Emory Theatre

1439 Oxford Road NE,
Atlanta, GA 30307

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Showing 1 - 25 of 45 comments

JFB on January 29, 2019 at 1:39 pm

I believe this theater actually lasted into 1979. It had become a dollar house. The last movie that played here was Animal House. My brother and cousin saw it there the Saturday before it burned. This was the first weekend of 1979. The next day, a fire started in a restaurant in the section it was in and burned everything in that part all the way to Everybodies pizza.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 3, 2011 at 2:40 pm

When John Wayne passed away i did basically the same thing,but did leave the Current Movie Title up.

rechols on November 14, 2010 at 5:41 am

I worked concession at the Emory starting in the early winter of ‘63, when I
was a junior at Bass High School in Little Five Points.
On November 22, 1963 I was off, but my friend Steve was working that evening.
And of course we all remember what had happened on that date.
Some time during the course of the evening, John King, then the manager, ordered
Steve to remove the marquee billing and replace it with the message “Respects to JFK."
Fred Storey, owner of the Storey Theaters chain came by and had the marquee changed
back, pronto. Steve was pissed – changing that marquee was a lot of work, especially for
sixty cents an hour.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 25, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Great Story on Another Great GEORGIA theatre!Thanks for all the pictures and personal stories!

WHITEFIELD on November 8, 2009 at 12:43 am

Here is a 1948 theatre ad.
Notice it says Decatur Rd.
View link

StanMalone on May 26, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Newspaper ad from August 1964 and a write up on the feature opening that day:

View link

WHITEFIELD on July 26, 2008 at 10:26 pm

William, those are some good memories you have, I grew up in Decatur but we always went to the Decatur Theatre, I was there all the time in the 60’s, Saturdays were always fun. My brother worked at the concession stand so when ever I would go to the snack bar he would give me the box of popcorn that had the free pass to the theatre,
I worked there but I just handed out flyers of the movie playing or the ones coming soon.
If you like Decatur, I have a blog I run called Next Stop…Decatur
here is the link, feel free to share any memories you have.

Will39 on July 26, 2008 at 10:07 pm

I went to the Emory Theater, especially for Sat. morning cartoons, from when I was old enough (moved to the area in 1943) to when we moved to Decatur in the Fall of 1949. (We then moved to Tucson, Arizona, in 1950.) We lived near Druid Hills School, where I went from the first grade til the beginning of the 5th. Anyway, we generally walked down, except when we could persuade our parents to drive us. I remember, after paying my 12 cents on Sat. mornings, being reprimanded by theater staff for putting my legs over the back of the seat in front of me, as I watched Mighty Mouse, et al. The Decatur and DeKalb were more expensive—14 cents! :-0 We went there at other times of the week, but I mainly remember those great times on Saturdays. We (my brothers and sister and I) were down there some afternoons during the week, taking dance lessons at Mrs. Bagwell’s, on the same side of the street. I remember walking by Jones Pharmacy on the way from home—-great ice cream treats! I went into the other pharmacy, located at the corner of the Emory complex, near the gas station, as I remember, but I just mainly looked at magazines in there. Jones Pharmacy, by the firehouse, was my favorite. I’ll have to let my older brother know about this site; he would remember more.

Mike Durrett
Mike Durrett on July 4, 2007 at 1:39 pm

You are absolutely correct about the inflating of seating capacities by theatres, but it most commonly done by the film bookers who flat-out lie to the distributors in order to acquire the movies on the first wave of availability. Then, the bookers instruct the managers to lie, too! And they do.

1234 on July 4, 2007 at 12:32 pm

One of the things that you learn very quickly in researching the history of theatres is the claims that managers make, have to be taken lightly until further research can verify the claim.
It was very common for a manager to inflate the number of seats or how much something cost, or that it was the latest in heating and cooling. Many times the numbers of seats were inflated by about 50% and the cost of something was usually doubled, Hey these guys had to be promoters and sales peopple along with being a manager. Just from what I remember of the theatre it could not be more than 500, and as it seems it was slightly less.

Mike Durrett
Mike Durrett on July 4, 2007 at 12:27 am

Thanks for the opening date.

The seating capacity as of 1963 was 492. I counted them myself on several occasions. There was every indication the seats were the originals and the floor plan had not been altered. All logical space in the auditorium was seated and tightly packed.

My friend, who was the Emory’s projectionist from the early 1950s, verified no changes in his era.

All new seating arrived in the summer of 1968, reducing the capacity to about 450.

1234 on July 3, 2007 at 6:35 pm

The Emory Theatre opened Oct 7, 1938. According to Tom Miller the theatres first manager the house woulod seat around 600.

WHITEFIELD on June 21, 2007 at 8:44 pm

Here is a Storey Theatre movie ad.
View link

Eden on April 30, 2006 at 7:44 pm

The fire was January 2, 1979, my grandmother’s birthday. I grew up about a half-mile from it, as the crow flies. I remember the stores that were in the building (from the left):

A cookie shop, Emory Cinema, a yogurt shop, Dawgwood Sandwich Shop (where the fire started), Doo-Dah Records (I bought Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors” there for $3.88 from R.E.M. guitarist Pete Buck, maybe), University Bookstore, Emory Florist and Morgan Cleaners.

Pages from the bookstore’s inventory blew all over the neighborhood, including into my yard.

I wish that an art cinema would open in Decatur (which now has more probably 40 restaurants and several buildings of condos, etc.) and all the foot traffic that could keep a theater going.

Animal House had been playing there for several weeks when the building burned. The next movie that was to have played there was Cheech & Chong’s “Up in Smoke.” How weird would that have been? I’m sure I have a photo of the cinema in some old high school yearbooks and I will scan & post.

Mike Durrett
Mike Durrett on January 18, 2006 at 9:13 am

Thanks for the description of the fire, David. My experiences and employment in the Emory spanned 1958-1973. The first movie I saw there was DON’T GO NEAR THE WATER with Glenn Ford and the final one was a midnite run of Chaplin’s THE GREAT DICTATOR. (I raced over from the North DeKalb, where I was the projectionist, after the last show.) I estimate I saw more than 500 films in the Emory.

I’ve long regretted I wasn’t there for the fire. It was like losing a family member.

davidsinrich on January 18, 2006 at 8:08 am

I worked at Everybody’s Pizza 1978-1979 before heading off to college. On the afternoon of the Emory Village fire I was at Pryor Tire, about a block West of Boulevard and what is now Freedom Parkway. While they were putting two new tires on my Toyota SR5, I asked if I could climb the spiral staircase to the roof of the building and check out the view of the Atl skyline. From up there I could see a wide plume of black smoke which I thought was closer to Ponce De Leon. About 30 minutes later I was helping Everybody’s staff push heavy Blodgett Pizza ovens away from the endangered side of the building, praying the small service alley on the side of our building would save our jobs, which is what happened. The fire raged most of the night, and dazed firemen wandered in for free pizza and coffee, trying to catch their breath between fire and Winter. The next morning the ruins of Emory Village were made all the more surreal festooned with huge, exploding sprays of ice stalagtites sparkling in the early light. Kids poked steaming lumps of black ice in search of unlikely surviving lps. Besides the theatre, the fire took The Emory Bookstore, a relative cultural mecca in it’s day (featuring a neat large poster of Middle-Earth). Thousands of fluttering pages from literary classics littered the intersection for days. We also lost a sandwich shop called Steverino’s, another called Dogwood’s, a pre-Turtles record store (Crickets?-where evidently the typically difficult music snob behind the counter was REM’s Peter Buck), and possibly Ed Green’s breakfast joint, but I think that had already burned out prior to the blaze. Good ‘Ol Days across the street, featuring sandwiches cooked in flower pots, was spared. Defining adolescent/teen film moments for me at Emory included Animal House, 2001/A Space Odyssey, Harold and Maude and Yellow Submarine.
Atlanta had a lot of neat little theatres in the seventies. The Plaza was still a porn theatre with a hole in the back wall, but my highschool pals and I were constantly talking MARTA to midnight shows at the Silver Screen for “The Valley Obscured By Clouds” and “Rainbow Bridge”, to The Screening Room for “How I Won the War”, “Clockwork Orange” and “Rocky Horror”, to the Film Forum for “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” and “Easy Rider”, to the Rialto for “Blackula” and any Bruce Lee, Garden Place for “Alice’s Restaurant” and “Cuckoo’s Nest”. (Your memories may vary.)

In the 80’s I lived at the Rhodes and saw every Bergman, Pasolini, Felini, Cassavetes, Wenders, Herzog, Renoir, Schlondorf, Truffaut, Bunuel, Cocteau, Fassbinder, Godard, Almodovar, etc., they showed. Usually 2 films by a director, changing daily. Now, those were the days!

Mike Durrett
Mike Durrett on June 4, 2005 at 12:34 am

>>does anyone know the name of the little brown theatre that is now a ballet studio that is about a ½ mile from Emory? My friend who lives down there can’t find the name of it. Everytime I visit Atlanta I go to that really good pizza parlor near the little brown theatre and see if I can get a name for it.<<

Hmmm, if you’re talking about it being in Emory Village, I’m stumped. I moved nearby in 1958 and my brother still lives there.

There was only one movie theatre within ½ mile of Emory Village or Emory University. That would be the Emory (and stretching, maybe the Toco Hill).

Mike Durrett
Mike Durrett on June 4, 2005 at 12:29 am

>>does anyone know the name of the little brown theatre that is now a ballet studio that is about a ½ mile from Emory? My friend who lives down there can’t find the name of it. Everytime I visit Atlanta I go to that really good pizza parlor near the little brown theatre and see if I can get a name for it.<<

Hmmm, if you’re talking about it being in Emory Village, I’m stumped. I moved nearby in 1958 and my brother still lives there.

There was only one movie theatre within ½ mile of Emory Village or Emory University. That would be the Emory (and stretching, maybe the Toco Hill).

Mike Durrett
Mike Durrett on June 3, 2005 at 11:38 pm

Storey built the Lakewood within a year or so of the North DeKalb. I suspect both were furnished somewhat the same, but not necessarily in the physical layout. I worked in the Lakewood booth two days in 1976, after it had been twinned. I don’t recall too much about the Lakewood other than it was based on a red color scheme.

The Fox is equipped with two 35-70mm Century projectors, the very pair from the Loew’s Grand, circa 1960s. The Fox was a 35mm operation throughout its movie palace heyday.

(The Fox purchased the Loew’s Grand AND the Martin’s CINERAMA/Atlanta (pre-Columbia) booth equipment when those theatres shuttered. Other than the Grand’s projector heads, most everything else is in storage. Until the (ugh!) platters were installed around ‘97, there was a third projector in use, a 35mm Simplex set-up, which we basically used for trailers and cartoons when running 70mm on the other machines. The platters assumed the Simplex’s floor space.)

Lenox Square was equipped with 35-70mm projectors in the original auditorium. Over the years, those heads made the rounds to other Georgia Theatre Co. locations, including the Cobb Center. When I was one of the operators at the Lenox, 1980-85, we only had one of those heads, as I recall. During my stay, it eventually ended up in the big auditorium after the final reconfiguration of many, where we ran INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM in 70mm via Christie platters. Seems like we showed 2010 in 70mm, too. But, of course, after a few weeks, the movies moved to smaller auditoriums with 35mm prints.

I opened the Merchants Walk 8 for General Cinema in 1986 and stayed until 1998, when I semi-retired from the booth, working a few film events at the Fox, which I haven’t pursued in several years because of moving away. I was one of the regular operators there from 1979 on, but it was never a full-time job for any of us. The last 70mm I ran in the Fox was TITANIC, in 1998. A few 70mm have played since, but they are very rare due to print availabilities and — hate to say it — being a dead format and all.

Merchants played only two 70mm in all those years I was there. Opening weekend, Oct. ‘86, we were scheduled to show a revival of TOP GUN in 70mm. I prepared the print and recall looking at it, but I’m not positive it ever saw an audience. Seems like at the last minute they decided to use the big auditorium for a newer release. We definitely ran TOP GUN in 35mm for a week or so. By the time of that booking, TOP GUN was a long ago hit and dudded out.

Years later, the first few weeks of DICK TRACY at Merchants Walk played in 70mm and shrunk down to 35mm a.s.a.p. That was the last of them, although I sidestepped a 70mm midnight show of ALIENS in 1997. The power of griping!

I’m the first to agree 70mm looks great, but not for the operators, especially with ancient, junky prints to contend with. It takes forever to properly inspect and mount 70mm prints on platters. Also the sound system, auditorium settings, and projectors have to be aligned since they haven’t run 70mm in years, if ever. I found 70mm very stressful — plus, I had other screens to tend to. I never saw any evidence the public at large noticed or gave a flip about 70mm. It certainly did not sell enough tickets to pay its way.

General Cinema installed one Cinemeccanica 35-70, same as Merchants Walk, in the Parkside 8 in Sandy Springs in 1987. Ha, they had to run that 70mm ALIENS late show I dodged. Hee hee, that makes me giggle. Parkside may have shown DICK TRACY in 70mm, too, but that would probably be the only other movie in the format, at least in the GCC years.

The North DeKalb was a large auditorium for its era. It had those big rocking chair seats which negatively impacted seating capacity. I believe there was a sign on the street marquee that said “850 Rocking Chair Seats.”

When most theatres are twinned, only one or two chairs are removed in each row for the new wall. That’s if they don’t reposition the chairs for the new focal points. Lots of theatres were twinned without shelling out a day’s pay to a couple of laborers to reposition the seats. Loew’s 12 Oaks comes to mind.

JackCoursey on June 3, 2005 at 11:18 pm

I don’t have a clue. It can’t recall there being another cinema that close to the Emory.

UAGirl on June 3, 2005 at 10:26 pm

Not to thread jack but does anyone know the name of the little brown theatre that is now a ballet studio that is about a ½ mile from Emory? My friend who lives down there can’t find the name of it. Everytime I visit Atlanta I go to that really good pizza parlor near the little brown theatre and see if I can get a name for it.


…sorry for the thread jack.

/ has pictures

Don K.
Don K. on June 3, 2005 at 8:42 pm

Correction: The original format on the 1959 BEN HUR technically should be referred to as MGM Camera 65 (later known as Ultra Panavision 70). Here’s a link to a GREAT website with wonderful information on widescreen formats and color printing:

View link

Unfortunately, I went away to school in 1970 and lost track of the many of the developments in Atlanta’s movie theaters. It hurt when the Paramount was torn down in 1960. The demolition of the Roxy and the Loew’s Grand seemed to add insult to injury.

If the Fox had been down it would have been an unpardonable sin.