Feb 23, 2023 - News

Tara Theatre to reopen, revive storied movie theater

Can't keep a good thing down. Photo: Thomas Wheatley/Axios

Roughly three months after Regal suddenly closed its doors, Atlanta's legendary Tara Theatre will reopen — and under local control for the first time in decades.

Why it matters: Atlanta is more than a film set and funding source for Hollywood productions. It's a place with a vibrant love of cinema new and old, and keeping that magic requires investment and vision.

Driving the news: On Tuesday, a team that includes Christopher Escobar, the Atlanta cinephile who owns the Plaza Theatre and oversees the Atlanta Film Festival, finalized a six-year lease to reopen the more than 50-year-old moviehouse, the AJC reports.

Flashback: Opened in 1968, the Tara hosted the premiere of Burt Reynolds classic "Smokey and the Bandit" and was the first theater in town to show Star Wars.

  • George LeFont purchased the cinema located at Cheshire Bridge and Lavista roads in the 1980s and made it an arthouse darling offering hard-to-find indies.

Details: Escobar announced via video message on the closing night of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival in Sandy Springs that the cinema will project digital, 33mm and 70mm formats, according to Saporta Report.

Of note: One of Escobar’s partners is Steve Krams, the CEO and president of Magna-Tech Electronic — a projector provider company, and a connection that can help save substantial costs.

  • Kenny Blank, the executive director of the AJFF, helped facilitate the deal with Halpern Enterprises, the building's owner.

What they're saying: "I think we've all had enough of losing our historic businesses, places of culture,  and markers of community," Escobar told Axios. "On Ponce and North Highland, a business that's historically established is an endangered species."

What's next: The new owners launched a website where supporters can buy e-vouchers or donate to help reach a $50,000 goal and breathe new life into the space.

💭 Thomas' thought bubble: It's heartbreaking when local and beloved treasures like the Tara shut down. But it's invigorating when a local group with passion and vision can come to the rescue.


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