Thanks to a joint effort between Christopher Escobar and Kenny Blank, The Tara Theatre will soon reopen its doors.
Escobar, executive director of the Atlanta Film Society and owner of The Plaza Theatre, announced Tuesday that he plans to take over operations for the Tara Theatre in Cheshire Square. Regal Cinemas, the previous owner of the Atlanta art house cinema, closed its doors last year after more than 50 years of operation.
“To lose [The Tara] is a big loss, from a cultural standpoint, for the community,” Escobar said in an interview. “The reason it closed was not because the property owners wanted it to, but instead the company that was operating it decided they had other priorities. So, I thought, Atlanta should have a say in if the Tara is still around or not.”
Rumors that the Tara would close started as early as 2020. Those proved to be false at the time, but despite the deep affection that so many in the community had for the theater, Regal confirmed its closing in November 2022.
Escobar announced that he and his team plan to revitalize the theater at closing night of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival on Feb. 21. AJFF Executive Director Kenny Blank advocated on Escobar’s behalf with Halpern Enterprises, which owns the Cheshire Square shopping center where the cinema is located.
“[Blank] has a friendship with the Halpern family and knows that I was trying to work on getting it reopened, and advocated on our behalf to make that an arrangement that’s sustainable and would make it possible for it to reopen,” Escobar said. “They listened to that and agreed to come to an arrangement that makes that realistic.”
According to a press release, John Brazovic, regional director of leasing, managed the negotiation for Halpern Enterprises.
“We are gratified by the positive response this announcement has elicited from the community and proud to have recruited Chris Escobar and his team to launch this next chapter in the life of the Tara Theatre,” said Jack Halpern, Halpern Enterprises chairman & CEO, in an emailed statement.
In the past, the Tara has served as a venue for the AJFF. In an emailed statement, Blank said he hopes to use the Tara for the festival again.
“The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is proud to have worked behind the scenes to champion this exciting initiative to reopen Atlanta’s historic Tara Theatre. We understand the importance of preserving Atlanta’s cultural landscape and Tara’s place as a beloved landmark and beacon of the cinematic arts,” Blank said. “AJFF salutes Chris Escobar for his passion and vision, and join him in celebrating this thrilling news, as we welcome festival-goers and all audiences back to the Tara in the near future and for years to come.”
According to a press release, the team for reopening and managing the Tara includes equity partners cinema booker/operator Michael Spaeth, his wife Kris Spaeth, and Steve Krams of Magna-Tech Electronic. Magna-Tech will provide the equipment and installation of the Tara’s new projection technology, which will include digital formats as well as 33mm and 70 mm film projectors. The Plaza and Tara will be the city’s only theatres with both types of older film projection units.
“For the first time in more than a decade, The Tara will be a cinema regularly presenting films in their original formats,” Escobar said in the release.
Escobar said there is no exact reopening date for the Tara yet, but with the community’s help, they hope to be open by this spring. At the AJFF closing night, Escobar also announced a reopening campaign, hoping to presell $50,000 worth of tickets and vouchers. That campaign will be available at the new Tara website, taraatlanta.com.
This piece has been updated with remarks from Kenny Blank.