Silver Screen Theatre

2369 Peachtree Road NE,
Atlanta, GA 30305

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Modular Cinemas of America, Weis Theatres

Previous Names: Peachtree Battle Minicinema, Weis Peachtree Battle Theatre

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Radley Metzger SCORE at the PEACHTREE BATTLE cinema in Atlanta, Ga.

The Peachtree Battle Minicinema opened on April 5, 1968 with “Elvira Madigan”. It was located in the northern quadrant of the Peachtree Battle Shopping Centre and operated by the Modular Cinemas of America. This little theatre featured a very narrow lobby with a concession stand that also served as the ticket booth. Despite its odd configuration, it was a very hip cinema.

When Modular Cinemas of America moved out of the Atlanta market in May 1972 it was taken over by Weis Theatres. A young entrepreneur with a passion for classic cinema named George Lefont acquired the theatre and changed it’s name to the Silver Screen on October 21, 1976. The theatre ran classic films such as “Key Largo”, “Singing In The Rain”, “Citizen Kane”, etc.on a double bill to sell out crowds. The Silver Screen was later demolished to allow for more retail space in the shopping centre.

Contributed by Jack Coursey

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

StanMalone on April 27, 2006 at 9:50 am

Opened: 4/10/68.

Premiere feature: Elvira Madigan

With Ansley Mall, the first two editions of the Mini Cinema chain, and the only one in free standing building. It had about 350 rocking chair seats, Century projectors, 6000' reels, and a good sized screen with a small stage in front. The lobby occupied a tiny part of the southeast corner of the building and was just large enough for a concession stand and cashier desk combo. One odd thing was the ticket machine which looked like an old grocery store cash register which did not issue tickets as such but a paper receipt, just like you would get at the grocery store.

After entering the auditorium you found yourself in a wide walkway between the back row and the projection booth. Past the booth was a door leading to the booth door and the very tiny restrooms. Another door led to the utility room and ice machine. There was no office. Since, as with all of the early Mini Cinemas, the projectionist was also the manager, the booth served this purpose.

Although twice the size of the Ansley Mall Mini, Peachtree Battle was still tiny compared to the other theatres of the day, especially the first run editions. It played a lot of independent and foreign films and usually changed every two to three weeks. Unlike today, there was no national release date for many films, especially low profile ones. Theatres like this could book these films in advance without a hard date and bring them in when business for their current feature died off. This pattern changed in October 1968 when the theatres first big hit, Barbarella, opened. Three months later, on New Years Day of 1969, the Zefferelli version of Romeo and Juliet opened for a four month run followed by Charlie for four more months.

After this period it was back to the old pattern with a few sub run engagements of mainstream movies mixed in. The first movie I remember seeing there was the Mel Brooks comedy 12 Chairs during Christmas of 1970. In 1971, the Mini Cinema Chain subbed out the “office” duties of the chain to the Storey Theatre Company, and the mini cinemas started appearing in the Storey ads. During this time the Peachtree Battle would often play the same attractions as the other Storey intermediate break houses like North DeKalb and Lakewood. (Sandy Springs, the only franchise of the Mini Cinema chain did not take part in this and operated as an independent theatre although Storey still handled the mechanics of film booking.) Mini Cinema still had a say as to which movies played, especially when up front money was required. Occasionally, Peachtree Battle would play an exclusive of the type of film it once made its living with, such as Trojan Women and Roman Polanski’s version of MacBeth.

In May of 1972, the theatre was sold to the Weis Company and became the Weis Peachtree Battle. The first feature under this arrangement was foreign film Oscar winner Garden of the Finzi Continis which was actually booked in by Mini Cinema prior to the sale. After this the more aggressive Weis booking habit resulted in more mainstream first run features with longer runs. That summer, The Candidate followed by Sounder played for the remainder of the year followed by a Christmas booking of The Great Waltz. That one was not a very good movie but sounded great with the theatres seldom used 4 track magnetic sound system.

In the spring of 1974, Weis remodeled the place and gave it a very contemporary “mod” look. A new wall was built behind the last row, and the old passageway between the seating area and the booth wall was incorporated into the lobby. This was a great improvement as it allowed access to the restrooms, ice machine, booth and utility room without having to pass through the auditorium. Since the projection beam could not shoot through the lobby, and enclosed tunnel was built from the booth, over the lobby, and into the top of the new back wall of the auditorium. The decorator Weis used on all of his theatres obviously hated straight lines, so all of the public areas were covered in curved sheetrock and corrugated metal sheeting. By this time Weis had done away with the manager / operator arrangement with the union, and there was now a separate manager, but since the office had been nothing more that a desk inside the booth, the manager had to make do with a corner of the newly enclosed boxoffice which was hardly big enough for two people at once.

All of this made crowd control much easier which was a good thing since 1974 saw heavily attended engagements of Sugarland Express and The Groove Tube, each of which ran for months. In 1975, The Other Side of the Mountain also had a 5 month run. By 1976, Weis was in big trouble due mainly to the poor bookings which they had put up big advance money for in those blind bidding days. As mentioned above, George Lefont purchased this site in 1976 and it became a big success as Atlanta’s first revival theatre showing double features which changed two and sometimes three times per week. My favorite of all of the movies that played during this time was Libeled Lady, on a twin bill with Philadelphia Story, a great combo. In addition to these older movies George also booked more recent releases such as Last Detail / Last Picture Show, and The Hospital / Network. In a humorous clash of cultures, he also played The Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight on weekends for many years.

In 1982, the Peachtree Battle Shopping Center expanded and took over the space of the theatre. It was torn down and a three story retail strip, the top two of which fronted Peachtree Road, was built in its place. The Silver Screen had done so well that the Rhodes had opened under new ownership showing the same type of programs and changing double features everyday. The VCR soon killed off this market so it is doubtful the Silver Screen would have survived much longer anyway. The only bit of it left now is in the #3 auditorium which George added to the Tara when he ran it. Unless they have been removed since, this theatre has the old rocking chair seats from the Peachtree Battle.

WHITEFIELD on June 27, 2007 at 11:54 pm

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miamiguy on November 19, 2007 at 7:00 pm

The first time I ever saw “Casablanca” was at the Silver Screen. I can still remember how striking the movie’s opening music sounded in that theatre.

rechols on November 14, 2010 at 7:05 am

In the late 70s I lived in an apartment building a few doors south of the Silver Screen. (The building
had a carpet merchant and a Chinese restaurant on the first floor, among other businesses. Steve
Smith’s dance studio, where I learned to do the “hustle,” was on the second floor.) Peaches Records
and Tapes was right across Peachtree Road. I loved to be able to walk up to the Silver Screen, there was almost always something good showing there.I fondly remember seeing the Lina Wertmuller films Swept Away and Seven Beauties at the SilverScreen. Last Tango in Paris was another. Audiences were always cool there too – laid back and serious about enjoying the movie, no yakkety-yak during the feature.

galateasca on July 8, 2013 at 7:57 pm

The Silver Screen was my weekend hang out from 1980 until 1983, when I was part of the Rocky Horror Picture Show “Cast”. So many wonderful memories associated with the theater. Often we could come down earlier in the evening, catch whatever was playing, go into the bathroom, change into Rocky attire and return to perform. To a generation of us, the Silver Screen was an iconic landmark and is still greatly missed. Best story? The night that Amy Carter came to see Rocky Horror, long after her dad was out of office, complete with Secret Service guards, who weer none too happy that we were throwing things. Ah, memories!

RobertDean on October 8, 2013 at 9:00 am

I lived in AtlNanta from 1976 to 1981, and part of the time I was just across the way from the Silver Screen, which I often frequented a couple of times per week. Memorable double features for me were Garbo in Camille and Anna Karenina, Nicholas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now and The Man Who Fell to Earth, and Jack Benny’s To Be Or Not To Be and The Horn Blows at Midnight. I remember weekend midnight showings of cult favorites such as Eraserhead, as well as The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Their concession stand was ahead of its time, too. You could buy things like coffee, muffins, dried fruit, and hot apple cider during colder months. Fondly remembered and sadly missed.

vegasporter on October 28, 2013 at 3:47 am

This was my first introduction to “real” cinema when I was maybe 10? 12? Memorable movies were the original Body Snatchers, a week of Hitchcock…that was amazing! They would do these theme weeks where you never knew what you might see…I saw Rocky Horror here as a little kid. Must’ve been 79? Glad there were no age restrictions! I loved that they would do a double feature. Who does that today? What ever happened to George Lefont?

rivest266 on April 7, 2018 at 2:18 pm

This and the Ansley Mall minicinema opened on April 5th, 1968. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

Article Mini Cinemas openingMini Cinemas opening · Sat, Mar 30, 1968 – 37 · The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) ·

StanMalone on February 28, 2020 at 8:24 am

A picture of the site as it appears today is in the photo section. The current three story building there extends into what was the driveway running alongside the theater. The spot where the sidewalk that runs under the overhang starts was the location of the boxoffice which was in the front corner of the stand alone, single story building. The topography of the site and the way the building was cut into the embankment led to one of the more humorous episodes I witnessed during my forty or so years of working in this business.

In July 1974, halfway through its Weis days, PB was playing Sugarland Express. This early Spielberg effort had opened in April, exclusive run here as was the practice in those days. Weis was the most aggressive of the local companies in bidding big advances which meant three and four month runs of even average pictures like this one were not uncommon. So, during the prime summer season PB was playing this worn out movie to a weekday matinee crowd of about 10 patrons with no hint of the excitement to come.

The building was only one story, and if you walked around it you actually had to duck to walk under the soffit of the side opposite the parking lot. In the six years since its construction, a section of the soffit had come loose and started to sag. A group of neighborhood boys with time on their hands, found this spot and after a little exploring realized that the attic over the auditorium made a great place in which to spend their summer vacation. They placed planks over some of the ceiling beams, brought in some sleeping bags, candles, and snacks, and turned the attic into a playhouse. If they got bored they could just lift a ceiling tile and watch the movie.

The drawback to this scheme was the same as in your own attic. The drop ceiling would not hold any more weight than your Sheetrock one at home, and if you stepped off the beam you would find yourself on the floor, one story down. That is exactly what happened here on that sleepy July afternoon. Imagine the surprise of those few patrons present when a hunk of ceiling tile fell onto the small stage in front of the screen followed by a lit candle, a bag of snacks, and a young boy. Everyone sat there stunned for a moment before the boy got to his feet, limped across the stage, and out the exit door to the parking lot. This was followed by a lot of muffled shouting and rustling noises from above the ceiling as the rest of the gang made their way out the soffit exit and were gone.

Unfortunately I was not there when the customers came out to tell the employees what had happened but it was quite the scene I was told. I mean, how often does the concession attendant have to deal with a complaint of children falling through the ceiling? It was all pretty funny in retrospect although it would have been much more serious if the boy had fallen into the seating area, especially an occupied seat. When I arrived for my shift, the fire department was still there checking the attic for fire and clearing out all of the clubhouse debris.

The culprits were never found, we cleaned the mess off the stage, and were back on the screen that night. I have always wondered if any of those boys returned to the theater as young men during the Lefont years, possibly as members of the Rocky Horror Show cast, and told their companions about the day they fell through the roof.

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