Tag Archives: Atlanta Film

Atlanta’s Historic Tara Theatre to Re-Open May 25, 2023 with New Films and Classics 

Three months after announcing its return, the Tara Theatre team today it has secured its operating permits and has set its grand re-opening for May 25, 2023.

Reopening as a sister cinema to The Plaza Theatre in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood, the Tara will present art house and independent films daily starting Thursday. The grand re-opening evening will include a brief afternoon ceremony followed by ticketed screenings of four films with nods to the venue’s history including:

  • Stanley Kramer’s It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) featuring Milton Berle and Spencer Tracy
  • George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977) featuring Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill, first introduced to Atlanta by the Tara … long, long ago in a galaxy far, far and away
  • Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future Part II (1989) starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd
  • Todd Field’s Tár (2022) starring Best Actress nominee Cate Blanchett, which was the last film presented at Tara Theatre when it closed in November. 

Exact ceremony, film showtimes and ticketing details will be announced via the theatre website TheTaraAtlanta.com later this week. Anyone who supported the venue with advance ticket or gift card purchases may use their credits to secure tickets to the opening weekend films or hold for future use. 

“We selected these historic films for our grand re-opening night to celebrate multiple decades of cinema fans who enjoyed Tara Theatre since its opening in the summer of 1968,” said Chris Escobar, owner of The Plaza Theatre and Tara Theatre, and executive director of Atlanta Film Society.

In addition to the special films selected for May 25, the Memorial Day weekend roster of films includes four recently released independent films:

  • Nicole Holofcener’s You Hurt My Feelings (2023) starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tobias Menzies
  • Paul Schrader’s Master Gardener (2022) featuring Joel Edgerton and Sigourney Weaver
  • Laurel Parmet’s The Starling Girl (2023) featuring Eliza Scanlan and Lewis Pullman
  • Emanuele Crialese’s L’immensità (2023) starring Penélope Cruz

Escobar—who earlier this year negotiated an agreement with Halpern Enterprises, owners of the Cheshire Square shopping center where the Tara Theatre is located at 2345 Cheshire Bridge Road NE — first announced the return of Tara Theatre, as well as a new nonprofit fundraising campaign in support of the theatre’s long-term viability, during the closing event for the 2023 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival held Feb. 21. Since its inception on Feb. 22, the fundraising campaign achieved its original goal of $50,000, earning $50,637.25 by April 11. At that time, the theatre sold $29,972.25 in advance gift cards and tickets, and raised $20,665 in donations. Since mid-April, the team has continued toward a stretch goal of $75,000 intended to help restore or celebrate the original Mid-Century look for the ‘now playing’ and ‘coming attractions’ sign facing the intersection of LaVista Road at Cheshire Bridge. Donations are still accepted via TheTaraAtlanta.com

“For almost 55 years Atlanta’s Tara Theatre created cherished memories and entertainment for countless moviegoers,” said Escobar. “It is an honor and privilege for our team to create a sustainable future for this valuable landmark that will enable new generations of Atlantans to celebrate films of the past, present and future.”

The theater reopens with nine team members—including three part-time executive team members, one full-time staff member and three part-time team members. Several of the team members are returning from their previous position at Tara Theatre during its prior operations. Additional part-time team members are being recruited, with resumes being accepted via work@thetaraatlanta.com

The Tara Theatre LLC team for the reopening and management of the venue also includes cinema booker/operator Michael Spaeth and his wife, Kris Spaeth, as well as Steve & Midge Krams of Magna-Tech Electronic as equity partners with Escobar. Also, since the Tara announcement, Matthew Rowles, Zina Sponiarova, Jonny & Gayle Rej and Michael Furlinger joined The Tara ownership group. 

Magna-Tech Electronic provided the equipment and installation of Tara’s new projection technology which will include new digital formats as well as upcoming installation of historic 35mm and 70mm film projectors, making The Plaza and Tara the city’s only theatres with both types of older film projection units. 

“For the first time in more than a decade, The Tara will be a cinema regularly presenting films in their original formats,” said Escobar, who added the first reel-to-reel films will debut at Tara during the summer. 

Escobar also said the Tara will create a robust schedule of events featuring classic film, art house releases and independent films. This format brings back some of the traditions established during the first few decades of operation after Loews opened Tara Theatre in 1968 or “the Lefont years” starting in 1980 through their transition to United Artists. 

The Tara Theater is on social media @TheTaraAtlanta via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Anyone interested in more information, joining or supporting Friends of Tara Foundation may donate or contact the theatre team via the website TheTaraAtlanta.com

An Icon Returns: Atlanta’s Rialto Reboots its Cinema Roots

Vintage ad featuring The Rialto

Marking a return to the venue’s roots as an urban movie palace, the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University announced the installation of a new digital film projector and cinema screen. The additions, the result of a successful multi-year fundraising effort that began six years ago, enable the downtown venue to continue presenting its popular year-round live events series and Georgia State’s student music and stage performances while also offering a new big-screen experience for Atlanta film screenings.

Originally opened as the Piedmont Theatre in April 1916, in December of that year the 916-seat venue’s name was changed to Rialto, meaning an exchange or marketplace, a year before the South’s premiere of the original Cleopatra in 1917. Among the first films of the theatre’s opening week were The Hunted Woman starring Virginia Pearson and The Havoc featuring Atlanta-born star Gladys Hanson Snook.

Vintage ad

The Rialto thrived as a vaudeville and movie destination for several decades—eventually being demolished in 1962 and rebuilt to seat 1,200 in 1963—before declining during the 1970s and eventually closing in 1989. GSU’s purchase and refurbishment during the early 1990s led to its reopening as the Rialto Center for the Arts in 1996, with Bud Greenspan’s documentary film Atlanta’s Olympic Glory premiering at Rialto in summer 1997.

More recently, the Rialto also hosted dozens of premieres or festival and special screenings including Shaft starring Morehouse College alum Samuel L. Jackson in 2000, two Game of Thrones season premieres in 2012 and 2013, and Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-nominated and Atlanta-centric Richard Jewell in 2019. The Rialto also hosted special events and screenings of the Atlanta Film Festival and the TBS Film Festival among its many film events.

The Rialto made today’s announcement with two initial film events already secured for spring. The venue will host a private film premiere event on April 3, and in late April the Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF) will host one of its special screening events at Rialto. Specifics for the ATLFF event—which provides the public with the first opportunity to experience the new projector and screen—will soon be announced by ATLFF.

Vintage ad

For industry professionals or cinephiles, the new projection and screen equipment specifics include:

  • DCP Video provided by a Cinionic Barco 4K resolution, 25,000 lumen laser projector. The upgrade delivers an elevated movie presentation with laser-sharp images, exceptional brightness, deeper contrast, and vivid colors, as 4K is four times as many pixels as 1080 HD.
  • The hoist-animated, motorized screen is a perforated, 35’ x 19’8” Stewart Lexus Grande S8 with any aspect ratios of 2.35:1 to 1:1 square possible with manually adjustable side masking.

Other video projection and 35mm available at the Rialto:

  • HD video projector at 12,000 lumens which may also be used to project images on backdrops or moved on-stage for rear projection.
  • Dual-35mm projection with two matching Century SA film projectors. Rialto can present rare, archival and museum prints with minimal wear and tear because each reel is projected independently.
  • The Rialto is currently a Dolby 5.1 theater utilizing Dolby’s CP650 processor. The in-house Meyer PA system may also be integrated into presentations.

The newly installed projection equipment is compatible with the venue’s current Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround Sound system. Additional funds will help the venue upgrade or replace the entire cinema audio system with eventual installation of new, state-of-the-art audio processors, amplifiers and cinema speakers.

The journey to update the Rialto’s film presentation capabilities was rooted in the venue’s long standing need, and nonprofit financial constraints, to respond to industry trends favoring digital over 35mm projection since the early 2000s. Over time, the cost to rent outsourced, industry-grade equipment, on top of standard venue rental rates, was a deterrent for studio premiere planners and cinema event planners.

Vintage ad

The Rialto Center for the Arts at GSU is the cultural centerpiece of downtown, located in the heart of Atlanta’s historic Fairlie-Poplar district. Thanks to GSU acquiring and refurbishing the building in 1993, and revitalizing the district, the Rialto has stood at the corner of Forsyth and Luckie Streets for over 100 years. Today the intimate, 833-seat performing arts venue is home to the Rialto Series, featuring the best of indigenous and international jazz, world music and contemporary dance, as well as Georgia State’s School of Music performances.