Revision 2: Midtown Art Cinema

Who doesn’t have a love affair with the movies?  Would you be surprised if I said we have a love affair with movie theaters?  Well, we do…with one theater in particular.  Midtown Art Cinemas was built in 1987 and has been operated by Landmark Theaters since 2003.  It exists as the “home for independent, foreign language and documentary films in the heart of in-town Atlanta.”  In a shopping plaza boasting restaurants such as Apres Diem, Royal Orchid, and Desi Spice, as well as famed bars like the Highlander and the Independent, Midtown Art is a perfect date night, perfect Sunday afternoon, perfect rainy day activity for all walks of life.

I think many of the patrons will agree with me that one of the unique amenities of Midtown Art is the availability of beer and wine.  Espresso drinks and pastries are on the menu in addition to the movie staples: colossal popcorn, assorted candies, and Coca-Cola beverages (in Atlanta, it’s Coke…just get used to it if you prefer anything different).

Theater style seats line the stained concrete floors, contributing to the modest but functional decor.  They are comfortable enough for the 1:49:53 that you’ll be sitting in them, but a movie marathon might require a few breaks to stretch your legs.  The sightlines are decent, unless you are accustomed to the stadium style seating of commercial megaplexes.  The key is to avoid sitting directly behind exceptionally tall people with brimmed hats.

The existing interior design is inspired by a “retro/futuristic” motif in vibrant hues of blue, green and yellow; a motif that conjures the 1960′s Jetson’s style.  Some people are reminded of flying saucers, stacked satellite dishes, or elliptical crop circles but the motif pictured here:

can be found repeated in the custom carpet tile, as the signage for ticketing and the “snack bar”, as the movie poster displays, the acoustical wall panels of the theaters, as well as the acrylic forms hanging from the double height lobby space.  It appears dated for Midtown Art Theatre’s predominantly adult audience.

We at CLOUD feel that the interior design of the theater needs to be more in line with what Landmark is known for: sophisticated, film-centric, artful theaters with a focus on great service and atmosphere.

Atlanta is an up-and-coming city for film. You may have noticed more film crew activity on the streets. Just in the past year, film productions from Zombieland to The Blind Side, and Tyler Perry’s numerous contributions have all been active in the metro area.  Between 2008-09 Television networks, Hollywood studios, production companies and independent producers invested more than $647 million in Georgia.  Not too shabby folks.  The art of Film is celebrated in Atlanta.  Film-centric events like the Atlanta Film Festival, Docufest, Out on Film, Shortsfest, and the Atlanta Underground Film Fest are just a few of the annual happenings gaining popularity at a rapid pace.

So, what amenities can Midtown Art offer for the burgeoning filmmaker, or for the festival organizer?   Landmark Theaters has implemented innovative screening lounges in a few of their other locations, and CLOUD believes there is a great opportunity to expand this program to Atlanta.  Designing one or two theaters with upgraded “cushy” seating and side tables, invoking the feel of classic dinner theater inclusive of drink-service, would make for a great movie experience.  These could be rented for private screenings, or reserved for 21+ movie showings.  Who wouldn’t love a specialty drink paired with the theme of the movie: (James Bond – martini, shaken not stirred; Sex in the City – the Cosmo of course; Twilight – how about a Bloody Mary?)  Combined with a new lobby bar open to all movie-goers, an updated concession counter with coffee bar, a new upstairs multipurpose meeting space, and a general transformation of the interior finishes, Midtown Art Cinema has the opportunity to create a movie experience that surpasses all others in the Atlanta Metro area.

The procession begins as you approach the theater.  A new marquis will beckon to movie goers – and make the plaza all about the theater (apologies to Apres’ Diem).

Ticketing has been reconfigured to maximize square footage inside the lobby.  Positioned at an angle, it will be in clear view upon approach, still allowing for queuing space into the plaza.   The egress vestibule has been consolidated with the addition of an elevator.  In place of the existing ramp, the elevator will provide access to the lobby, as well as the proposed meeting space above.

The vestibule creates framed views of the concessions and new projection screen above, drawing the patrons into the lobby.  Vertical louvers act as a screen, inspired by the Zoetrope, a device that creates an illusion of action from a rapid succession of static pictures, a concept similar to the ‘flip-book’.

Stepping into the lobby: a grand two-story high space is activated with a projection screen and a revitalized concessions area.  The ceiling design incorporates illuminated multidirectional bands set atop a dark acoustical ceiling, a design inspired by the searchlights of a hollywood premiere.  Cubes of color add interest to the double height space – preferably accomplished by applying a color wash to movie posters affixed to 2′ square panels.

Looking back at the entrance, the louvers are a contrasting color.  The bar is in partial view.  The bar will have a transaction counter and queuing space unique from the concessions.  Seating can be configured in any number of ways, but here we have shown a combination of bar-stools and lounge chairs with coffee tables.  Soft seating can be added around the perimeter, to provide a variety of seating options and to accommodate larger groups.  It can spill out into the main lobby space in the form of benches and soft lounge chairs.

A window looks into the bar area from the ticketing line outside. This creates a visual connection that will help bring the people to the bar.

A pixelated image of the Brando’s Godfather creates an iconic theme, suitable for a bar, also invoking a sophisticated color palette of black, grays, white, and red.  Wood accents add a level of warmth.

Back at the concessions stand, illuminated window boxes in the counter-top can showcase the merchandise, while the back counter plays host to the the popcorn machine.  In this layout, we have highlighted the coffee bar and built-in pastry case.  Adding a dedicated window not only showcases the fact that coffee drinks are available, but gives the customers a place to wait for their “made to order” beverage.

The space above the above the entry is currently available for lease and would be a great addition to the theater.  We envision a multipurpose meeting room, complete with a small bar.  This space would be ideal for ticketed “meet and greets”, Q&A, banquets, VIP lounge, private parties, staff meetings, training, etc.

Is it fun? Let us know what you think. We’ll be making some edits and additions to the post in the next couple of days, so if you have any cool thoughts, throw them out there. We’ll do our best to get it in.

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One Response to “Revision 2: Midtown Art Cinema”
  1. Mark Campis says:

    I think this makes for a nice project, but….It isn’t what I thought the Revision cloud should be focusing on. The revision cloud to me is about changing the way we think about our city at a larger scale and the decision making around our built environment and key projects or sites. I think you should redesign the entire retail area where this theater resides. The Midtown promenade development is a disaster from an urban planning point of view and turns its back to the beltline. It is focusd around the automobile and completely ignores pedestrians. The zone where the theater resides is so cut off from the public realm that a lot of people don’t even know it is there. I would take a look at what EDAW has proposed for this area in the Beltline study. they have re-planned this beltline zone all the way from Ponce to Monroe