Fox Theatre

660 Peachtree Street NE,
Atlanta, GA 30365

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Showing 76 - 100 of 126 comments

StanMalone on July 18, 2008 at 6:36 am

Although not the point of this comment, I will note that as I write this at 6:28 PM on 7/17/2008, exactly 30 years ago, almost to the minute, I was walking into the Fox Theatre to see the first movie presented there since the place closed up on January 2, 1975. The feature: Ben-Hur, in glorious 70MM. I have described that event in more detail than anyone would care to read in my earlier post so I will get to the point. This comment will hopefully clear up a few of the technical questions raised by Mr. Wade in the above post.

As for the media used to present Ben-Hur, I can assure everyone that there was nothing digital about it, even, unfortunately, the sound. It was a 35MM print struck on May 9, 1993. This meant that while the sound was Dolby Stereo, it was analog since Dolby Digital did not come along until mid decade. Considering its 15 year age it was in pretty good shape, but I think that its condition could kindly be described as “Best Available”. As with any print that old there were numerous and noticeable dirt type scratches at the beginning and end of each reel, and repeated build ups and tear downs for platter screenings had resulted in missing frames. Fortunately, the Overture, Intermission tag, and second half walk in music were included although splices at the beginning of the Intermission tag and end of walk in music indicated that at least once someone had run this print straight through without an intermission. A real crime against showmanship in my opinion.

The size of the screen at the Fox is as large as it has ever been, and as large as it can be. Although there is some more room on the sides for a wider screen, there is no more room at the top. Since all of the vertical space is being used, expanding the width would cause the top and bottom to be cropped off. This is a problem I described in my original post where I pointed out that the Fox is a hybrid, designed as an auditorium, not a movie theatre or stage show venue. The image projected for Ben-Hur and other cinemascope pictures is as wide as it can be given the height limitations of the stage. If you are sitting the balcony, it may seem that the screen can go higher, but this is not the case. For anyone sitting under the balcony, especially near the back, the line of the bottom of the balcony meets the top of the screen, so anything projected on a taller screen would not be visible to these patrons.

When it comes to the screen size used for different movies, that is determined purely by the aspect ratio of the film in question. This is not a technical site, but simply put, there are three main screen shapes used in films. Describing the ratio of width to height, they are 1.33 to 1 (roughly the shape of a pre HD television), 1.85 to 1, called “flat” in the industry, and 2.35 (or wider) to 1, called scope, cinemascope, or widescreen. Some years ago someone who had attended a screening of “Gone With The Wind” at the Fox had written to the Q and A section of the AJC to ask why the Fox had taken out its huge screen and replaced it with a small square screen. The explanation for all of this is that the Fox is very careful to present the movies it shows in their correct aspect ratio. (When we ran “The Searchers” the 1.66 to 1 lens and screen width were used, a very rare event.) This means that when a classic such as “GWTW”, “Casablanca”, or “Wizard of Oz” plays, the side masking is brought in to make the screen the correct 1.33 to 1 size. It may look small in comparison to the massive Fox stage width, but the full height of the stage area is used. To try to widen the picture would result in the cropping that I described above. (For a perfect example of this, read the story of what happened to GWTW when they blew the image up to 1.85 to 1 for its 1967 70MM reissue.)

All of these notes apply to digital projection as well as film. The type of projection makes no difference in the size of the screen. Aspect ratio is the determining factor. A scope picture presented in digital projection will be the same size as one presented via film. The same goes for 1.85 and 1.33. I should point out that when I say digital I am talking about the new Digital Cinema Systems that are now being installed in theatres across the nation. I am most assuredly not talking about using some digital capable projector to show a DVD on the screen.

Speaking of this past Sunday, anyone who attended Ben-Hur was able to see all three aspect ratios in use. The preshow documentary Mr. Wade referred to was a Public TV production and was projected at 1.33 to 1 using the digital video projector. The rest of the program was all film. When the 35MM film projector was started for the previews, the masking was pulled back to the 1.85 to 1 mark. When the previews ended, there was a pause for the lens to be changed to 1.33 to 1 and the masking was brought back in so the cartoon could be presented in its proper 1.33 ratio. (Oddly enough, the film company logo on the front of the cartoon was modern and in 1.85 ratio so there were black bars at the top and bottom just like on a letterboxed DVD until the cartoon itself started and took up the full screen. When the cartoon ended, the 1.85 lens and masking were returned to present the Fox policy and feature presentation strips. At this point the curtain was closed and the curtain lights came on for the Overture. During the Overture, the masking was pulled back to its full open mark and the 2.35 to 1 scope lens was put in place. When the overture ended, the lights dimmed and the screen opened to its full width for the MGM logo.

With regard to some other points by Mr. Wade, I think that the newsreel in question is used because it features the World Premiere of “Gone With The Wind” as its final story. I am happy to see that he took note of the fact that the curtain and lights were properly used during the Overture. Very few theatres even have curtains anymore, and the applause from the audience when the lights dimmed and the curtain opened to reveal the MGM lion seemed to indicate that they appreciated an example of the long lost art of properly presenting a big, class, roadshow production. At least to the degree possible.

As for the debate between film as opposed to theatre grade Digital Cinema, let me say this. I have been working with film most of my life. Even though I now see my future job prospects being rapidly eliminated by the advent of Digital Cinema, I will have to admit that the picture quality of a movie properly presented (usually meaning being bright enough) using the Digital Cinema process is better than that of film. On Sunday afternoon, before the night showing of “Ben-Hur”, the Fox presented a Digital Cinema presentation of the Disney movie “Enchanted” using the digital projector. Both movies are 2.35 to 1 scopes so the picture size was the same, but the clarity of “Enchanted” to say nothing of the lack of scratches, specks, flecks, and splices, was greater than the 35MM film presentation of “Ben-Hur”. It is too bad that a 70MM print of Ben-Hur was not available for the Fox as it has been at least twice in the past. The last two times the Fox has presented “Ben-Hur” it has been with 35MM, so perhaps 70MM is no longer available. Next year is the 50th Anniversary of this great film so hopefully MGM, or whoever controls the rights now will order some 70MM DTS prints for an anniversary run the way “2001” is touring the country this year.

terrywade on July 16, 2008 at 9:22 am

We just visited the Fox this past Sunday Eve for ‘Ben Hur’ While I love the theatre the problem for me and many other people these days is the Fox Atlanta is not showing film most of the time on thease Coke Summer Film Series. You see film reels in the window display the posters for all the summer FILMS. They are not showing film just digital video. Many people in the theatre Sunday thought they were going to see the 70mm version of ‘Ben Hur’ This was not the case. The new digital projector at the Fox is way up in the old projection booth. A super long distance. The screen is not as wide as when they use film. Plus the advertised time for the movie is 7 PM. This is correct, but for the first 25 minutes of the film you have hundreds of people wandering all over trying to find a seat in the dark. The pre show organ and video ‘Film’ pre show started at 6:15 PM. In the adds for Ben Hur it says 7PM. Most people missed the pre show. Please someone at the Fox needs to put in the adds Come early for the pre show Starts at 6:15 then put movie time. The video digital image of ‘Ben Hur’ looked fuzzy. The stereo sound did sound great with all the surrounds being used. They even played the oveture with red lights on the curtain. The Fox people need to put in the adds Digital Projection. The days of showing a restored 70mm or 35mm print or classic 35mm film are gone at The Fox. Many people think digital video is the way to go but at the Fox Atlanta the image is not as big and crisp as 35mm or 70mm film. Next time you go complain. They need to change the name from Coke Film Summer Series to Coke Digital Series. Most of the movies this year are new and on DVD. They showed the same newsreel during the pre show I saw last year. Someone must have some 35mm Cartoons and Newsreels to rent the Fox or loan out. Bring back FILM at the Fox Atlanta. I think the owners are more interested in the wine tasting they have before the theatre opens to the regular public (they charge extra) then the way they are presenting the image on the smaller Fox video screen. Bring on wide Cinemascope 35mm film, open the masking up to the full wide side of the screen. People can see video at home. I left after the organ pre show and after 25 mn of Ben Hur I got tired of people walking all over with bad video presentation on the smaller Fox screen. With all the ushers before the movie started they need to send them back into the theatre for the late people. I saw a few older people in the very dark balcony stumble on the stairs. It’s a accident ready to happen!

Patsy on April 2, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Always nice to see another photo of the fabulous Fox! Thanks.

trainmaster on March 4, 2008 at 3:37 pm

I have written to the management of the Atlanta Fox to suggest they solicit the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to have at least ONE year of the DAYTIME emmy awards at the Atlanta Fabulous Fox.

That would serve two (2) purposes:

(1) Allow the entire country to see the interior of this beautiful theater
(2) Spare the public from seeing that awful sorry-excuse Kodak Theater in Hollywood which has NO atmosphere what-so-ever.

If they could host the daytime EMMY awards at Radio City Music Hall for years and for the past two years have them at that plain-boring
Kodak Theater, which is much smaller than the Atlanta Fox, why don’t they have at least one year in a beautiful theater worth seeing. I understand the FOX ATLANTA also has 2 ballrooms which could accomodate the ABC and CBS parties afterward. (NBC has dropped out of the Emmy Awards).

LET’S ALL ROOT FOR A NATIONAL TV PRESENTATION IN THAT BEAUTIFUL PLACE! The “Mighty Mo'” could entertain the audience between commercial breaks.

What do some of you fine people think?


Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on November 13, 2007 at 12:29 pm

Can ALWAYS count on you, LM! Thanks!

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on November 13, 2007 at 12:00 pm

Discussions of Atlanta’s Fox theatre inevitably mention the connection to the Yaarab Temple Shrine Mosque, but I’ve never heard the whole story of how the site/building changed hands, nor the subsequent association between the two organizations. The implication is that the onset of the Great Depression caused the change in ownership, but the theatre opened as the Fox at Christmas 1929 – only six weeks after November 1929 stock market crash. That seems too short a time frame to have completed a change in ownership and prepare a major opening. Does anyone know the whole story of why and when Fox took over and what became of the masonic organization that originally started the project? Also, how much of the design is Fox’s and how much is from the Shrine’s part in the development?

StanMalone on October 2, 2007 at 1:52 pm

This is a long post on the final years of the Fox as a regular movie theatre, and the summer film festivals and was prompted by Jack being kind enough to place the above photo link on his Flickr site. If your Fox interest is the in early years, “Save The Fox”, or plays and concerts then you will probably find it dull.

I doubt if any one person, even Joe Patten, knows every bit of Fox history, but there are dozens if not hundreds of us who know the details of very small slices of the lifetime of this great venue. Yes, I do think that it is a great place, and a treasure as well, but in all honesty I never thought that the Fox was a very good place to actually see a movie. The trouble is that the Fox is a hybrid. Not really built as a theatre, either film or legit, it serves adequately for both, but not as well as it could if it had been built with either one in mind. The keystone deflection caused by the angle of the projectors is noticeable, and the sound bouncing off of the plaster walls pretty hollow. I have always thought that it is the look, feel, and atmosphere of the place that makes it great. Even though movie purists (of which I am not one) do not approve, the organ concert before the movie is enjoyable as well. The sing-a-long, less so to me at least, but lets face it, these days most people come to movie nights at the Fox for the experience. The movie is often secondary.

As for the small bit of Fox history that I am somewhat familiar with, it starts in 1967 when my family moved to Atlanta. The feature at that time was “The Dirty Dozen”. This list of bookings with the length of the run in weeks in ( ) will give you an idea of what the Fox was up against business wise as it entered the final years of its life as a movie theatre:

El Dorado (3)
Two For The Road (3)
Emily (2)
Who’s Minding The Mint (2)
Waterhole #3 (2)
Rosie (2)
Point Blank (4)
Valley of the Dolls (8) – Christmas feature
Good, Bad, Ugly (2)
Happiest Millionaire (3)
Will Penny (1)
Doctor Zhivago (1)
Blackbeards Ghost (3)

“Doctor Zhivago”, one of my all time favorite films which over the years must have played in almost every movie theatre in Atlanta, was among the first movies I saw here. Little could I have imagined that 28 years later I would be running it from the projection booth for a sold out house. I also remember seeing “Blackbeards Ghost” here on a Saturday night, made memorable only because it was the first time that I saw and heard the organ used, this time just as a filler between shows. I also remember my mother telling me about how she attended movies here during the 30’s and 40’s when the place was full and she had to stand behind the wall located behind the last row of seats. Quite a change from that sparsely attended night. Next came:

Sweet November (3)
Stranger In Town (2)
Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell (2)
Family Band (2)
Sweet Ride (4)
Green Berets (4)

For “Green Berets” it was the World Premiere since the movie was filmed at Forts Benning and Rucker. John Wayne was on hand and since the date was July 4th, he was the Grand Marshall of the WSB Independence Day Parade that year.

Where Were You When The Lights Went Out? (2)
Never A Dull Moment (2)
With Six You Get Eggroll (3)
Prudence and the Pill (4)
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter (2)
I Love You Alice B.Toklas (3)
Lady In Cement (3)
Horse In The Gray Flannel Suit (3) Christmas 1968
Impossible Years (3)
Angel In My Pocket (2)
Stalking Moon (3)
Wrecking Crew (2)
African Safari (2)
Swiss Family Robinson (2)
GWTW (2)
Mayerling (1)
Doctor Zhivago (1)
Hard Contact (2)
The Longest Day (2)
True Grit (5)

“The Longest Day” which was a booking for the 25th Anniversary of D-Day was a special event for me in that it was the first time that I was allowed to attend a movie here alone. I rode the bus downtown, watched the afternoon show, and then had the treat of watching it again since my father met me after work and watched it with me. I also saw “True Grit” here. My mother and I met my father downtown and since we arrived early, we sat on the steps to the balcony, which was closed on that Friday night. This was the first time that I noticed a problem with the Fox as a movie theatre. The lobby crowd, when there was one could hear the movie almost as well as those inside, and the noise from the lobby would carry into the auditorium.

Rascal (3)
The Chairman (1)
Once Upon A Time In The West (3)
Italian Job (2)
Bullitt / Bonnie and Clyde (2)
Rain People (2)
Butch Cassidy (7) m/o from Loews Grand (I think)
Undefeated (4)
The Rievers (4)
101 Dalmatians (5)
The Only Game In Town (1)
Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (3)
In Search of the Castaways (3)
Kremlin Letter (1)
Ballard of Cable Hogue (1)
Lawyer (1)
Ben-Hur (1)
Butch Cassidy (2)
How The West Was Won (3)
Charlie Brown (4)
Boatniks (3)
Kelly’s Heroes (5)
Jungle Book / Love Bug (2)
Hotel (1)
Giant (2)
Son of Flubber (1)
Monte Walsh (4)
Dirty Dingus McGee (3)
Aristocats (4) Christmas 1970
Wuthering Heights (4)
Wild Country (4)
My Fair Lady (1)
Barefoot Executive (3)
Vanishing Point (3)
Harper (1)
Racing Scene (1)
Escape From The Planet of the Apes (3)
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (2)
LeMans (4)
Million Dollar Duck (2)
Tom Sawyer (1) (not the musical)
Pinocchio (2)
Sand Pebbles (1)
Young Love Is A Melody (1)
Joy In The Morning (1)
Believe In Me (2)
The Late Liz (2)
Jesse James (2)
Macbeth *

“Macbeth” ran for one night only, November 4, 1971, and someone did an excellent job promoting it. It was probably a rental, and was an old version with Maurice Evans and Dame Judith Anderson. For weeks before, the schools had been deluged with promotional materials and group discount ticket sales. I was an attendee, and the place was packed, although with so many teenagers present there was not much movie watching going on as it turned into one big party. As you might expect, the Varsity was packed before the show and the Krispy Kreame likewise afterwards.

Stars In My Crown (1)
Something Big (4)
Vanishing Point (1)
Lady And The Tramp (3) Christmas 1971
Peter Rabbit And Beatrix Potter (1)
Song of the South (5)
The Cowboys (8)

Even a brief glance at this long list makes it obvious what the booking pattern was. Lots of Walt Disney, John Wayne, and adult appeal movies that could still be viewed by the whole family. Very few “R"s. Also, very short runs. Georgia Theatre Company owned the Fox, but it was operated under a management contract by ABC Southeastern Entertainment, which also operated the downtown Roxy, the Phipps Plaza, and the Alabama and Ritz in downtown Birmingham. Although the Phipps had some long runs, the policy for these huge downtown theatres was family or acceptable adult movies turned over every two or three weeks. Given their large capacities, anyone who would be willing to go downtown for the movie could be accommodated at any time and after a couple of weeks, the feature would move to the intermediate houses in the suburbs where the rest of its audience awaited it. The longest run for any of these movies was "The Cowboys”. I do not know which one did the most business overall, but the one day record had to have been held by “Song of the South”. This was its last re-release before being banned, and although I had never heard of it, plenty of people had. On its opening weekend Atlanta was hit with a constant, heavy rain. This is a boon to theatre owners but a curse on the employees who actually ran the theatres as everybody always looks for something to do to get away from the house and such close proximity to the rest of the family. On the opening Saturday, every one of the 4600 Fox seats was full for the afternoon shows, and the two night shows did well also.

This pattern continued until the summer of 1973 when things started to change. The features that summer will tell the story. After a very successful run of “Worlds Greatest Athlete”, the features were:

Coffy (5)
Song of the South / Arisocats (2)
Friends of Eddie Coyle (2)
Slaughter’s Big Ripoff (3)
Cahill: U.S. Marshall (2)
That Same Summer (1)

“That Same Summer” was nothing but a filler booking of the previous years Broadview Plaza hit “Red Sky At Morning” re-released under a different title. As you can see there was a changing of the guard here as the next three bookings were:

Detroit 9000 (4)
Super Fly / 5 Fingers of Death (1)
7 Blows of the Dragon (3)

At this time I was working as a doorman across the street at the Atlanta Theatre, and many of the employees of the Fox, Atlanta, Baronet, and Coronet, at least knew each other, and would sometimes meet for a midnight breakfast at the Huddle House next to the Atlanta. Afterwards, we would go to the makeshift firing range someone had set up in the old coal bunkers of the Fox basement and blast away. Many nights I would go home with my ears ringing and covered with a fine layer of coal dust shaken loose after all of those years by the concussions.

Another event during this summer of 1973 was the first and perhaps only time the Fox hosted the Atlanta Film Festival. This was a short lived effort during the 70’s that is notable here only because there was quite a bit of attention paid to it since it had been announced that “The Last Tango In Paris” would open the festival. Not a big deal you would think except for one small detail. This is hard to believe now, but although the film had been in release around the country for weeks if not months, it had yet to play in Atlanta. This was because the Fulton County Solicitor General, Hinson McAuliffe, had made a name for himself, and attracted a lot of free publicity, by raiding theatres playing adult movies. He usually left the hardcore 16MM stuff alone but never hesitated to go after higher profile targets such as the Andy Warhol movie “Lonesome Cowboys”, “Oh Calcutta'‘, and later "Story of O’‘ and "Flesh Gordon”, and quite a number of managers and projectionists who were not exactly threats to the public were carted off to jail. McAuliffe had already vowed, in advance, to raid any theatre which dared expose the good people of Fulton County to such filth. A lot of us were waiting to see if the Fox Theatre, of all places, would get busted for daring to run Tango. As it worked out, the Fox declined to get involved and it was announced that Tango would open the festival at a different location. However, McAuliffe was hot on the trail, and the movie never played, or if it did, not to the public.

As for the picture in the link, it was taken on January 10, 1975. As everyone knows, the place had just closed. Mike Spirtos, one of the nicest managers I have ever had the pleasure of working with had invited everyone to hang around after the last show on the 2nd and enjoy their last visit. Mike moved up Peachtree to manage the Phipps Plaza, and the Fox sat empty. By this time I was managing the South DeKalb Theatre for Georgia Theatre Company which meant that every Monday morning would find me at the Fox to attend the managers meeting at the Georgia Theatre Company offices located in what is now the Grand Salon. Although rather cold sounding, that quote posted above from E.E. Whitaker, the GTC GM, was accurate. The Fox was no where close to breaking even. I was told that during the final years it was only the office rent that GTC paid to itself that kept the place open. For those of you who think E.E. was being too much the hard core businessman on this subject, you can take comfort in knowing that his office, where our meetings were held, is now Joe Patten’s living room.

I took this picture not as a reminder of the days when the Fox was closed, but because I expected the place to be torn down soon. There are a lot of people, some on this page that know the “Save The Fox” story a lot better than I do, so I will not get into that. I will just say that I was told that GTC just wanted a clean sale transaction and did not want to get involved with any non profit group who might start to buy the place but would then have trouble coming up with the money. That could have tied the sale up for years. The contract with Southern Bell specified that the property be delivered as a clean piece of dirt, or words to that effect. Southern Bell certainly did not want to take the PR hit for tearing the Fox down, something GTC was willing to absorb in order to close a quick sale. Again, all of this is just what I was told. I have no first hand knowledge. I do not believe that GTC wanted the Fox destroyed out of fear of competition, something that I have heard people say. If that had been the case, they would have been running it themselves all of those years.

Although not afraid of Fox competition, apparently GTC did not want anyone to get any ideas along those lines. Once more, the story I was told was that the booth equipment was removed as required by the contract. If this was true then someone left a giant loophole since nothing was said about running movies with other equipment. Maybe no one thought that it was economically feasible and left it at that. Regardless, as everyone knows, the Loews Grand just happened to catch fire about the time Georgia Pacific expressed interest in building their new tower on the site. Since only the entrance and not the auditorium was damaged, the booth equipment and screen made the journey from 157 to 660 Peachtree. Years later, the Fox also bought the projection equipment from the Atlanta Theatre when it closed for good.

When the Fox returned to the movie business I was there for the first one, Ben-Hur in 70MM, Monday, July 17,1978. 7:30 showtime, $2.50 ticket. My mother was with me to enjoy the floating focus and the beautiful stained screen. We ran into Tommy Young, the manager of the Stonemont there. He had worked at the Fox for several years as an usher and crew chief for ABC, and later at the Phipps as Assistant Manager. Tommy spent an hour standing in line at the popcorn cart waiting for some of that popcorn “popped using an old recipe found in the files in the Fox basement.” At this time the condition of the theatre was still pretty shabby and the old concession stand was still in its place in the center of the lobby. Some other memories from that year: 70MM presentations of Patton, That’s Entertainment, Close Encounters, and Around The World in 80 Days, in 35MM instead of the advertised 70MM and my only viewing ever of this film. The summer series was so successful that a fall series was run that year which allowed me to view 70MM showings of The Alamo, and Lawrence of Arabia.

The next year saw a great improvement in the quality of the presentation and a new screen to show 70MM viewings of My Fair Lady, Camelot, Paint Your Wagon, Oliver, and Sound of Music, topped off by a 35MM show of North By Northwest, my first ever viewing of this great film. 1980 had 70MM showings of 2001, Hello Dolly, and Doctor Zhivago, plus a 35MM West Side Story, which was quite a change from my previous viewing of it 9 years earlier at the Candler Road Mini Cinema complete with intermission inserted at the reel change right in the middle of the rumble.

I do not recall any 1981 Fox movies, but 1982 started off with Ben-Hur again. My date was unimpressed with the 70MM despite my efforts to explain it. She said that the picture was too good since it showed up the models of the ships and men used in the sea battle so well that you could tell that they were not real. Next was a repeat of That’s Entertainment also 70MM as were Raiders of the Lost Ark, My Fair Lady (again), Camelot (again), and Oliver (again). After that the number of old movies and 70MM started to decline although GWTW could always be counted on to bring in a full house. More recent movies started to appear and finally the ‘'family’‘ aspect was dropped. Can’t have a family film festival with movies like Saturday Night Fever, Sin City, and 300 on the schedule.

It was during this period that many rumors made the rounds that the Fox would get back into the regular movie business on a part time basis. This was probably just wishful thinking, but people who claimed to be ‘'in the know’‘ were saying that the Empire or Jedi chapters of Star Wars, or the second and third Raiders might open for a two week exclusive at the Fox in 70MM before going wide. Since the film series proved that people would come downtown to see a movie at the Fox, it was not too much of a stretch to imagine what the Fox or Peachtree Street would look like if something like this came to pass. It never did of course, probably because it is almost impossible to find two consecutive weeks where the Fox is not booked with something, and more likely the film companies do not care to alienate the big megaplex operators by draining off the Atlanta audience for a film before they even got it. Still it is easy to believe that this type of booking would be a success. For the past few years, the summer film series has ended with two or three of the hit movies from earlier in that very summer, usually the ones that opened in May. Despite having worked their way down the hall to the smallest theatre in the local megaplex, or even moved on to the dollar houses, these films still draw capacity crowds as evidenced by some of the comments above.

One movie in particular that sticks in my mind is Evita. Since it had been a Christmas release, and may even have been out on video by then, it was expected to be just another solid performer in the series. At about 7:55 PM, after the organ recital, the sing-along, the cartoon, even after the “Sunrise / Sunset”, and just as the previews were about to end, the phone rang with instructions to raise the house lights and stop the show between the last preview and the “Feature Presentation”, an almost unheard of event. The reason: The line to buy tickets was still extended around the corner and down Ponce de Leon. About five minutes later came word to roll the film since the “Sold Out” sign had been put up.

My fondest memories of movies at the Fox are centered around the summer of 1996. Since the Fox only ran a dozen or so movies a year, the projectionist was hired only on an as needed basis, although they were lucky enough to get a highly qualified man who is still running the booth to this day, 30 years later. Of course he had a regular job as well which was no problem until the Fox decided to put on an Olympic film festival. Since this would be more than one person working all out could handle, and since I was available, I ended up practically living at the Fox for a good part of that summer. My main memory of that summer involved the week before and the week following the Olympics. Pre Olympic week called for 22 different movies in 7 days, usually one at 2PM and another at 8. On some days we ran all day events such at the Spielberg festival with Jaws, Raiders, and Close Encounters. On the final Saturday we ran Toy Story at 10AM, followed by a James Bond double feature and topped off with a 70MM showing of 2001 at night. That was also the week that the print of King Kong arrived the day before its showing, but it was the Jessica Lange version instead of the advertised Fay Wray version. The proper version was located and made it to the theatre three hours before showtime.

After the Olympics were over, the schedule called for 24 movies in 8 days. Since some of these movies, like Sound of Music, Zhivago, Ben-Hur, and GWTW were equal to two movies, my main memories of both of those weeks center around standing for hours at the make up table inspecting and building up print after print. There was hardly room in the booth for all of the film and cans. We also played Lawrence in 70MM. I never saw much of the shows since whenever a movie was playing I was breaking down the last one and loading the next one. The Fox had installed a platter by this time which was too bad since it would have been much easier to run everything reel to reel to say nothing of the pleasure of doing it the old way. Unfortunately, the one thing that we did do the old way was show the slides for the sing-along using the last bit of 1929 equipment in the booth, a Brenograph, double carbon arc lamphouse, alternating slide projector. Running this thing where you had to manually drop and remove the heavy glass slides into the carriage and crank the handle to alternate the slides, all the while listening to the organ so you would know when to change, was by far the most stressful part of the show. If you ever dropped one or got out of sync, you were finished, as was the sing-along.

It was a great summer. I think I put in about 120 hours per week for those two weeks and enjoyed 99% of them. The Fox was much more fun to work in when you ran grind instead of once a week since you did not have to set up and then secure the projector area each night. I remember working several shows in 1997, and a couple in 1998. The last movie I remember running there was L.A. Confidential. At the time it was hard and sometimes hectic work, but looking back on it ,it was for the most part very enjoyable, as was running the booth for the Opera all of those years.

With the opera gone, and the digital projector in place, I can safely place my Fox days in the past history file, but I will always have fond memories of working there to say nothing of the ten cent coffee machine.

Patsy on September 25, 2007 at 8:03 am

A friend of mine in Atlanta recently sent me an article about the Fox and the man who has lived there for many years. Heis known as the “Phantom of the Fox”.

JackCoursey on September 24, 2007 at 7:50 pm

Here is a photo from the Stan Malone Collection of the Fox Theatre made sometime after it closed in 1978.

Patsy on August 17, 2007 at 6:42 am

Yes, it is the best entertainment in town as I have been there and seen the Fox in all of its glory!

tricky5500 on August 16, 2007 at 8:09 pm

I just got back from the Fox presentation of Spiderman 3. Seeing it at the Fox made this mediocre movie truly spectacular! I’m guessing there were about 3000 people there. It is truly something to hear the “Mighty Mo” organ followed by the pristine digital projection of the movie on the giant screen. I am so glad the people of Atlanta still appreciate the Fox as a movie theater. At $7 a ticket its the best entertainment deal in town.

Patsy on July 22, 2007 at 12:29 pm

And yes, oh yes, “it’s good to know that this architectural gem has been preserved”….and NOT destroyed like the Paramount in Nashville.

mp5239 on July 22, 2007 at 12:02 pm

I lived in the Atlanta area from 1971-89. Back in the early 70s I attended a number of movies at “The Fabulous Fox.” One of the Friday/Saturday night attractions was Bob Van Camp at the “Mighty Mo.” Its massive console rose from the orchestra as the organ roared to life, much to the delight of the audience. I remember how close Atlanta came to losing this treasure in the mid 70s. Last month the Fox opened one afternoon during American Guild of Organists regional convention. We got to hear “Mighty Mo” and see the auditorium in all its splendor..quite a treat for someone who hadn’t been there in a long time! It’s good to know that this architectural gem has been preserved.

WHITEFIELD on June 21, 2007 at 5:28 pm

Night photo of THE FOX.
View link

WHITEFIELD on June 21, 2007 at 5:25 pm


Patsy on June 10, 2007 at 8:12 pm

longislandmovies: Yes, the Fox is a very special theatre and one that was almost demolished. I was pleased to read your memorable account of your visit to the Fabulous Fox! For any theatre buff, it is a must-see!

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on June 10, 2007 at 6:46 pm

Few moments in my move going can match the experience of my visit to the FOX theater tonight …300 playing one night one show at 7 pm after being out for months. It is the first time in my adult life i have ever viewed a FILM WITH OVER 2,500 PEOPLE IN THE AUDIENCE.WOW!

First the organist with a sing along,then a 1930s newsreel remake a WB cartoon and a new print of “300”.

yvonnenicol on December 27, 2006 at 5:14 pm

Johnny Winter sure loved to play there in the 1970’s!

Patsy on December 22, 2006 at 4:37 am

Lost Memory: I’ve been to this theatre (75th anniversary) 2 years ago and it was a special day for anyone interested in theatres as this one is certainly a special theatre. By the Grace of God and the fine folks of Atlanta it was spared the wrecking ball. Amen.

kencmcintyre on December 15, 2006 at 3:45 pm

Here is a December 1974 article from the Nevada State Journal when demolition appeared imminent:


The ornate, mosque-like Fox Theater, a landmark near downtown Atlanta that has been a source of cultural pride for nearly half a century, will show its final film –“The Klansman” – January 2. The “Klansman,” a critically panned Richard Burton – Lee Marvin film taken from a William Bradford Huey novel, is scheduled to end the Fox’s final performance at 11:12 p.m.

“I’m going to put the chains on the doors on the 2nd, and after that, nobody will be let in again,” said E. E. Whitaker, executive vice president of Georgia Theater Co., owner of the huge theater, said to be the last of its kind in the country. “It takes $1,000 a day to open the front door, and some days they don’t take in $100,” Whitaker said."

Opened at Christmas 1929, the Fox is a decaying fashionplate of theater architecture, equipped with indoor weather effects and the Metropolitan Opera in its annual spring performances in Atlanta. The outside is elaborate brick and tile, with the peaked
arches and spires of a Moslem mosque. In recent years, the Fox has been showing the black-oriented action and martial arts genre of film fare.

A “Save the Fox” effort among Atlantans began last summer with a moratorium requested by Mayor Maynard Jackson to forestall destruction of the theater until May 1. Numerous proposals were made to turn the lavish Fox into a music hall or cultural center of some sort, including an offer by local pornography kingpin Mike Thevis to buy the theater and give it to the city. But Thevis is now serving a federal prison term and other groups have apparently been unable to raise the money for the purchase.

The city block on which the Fox and a few other buildings stand has been sold to Southern Bell Telephone Co. for $3.5 million. The telephone company plans to tear down the buildings to make way for office space. A Southern Bell spokesman, Dick Yarborough, said Tuesday, “We’ll step aside for anybody who can come up with the money to buy it from us, $3.5 million, and an alternative that would preserve it.” If no such plan is forthcoming by May 1, he said, “The plans are to tear it down and build an office building.” He added, “The owners told us they were going to tear it down anyway.”

Patsy on June 13, 2006 at 4:08 pm

The story of the Fox and how the folks of Atlanta cared enough to save this theatre treasure is most remarkable so a visit to the Fox on Peachtree is really special as one stands and looks around knowing how close this theatre came to being demolished and all of its beauty lost forever. Thank goodness it was not and we have it today. Thank you Atlanta!

ShaneRoach on June 13, 2006 at 12:39 pm

I’ve seen a few Broadway musicals at the Fox over the years, but despite my best intentions had never attended a movie there until last night. June 12, 2006 was the 25th anniversary of the release of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and the Fox was showing it as part of their summer film festival. The audience was full of enthusiasm, and I had an absolute blast. Seeing one of my all-time favorite films on the big screen for the first time in the Fox’s gorgeous setting is an experience I’ll always treasure. It was more than worth the 120-mile drive, and my excitement has rubbed off on my wife; we’ll probably make our way down to another screening later in the summer.

Patsy on May 3, 2006 at 9:37 am

Yes, Christmas Day…how very special!

William on May 3, 2006 at 9:30 am

The Fox Theatre opened on Dec. 25th, 1929.