Three months after announcing its return, the team for Atlanta’s historic Tara Theatre today secured its operating permits and set its grand re-opening for May 25.
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) featuring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd
- Todd Field’s “Tár” (2022) featuring 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 three recently released independent films:
- 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
- Nicole Holofcener’s “You Hurt My Feelings” (2023) featuring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tobias Menzies
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 email@example.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.