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I forgot to post I saw ‘La La Land’ back in Jan or Feb. It was not as good as I had hoped. The sound was underwhelming in #4 as if it were muffle. Disappointing. Story was not engaginig but Gosling and Emma Stone make a pretty couple.
Upgrades like seats are nice, but they do need to do something with the sound…larger curved screens? :) I suspect prices will go up, too.
There was a news report on the local news station WTOP that this venue was to be shut down by Sept 30. Someone had put up a website to stop it with an online petition. Reportedly, the Smithsonian wants to expand the restaurant by getting rid of the theater.
With all the money spent on upgrades to laser, one would think they would’ve thought about this before shutting it down. What a waste.
I thought I put a comment on seeing Star Wars Episode II way back in the early 00s or 2003 :P I remember after the opening crawl and the camera slow pans down to Coruscant, the audience just went ahhhhh because of the vastness it all..planet, space and ships. Very immersive. Also, they had to trim the movie to make it all fit. We won’t talk about the bad acting, but it was still a lot of fun.
According to the AFI Calendar, Dunkirk will open 7/21 in 70mm. There are no showtimes listed. I suppose they will be hiring a projectionist for the event.
I saw 70mm listings for Wonder Woman in southern California. It would’ve been nice if they had booked it here. I suspect the Regal’s proximity prevented them from that.
Gore Vidal is presenting Alien in honor of the passing of John Hurt. I remember the 2004 or 5 Director’s digital cut they released. I suspect that will be what they will show. Didn’t know Vidal was still around. I remember his Creature Feature show on Channel 20 waaaay back. :)
I was aware this place existed but its nowhere I’d like to go to in DC. No one has visited here, yet? I imagine its like the other Landmarks.
I agree with you, David. An interesting name. One I would have not chosen. Perhaps, the building was a landmark (pardon the pun) for a plumbing company… now long gone? :)
Since I couldn’t get to the IMAX showings, I decided to see Alien: Covenant in D-Box..but on the cheaper Tuesday discounted day. I didn’t realize that there was no 3D release for the movie. Prometheus was quite good in the XD auditorium the last time.
The online seating chart doesn’t really give you a decent sense of where the seats are. I choose the one closest to the screen that wasn’t in the stadium area.
After what seemed like 20 previews, the D-Box trailer played and the seat rumbled and shook to alert me the movie was starting. My initial impression was that the seat movements (shake, vibration and tilting) were annoying. I’m thinking the screen was not immersive in the sense that I’m looking up to the screen. If it had been more on the level..which is why I’m not a great fan of stadium seating, I think the experience could have been better, overall. However, the ending part of the movie is when I forgot about my misgivings and the picture and movements seemed better in synch.
Picture and sound were digital good, however, during pre-show time, it seemed like the right half of the screen was darker. The soundtrack was distinct and clear. The appropriate sounds came out of the front left, but in the temple scene the constant water flow sounded more like a guy taking a whizzz then anything else. :)
For $13, the discounted price is palatable. The regular $20 D-Box price gives one pause for thought. I’m wondering if a different movie, like a space one would be a better experience. I missed a recline feature. Overall, the experience reminded me of the Doug Trumbull tri-feature experience at the Luxor in the 90s. They had minimal sensation but had speakers in the seats, if I recall correctly.
I saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in #9 during a matinee. Very good presentation and sound separation. This is one of the 3 formerly THX cert auditoriums.
They’ve begun upgrades to the left side of the theaters, starting with #1 the big THX house. Looking at the showtimes for the upcoming May blockbusters, it appears the remodeling will not be complete by the end of May. :( I was hoping to see Alien: Covenant in #1 but will probably see it in one of the IMAX-lite venues when it opens.
While the recliner seats are nice in any theater, over time, they will break due to use and abuse. I hope this isn’t a means to jack up admission prices. Ads tout future full food menus. Given the fact, the food court is just downstairs, I wonder about the wisdom of presumably overpriced food at the theater.
I can’t think of the last time I saw a DCP movie at AFI, if ever. Unless, I was feeling nostalgic or curious as to how the movie looks on DCP, I would have avoided seeing it. I can see the economic sense of showing movies in DCP, but I agree with you on classics on film.
I did see the Blu-Ray for the first Star Trek movie, which was disappointing..if that comes close.
The monthly schedule shows a few retrospective titles from 1982. They’ve got Dark Crystal and Blade Runner, again. If they book Gandhi and/or Tootsie, I may want to catch it there again. I’m curious to see how Tootsie would play to a contemporary audience. I enjoyed it on demand the other day and remember the audience laughs at different points in the movie as experienced in a theater.
Howard, how did you hear this?
I had thought they ran films on automated platters, except for archival prints and 70mm that require/demand professional handling.
I, too, have noticed they don’t put film formats anymore on the titles.
Maybe the place is in financial trouble where they can’t afford to hire a projectionist. This is why movie theaters are all digital now, isn’t it?
2016 was a low film/movie watching year for me..first time I missed any/all of the Oscar nominated films. I did see Lala land and fell asleep. lol..more on that later.
Perhaps, Steve can shed some light on the lack of at least a PT projectionist.
It appears AMC has bought this theater back and is running it once again. The AMC website indicates upgrades are coming. With the Rivertowne also back in AMC hands, it all feels like deja vu mid-1980s. :) I’m curious as to why AMC is now having interest in its older divested properties.
Having not been in the bigger theaters since the 1980s, I recall AMC touting curved-like screens called Curvus in them. I am curious to know if they’re still there.
To add to my memories of the place, I remember watching Poltergeist II, in 1986, in one of the bigger auditoriums…probably the same one I saw Top Gun in 70mm. I think the sound format was Dolby Spectral and 35mm. The FX were by Boss Films, done in 65mm. When Carrie Ann ‘crosses over’ her voice is heard all over the place, which was cool. The stop motion of the creature at the end reminded me of the Alien Queen in Aliens in the long shots. Not very scary or original upon viewing.
I believe the last movie I saw in the bigger auditorium was The Bodyguard in ‘92. Nothing remarkable on a technical level. It was pre-digital, no 70mm, BUT to see Whitney Houston in her prime and perform songs on widescreen film was memorable. When the movie goes from present time to the song numbers, the auditorium would fill up with THE VOICE in all its strength and vocal perfection. The Queen of the Night Number at the club scene and the surround noises of the crowd and the instrumental tracks..terrific. The same can be said of the other songs on the track. Listening to the late Whitney Houston’s voice in a movie, probably projected and at the optimum sound level is a theatrical experience, itself.
Caught Star Wars: Rogue One in #1 on a Tues matinee ($6!). Nothing special to report since this is a Star Wars flick and sound effects; explosions, music, dialog were first rate. Picture was sharp, non 3D. Need to see it in IMAX 3D. :)
They have reclining seats in the lobby to inform patrons of an impending remodel. I hope this does not mean a steep price increase. They need to make the screens bigger now. Maybe put in their version of IMAX by combining the end auditoriums.
That sucks. No movie theaters. I assume the new venue will be built on the same spot?
Wow. The venue had a good 25 year run. In my mind it seems like it opened more recently than that.
The ‘new’ IMAX theater doesn’t look that much different than other IMAX installs. Seats don’t appear comfy cozy.
Any pics of the theater that shows the new Billy Lynn movie? Did they remodel that to accommodate the tech upgrades for the movie? Or, is the theater just your standard shoebox auditorium with projector upgrade for the HFR 4K projection? I’m reading the sound is supposedly Atmos or Atmos-like.
First person-type films make the best presentations. Just straight up dramas waste the format, imho, unless you like to count the pores on the actor’s faces or note other detractions. :) My memory of Showscan recalls vivid imagery and sound. The thing is the shorts kept repeating some of the shots over that the ‘newness’ of the hyperrealism causes the magic to wear off.
Darth, it appears so. Check the Smithsonian’s webpage. It states that it opens here on Dec. 18. It should be spectacular. Supposedly, they filmed scenes in IMAX. Hopefully, it should look great here. Enjoy it and the museum exhibits, too. ^5.
The other night I saw the Madea Halloween movie in #1. The sound mix was terrific. At the start of the frat party scene, I could’ve sworn that the people to the left of me were chatting. I kept looking at them and they were silent. After listening more closely, it was the sound effect that the characters onscreen would be experiencing with people talking beyond a wall. The ‘ghostly’ sound effect of someone speaking could be heard rear left and then travel right. The best sound effect was the sudden ‘boom’ thunder clap during the scene when the lights went out. It was a 1-2-3 punch of surround sound multiple effect and deep bass boom for the thunder. After the ‘scare’ I began to think it could’ve been made better with a more thunderous crackle like the real thing.
I think this is the first or second time I’ve seen a Madea movie in the theater. It never really appealed to me much but after seeing the rotation of movies on cable, over the years, and the funny preview, it seemed worth a viewing. I think the frat boys were wrongly cast. They look more like 30something then late teen or early 20something fraternity brothers. Then there’s the preachy subject matter(s) that went too long, imho. As usual, the outtakes during the credits were funny and of the usual flubbed lines and ad libs. :)
I’m not sure but I think this theater was the one that had a very wide screen and was featured in a local news feature(Channel 9?), in 1983, on the opening of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. I’m thinking the feature had stated this was the largest screen in Virginia that was showing the movie but was NOT in 70mm.
Ah hah! Someone must’ve been listening. They have Star Trek: TOS Movie screenings this week at the AFI, but mostly in 35mm and DCP. The Motion Picture is Blu-Ray and is the Director’s Edition. Sadly, no 70mm for anything. The Blu-Ray presentation was underwhelming the first go around even though it was in the Historic Auditorium. III maybe worth a viewing in 35mm. I can’t believe I’m saying that after all the years of complaining about scratched and mishandled 35mm film prints at the local megaplex. Maybe its a studio vault print. Then again, why not the 70mm, if its a vault print. :P Decisions, decisions. To boldly go, or not.
Movie, no recliners like AMC. Maybe one day? The back of the original auditorium has very comfortable wide seats and space for your cups and a food item.
I enjoy the rear seating in the original, but lose that sound envelopment unless I’m sitting closer even though its a THX cert auditorium. I’m thinking that many shows just aren’t played loud enough for my taste. I can’t remember the last time they played the THX trailer, probably in the 00s and the Life sound trailer. Then again, I haven’t visited this year, yet, maybe they’ve got the newest space one. :)
Thats a nice shade of red, Howard. Nice picture ^5.
What was the color of the old curtain? It wasn’t that bright whatever it was.
I caught the latest Star Trek: Beyond the other week in #2. I missed opening weekend due to work commitments, the first time I’ve missed a Trek movie opening weekend ever..some 37 years. :P Since 2 was one of the original THX cert auditoriums, the experience was great. The 3D presentation didn’t seem to work right, not from a technical sense, but from the experience. Since a good portion of the movie takes place in a darkened destroyed Enterprise, whats the point of 3D?
Tonight, I saw the ‘Ben-Hur’ remake in #8. Though not a favorite auditorium, the sound and picture were excellent, if only the movie was better.
I can’t believe my drink cost about as much as my movie ticket. At least the concession stand person was friendly, the ticket taker was not. They may as well replace him with a robotic idiot to just tell me where my movie was going to show. That, I can see on my ticket.
I can remember 10 years ago the place was converted to digital projection. No spots, flickering or other film detractions today.
With the proliferation of self service kiosks, I can see the coming end of the traditional ticket booth. The kiosks are right there so there’s no need to go to the other end of the food court to buy your tickets.
I happened to look at the AFI Calendar today and discovered they’re showing DCP versions of the Star Wars trilogy Fri, Sat and Sun. I wonder if these are the updated updated versions that Lucas tweaked with the last DVD sale..the one where Hayden Christensen is the Anakin image seen at the end of ‘Return of the Jedi’ and not the original guy.
Later in the month, they’ve booked 2001 once again, in 70mm, with the stars Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood for Q&A. I think they were here last year or a couple of years ago for a Q&A. I wonder what the occasion is. I’m also wondering if this is the fresh print that was rumored to have been struck. If so, this may be worth visiting especially with the stars there. To be honest, for me anyway, I would definitely go if the VFX Supervisor Doug Trumbull was there. I would have liked to ask him some questions regarding the film and other projects he has worked on over the years and his current work in hi def virtual reality.
September is the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. It would’ve been nice if AFI had a 70mm movie retrospective. In70mm has shown bookings of II, IV and VI, over the year in different venues, so at least those exist. The DC area didn’t get a 70mm booking of VI when it came out. :(
Wow. What interesting history. The Laurel Twin theaters were off of 197 I think. I visited there a few times when it was a second run place.
Was the Laurel cinema the one that was eventually twinned and then had 4 small theaters beneath? I forget. If so, I saw movies there in ‘89 and '97 I think..
Speaking of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” I found this never before seen clip on youtube taken on premier night at the MacArthur. The image quality is excellent and shows the theater and its marquee and some quick interviews with some of the stars. From the sounds of the screaming crowd, there must’ve been hundreds outside, if not more. Grace Lee Whitney and Persis Khambatta look so beautiful. Its sad most of them are all gone now. Too bad, no interior shots of the interior.
And, to finally settle the 70mm debate, there’s no mention of it on the marquee. So its just plain old 35mm eprad stereo.
The link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMahpAHN2Xw
Can you believe its been almost 20 years since it stopped showing movies?
Howard, this site is a better place with the pictures you and others have taken to better illustrate and preserve the memories of those movie venues that we have enjoyed that are gone. ^5. I thank you.
At least its nice to know this place is still there and could return to being a first run place.
Michael, after all the T2 discussion on the different DC venue pages and no mention of us? :P While it may have been too much to individually mention us, you could have collectively thanked the “Cinema Treasures Group” in your article. :)
Can’t believe its been 10 years since the place closed to the public and almost 30 years since it opened.