Atlanta Theatre

583 Peachtree Street,
Atlanta, GA 30309

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Cliff Carson
Cliff Carson on July 9, 2013 at 9:37 am

It’s really too bad about theaters like this in downtown Atlanta. By the mid to late 70’s the city was getting a reputation of being a dangerous place to visit and people who generally drove to see “event” films stopped going. Big films opened in wider release and in more theaters. The days of the roadshow picture were over.

galateasca
galateasca on July 8, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Is it possible that this is where my high school class came to see “Gandhi” in 1982? We went to a small alternative high school located near North Druid Hills and I am sure we came to the Columbia to see the film. I came back a few nights later with a date to see it again because the theater was so old school and extraordinary.

StanMalone
StanMalone on June 26, 2013 at 6:09 am

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.

Edisaurus
Edisaurus on June 26, 2013 at 5:38 am

The first time I went to the Atlanta Theatre was on a high school field trip from Marietta to see the Edvard Grieg bio-musical THE SONG OF NORWAY in the early ‘70’s. I was so impressed by the giant screen and thought the movie was fantastic!!! Looking at it now on DVD, I can see that it had a pretty cheesy '70’s style to the cinematography but at the time it seemed majestic and it introduced me to the greatness of Grieg’s music and the beauty of Norway. I’ve wanted to go there ever since.

The last time I went was to The Columbia see Aliens. You could see an occasional rat running around in the aisles and that was scarier than the movie! I guess there was plenty of popcorn to keep them well-fed.

I loved this theatre and its big screen and was saddened by its demise. Wish I had seen a film there in Cinerama!

StanMalone
StanMalone on March 6, 2013 at 6:29 am

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.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 6, 2013 at 5:29 am

This pic and this one were posted to the photos page for the Martin Cinerama in New Orleans, LA. They look like images taken from pre-show reels from OTHER theaters, advertising the Martin in Atlanta. Is it possible these were exhibited as far away as New Orleans? I imagine they’d have been from theaters a bit closer to Atlanta than that. Did the Martin chain ever run any non-Cinerama neighborhood theaters? I’ve only ever seen the name associated with Cinerama exhibition.

Cliff Carson
Cliff Carson on August 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm

When I was a little kid my dentists office was in the building directly across the street. His window looked down at this theatre and I remember the colorful marquee for THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE

simonlake
simonlake on August 10, 2012 at 10:19 am

Hi Stan.. I think your right about where Rubin lived..I carried him home a few nights after we closed due to his car being in the shop or something like that..Best i can remember that is where i carried him to…Really nice guy and another one of the Hamburger, Hot dog crew, we all loved the Varsity… Take care. Tom..

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on July 20, 2012 at 7:28 am

This page, from Roland Lataille’s Cinerama site, has several pictures of this theater over the years.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 20, 2012 at 6:46 am

Conversion to Martin Cinerama described in this 1963 trade article: Boxoffice

StanMalone
StanMalone on April 26, 2012 at 10:15 am

I remember your grandfather well. Along with Mr. Carmichael and Reuben Woods, he was on the crew when I started working there as an usher in 1972. After I became a projectionist I never worked with him in a theatre but did work with him often running AV shows at hotels and the Congress Center.

After all of that type of work ended I would still see Reuben at the occasional lunch where many of us would get together and trade stories about the good old days. In fact, I saw him at one of those about a month before he died, and was one of several former or retired projectionists at the graveside service.

I recall that he lived on Aruba Circle and was part of that first big real estate buy out that resulted in the construction of the king and queen buildings in Sandy Springs. While I was going through some old union files I found his transfer card from the Key West FL. local and gave it to him at one of our lunches.

Reuben was a good guy and fun to work with. Even when I was just an usher he would always welcome me in the booth when I wanted to show someone around. Those were some good days when the projection business was a craft and you had to pass a test and be licensed by the city to work in a booth. By the late 80’s it had degenerated to the point of sending which ever doorman or concession attendant was available to thread up the projectors. Sure, they would lose a show now and then and occasionally tear up a print, but it was better than paying a responisble person a living wage to do the job right.

the job right.

flarsen
flarsen on April 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Spent much of my youth with my grandfather in the projectionest booth. His name was Ruben Arnold. Used to love watching the movies from up there.

alienchow
alienchow on March 28, 2012 at 9:26 pm

I saw Dune and Aliens there. Amazing screen and sound sysyem.

rivest266
rivest266 on February 1, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Martin Cineramas were in Atlanta, New Orleans, St. Louis, Chattanooga, Nashville and Seattle.

simonlake
simonlake on August 25, 2011 at 7:17 am

Stan..Do you remember a guy by the name of Bob or Robert Roberts? I ran into him in Rota Spain in 1976, he use to work at one of the Theatres down past the Fox on the opposite side of the street, he was probably 17-18 at the time.. The projection guys at the Atlanta really loved the Varsity, did you ever make any runs for them, that was just about all they ate. Those guys were making pretty good money to be in the 1970’s. I believe the down town guys were the only union ones around at the time.

simonlake
simonlake on August 25, 2011 at 6:57 am

Hi there..No i didn’t play any ball while i was there. They kinda made me the City Manager but it really didn’t put any more work on me other then getting the previews picked up and out to the others. When i got there we ran the Concession stand so i guess the out sourceing did work out to good, when your returning 60-80% of your box office back to the Company in California you have to make as much as you can on the concessions or not make much. I didn’t have time for much of anything as i was working 12 hr days. The last time they tried to robbed us the deputy sheriff i hired and myself walked out the back and the back door had the one way school type door, when they closed you were out of luck getting back in that way, he and i got pinned down in the parking in a cross fire between 3 guys for nearly 10 mins, we had 3 guns and held our own but that was it for me, if i wanted to get shot at on the job i might as well be on active duty and i got the hell out of there and went back into the service. I belive your right, i think Bob Harmon was his name, he had kind of a pot belly, real nice guy..Wayne Cobb hired me in Macon, i had just gotten out of the Army and went for an interview for a theatre in Macon and he asked me if i would move up there, i didn’t know the place had been involved in so many robberies and the lobby killing, if i had known that i wouldn’t have moved up there to start with..I had a lic to carry and me and the Deputy started keeping a 45 Thompson, 2 pistols and 12 ga shot gun to walk out with at night. The night we got pinned down they called in the SWAT team and had the hilo’s flying around the building, the robbers were on top of the building and some how they got away. We saw a woman using a phone booth right down the street get gunned down one night as we were walking out, she was just talking and a car pulled up and opened fire on her, we stepped out in the street and fired on the car but they were hauling tale toward down town. Sounds like we just missed each other while working there..I just retired from the Navy about 9 months ago, really glad i went back on active duty, i had 36 yrs in when i retired and they made me get out but thats ok, i got to see the whole world after leaving the Atlanta theatre. Plus i am mainly in one peace. Take care. Tom

StanMalone
StanMalone on August 22, 2011 at 5:56 pm

I believe the name of the manager you replaced was Bob Harmon, or something close to that. In those days, Walter Reed Org. subbed out their concession operation and Bob was a concession manager in NYC. He moved over to theatre manager to return to Georgia. I am sure that he must have wondered what he had gotten himself into when he arrived at the magnificent looking but somewhat chaotic operation he was now responsible for. He was a nice guy to work for and certainly deserved better than what he got from some of the employees he inherited. I left for college in September of 1973, just a couple of weeks before the sale to Weis, something that no one saw coming. It was just a couple of weeks after that the shooting occurred.

Bob stayed on with Weis although I am sure by then he was counting the days to retirement. I remember a Saturday I stopped by to see him while I was home from school. This would have been in the spring of 1974. I was surprised to find him working the box office desk. Seems that Weis had a strange set up in Atlanta where the city manager, a very good man named Sidney Katz, was in charge of the Capri, Fine Art, both Broadviews, Weis Cinema and Peachtree Battle. The newer pick ups, the mini cinemas and the Atlanta, were under the supervision of the Macon city manager, Wayne Cobb. One Saturday, Wayne showed up and not liking the attitude of some of the employees, started giving orders as soon as he walked in the door. The first Mr. Harmon knew of the presence of the city manager was when all of his staff showed up in his office to tell him they were quitting.

Cobb, who at that time at least, did not understand the politics of running a business in Atlanta, sent out a call for all available Weis employees in the city, and also called up some from Macon. I guess that got them through the weekend, but the next time I was by there I was told by the projectionist, Jim Williams, that Bob was gone. I guess you were there by then. I did run into Wayne Cobb a year or so later. At that time I was working for ABC and we played Sunday morning football with some of the other theatre company employees. After we beat the Weis team one week, Wayne sent out a call for help from some of his Macon people. They were a worthy opponent, but they had spent the 90 mile drive up drinking the after game beer stash, and it was the roughest, wildest game I was ever involved in before degenerating into a brawl at the end.

Were you there for that one?

simonlake
simonlake on August 20, 2011 at 10:56 am

P.S. I remember that Mayor M. Jackson and Hammering Hank A. would bring there Wives down to the Theater quite a bit, Jackson was a real nice guy, hated to see him pass, i ran into him in the early 1990’s at the Varsity and he still remembered me, i couldn’t believe it. He came up behind me and put a big old arm around my neck, he was a huge Man. Me being in my early 20’s when i managed that Theatre i had a heavy foot going home at midnight and got a couple of speeding Tickets and he kinda helped me out with them,the Hammer would bring tickets to the ball park and i gave them out to the people working there and once in a while on a Mon-Tues night when it was slow i would carry a couple of people down to the old stadium for 2-3 innings and go right back to the Theatre.

simonlake
simonlake on August 20, 2011 at 10:43 am

One day i went early to open the Theater, (summer of 1974) and decided to check out all the stuff behind that big screen, you all wouldn’t believe it. All the Ropes and props from the 1920-30’s were all still hanging down behind that big screen, i looked around for 2 hrs, it was like going to a museum, lots of neat old stuff, i lost track of time that day and was nearly late opening up. July 4th day of 1974 we had a 2 block long line of people trying to get in to see Claudine, we were the first Theater in Atlanta to start charging $4.00 bucks to see a Movie, i hated to do that but the Co. ordered me to.

simonlake
simonlake on August 20, 2011 at 10:34 am

Hi Guys. I was hired in Macon Ga. In early 1974 to Manage the Atlanta Theater and did so for nearly 1 yr, it was shortly after the shooting in the lobby, Weis theater Co. bought the theater and i had just gotten out of the Army so i moved up there, it was one heck of an experience, i was robbed 3 times and after about 11 months i left and went back into the U.S. Navy and just retired, glad i did, i now have a retirement i would not have had i stayed. Anyway i remember we had one world premiere while i was there, the name of the movie was ( CLAUDINE ) with Diane Carroll and James Earl Jones, they came the night we opened it, that movie ran for almost 6 months. It was a good experience for a young 21 yr old guy, lots of responcibility. I replaced a guy (can’t remember his name that had been in the theater Bus all his life and he Retired and went home to Bangebridge Ga. he was in his 60’s at the time, nice guy but was ready to retire. If any of you all remember me i was there just about all of 1974, Name ( TOM ). I really enjoyed working there, all the projection guys were Union and they made more money then any one and they loved to eat Varsity Dogs and Burgers and would buy lunch every day if i would make the run down there. Take care all and drop a line. Sincerely Tom.

galateasca
galateasca on June 15, 2011 at 7:30 am

Sometime during my senior year in high school, while attending Open Campus West, the entire student body was taken to the then Columbia theater to see “Gandhi”. The huge screen was majestic and it was one of the most interesting memories of high school.(and also a wonderful film) 1982-1983

TNunn
TNunn on June 13, 2011 at 8:36 am

As a student at the Art Institute I saw Romancing the Stone and Dune at the Columbia (and severla others I can’t remember)in abt 1984. It was seldom full and we would show up early and stand on the slope that went up to the screen and run lines from great movies or simply turn cartwheels! Loved the old cinema so much when in 1986 I discoveded that my date and I both loved the movie “The Color Purple” and that it was playing at the Columbia we drove the 80 plus miles from my home to attend a showing for our FIRST DATE it was SO amazing to see such a beautiful movie on that huge screen… and BTW we will be married 25 years next year!

rechols
rechols on November 13, 2010 at 2:43 am

Thanks again for the great posts all.
I remember riding past the theater almost every day, circa 1967, believe it was called Martin’s Cinerama then. The Sound of Music was showing – huge billboard above the theater with Julie
Andrews dancing in the Alps. That movie ran FOREVER. I remember thinking that the people
working there must have gotten to really hate Julie Andrews.
Stan, I was out of the country, serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Korea when that shooting happened. I never knew about it until just now read you post. Indeed, a sad, sad story.

StanMalone
StanMalone on May 6, 2010 at 8:45 pm

It was the Fox that got the 70MM equipment from the Grand. 35/70 Century projectors to be exact, one of which is still in use to this day. When this location closed up all of its booth equipment was also purchased by the Fox. Most of it was parted out to improve the 70MM presentation at the Fox. The huge 70MM Cinerama lenses are still in the lens locker there, all 25 pounds apiece of them.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on May 6, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Interesting this got the 70mm equiptment from the LOEWS GRAND after the fire there.