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Tara Theatre Closing Its Doors

Located on Cheshire Bridge Road, Tara Theatre stands out to many with its long row of illuminated pillars on the upper half of its entrance. Those pillars have stood tall for as long as they could, but now, after nearly 55 years, the art house cinema is preparing to close its doors, according to a Regal spokesperson.

“As part of our real estate optimization strategy, Regal has made the decision to close our Regal Tara Theatre as we continue to position our company for long-term growth,” explained the Regal VP of Communications, Richard Grover. “We are working to support our employees through this transition, and we thank them for helping to make us the ‘Best Place to Watch a Movie.”

Tara Theatre got its start with a small one-screen theater, and less than ten years later, it would host the premiere of “Smokey and the Bandit” with Burt Reynolds. A few months after that, it would become the first movie theater in Atlanta to screen “Star Wars” which would continue to play there for six months.

When Georgia Lefont took ownership in 1980, the small theater would find its niche for years to come by playing edgier, independent and foreign films that big chain theaters had no interest in screening, like the extremely controversial “Caligula.” Ownership of the cinema would change hands many times over the years, but this blueprint would continue.

With the pandemic and the meteoric rise of streaming services, cinemas have taken some heavy hits. Audiences are no longer flocking to theaters, and Tara’s calling card, independent and foreign films, are much easier to find on the internet. Because of this, a piece of Atlanta’s history will be laid to rest with Tara Cinema.

“It’s certainly a loss,” said the Plaza Theatre’s owner, Christopher Escobar, who recently signed a 25-year lease to cement his theater’s future in Georgia. “Until Atlantans individually support our local theaters and historical establishments, we are going to keep losing places like this. It’s happening all around my theater.”

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