As many of our AJFF audience knows, the Lefont Sandy Springs is now under new ownership with a new name. East Cobb resident Brandt Gully is now its new owner and the theater has a new name, The Springs Cinema &Taphouse.
As the venue has always been a long-time favorite for AJFF, due in large part of the stewardship of its former owner, Geroge Lefont, we're delighted to continue to the tradition of bringing great cinema to Atlanta audiences with Brandt Gully, whom we recently got to know a little better.
A Little Bit About Brandt
I’m a Georgia native that lives a few miles from the theater with my wife and three daughters and have spent my entire career in financial services and working with movie theatre operators in some capacity. I’m currently a co-founder and partner at an investment banking firm (EFA Partners) that provides advisory services to entertainment and technology companies where I've worked with over 100 different cinema operators helping them raise money to buy, renovate or build theatres or sell their companies. While this is my first time operating a cinema, I have the unique vantage point of working with groups all around the country and get to see what works and what doesn't from a financial perspective. I'm also very fortunate to have a lot of long-time friends in the industry that are excited that I've taken the plunge as an operator, and thus they are eager to help me in any way needed.
What do you want to tell AJFF audiences?
I know how important the AJFF is to the Sandy Springs community, and I'm just excited to be a part of it. My goal is to make The Springs a unique and upscale neighborhood cinema of which the Sandy Springs community can be proud, and being a host location for the AJFF for years to come is a big part of that plan.
What do you think has made this theater popular with audiences in general?
I think this theater has such a loyal following first and foremost because of the quality films it always has. Despite having a couple of larger theaters closer to my home, I've always enjoyed coming here because I knew that whatever was playing was going to be good and not necessarily available elsewhere. George Lefont was a big believer in quality rather than commercial, and that's not something we plan to change. We want to continue providing unique and quality movies, while enhancing the experience with a better presentation and improved and updated amenities. I also think this theater is popular because of its community. People in Sandy Springs love to support their own and seem to prefer local establishments over national chains. And we are approaching our renovation plans with that in mind, as evidenced by the new name. I've enjoyed getting input from the customers, and I’m eager for people to no longer have reason to drive 20 minutes further to a different theater.
What changes do you have planned for the theater and what does that timing look like?
Since buying the theater in November, our initial priority has been to get everything clean and repaired prior to the AJFF. We've worked hard to repair and replace some of the video equipment, HVAC, plumbing, concessions equipment and point-of-sale terminals to keep lines moving as efficiently as possible. We are still finalizing our design plans for the renovation, but we hope to begin an overhaul of the auditoriums, restrooms and lobby in the spring and early summer. Some of the things we have planned are replacing all seats with luxury electric recliners, implementing reserved seating, improving the sound system and lighting, new flooring and finishes throughout the building, the addition of a full bar in the lobby, a face-lift to the building facade, and increased food and beverage offerings.
We are a film festival so we have to ask, what is your favorite movie?
I have a hard time believing that anybody that loves movies can name one favorite. Maybe Star Wars because it was the first movie I saw at a theater with my dad. But Rocky, Forest Gump and Shawshank Redemption are the only three movies that I'll stop and watch each and every time I see them on.
A special thank you to Brandt Gully and his team for helping us to continue our partnership. AJFF audiences will have a chance to meet Brandt (if you haven’t already) as he’ll be appearing at several screenings taking place at The Springs Cinema & Taphouse at the 2018 AJFF!