At the closing night of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, Kenny Blank, AJFF executive director, with Chris Escobar, executive director of the Atlanta Film Festival, after the news the Tara cinema will reopen (Photo by Maria Saporta)

By Maria Saporta

Good news Atlanta moviegoers!

The Tara Cinema will rise again.

Chris Escobar, owner of the Plaza Theatre, announced Tuesday evening at the closing night of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, that he will be reopening the beloved Tara in the near future.

“If you’re like me and have been coming to the AJFF for years — and a fan of historic cinemas, I’m sure you too are sad this year couldn’t also be held at Tara due to its recent and unexpected closing,” said Escobar in a video message before the showing of the closing night movie.

Chris Escobar in front of the Plaza Theatre. (Special: Atlanta Film Society.)

Escobar said he is able to reopen the Tara thanks to a few partners, and his friendship with Kenny Blank, AJFF’s executive director, who advocated on their behalf as well as the Halpern family, who own the property on Cheshire Bridge and LaVista, where the Tara is located.

“It’s a testament to what is possible when Atlantans come together, and how our cultural institutions can live on when we all get a say,” Escobar said. “For the first time in decades, the Tara will once again be run locally.”

Escobar has become a major player in Atlanta’s movie and arts scene.

Before buying the Plaza Theatre on Ponce de Leon in 2017, Escobar was a member of the Atlanta Film society since 2007, joining the board in 2010 and becoming its executive director in 2017.

In some ways, Escobar is the younger version of George Lefont, who once owned both the Plaza Theatre and the Tara. For decades, Lefont was known for bringing independent, artistic and international films to Atlanta.

“Once re-opened, it will have the same qualities and programming those who love the Tara have come to expect, but also much, much more,” Escobar said in the video. “In just a few months, I’m looking forward to welcoming you, and next year, the AJFF back to the Tara! See you then.”

The fanciful Tara Theatre on Nov. 10, 2022 – the night it closed. (Photo by Matthew Rao.)

The Tara, an Atlanta staple for 54 years, closed rather suddenly in November. At that time, it was operating under the Regal Cinema brand, which said at the time that it made the decision to close because of its “real estate optimization strategy.”

With Escobar at the Tara, it once again will be locally owned and managed. The news also shows the partnership between Kenny Blank, AJFF’s executive director; and Escobar, who is executive director of the Atlanta Film Festival. AJFF used the Plaza venue for several of its movies during the two-week festival.

Escobar, however, did make an appeal to movie lovers in his video message.

“We are working on everything needed to get it re-equipped and ready to welcome audiences, so here’s where you come in,” Escobar said. “If you’re someone who lamented the news of it closing, now you can actually do something to help it re-open.”

Tara Theatre on Nov. 10 — the night it closed. (Photo by Matthew Rao.)

Escobar said he and his partners have set a pre-sales goal of $50,000 in ticket vouchers and gift cards, money that is needed to reopen the Tara. People can join that effort by going to the Tara Theatre website.

Escobar also shared a “sneak peek” of what people can expect when the Tara reopens.

“It’s still going to be a home for Arthouse, indie, foreign films in Atlanta,” Escobar said. “But we’re also bringing back a number of things missing from the Tara for years including classic films, 35 and 70mm actual film — in addition to digital — and a bunch of other exciting things including righting the egregious wrong of not serving Coca-Cola! At the Tara? So, if there are any Coke people here, call me!”

Escobar declined to be interviewed because he had promised an exclusive to WABE’s Lois Reitzes, who actually was introducing the AJFF closing night film “Killing Me Softly with his Songs,” a documentary about lyricist and composer Charles Fox.

Huge cheers.

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Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news...

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  1. YESSS !!!!! Thank you to Chris Escobar’s vision and all the other supporters of the idea for making this happen! I’m much happier supporting an independent local owner than Regal Cinemas any day. I’ll be buying some vouchers for sure, and look forward to supporting this theater and The Plaza in the years to come.

  2. Yes, big cheers! Have had great conversations here and so many memorable movie moments–all life expanding. Looking forward to the summer with you. Thanks for moving the energy to reveal what a remarkable community Atlanta truly is!!

  3. Last spring I sent a message to Regal asking if they could bring Coke back to Tara. I never hears back. While I live within walking distance of Tara I would drive to Phipps to watch a movie. Coca-Cola has supported Atlanta for 100+ years and I’m a loyal customer. Thanks Chris for bringing more alternative cinema to Atlanta and I can’t wait to walking to seeing a movie again.

  4. So glad that this Arts Cinema will continue to bring diverse, thought provoking film to the Atlanta Area. This venue has been my go to for over 30 years.

  5. Can someone please layout a program, timing day/night and time to go with March times? One-by-one, please, instead of all the generalities and hype, please. Thank you, JG/Suwanee

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