After more than 13 years under George Lefont’s ownership, the Lefont Sandy Springs Theater has been sold to East Cobb resident Brandt Gully.
The sale was finalized Nov. 8., ending Lefont’s four decades as a movie theater owner. The film enthusiast once ran such venues as the Landmark Plaza Theater, the Silver Screen in Buckhead and the Garden Hills Cinema.
Lefont purchased the Sandy Springs theater off Roswell Road in 2004. It has been a core location for the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.
“It was about time to sell the theater,” Lefont said. “I’ve had the Lefont Sandy Springs theater for about a dozen years, and it’s been a great dozen-years, which I’ve enjoyed very much, but I think it was time.”
He added, “I’ve been putting on a little age and think it was the best thing to do.”
As an avid moviegoer, Gully hopes to tie the theater into the City Springs development half a mile away and to improve the experience for people in Sandy Springs.
“I see Brandt Gully carrying on where I left off … and think he will continue to book the kind of films our audiences have enjoyed over the years,” Lefont said.
Gully has spent 20 years financing and advising entertainment venues and is the partner and co-founder of the investment banking firm EFA Partners, which helps raise capital for entertainment companies. He hopes to use his experience to help run the theater under its new name: the Springs Cinema and Taphouse.
“For years I’ve seen an opportunity there to apply some of the things that I’ve seen other theater operators do around the country, whether it’s reclined seating, enhanced food and beverage options, or esthetics.” Gully said. “I wanted to help the Lefont theater be a better fit for the Sandy Springs area.”
Gully is focusing on repairs to the theater in time for the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival and will begin renovations, such as new electric recliners, refurbished restrooms and a lobby bar, after the festival.
“There are a lot of different things going on in theaters around the country, but I’ve had my eye on this opportunity for quite some time. As I’ve walked through theaters across the country, I have developed an idea of what the theater should look like,” Gully said.
The cinema will remain a venue for the 18th Atlanta Jewish film Festival.
“We know the film festival has been a big part of the community and the theater and hope to continue that and hopefully create an even better venue for the festival,” he said.
Kenny Blank, the executive director of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, said the AJFF will continue to use the Springs Cinema for future festivals. “AJFF is forever indebted to George Lefont for his tireless efforts within the film arts community. We are thrilled to see Brandt Gully take the reins of this cherished neighborhood theater and excited to see the transformation to the Springs Cinema and Taphouse.”
He added, “We look forward to returning to this venue for future AJFF programs and working in partnership with Springs Cinema to further our mutual love of independent and foreign film.”
The timing may present some challenges for the renovations, but Gully hopes to have the cinema finished by the summer. He said, “Any time you do this amount of construction, you just don’t know the mechanical components involved, but our team has done a thorough job up this point. … Our hope is to create a better venue, and we thank people for their patience.”