Revitalizing Foundry

posted by Michael Zoldessy on September 1, 2009 at 7:35 am

WASHINGTON, DC — The old Foundry second-run cinema in Georgetown always did a good business. The only reason it was shut down was to make way for the newer, bigger more money multiplex.

I’d like to find a way to use the Visions site for a second-run cinema, mostly because of the location and the fact that the place is already set up as a cinema. Is there anyone who was involved in the running of Visions who would be interested talking to me about the potential and pitfalls of the idea?

Jason Haber

Theaters in this post

Comments (10)

Giles on September 3, 2009 at 7:07 am

I don’t have a business background, but I’d like to help in one way or the other. To answer your question yes I have an interest.

Giles on September 3, 2009 at 7:17 am

oh and why is this called ‘Revitalizing Foundry’ when it should technically be ‘Revitalizing Visions’ and also, it would have been helpful if you’d provided an email – sorry (I’m being nitpicky).

JodarMovieFan on September 3, 2009 at 7:22 am

Wasn’t the Foundry a plex of shoebox theaters? You would have stiff competition from the AMC Georgetown for sure. Have you looked at other area venues? I think the Wisconsin 6 is vacant and would be better, the plex is larger and the 4 and 5 were THX certified once upon a time. :) There is garage parking, a McDonalds across the street and there’s busy Wisconsin Ave traffic going back. It needs a larger marquee to be seen then the one they had in the past.

Of course, I would prefer someone to bring back the MacArthur, it had 3 theaters, balconies, with one massive (the original) one that could show 70mm, if current tenant CVS could be booted out. It is surrounded by a wealthy suburban neighborhood. The Cinema is another treasure and the last time I went there the furniture store that replaced it is gone.

You speak of Visions, what about the Embassy theater, itself? Its just sitting there now isn’t it? I do not know what or why the previous venture didn’t make it. I suppose lack of patronage, which is understandable given its location. I think with the right programming, discount nights/days, Sun AM special features, Sat midnight specials, etc. it could’ve done better but then who knows? We’re still in a recession.

If you were to go to the MD suburbs, I know the Flower Theater is vacant. It was a church but it should be easy to convert back to a theater. The neighborhood has a large Hispanic population so programming for them should be considered. On the other side of Takoma Park, closer to DC, is the Takoma Theater. Not sure of its current status but I believe it is outfitted for both stage and film presentations.

Giles on September 3, 2009 at 10:43 am

the last I heard about Wisconsin 6 – the building and specifically the old theatre section is owned by Fannie Mae – I don’t think a reconversion to a theatre is at all possible.

the folk around the former MacArthur theatre are kicking themselves for not being more vocal and proactive in keeping it open (as the Avalon Theatre Project proved to be a success after it’s brief closing when Loews decided to stop running it) – I’d be the first in line to kick CVS out of there :)

I’d love to see the Cinema come back, yes the furniture store is gone and if someone had the money and the ability to book new and old films – all power to them.

The reason why Visions (the former Embassy theatre) didn’t succeed was the fact that it wasn’t well run – the owner could run a coffee shop, but a movie theatre – no. The folk who worked there too, were inexperienced and on a few occassions were quite rude and unacommodating. It’s too bad it didn’t survive since it booked films that Landmark didn’t book – in the right hands it could easily mirror theatre programming similiar to NYC’s Film Forum and Chicago’s Facets theatre. It’s real unfortunate that the Dupont area of DC, once a film magnet is no more – that’s why I think the reopening of the Embassy theatre would work now.

Giles on September 3, 2009 at 10:45 am

and here’s the Takoma Theatre’s website:

View link

HowardBHaas on September 3, 2009 at 4:03 pm

as Jack Coursey has recently reported on the Foundry theater page, it is gone, site reused.

JodarMovieFan on September 3, 2009 at 7:11 pm

Okay Jason, what exactly are your plans to reopen the Foundry 7 given retail is still there or is it? I haven’t been there recently, but I could drive by there this labor day weekend to be sure.

Re: Wisconsin 6. Yes, it is Fannie Mae owned, but wouldn’t they jump at the chance to lease it out and earn some money if Jason has funds to open a theater again? Auditoriums 4 and 5 were 70mm, imagine the programming they could have classic-wise. The other screens weren’t too bad, even if they were smaller.

Re: Cinema. I’m having second thoughts. A single screen large venue would be hard to run in this day and age. Twinning would be a disaster and yield another long tunnel-type screening room configuration.

Re: MacArthur. How would you get CVS to go? When I visited there a few years ago, their retail floor space occupies just the old lobby area. The building goes into the side of a hill where maybe they could relocate to what was the balcony area, perhaps expanding it to allow for an entrance on the left side? The auditoriums must still be intact, undoubtedly used for stock and storage but, again, given the limited retail floor space usage, they definitely do not utilize the auditorium sizes of the former 3 auditoriums for stock. No way. So you’d need to reinstall the screens, sound system and presumably, seats and projection system. The entrance on MacArthur Blvd is probably where the stock trucks line up and enter in, which was the emergency exit for the theater (#2? maybe).

So…you could bring back Auditoriums 1 and 3; small, yet intimate little theaters. Auditorium 2, the main one with the 600 or so seating capacity and 60' screen. The 3 screens would be good to offer second run programming and keep #2 or the main one for your new releases, exclusives or other special programming. I’d like to see a 70mm retrospective at least twice a year; fall and spring seasons maybe? I’m getting ahead of myself..I know. :)

Re: Old Embassy Theater. On second thought, I’d be hesitant to drive to that part of town on a late night. Parking is difficult, too. The MacArthur seems to be in a safer part of town even if its still DC. Plus, its closer to home in MD :)

HowardBHaas on September 3, 2009 at 8:23 pm

I haven’t been inside the MacArthur since they drugstored it (using that as a verb)but from what I’ve heard, the drugstore does go into the auditorium. CVS stores are huge, way bigger than the lobby. The loss of that theater was a sad loss.

The impression that I got from reading this website was that Fannie Mae wasn’t keeping the small auditoriums but reconfiguring those spaces. They were only keeping the 2 large, very nice auditoriums.

HowardBHaas on September 3, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Oops, I meant to write “Wisconsin Avenue Cinemas” in that 2nd paragraph above.

HowardBHaas on September 4, 2009 at 4:59 am

Also, JodarMovieFan, I agree with you that the smaller auditoriums of the Wisconsin Ave Cinemas were nice. Many movie auditoriums that were built earlier in that decade (1980s) were too small, but Cineplex Odeon did a very good job with the Wisconsin Ave Cinemas.

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