollar house across the street, that makes 36 first run and 12 second run screens in the area.