Credit: The Sintoses / Atlanta Magazine
George Lefont, king of Atlanta independent cinema, dies at 85
George Lefont, who owned a number of independent cinemas in the city that still loom large in movie-lovers’ minds, has died at 85. He was suffering from complications related to Parkinson’s Disease.
Lefont operated The Silver Screen, The Screening Room, Garden Hills Cinema, Tara Theatre, Lefont Sandy Springs and Plaza Theatre, for 40 years before retiring in 2017.
“It brings us great sadness to announce that George Lefont, the cinema entrepreneur that saved the Plaza from near-certain closure fate in 1983, has passed,” reads an Instagram post from the Plaza’s account.
Lefont Theatres were the place to see foreign, independent and documentary films. Lefont opened his first theater, The Silver Screen, at Peachtree Battle Shopping Center in Buckhead in 1976. Lefont Sandy Springs was the last theater he owned before his retirement.
In 1980, he purchased the Tara, which was previously been owned by Lowe’s Theatres. In 1983 he also purchased the Plaza Theater, which had become an X-rated and burlesque theater, and began booking independent and classic films.
The Plaza and the Tara are now owned by Christopher Escobar. The Lefont Sandy Springs is now The Springs Cinema and Taphouse.
A memorial will be held at the Plaza Theatre on Sept. 23 at noon. Lefont’s family asks anyone with anecdotes or memories of George to please share them with firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Rough Draft Atlanta.