Cinephiles of Atlanta can rejoice: After shuttering last year, one of the city’s most recognizable and beloved cinemas is officially making a comeback.
Following a 54-year run that had begun in the late 1960s, the bright lights of Tara Cinema (aka, “Regal Tara”) went dark in November at 2354 Cheshire Bridge Road, symbolizing a tough few years for theaters around the world.
But the team credited with rescuing and reviving The Plaza Theatre in Poncey-Highland—with plans for major renovations in the future there—announced this week the historic Tara Theatre will return sometime this spring, following a deal struck with owners of its Cheshire Bridge shopping center.
Chris Escobar, The Plaza Theatre’s owner and Atlanta Film Society executive director, began negotiations with the shopping center owners, Halpern Enterprises, before the Tara went dark last year.
The agreement both teams have reached includes a nonprofit fundraising campaign—modeled after the Plaza Theatre’s—that Escobar’s camp says will support the Tara’s long-term viability.
That nonprofit organization, Friends of Tara Foundation, has set a goal to raise more than $50,000 before the Tara opens on a TBD date this spring. A new website has launched for donations, advance ticket sales, and gift card purchases to support that initiative.
Escobar and company also announced the creation of a for-profit Tara Theatre LLC to function like the one that’s helped restore and operate Plaza Theatre since 2017. The goal is to “help preserve and share these historic venues with future generations,” Escobar said in an announcement. “The foundations support long-term physical improvements and accessibility at the theaters, also enabling independent artists, film festivals, or other nonprofits to engage the community with improved event spaces.”
A company called Magna-Tech Electronic will provide the equipment and installation of new projection technology at Tara. That will include new digital formats as well as historic 33 mm and 70 mm film projectors. Per the new operators, those changes will make The Plaza and Tara the only theaters with both types of older film projection units in Atlanta.
It will also allow the Tara to present films in their original formats for the first time in more than a decade, Escobar said. Three current employees at The Plaza are expected to be promoted to operate both venues.
Escobar expects to offer “a robust schedule” of events at Tara featuring independent films, classic films, and arthouse releases. That will echo the theater’s initial years after Loews opened it in 1968, and another period beginning in 1980 as theaters began a transition to United Artists.
“For almost 55 years, Atlanta’s Tara Theatre entertained and created cherished memories for countless moviegoers,” said Escobar in a prepared statement. “It’s an honor and privilege for our team to create a sustainable future for this important landmark.”
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