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I doubt an Arclight-type complex at the Senator would help. You’ve got the Charles and its six screens not too far away and the Rotunda’s two, with a third on the way. There would be too much competition, unless the Senator does more live and unique programming as opposed to movies all the time.
With Wednesday’s “last day” coming up, even though I’m not an Eclipse fan, I may plan a trip up just in case its the last time I see the venue in one complete piece.
Do you think its a fair assessment that 3D films, in general, are darker, then your usual flat films?
I think so. I always thought the CGI movies like your Pixar movies were always ‘brighter’ especially in DP. When they go the 3D route, like Shrek 4 was, it was noticeably darker. Yes, I know the movie had ‘night scenes’ but there was still that CG crispness that made you notice things better.
I attended many MacArthur showings (mostly 70mm) after 1982. The opening weekend of event films like your Star Trek II, Return of the Jedi were sell outs with lines going around the block or extending way way down MacArthur Blvd, itself, towards the Reservoir Rd. 70mm bookings of Dark Crystal (1982, upon its triplexing), Brainstorm (1983), Amadeus (1984), White Night (1985) were spartan but the presentations were memorable.
Even as late as Witness (1985) and Total Recall (1990) there were pretty full crowds. I suppose the film bookers at Circle and later Cineplex were inclined to book the event films at the Uptown and Wisconsin Ave venues then here. Hook (1991) played at the downtown Fine Arts, with even more difficult street parking. They could have booked it here to probably greater crowds.
With regard to the night the projectionist and manager closing the theater due to not wanting to be there…Steve, was this during your tenure? :)
Steve, with regard to Star Trek II in 70mm, someone on another site is correcting me stating that the soundtrack to the film was MONO and not stereo. When I described the 6-track sound fx i.e. hearing a screw drop to the floor from the right rear of the theater, this individual states it was sound panning.
I could’ve sworn the ads were 70mm 6 track Dolby STEREO in the paper, with the 70mm 6-track logo in the Post, back in the day.
I believe I saw this movie in 70mm at the Avalon in DC. This was after Circle had done a remodel installing a Sistine-chapel style ceiling painting. At the time, it was one of a handful (maybe two?) that had the HPS4000 sound system. Fantasia had a reissue there in a new soundtrack. It put me to sleep, actually by the time the Sorcerer’s Apprentice part started.
The movie was enjoyable overall, but I never did like Michael J. Fox’s acting style. With the exception of that army movie he did with Sean Penn, it always seemed like I was watching the same actor doing the same role but in a different situation. Watching him on Family Ties as ‘Alex’ was bad enough. I suppose it was his gesturing..looking back, maybe it was the start of his Parkinsons. Its hard to remember specific moments in the movie’s 6-track soundtrack but I suppose the coolest parts were when he was playing on stage and hoping his ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ would kiss. Then there was the DeLorean car, at the end, when it had the capability of flying, the sound started in front of you and sped behind you..to ‘move’ out of the way. Did it come around again and do a ‘warp jump’ explosion at the end? I forget. I think so..it did that light streak and then the titles began ..To Be Continued..
The first film reportedly was shot in 65mm that had spfx in it. To me, it looks better than the others even in 35mm given the original source material. The others were 35mm, then blown up for 70mm release. I remember when ST II came out and saw it in 70mm and was thoroughly thrilled by the experience and 6-track soundtrack accompanying it BUT noticed grain and other undesirable artifacts from the blow up.
Boldly go. :)
I wish I lived in LA. It seems this place, the Aero and Egyptian have specialty programming unlike many other venues. Plus, the proximity to the movie capital of the world is a bonus since special guests such as production crew or actors can participate in Q&As and interact with a live audience.
Caught Knight and Day in #1 after almost a year. They played the wonderful THX life trailer before the show and it seems some of the speakers up front and left began to crackle. Oh oh. There appears to be a new digital projector that does not crop the image as badly as the previous one. Picture is masked side to side but is full length from top to bottom.
The film, itself, was okay. I was expecting more of a Mr. & Mrs. Smith kind of romp. Cruise and Cameron are okay, but they do not sizzle on screen. Watching those two smile after each other made me feel like watching a toothpaste commercial with all that whiteness going on.
What a shame. Had the place shown movies, I would have visited the place at least once, but from what I remember seeing of the interior, this place was a mere shell of its former self.
I believe it was this theater that my Dad, brother and I saw Flash Gordon in 1980, to a packed crowd here enjoying the campiness and romp that the movie was. Queen’s soundtrack was different and, at the time, I thought cool.
I wouldn’t mind the XD so much if they’d have bargain matinees BEFORE 6pm. Or, at least the first show of the day like AMC does. I don’t think they have any XD reduced prices.
My cousins and I saw Toy Story 3 in XD 3D and paid $14.50 each for the privilege :P
This is my first experience with XD and so it seems that it is Cinemark’s IMAX-lite competitor. #12 seems smaller than 11 though the screen seems to take up more vertical space. I appreciate the sharpness of the digital picture but again, it seems ‘darker’ than the regular flat screen digital projections that I enjoy.
The seats are comfortable and I enjoy the movable armrests. Being tall, I would prefer more leg room. Since I was with others, who prefer to sit higher up away from the screen, I had to satisfy myself with the fact that I would not be able to stretch my legs during the movie. Unfortunately, for the young girl in front of me, I found myself accidentally kicking her seat when shifting positions.
The XD trailer doesn’t have the CGI crispness of the IMAX-lite trailer. I prefer the IMAX’s H U G E lettering and coming-at-ya countdown style and the technical aspect of the 12K watts of sound. The XD trailer sound mix doesn’t show off the auditorium’s potential the way the THX ‘Life’ trailer does with the subwoofer booms.
The soundtrack was rich though I’m at a loss to explain this 7th channel. Part of the film’s soundtrack mix could be heard mid level, up high, especially at the end during the credits, where the front screen vocals can be heart miliseconds ahead of the sound coming from the mid-theater level speakers.
In my later years, I have tried not to read reviews of films I really want to see so as to not be jaded or swayed by their opinion. Unfortunately, I could not help but listen to Ann Hornaday’s opinion, on the radio in rush hour, about this movie and her comment about the technical aspect (IMAX treatment) of the movie not being special. To be blunt, I have to agree. There were no aha moments or really special visual tricks that work well in the XD format of this film.
The trailers for Despicable Me and the Disney Rapunzel movie look okay. December’s Narnia sequel looks more exciting and will hopefully make better use of the IMAX-lite treatment.
Customer service wise this place is just as bad as any Regal or AMC. No greetings by the barely alive ticket takers. The restrooms were atrocious. I realize it was a busy Sat night, but how much time does it take for two guys to run a mop throughout the mens room? I felt like I was at the National Zoo large animal exhibit on a hot 90Âº muggy day with no air circulation.
I’m not so sure about whether the Charles' owner is ‘good news’ for the Senator. It was my impression, maybe wrongly so, that there was some animosity between the former owner and the new one, specifically involving that of film clearance. And correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t one of their proposals gutting the main auditorium to make room for another screen? Perhaps the main auditorium is rather large at 900+ and whittling down to say 500 or so, would open the rear to an opposing twin? I shudder at the thought but in these economic times, maybe it is necessary. I just wish it were say, upstairs, or next door, or further behind the property.
In a way, I am glad the Senator will be booking more mainstream films as I have missed seeing the ‘event’ movies there since the turn of this century. Last year’s Star Trek would’ve been great on their screen and terrific digital sound system.
LLNRYN, is the RPX the largest screen at the E-Walk? How wide is it? Do you know if its THX certified? Sounds like this auditorium is worth checking out the next time I’m in NYC.
For an event film like IRON MAN, Star Trek, etc etc, I wouldn’t mind the $18.50 for something truly extraordinary along the lines of real IMAX or its equivalent experience. But you know, why shouldn’t moviegoing be like this for the normal ticket price?
After a long absence, I returned to my favorite plex and saw King of Persia. Being opening weekend, I had hoped it would’ve been booked in #1, but they had it in #2, which isn’t too bad and the theater is THX certified. Movie was very good although it reminded me too much of the Mummy down to the musical score and the Princess, who sounds/acts too much like Rachel Weisz, also of the Mummy movies 1 and 2. And why is it the early Persians all have Brit accents? Terrific crisp sound from the sword clashes to the sand whirling about.
There is a new filmed BowTie intro. I suppose they are never going to go back to the personal intros even though they tout the personal touch in the filmed intro.
In my market (DC/MD/VA) I paid $13 for a matinee showing for Shrek 4 in IMAX-lite 3D. At Regal, it was $14.50 for Digital 3D. Its funny though at Regal, the ticket taker asked me if I needed the glasses for the 3D film. I should have told him I didn’t that my contact lenses were already 3D ready. :P
It would be great to have this type of theater closer, perhaps within closer distance to the 95 DC/MD/VA beltway. Fredericksburg is in the middle of nowhere except maybe Potomac Mills Mall. The former Muvico, now Cinemark Egyptian doesn’t have these amenities. Screenwise, the place is already saturated with Regal and AMC.
Great job, Michael. This is the retrospective worth waiting for as opposed to the one posted several months ago.
My memories of first seeing Empire are on the Cinema (Washington DC) theater page but as I think back, I remember bribing my friends to go by having them help me deliver newspapers on Sunday opening weekend. Remember now that the Sunday edition of the Post is huge with the ad sections and comics. It was nice to have help anyway. Not sure if we took the bus or Mom dropped us off but it was one of several times I saw the movie.
Empire was probably my first movie to be experienced in 70mm. We sat close to the front row to take in the sight and sound. I recall ‘older’ kids (bigger then us) misbehaving by putting their feet on top of the seats in front of them. The usher telling them to “please do not put your feet on the furniture..” and then being ridiculed by the delinquents (furniture?). The soundtrack was mind blowing as when the asteroids would go by there was a loud whooooosh going in different directions depending on where the space objects were going. I remember being very mad at the cliffhanger ending even though I had read the local review that hinted a less then satisfying ending.
Looking back, I enjoy the movie a little more then I did then. Back in those days, there was this Star Wars vs Star Trek debate at school. I was the Trek fan and defended the shows (and first movie) for its cerebral minded storylines and thought Star Wars was just empty popcorn entertainment. At least Trek had some social commentary value that brought on contemporaneous discussions on topics like racism, war, etc. Star Wars was just space battles, fighting and lots of Dolby noise. :) Cool? Kind of..yes.
As my conservative Dad would say, “what did you learn from what you just saw?” In the case of Empire, I learned the bad guy is now the father of one of the good guys. So is good evil? There were some cool effect shots like the aforementioned asteroid belt scenes, the snow battle and for its time, Yoda seemed cool, but he sounded so much like a geriatric muppet Ernie that it was difficult to take him seriously and that he was this all powerful Jedi. Of course, it would be 22 years later that with a little CGI fx magic, we would see him in action to prove his power in Attack of the Clones.
When the remastered trilogy came out in the ‘97 or so, there were many outraged fans. I always thought that this is Lucas’ story. Let the man do what he wants with his creation. If fans don’t like it, let them go make up and put their own creation on the screen. I thought the CGI additions weren’t so bad, they didn’t detract from the story to me. The retinkering for the DVD release is fine, too, with the new Emperor scenes. I never liked the original one and his bulging eye sacs.
When the 3D /Blu ray editions come out, I bet you there will be more tinkering with this movie and the others in the saga……stay tuned.
I tried to catch Shrek 4 in IMAX-lite 3D by sneaking off from work early. I arrived 10 mins late and was just about to enter when….the fire alarm went off. I thought it was a joke and that they would let me in anyway..but NOOOOOOOO. Everybody out! Then the manager said they had to wait for the firemen to come in and inspect the building and shut off the alarm once the building was secured.
At first, rumor had it that some delinquent falsely set off the alarm. Then it was revealed that there may have been a sensor problem and until the cause was known, the shows would be cancelled until further notice. GREEEAAT! I went to CA Tortilla or whatever its called and had a bite to eat and returned to find the crowd gone but the police had arrested a young man. At the emergency exits there were paramedics with a stretcher, no one was in it…were they going in? Or, going out?
Fortunately, the manager said he would call the DC area AMCs to inform them to accept the movie stubs as re-admit tickets. We’ll see.
The Wheaton ‘mall’ was originally Wheaton Plaza, an outdoor shopping center that was eventually ‘enclosed’ in the 80s (?). I do not recall if Montgomery Mall (Bethesda) was a single screen venue.
I was at this mall yesterday (5-18-10) and the theater is closed for renovations.
The status and name should be open as Jack states above as the Montgomery Royal Theater. It is a six screener. The other five theaters are bordered up.
I attended a showing of the disappointing remake of “Death at a Funeral” in number six for about $9.75. The staff are very friendly as I was graciously greeted and thanked for coming! Now what theater actually thanks you for coming to their theater as you are exiting anymore? Presentation left much to be desired. The scratched up picture went off the screen but was loud with no noticeable surrounds despite the presence of speakers throughout. Being an independent theater, I decided to purchase food from the concession stand, which serves your typical movie fare snacks; nachos, popcorn, soda, etc. I got the nachos, which were individually prepared in a tray, not the usual 50c bagged ones you get at BowTie, Regal and AMC.
The place has not changed much since I recall this place opening up as a Roth venue boasting Kintek stereo sound back in ….‘87? I remember seeing “Batteries Not Included” and enjoying the surround effects of the little space ships zooming in front of and around you.
Given the Indian management (maybe ownership) perhaps Bollywood films will get booked here. There is a decent Asian indian populous in Montgomery County and this location would be a good draw for the latest Bollywood releases. Perhaps the concession fare will improve with Indian goodies such as samosas and lassis. While this place is not my first choice for seeing movies, I’ll definitely come back.
100K watts of power? Thats almost 10x as much as the 12K watts of power touted in the IMAX-lite AMC installs. But $18.50 per ticket? It would be worth only if I can use my Costco discounted tickets.
Thanks KB for sharing your memories. ^5.
The problem with intermissions is that you lose that build up to a movie’s climax. LOTR: Return of the King is a prime example. It clocked in over 3 hours, but every minute is part of that journey. I suppose if you HAD to have an intermission, it would be right before Frodo and Gamji enter Mordor.
On the other hand, it would be great for movie theater owners to get in that last extra $ on concession stand fare and for patrons to properly relieve themselves. As long as there isn’t a contractual obligation to NOT having an intermission, I would do it. As a theater owner, I would have most movies with an intermission and RUN an add for the popcorn, soft drink and yogurt bar :P right as the curtain draws to a close..
Its sad to see the review program go, but to be honest, I stopped watching after Roger Ebert left the show a few years back. I never liked Richard Roeper’s reviews or style as he seemed too kvetchy. I also remember when Siskel & Ebert started together on the Sneak Previews program on PBS back in the 70s. It would be great of the reviews from back then could be on YouTube or somewhere else on the net.
It so happens that one of my cars is being fixed nearby the Potomac Mills 18 plex. I’m curious to see how that screen compares to the others. When it is ready next week, I hope to make a trek and see Dragon there maybe.
With regard to Hoffman’s IMAX-lite, maybe Tysons is a tad bit larger. The last IMAX-lite movie I saw there was the boring Night At the Museum 2. That movie was more of a retread of the first one. I wanted to call the new one Flight From This Awful Movie Ad Nauseum :) Sitting in the section that would be called the orchestra section in the olden days, it seemed to me the screen was the same size as the others, or at least as wide, if not as tall. Perhaps someone following this thread and will be able to get their hands on the theater specs.
As I’ve blogged in the news section about the recent (as in TODAY) price increase, its making it less palatable to see movies in this format and pay $16. Just looking at Cinemark’s XD 3D prices, they seem to be holding the line at $14.50. I have yet to experience their XD 3D presentations, but I’m guessing its the same as the IMAX-lite sans the branding. Unless they decide to follow AMC, they may get my business not only for the more reasonable pricing but that its closer to me :)