Friday, June 22, 2007

Court of Miracle(s)

40 years ago today, The Miracle Theater opened it's doors to the public. The above picture appeared in the June 22 1967 edition of the Smyrna Herald. I remember the opening fairly well (to have been only five), especially since up the that point in time there had been only two other single-screen theaters in Smyrna --one at Cobb Center Mall and the other at Belmont Hills Shopping Center.
The first thing I actually saw there was a Saturday matinee of a really awful foreign version of Rumpelstiltskin of all things... but over the years I saw TONS of first run features in that place.
I can remember it being packed in the early '70s. I think all 800 seats were filled when I saw The Posideon Adventure with my entire family when it premiered in 1972. I even remember standing in a long line for over an hour to see a Saturday night double-feature of Superdad (with Bob Crane) and Son of Flubber. (Like I said --it was a small town.)

Raymond Stewart of the Cinema Treasures' site had this to offer on the Miracle's heyday:
The Miracle was a gold mine for Eastern Federal at one time, prior to Akers Mill opening and the expansion of Cobb Center from 2 to 4 screens. At that point there were only 5 indoor screens in Smyrna, so everyone did pretty well, and the drive-in was no competition as they screened strictly drive-in fare. I worked as a relief manager there for a week before it went to being a dollar house, but after the twinning (in 79 as best I can recall) and spent the majority of my time handling money. On Friday/Saturday/Sunday it was packed every show.

When Cobb Center went to 6 screens, GCC's Akers Mill and Plitt's Promenade opened business was pulled to these newer screens and the Miracle (and Cobb Cinema) became dollar house.

I still saw plenty of movies there even after "the twinning" including stuff like Brainstorm,
Rumble Fish, and *gulp* even Smokey and the Bandit 3 (on a dare).
I saw Night of the Living Dead there too for the first time --at the only Midnight Movie I ever went to at that locale. In the mid-80s I moved across town and found some new places to "viddy the Cini" and sometime during that time the Miracle closed down.

From the Cinema Treasures site, "Nancy Drew" offers this on the Miracle's closing:

The last movie that played at the Miracle was "My Little Pony," which dates the closing to around 1986. I don't know what was on the other screen, but the "My Little Pony" poser stayed up for years. I remember seeing MLP there, and the theatre closed a few days later.

If one of the last movies was MLP, the other must've been Funny Farm with Chevy Chase, since the wrinkled, crumpled, faded poster hung in the outdoor display box for a LONG time after the theater actually closed. Chevy was already depicted with an egg on his head, but someone matched it with a lugie and a soft drink.
In my opinion he's never looked better.
What happened to the Miracle next? Cinema Treasures' site "Nancy Drew" also offers this:

There was a fire in 1990, but it wasn't severe and the Miracle stood for at least a few more years. When it was torn down no one exactly knew why, because it's not like the rest of the shopping center was in better shape and it still stands. Nothing has been built in its place, and you can still see the slope of the auditorium floor.

Indeed. All that's left now is the sloping footprint where the theater used to stand. I walked up that slope hundreds of times in the near darkness. Visible across the parking lot, and up against South Cobb Drive is the New Deliverance Church, which I also saw tons of movies in (including The Exorcist when it was first re-released in 1975) during the years it was known as "Cobb Cinema. (Quite ironically Deliverance actually DID play there during the major Atlanta ice storm of 1972)

Today also would've been my dad's 83 birthday (He passed in '04). As I write this, I realize I'm older than he was the day that the Miracle opened. I'm trying to wrap my head around that fact today, too.

Thanks to this post go out to The Cinema Treasures site, T. Aguirre, Raymond Stewart and Nancy Drew!


Anonymous Steve Carroll said...

Thanks so much for giving me such a nostalgia rush! I saw so many movies at The Miracle, many with you Clay! It was an indelible fixture on my youth, along with Cobb Cinema, although The Miracle was a real fortress of entertainment in my younger life. I saw movies there for YEARS!! From my elementary school days through my first serious rounds of dating and beyond...

10:08 AM

Blogger Robert Pope said...

Moving about every 1.5 years for my ENTIRE childhood, this sort of "theatre of my youth" experience is totally alien to me-still, great post and of course, I DID live just down the street!

10:35 AM


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