The original Variety Playhouse building was constructed at 1099 Euclide Avenue in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia. It was opened as a movie house called The Euclid Theatre, and the first film shown was My Favorite Wife on October 4, 1940.
After over two decades of showing movies, the theater announced it would “Close for Repairs”, and never reopened. The exact circumstances of the closing are unknown.
1962 - 1982
For twenty years, the building at 1099 Euclid Ave stood empty, and was eventually slated for demolition.
Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson intervened in the building’s demolition, and it was subsequently sold to the Little Five Points Partnership. Atlanta actor and art cinema operator George Ellis leased the building and began a full renovation.
Although George Ellis died during the renovation, the theatre was reopened as “The Ellis” on October 4 1984 — 44 years to the day after The Euclid Theatre began operations. The renovation included a total interior redesign and a 50-foot-wide screen, one of the largest in Atlanta at the time. The total capacity was 463.
After several years of operation, and having received multiple awards as a top theater in the area, The Ellis closed with no advance notice. A group called the George Ellis Film Society was formed with the goal of reopening the theater, but the effort was ultimately unsuccessful.
Paul Blane, a talent manager and producer from Valdosta, Georgia, purchased the venue and dedicated it to live performances, including classic cinema star revues and musical acts. Although this incarnation of the venue only lasted a year, Blane is credited with bestowing the venue with the name “Variety Playhouse”.
The management of Variety Playhouse was assumed by Steve Harris, an Atlanta concert promoter. After a brief closure for renovations, the venue opened on September 7, 1990, with an inaugural show by The Count Basie Orchestra. The venue operated as one of the most renowned and successful music venues in Atlanta for the next 25 years.
Variety Playhouse was purchased by Agon Entertainment, and underwent a full-scale renovation, including a lowered pit area, increased capacity, additional bathrooms, updated seating, vastly improved bar operations, and a completely rebuilt balcony. The venue reopened on September 28, 2016 with a show by ambient musician Tycho.
Variety Playhouse joined forces with Terminal West (Atlanta) and Georgia Theatre (Athens) to create an independent booking, marketing and operational consulting company called Zero Mile. By utilizing the combined efforts, personnel, and cultures of these three venues, Zero Mile has quickly become a prominent player in the live music industry in the Southeast, winning “Best Local Promoter” from Creative Loafing in 2017.