Lenox Square Cinemas 6
1975 Photo from the Stan Malone collection
3393 Peachtree Rd NE|
Atlanta GA 30326
|Record #5343 |
Capacity: 660 seats|
Current Organ: none
| Also Known As: |
| Previously operated by: Georgia Theatre Company, United Artists Theatres|
Information for this tour was contributed by Stan Malone.
The Lenox Square shopping center opened in 1959, but I believe that the theatre did not open until 1963 or so. When I was the manager I was told by the owner's son that he worked as an usher when the theatre opened and the first two movies were Come Blow Your Horn and The Great Escape. About 1967, the theatre took over the space next door of an enclosed indoor golf driving range and added another theatre. The original theatre was a beautiful 660 seat showplace with 35/70mm projectors, 6 track magnetic sound, a large screen and a spacious lobby. The added theatre was a 320 seat monstrosity that was so long and thin that you had to blast the people on the front rows with sound so the people in the back could hear.
This was the configuration when I started as manager in 1975. That was the busiest year for the theatre up to that time. From its opening until 1977, Georgia Theatre Company had an exclusive marketing agreement with United Artists Pictures (not to be confused with United Artists Theatre Company, which later bought the Lenox) to open all UA pictures exclusive run at the Lenox. That meant that in 1975 we played Man with the Golden Gun, Lenny, Return of the Pink Panther, Love and Death and Rollerball.
After that agreement ended, the company decided they did not need that big theatre but did need more screens. They split the big theatre into two 320 seat shoeboxes which were worse that the old golf range theatre. They took over some vacated mall office space and put in a 220 monstrosity where the screen had to be located off center because there was a support column that the seats had to curve around. Later they put a 200 seat theatre in the little lobby of the old golf range theatre and still later took the lobby of the original theatre and added two 110 "screening rooms".
As you can imagine, by this time it was a terrible place to see a movie, although it still did great business because of its excellent location and the fact that the company was willing to put up the money to get top pictures. They still played a lot of UA product there such as the Rocky and Woody Allen and James Bond films, but also movies like E.T., Poltergeist, Airplane, Top Gun, Aliens, etc. Starting in 1981, the theatre suffered another blow when the mall enclosed the open air plaza above the theatre and built a three story food and restaurant complex. The plaza had been built with the rain and elements in mind and the theatre rarely leaked. No such precautions were taken when the plaza was enclosed since it was "indoor." From that moment on, whenever one of the food outlets hosed down their floors or had a stopped up sink or a broken toilet, the water (and everything else) eventually made it down to the theatre.
In the late 1980s, Georgia Theatre Company sold most of its assets, including all of their Atlanta locations, to TCI Inc., which was the owner of several movie chains one of which was Untied Artists Theatres. TCI later spun off all of their theatres into another company which was even later acquired by the Regal chain. I did not have much contact with the theatre after that and had not been to a movie there since T2 which, I think, was 1991. The place was really run down by then and it could not compete booking-wise with the new 14-plex that AMC opened across the street. The mall was always hostile to the presence of the theatre. I always felt that they did not want their precious parking spaces taken up by someone who was only going to spend enough money to buy a movie ticket. Lenox Square considers itself very upscale and I got the feeling that they thought theatre patrons were not up to their standards.
I understand that they were pulling the seats and other equipment out even as the theatre was open for its last day. I am sure the mall would never allow another theatre to operate there, and the location is really not suitable anymore anyway. There might be the day when another theatre opens at Lenox but it would be in a different spot. Parking at Lenox is at a premium, and I am sure the mall would rather save the spaces for shoppers.
A lot of us had some good times at Lenox and have been talking about them lately. It was a great place in its time, but just as with everything else in Atlanta, it was cast aside when that time was over. We have a saying that goes, "Growing up in Atlanta means watching your past hauled off in a dump truck." In my 27 years of movie theatre work, I worked in many theatres here. I only left in 1999, and now, with the closing of the Lenox, there is only one theatre still operating where I worked, and it is the Starlight, Atlanta's last drive-in. Indeed, not only are the theatres closed, but for the most part the buildings themselves are gone.
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Last featured 9/8/2004. Last edited 12/9/2009.
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