Trends, Travel, Film, History and Books

December 3, 2012

Education, Entertainment, Trends

 Atlanta History Center Journey to Holidays Past and Explore Holiday Traditions of the South with Music, Performances, Decorations, and Demonstrations

ATLANTA, GA –The holidays are an enchanting time for families and communities to gather together and share time honored traditions and charity through the season. From folklore and literature to silver screen, the adage goes “there is magic in the season.” Regardless of the challenges of one’s circumstances, the holidays spark the collective spirit of joy and giving.

Explore The Holiday Spirit with the Atlanta History Center on Saturday, December 15, 2012 from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm. This annual holiday program is filled with family activities that celebrate the season, past to present. Holiday crafts, live music, storytelling, decorations, demonstrations, engaging theatrical performances, and a visit from Saint Nicholas provide fun-filled opportunities for families with little ones to create memories while examining the indelible spirit of the season.

Journey to Holidays Past is a highlight of this event. Time travel to the year 1862 at Smith Family Farm and the year 1933 at Swan House and discover how Atlanta residents celebrated the holidays during challenging times when practices of sustainability, getting by, and cutting costs were necessities.

At Smith Family Farm, a friendly spirit assists you as you journey back in time to meet members of the Smith farm and their neighbors as they prepare for the holidays and welcome soldiers returning from war on furlough. Demonstrations of blacksmithing, candle-dipping, and open-hearth cooking showcase time-honored traditions of the South.  Speak with the mistress of the farm and enslaved cook Maude to learn more about their holiday plans and the responsibilities.

At Swan House, step back in time to the holiday of 1933 where you experience the grounds and holiday decorations at the home of one of Atlanta’s most elite residents. Make the acquaintance of friendly spirits including the Inman’s chauffer, gardener, and maid who share stories of what life was like for Inman family members and household servants during the holiday.

Visit the museum to explore modern holiday traditions through a variety of ongoing family activities including historic characters, holiday craft making, storytelling, and musical performances. Little ones are sure to enjoy a visit with Santa from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. Be sure to bring your own camera to capture the memory. Guests may snap another memorable image beside “Percival” the Pink Pig, an Atlanta holiday tradition on display in the Centennial Olympic Games Museum atrium.

Additional offerings include self-guided tours of the Atlanta History Center’s award-winning and temporary exhibitions. Be sure to catch one or all of the special gallery character performances designed to bring history to life. Check out table scopes and vignettes exploring twenty different international holidays in the temporary display, Passport to Celebrations. And, don’t forget to browse the museum shop for those special one-of-a-kind holiday gifts.

“The Holiday Spirit” is free for members and included in the cost of general admission for nonmembers. City Pass accepted. Purchase advance tickets online and save


Kitchen Smith Family FarmSmith Family Farm:  

  • Open-Hearth Cooking Demonstration
  • Candle-Dipping Demonstration
  • Blacksmithing Demonstration
  • Journeys to Holidays Past – Encounter first-hand experiences with characters from 1862 holiday past including soldiers in Civil War encampment at Smith Family Farm.

The Ghost of 1862 at Smith Family Farm: Are you a Union sympathizer or a black market entrepreneur in 1862? Interact with the Ghost of 1862 and find out what it means for you as he circulates the news of the day for Atlanta, the state, and the nation.

Maude (Smith): Connect to the story of an enslaved woman maintaining time-honored holiday traditions from Africa while contemplating the hint of freedom that grows with each victory of the Union Army.

Rachel Smith: Show compassion for the problems of a local farm wife who attempts to arrange her customary holiday celebration, despite the hardships brought on by the Northern blockade and growing unrest.

Swan HouseSwan House: 

  • Holiday decorations
  • Journey to Holidays Past Encounter first-hand experiences with characters from 1933 holiday past including the Inman’s chauffer, gardener, and maid.

The Ghost of 1933 Swan House: Discover how Atlantans found cheer in 1933, despite the Great Depression, by celebrating the holidays with Santa’s downtown parade along Peachtree Street, as well as other traditional diversions.

Lucille Arnold, Inman maid: Meet Lucille at Swan House as she readies the house for the holiday season and find out what goes on both upstairs and downstairs – as well as behind the scenes – in Atlanta’s most famous home.

Grant Carter, Inman chauffeur: Hear from Mr. Carter, the Inman family’s longtime chauffeur, as he contemplates his own future following the impact of both financial and personal changes within the Inman family and Atlanta.

James Self, Inman gardener: Discover the work of keeping up the Swan House gardens, designed by famous architect Philip T. Shutze, as Mr. Self assists in preparing the house and its gardens and grounds for holiday entertaining.

Percival Pnk Pig  Atlanta History MuseumAtlanta History Museum: 

  • Chik fil A – Delicious food available for purchase; limited menu and hours.
  • Storyteller, Katye Jordan – Do You Hear What I Hear? Christmas Stories 
  • Vintage Vocals – Holiday Songs Old and New 
  • Radio Disney — hosts family fun activities with music, games, and prizes from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm
  • Percival — Atlanta’s beloved Pink Pig on display
  • Holiday Crafts – “upcycled” crafting for the holidays
  • History comes to life  Character performances bring the stories of the South to life as told in Atlanta History Center’s award-winning exhibitions.

Located in Metropolitan Frontiers 

Victoria Walker, Inman relative: Women’s roles were changing in 1933 and Victoria is navigating her new role as a wage earner recovering from the stock market crash of 1929 and the effects of the Great Depression – even on the wealthy.

Adrienne Herndon, actor and educator: Fall under the spell of the charming wife of Alonzo Herndon, Atlanta’s first African American millionaire, as she prepares to travel to a holiday reunion with her husband and their son, Norris.

54th Infantry Union SoldierLocated in Turning Point: The American Civil War

Carrie Berry, Diary keeper: Understand the Civil War through the eyes of a small child and experience the hopes and troubles of a ten-year-old girl during the holiday season in wartime Atlanta.

Nate Baker, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry:  Join this Union soldier during the holiday season of 1863 as he considers his future as a member of the 54th Regiment, one of the first official African American units in the U.S. Army.   

  • Passport to Celebrations –  tablescopes and vignettes of more than twenty international holidays
  • Self-guided tours – Atlanta History Center’s award-winning exhibitions

Members-Only Lounge:

From 1:00 to 4:00 pm, Atlanta History Center members can stop by our special Members-Only Lounge in McElreath Hall for cookie decorating, ornament making, and light refreshments.

  • 1:00-2:00 pm:  Special musical performance by Atlanta Carolers
  • 2:00-3:00 pm:  A visit from Santa Claus

Funding for this program is provided by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners under the guidance of Fulton County Arts Council.


Weekend Box Office Top Ten: Pitt’s ‘Killing’ Opens Softly, Holdovers Soar

On what is usually one of the slowest weekends of the year– post-Thanksgiving, when adults are holiday shopping–moviegoers flocked to a wide variety of strongly performing holdovers. The top ten grossed around $100 million, up a strong 40% from last year.

“Breaking Dawn” ended up #1 narrowly over “Skyfall.” But once again, it is a core group of adult-oriented films that made the difference, “Lincoln” and “Life of Pi” among the smaller dropoffs. Those two films in particularly should see their already bright Oscar chances helped by strong audience response. Also among major contenders, long-running “Argo” finally fell from the top ten, but passed $100 million this weekend.

Though not quite making (as of now) the top ten, “Silver Linings Playbook” also thrived with an even smaller drop in a still more limited run, suggesting that it is poised to join the group of popular as well as critically successful films. Its progress will help take the edge off the disappointing opening of Weinstein’s other current film. “Killing Me Softly,” which mustered only #7 for the weekend.

1. Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (Lionsgate) Week 3 – Last weekend #1

$17,400,000 (-60%) in 4,008 theaters (-60%); PSA (per screen average) $4,344; Cumulative: $254,600,000

Continuing to thrive despite the normally weak time frame, the final “Twilight” entry grossed almost a million more than “Part 1” did the same weekend last year, andTwilight-Breaking-Dawn-Part-2 maintained (though more narrowly) its number one position for the third straight week. Despite all the adult films thriving at the moment, younger audiences still rule most of the time.

Also of note – this is the 11th (and likely last) weekend Lionsgate/Summit will have the #1 film for a weekend in 2012. They did so more than 20% of the year, a major achievement for any distributor.

What comes next: This might not quite hit $300 million, but any level about $250 million at this point in the series — particularly with international doing better than previous entries — means expectations have been met.

2. Skyfall (Sony) Week 4 – Last weekend #2

$17,000,000 (-52%) in 3,463 theaters (-63); PSA: $4,909; Cumulative: $246,029,000

A very reasonable post-holiday drop for Bond 23, continuing its impressive increases over other recent series entries.

Here’s how phenomenal “Skyfall” is: “Quantum of Solace,” in its fourth weekend (also just after Thanksgiving) grossed $6.8 million – around 60% less – and had reached a totalJames-Bond-Skyfall National Gallery of $152 million. Normally, with similar elements, “Skyfall” wouldn’t have been expected to do much more than whatever ticket price increases would add to the total, if it even sustained the same level (never guaranteed). This could come close to doubling “Quantum.”

What comes next: This is on its way to over $300 million domestic and approaching if not passing $1 billion worldwide. No mid-life crisis for 007.

3. Lincoln (Buena Vista) Week 4 – Last weekend #3

$13,509,000 (-47%) in 2,018 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $6,694; Cumulative: $83,700,000

Coming off its huge holiday weekend, this marks a below-normal drop for Steven Spielberg’s way-over-expectations hit. If there had been any doubt about this maintaining most theaters through Christmas (still several weeks away), this erases them. This is exactly the kind of film conventionally thought to be the opposite of what would bring in wide audiences with all the competition from shopping and parties that dominate leisure time in early December. But instead, this continues to be a must-see-now film for many people.

What comes next: This will hit $100 million likely by next weekend, and increasingly it appears that the ultimate domestic gross could double that with the holidays and then awards response ahead. This should increase its already solid Oscar chances.


4. Rise of the Guardians (Paramount) Week 2 – Last weekend #4

$13,500,000 (-43%) in 3,672 theaters (+19); PSA: $3,676; Cumulative: $48,947,000

Though this is still not performing close to what is needed with the production cost, the 43% fall is quite modest and suggests a brighter future than the opening week suggested. Last year, the much bigger grossing “The Muppets” fell 62% its second weekend. This seems to be benefitting from being the sole new family film in the market as well as decent word of mouth despite the initial disappointing grosses.

What comes next: A chance now to play (at least matinees) through the lucrative Christmas vacation.

5. Life of Pi (20th Century-Fox) Week 2 – Last weekend #5

$12,000,000 (-47%) in 2,928 theaters (+1); PSA: $4,098; Cumulative: $48,361,000

Continuing to overperform compared to expectations (and fears with the $125 million estimated budget), this modest falloff indicates solid word of mouth and more importantly, enough strength to maintain reasonable playoff through the holidays. Though not the phenomenon “Lincoln” is- – the latter grossed $1.5 million more in 30% fewer theaters a week later in wide release — by any other standard this is doing better than hoped.

What comes next: This will need some help from December awards mentions to keep the momentum going as competition from new films as well as others trying to stay on screen will make it tough for Fox to keep at this theater count level. But assuming the expected awards attention ahead, this should maintain a presence over the next couple months strong enough to easily pass $100 million in domestic gross, and presumably even better overseas.

6. Wreck-It Ralph (Buena Vista) Week 5

$7,020,000 (-58%) in 3,087 theaters (-172); PSA: $2,274; Cumulative: $158,257,000

This Disney 3-D animated film continues its successful run more than a month after opening and despite competition from the more recent “Rise of the Guardians.”

What comes next: Disney also has “Brave” and “Frankenweenie” in the animated Oscar race (the former from partner Pixar), but this late-year success could elevate “Ralph”‘s chances.

7. Killing Them Softly (Weinstein) NEW – Cinemascore: F; Metacritic score: 64

$7,000,000 in 2,424 theaters; PSA: $2,888; Cumulative: $7,000,000

Shockingly, this movie scored the audience survey Cinemascore’s worst grade, F, while at the same time earned a dsolid 64 score from Metacritic critics. F usually goes to films that studios don’t even bother to screen for the press. This suggests an enormous disconnent between the marketing of a Brad Pitt vehicle and the actual smart house film. The end result is a disappointing performance for the one major release of the week.

For producer/star Pitt, \ no good deed goes unpunished. He rivals his friend George Clooney in finding smaller, offbeat projects to attach himself to. This is his second effort with Australian director Andrew Dominik, after “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” The latter film, released by Warner Bros. five years ago never went wider than 301 theaters on its way to a $3.9 million total gross. This one, a gritty adaptation of a George Higgins crime novel, features Pitt as part of an ensemble cast in a less-than-sympathetic hitman role.

Mainly financed by Annapurna Pictures for an economical $15 million, this is one of their several productions in release this year along with “Lawless,” “The Master” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” Pitt, who served as one of the five listed producers, backed the film with his Plan B company. The film has grossed $15 million so far internationally.

Weinstein had two films in competition at Cannes this year, normally the first viewing of their upcoming Oscar hopefuls (“Inglorious Basterds” and “The Artist” in the previous two years premiered similarly). This year, the two they had both opened up in off-weeks, and neither is a factor for awards. The first was Annapurna’s “Lawless,” which they launched Labor Day weekend (another less competitive date) but managed to get to a respectable $37 million total domestically, benefiting from less competition. “Killing Them Softly” wasn’t so lucky.

What comes next: A struggle to reach $15 million, one of a very small number of Pitt’s films ever to gross that low.

8. Red Dawn (FilmDistrict) Week 2

$6,555,000 (-54%) in 2,781 theaters (+51); PSA: $2,355; Cumulative: $31,320,000

The one film aimed at young males continues its respectable run.

What comes next: $40 million or better is possible, much better than many thought possible.

9. Flight (Paramount) Week 5

$4,540,000 (-46%) in 2,603 theaters (-35); PSA: $1,744; Cumulative: $81,527,000

Another film holding up well, as Robert Zemeckis’ film continues to find an audience amid substantial competition.

What comes next: This will struggle to get much beyond $100 million despite Paramount’s continued major push for this. But it should sustain decent theater counts for at least another week, and still have a presence to some extent through Christmas.

10. The Collection (LD) NEW – No Cinemascore or Metacritic score:

$3,409,000 in 1,403 theaters; PSA: $2,340; Cumulative: $3,409,000

This horror film from people previously involved in the “Saw” series seems to have eked out a #10 position over Weinstein’s “Silver Linings Playbook” (which had more than 1,000 fewer theaters). A sequel to the little-seen “The Collector” from 2009, it still is an achievement for fledgling LD Films to get into the top 10.

What comes next: This will disappear quickly.

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