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It has been 15 years since 70MM ran here. (Lawrence of Arabia). The 35/70 projectors are still there but it would take a considerable amount of work to get the sound readers installed and everything checked out. We can always hope but I think Atlantic Station a more likely venue if it makes it to Atlanta at all. The list of confirmed bookings shows Austin TX as the closest location so far.
I saw 2001 when it last played in 70MM here in 2002.
Thanks for posting that article on the opening of the Mini Cinema chain. Mr. Gentry, and Mr. Maddox were real visionaries for the future of the way theaters would be built in the era from 1968-1984 or so. They were at least two years ahead of the Jerry Lewis chain and given the right picture all of the Mini Cinemas did good business at times, even after they were sold to Lefont, Weis, George Ellis, and even AMC.
As Barbara Gentry wrote on another page, they got off to a rough start as the big opening night celebration was short circuited by the assassination of Martin Luther King, which took place the day before.
As for the article, I do not know if the closed circuit camera system was ever installed. If it was it was gone by the time I first worked here in 1971.
At some point this was purchased by Georgia Theater Company along with Suburban Plaza, Village, Belmont Hills, and Strand. A previous comment on this page indicated that a fire next door to the smaller house caused it to be closed for cleanup and it was at this time that the twinning took place making the theater a triple. That explains why the small side was twinned instead of the larger house. I do not know when this took place but it was well before 1977. I think I recall ads for it as a triple as early as 1971.
Despite being a big money maker for GTC in the mid 70’s, by the early 80’s business had declined to the point that it was actually closed for the winter once. (1980-81 I think.) When business did not improve with the weather it was decided to close it. The City Manager was convinced that Westgate was still worthwhile so he sent out a checker to take a look at the place. Turned out that there were many more people in the theater than there were tickets sold that night and after further checks showed the same thing the manager was encouraged to leave.
A new manager was installed and boxoffice receipts increased 10 times the amount reported on the previous Saturday night even though that first night for the new manager was on a Tuesday. Westgate never returned to its busy days of the 70’s and when I was working at Greenbriar I would often load an outgoing print onto Westgate reels and they would continue the run across Lakewood Freeway. However, it was a going concern and was only closed after the sell out to United Artists Theaters who did not care to be bothered with such a marginal location.
This is a link to the Buford Highway Twin, another Jerry Lewis location taken over by Septum. The ad currently at the top of the page shows the kind of X that all of the Septum chain played at one time or the other and Old Dixie is listed. The Roswell location may have been the exception since they are not playing either one of these movies, but it may have just been their week off.
JBrantley: I think that you are correct about the XXX rated history of this theater but it did play the type of X that you listed. I have forgotten the movie in question but they must have played something along those lines at least once since the staff did go to jail.
The projectionist that I knew was not even on duty the day of the raid. He had stopped by to pick up his paycheck and when the police came in they asked him if he was working there. When he told them why he was there they asked him if he had run the movie in question at any time. He told them that he had worked the day before, so, they took him to jail as well. I would have fought that arrest since they did not advise him of his rights before asking him these questions, but as is usually the case, the company just paid a fine, the solicitor got some good publicity, and a good man, who served as a combat medic in Italy during WWII as well as decades as a projectionist in the Atlanta area got a criminal record.
I believe that this theater was never reopened after it closed and it was operated by GCC its entire run. It was the Movies At Gwinnett 12 that GTC reopened after UA closed it down. That location was across the parking lot from this one and was a converted retail store. The original GTC bought that store but did nothing with it prior to selling out to UA. UA converted it to a 12 and ran it for most of the 90’s before shutting it down. By then the non compete clause had expired and the family that had owned GTC started it back up again. They bought the closed up Movies At Gwinnett and ran it for a while but soon closed it again.
GTC did pick up the GCC Merchants Walk 8, converted it to stadium seating and expanded it to 12.
The twinning of the original PP was bad news to anyone who valued quality presentation. With its big curved screen, almost square auditorium, continental seating, and Ultravision projection system, it provided a moviegoing experience far better than anything else available.
This lame lineup for the grand reopening was a fitting booking for the introduction of the twins. “Prisoner” was a pale effort by Neil Simon to follow up on his two previous NYC hits, Odd Couple and Out Of Towners. It did poor business in this neighborhood that would always turn out for a movie aimed at the older audiences. As for the other one, silly story, over produced, and nice Cole Porter music ruined by two stars who could not sing.
And for this they ended the Christmas Attraction run of Young Frankenstein while it was still doing sell out business.
As for the Penthouse the photo section has some pictures taken from the booths that show how high the ceilings were.
Reopened in summer of 1988 under the ownership of Ted Turner when he bought the failing Omni complex and turned it into CNN center. Theaters operated under a management contract with United Artists Theaters which had recently entered the Atlanta market via its purchase of Georgia Theater Company. UA did the booking with the exception of one house exclusively reserved for showing Gone With The Wind. The point was to try to get some foot traffic into the center which was a pretty dismal place especially at night. Things improved by 1996 with the construction of the Olympic Park across the street but by then I think the theaters were gone.
Check out the previous comments and you can get the story of the time capsule.
As for Star Wars, neither it nor Empire played at this location in their initial releases. Jedi did play here.
Thanks for the ads Mike. I did not realize that this location and Northlake opened on the same day. I did a lot of work at this location fron opening day until 1979 and then a lot at Northlake starting in 1984. Stonemont was a far better place to watch a movie. Close Encounters, Superman 1 and 2, and many other blockbusters ran here, but I think the all time champ box office wise was probably Animal House.
The Doraville MiniCinema which is directly across Buford Highway from this location is inside the city limits of Doraville, but this location was and perhaps still is in unincorporated DeKalb County. Doraville address of course.
I am sure Cone can elaborate, but it was not closed until about 1979. It was sold to Weis in Summer of 1974 and they ran it several years. I can recall one of the later features as being Ode To Billy Joe because I remember seeing the projectionist local running a picket line there and at Doraville.
Cone I remember the ad for that Hail Hero. The first movie I saw here was Impossible Years. I also recall a four week run of Airport after it left its downtown run at the Rialto. True Grit in August of 1969 is another one I remember.
I was never in this theater as it was not my part of town, but I did know people who worked there. As I said in my previous comment it opened as a triple, something confirmed by Mike’s ad posting. My hazy memory is that the big house was twinned making it a four. Then two more were added upstairs making it a six. You can see the addition by comparing the picture in the opening day ad with the one at the top of the page. Later the original medium house was split making it 7. I was not aware that it was ever an 8, but at different times it was known as National Triple, National Four, National Six, and finally (at least to my knowledge) National 7.
Maybe mcone1 can clear this up since he worked there.
This would be what was later known as the South Starlight. Hopefully you can find the ad for the opening of the North field sometime in 1952 or 53.
There would be two more Mini Cinemas, the Candler Road Twin in Decatur GA which opened in December 1970, and the Franklin Road Triple in Marietta. Franklin was actually opened by Weis since they had bought the Mini Cinema chain just prior to its completion in the summer of 1974.
This would be it. I have a paper from 9/3/1939, saved by my parents because that is the day WWII started. In the theater section there is an ad for Piedmont Auto Park, or something close to that. My understanding is that would be a drive in type lot with a screen and big speakers flooding the lot with sound. Don’t know for sure, but for years it has been claimed that the Starlight DI on Moreland Ave. which opened in 1948 was the first drive in in Atlanta. Maybe they meant the first one with individual speaker poles.
Both the Stewart and Piedmont were owned by the Dixie Drive In Company and the sites were well chosen. In 1967 they were both sold and replaced by Arlans Discount Stores.
Thanks Mike for all of the opening day ads that you post.
If any Atlanta area CT readers want a final look at this place they should get over there soon. The Children’s Healthcare development has demolished the massive Southern Bell training center next door (including the 15 story hotel) and their new facility is well on the way to completion. McDonald’s, which takes up what was the front parking lot of the old theater, is still there and doing big business feeding the army of construction workers. The theater building is being used as the offices of all of the different construction contractors working on the project. The front office area built onto the lobby by the church is the reception area. It is fairly neat, but as for the rest of the building, well anyone who has ever worked a construction job can guess what type of shape it is in.
The old Morrison’s / Piccadilly cafeteria next door that shared the lot and parking lot with the theater is closed and inside still looks the way it did on its last day of business. As soon as the current construction is complete this entire block will probably go to make way for the next phase of the CH development.
In total this place had about 10-12 years as a prestige first run location. (1964-1975) In 1976 it was twinned and never ran another exclusive first run release. Georgia Theater bought it in 1977 and occasionally used it as a move over house for Lenox but mostly for second run. It was then taken over by the Drafthouse people who removed the wall and ran it several years as a single. According to a newspaper article on the Duffy Drafthouse chain McDonalds bought the property, moved its location from around the corner on Briarcliff road to here and kicked out the theater in favor of the church.
Is this a production photo or a screen shot? I tried freeze framing and then advancing my blu-ray one frame at a time to try to get the name of this theater. All I got before the scene change was the title “Network.”
Thank you for those comments. There were four JL’s in Atlanta, all twins and all opened well before this one. The one in Birmingham opened the same time as this one. Maybe they decided single was the way to go by then. One of the Atlanta ones operated as JL for about four years then went the softcore route like so many others. It closed last year after an amazing 47 years in operation.
Most Jerry Lewis locations were twins. This is only the second that I have seen that was a single screen. The other was in Vestavia Hills Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham.
I tried the website to see what was going on at this location and all you get is a blank page. If you click on the tab for all showtimes you get only the two Florida theaters. So, it looks as if this place may be closed yet again. I believe this would make the fifth time which has to be approaching some type of record.
I also looked up some yelp reviews on the mall itself and apparently it has turned into a real dump, and a not very safe one at that. One reviewer said that if it were not for all of the police and private security the place would be half empty. Makes sense since there is a police station in the parking lot next to the theater entrance.
As for the theater itself, a comment from 10/15/17 states that the theater is now closed.
Somewhere in the hundreds of previous comments on this page someone pointed out that the opening overhead sequence of West Side Story passes over the site of the Roxy. If you are quick with the pause button you can see the site as a big, open pit, dirt hole.
82: I notice from comments on this and other pages that you are a big fan of recliners. Think about this for a moment. If those dirty floors and cupholders bother you just imagine how long it has been, if ever, since the recliner you are sunk down into has been cleaned.
Thanks Michael for another interesting article. The excellent book “Indecent Exposure” by David McLintick deals with Columbia Pictures and the David Begelman episode. There is a good bit of narrative about Close Encounters as well as the events surrounding its World Premiere at the Ziegfeld.
The day after the premiere the board was due to meet to finally decide to either reinstate Begelman or fire him. The board wanted to keep Begelman. The Chairman, Alan Hirschfield wanted him out, and while in the lobby of the Ziegfeld prior to the screening Hirschfield was informed that Beagelman’s allies on the board were launching a conflict of interest investigation concerning Hirschfield’s wife.
Great news to get right before speaking to the invitation only audience of the biggest Columbia release in years. There is also an interesting story of how a reviewer was able to sneak into one of the test screenings two months earlier in Dallas and wrote such a negative review that it drove the stock price of Columbia down 20%.
As for this theater, it had an exclusive run for four weeks followed by an exclusive in Manhattan for the remainder of its 23 week run. By the time it left, Close Encounters had grossed over $2,000,000 at the Ziegfeld alone.
Since pictures do not lie, I guess this proves that Norm
Levinson did smile on occasion. Personally I never saw it happen nor do I know of anyone who did but there it is. In 1990, when Norm retired, Cobb did what many thought impossible. He hired a UA Theaters exec from New York that made Norm seem like Mr. Rogers.
Thank you. The header should be changed to three screens and the narrative of the overview changed to show this was expanded to a triple. The grand reopening ad that Mike posted shows it with three features.
Mar312, I managed an UltraVision twin for Georgia Theater Company. They were fine looking theaters with a beautiful picture on the big curved screens. Unfortunately the UltraVision shape made them perfect candidates to be twinned. When it came time for my theater, I suggested that they do what was done here, leave one side intact. No such luck.