Festival Theater

142 Ted Turner Drive NW,
Atlanta, GA 30303

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Additional Info

Architects: John Arthur Busby, Jr.

Previous Names: Festival Cinema, Festival Art Theater

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This theater was an early George Ellis venue in Atlanta located on Spring Street NW. It was a storefront conversion which opened as the Festival Cinema on June 23, 1966 with “To Die in Madrid”. Later it became the Festival Art Theater when there were many porn houses in Atlanta.

Contributed by Jesse Brantley

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

Don K.
Don K. on May 15, 2009 at 2:17 pm

George Ellis opened this theater in a converted storefront circa 1966/67. This compact venue was attractively furnished, with comfortable seats and carpeted walls. George was very personable. If memory serves, he was of Armenian descent. Atlantans remembered him as “Bestoink Dooley,” the host of WAGA-TV’s Friday night Big Movie Shocker in the early ‘60’s. The Festival was where I first saw CITIZEN KANE, which was an overwhelming experience for me as a teenager.

rechols on November 12, 2010 at 2:52 am

My friend Bill turned me on to the Festival in, must have been ‘66. George screened
rather 'artsy’ movies there. Price of a ticket was $2 – very steep at the time, but admission
included a cup of coffee with whipped cream – this 19 year old Atlanta boy thought that was the
most sophisticated cosmopolitan thing he’d ever seen – and the coffee was served by George's
beautiful assistant. She wasn’t a ticket taker – there were no tickets. Just fork over the two bucks to
the girl, get the coffee and watch the movie, excuse me George, the film, in the small auditorium.
Alas, there really wasn’t much of a market for Fellini and Bergman in Atlanta in the 60s. Sometimes
I’d venture into the Festival on a weeknight and there’d only be one or two others in the theater.
Other times I’d be the only patron. I’d still get my coffee, served by George, the girl was gone.
I do remember one presentation by George circa 1967 – my first “Mixed Media Event” – film and
live performance — “The Birth of a Plaid Child.” That was rather well attended, perhaps a couple of
dozen people. But a bit too advant garde for me at the time.
George went on to manage? own? the Ansley Mall theater – think he did better there. He deserved to.
We miss you George.
And yes, I watched Bestoink Dooley as host of late night horror movies – on what was it? Channel 11?

rechols on November 12, 2010 at 3:56 am

Oops. Should have read the Film Forum link first. I totally forgot that was the
name of George’s theater at Ansley. And yes, at the time Ansley was just a “strip mall."
Thanks Mike, Stan and Don K. for your great posts.
Sometimes used to have dinner at Crops&B at Ansley. Great place for sandwiches and
oysters. Remember that place Atlantans? – then head down to the FIlm Forum.
I believe George ran the FF with his son, who at the time was a recent Air Force vet who
had served in Korea.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm

The entry for Atlanta architect John Arthur Busby, Jr., in the 1972 edition of the AIA’s American Architects Directory lists the Festival Cinema as one of his projects, dated 1966. His firm, formed that same year, was Jova/Daniels/Busby. The firm is still in existence, but its web site doesn’t list any theaters among its projects.

rivest266 on April 7, 2018 at 9:25 am

This opened on June 23rd, 1966. Grand opening ad in the photo section. It was at 142 Spring St. NW.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 7, 2018 at 1:17 pm

The part of Spring Street on which the Festival Theatre was situated has been renamed Ted Turner Drive. As near as I can surmise, 142 was probably on part of the parking lot on the west side of Ted Turner Drive NW, just below Williams Street (between Williams Street and the Turner Building at the corner of Luckie Street.)

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