Uptown Theater

3426 Connecticut Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20008

Unfavorite 53 people favorited this theater

Showing 351 - 375 of 462 comments

sguttag on July 12, 2006 at 4:19 pm

The Uptown has equipment in it that is suitable for a theatre of this size. AMC does not know how to handle such a thing so they plan on installing equipment suitable for a mall type theatre. They think of the Dolby CP200 as too old…never mind that it has been upgraded and is up to date. They plan on replacing the stage speakers…never mind what they put in will not have the ability to fill the room…and…they are only planning on 3-screen channels…the Uptown has always used 5-channels behind the screen since 70mm was installed back in the 50s. The Left and Right speakers are 20-feet beyond the 1.85 image and would be covered by either the curtain or the masking (not acoustically transparent). Left-Center and Right-Center would diminish a 35mm Scope or 70mm show if the full screen width is used and once again the speakers are 20-feet inboard from the edge. Classic 70mm films have 5-screen channels too.

What it amounts to is not knowing what they are doing…but that seems to be just par for the course in the last couple of years. You can NOT treat a venue such as the Uptown like a common multiplex theatre. That is dumb as expecting a multiplex theatre to survive by only opening its largest house.

While there are improvements to be had in the Uptown’s sound, removing the Altec A-4s or the Dolby CP200 is not how to do it. Better to update the A4s with Manatary horns and carefully aim them. The A4 are absolutely the right speaker for the job in this venue. In fact, A2s would be nice.

rcdt55b on July 12, 2006 at 12:26 pm

They will probably take the equipment out and use it for another theater.

JodarMovieFan on July 12, 2006 at 10:02 am

How could they downgrade the sound system? If a system is already in place, why take the time and expense to install inferior equipment? Englighten us, please.

sguttag on July 12, 2006 at 4:47 am

To the best of my knowledge, this happened while a “projectionist” was on duty…well asleep at the wheel is more like it. The problem is, no qualified projectionist is going to work this job as it presently exists. That is why we walked when Loews downgraded the theatre. Some things you just can’t make work. The change in the Uptown’s quality can be completely tied to its operating policy. Sadly, AMC has not improved things and in fact, I hear plan to make things worse with a downgrade of the sound system.

JodarMovieFan on July 11, 2006 at 11:20 am

Its depressing to read all of this, but I already knew this place was going down hill for awhile. The interesting thing about all of this is that this movie theater still hosts world premieres and benefit screenings. They must hire a projectionist for that.

JodarMovieFan on July 11, 2006 at 11:20 am

Its depressing to read all of this, but I already knew this place was going down hill for awhile. The interesting thing about all of this is that this movie theater still hosts world premieres and benefit screenings. They must hire a projectionist for that.

JodarMovieFan on July 11, 2006 at 11:19 am

Its depressing to read all of this, but I already knew this place was going down hill for awhile. The interesting thing about all of this is that this movie theater still hosts world premieres and benefit screenings. They must hire a projectionist for that.

sguttag on July 11, 2006 at 9:01 am

And just think of how much better the Uptown would be if it still had competent projectionists and no platter. The Uptown has damaged more film and lost more shows in the 1.5 years with the platter and lack of operators than it had in its entire history before (and that is going back a ways).

Anyone that could not see this coming is blind. We told the Clevland Park area about what was coming to their beloved theatre. I’m not happy about it, but it is all coming true, the Uptown is being chipped away into an amature attempt at putting on the big show.

rcdt55b on July 11, 2006 at 5:16 am

Static is caused by the air being too dry not too humid. Thats why booth installed humidifiers in the winter to try and help this problem. This has not been an issue much anyway since they improved the polyester film stock. With a single screen theater, a projectionist definitely CAN help with a print if there is a static issue.

MaximusAarg on July 10, 2006 at 11:13 pm

I grew up in DC and whenever I’m home, I’ll go to the Uptown no matter what they are playing. I remember the frustrations when there would be a huge movie that for some reason they chose not to play (cough Titanic cough), but some of my greatest moviegoing experiences, including Vertigo, Gladiator, and all three Lord of the rings were at the Uptown.

It’s been a while since someone put up a list, so here is my rough memory of everything they have played since I first attended the theater in 1996 for Twister. I was 11.

An * means I think they played it but am not one hundred percent sure. all others are definite.

Independence Day
Jerry Maguire*

Star Wars
The Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
The Lost World Jurassic Park
G.I. Jane
In & Out*
Starship Troopers
Alien Resurrection
Tomorrow Never Dies

US Marshalls
Primary Colors
Warner Brothers Festivel of Classics (THIS WAS AWESOME! A different decade every day, a different movie every showtime)
How Stella Got Her Groove Back
Practical Magic
Meet Joe Black
You’ve Got Mail

Analyze This
The Matrix
The Phantom Menace
Double Jeopardy*
Sleepy Hollow
The Green Mile

Mission to Mars
The Perfect Storm
Casablanca/A Clockwork Orange
Lawrence of Arabia
The Exorcist
The Contendor
The Grinch
Cast Away

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Along Came a Spider
The Mummy Returns
Pearl Harbor
Planet ofthe Apes
Don’t Say a Word*
Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone
The Fellowship of the Ring

Time Machine*
Attack of the Clones
Road to Perdition
City by the Sea
Red Dragon
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
The Two Towers

Phone Booth
X2: X-men United
The Hulk
Mystic River
The Return of the King

Van Helsing
The Day After Tomorrow
The Terminal
Spider-Man 2
Alien vs. Predator
Shark Tale
The Aviator

Sin City
The Interpreter
Revenge of the Sith
Fantastic Four
The Island
March of the Penguins
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
King Kong

Scary Movie 4
Mission: Impossible III
Superman Returns

Like I said, this list is in no way perfect and not completely accurate, but it I’m almost certain about most of those films.

I’m appalled to hear about the Superman Returns presenation. Snafus on an opening week at the uptown for a big movie are what will bring this theater down. The problem really is that Loews treats it like its just another theater. I remember they were not going to play Spider-mAan 2 because they wanted to bring business to the Georgetown theater, and then naturally they played it anyway when I’d already gotten tickets somewhere else. This is why people don’t go to movies anymore. If you pay 10 bucks for a ticket, your going for more than the movie, but theater owners don’t realize that. Ebert has a lot of great writings on the topic (and everyone pray that he retires quickly. Don’t boycott the theater, its still great. I remember talking on the phone 2 years ago with the current manager and he seemed like a huge film nut, so I got really encouraged.

dave-bronx™ on July 6, 2006 at 11:17 am

Heat and humidity will bother the polyester film stock used by the studios today. It creates static, and the layers of film don’t peel apart easily and now and then more than one layer gets pulled into the brain causing a wrap – even with a professional projectionist hovering over it.

rcdt55b on July 6, 2006 at 4:40 am

It definitely is because of the union busting tactics. These problems would not be happening if trained professionals were in the booth. AMC doesnt care. They give a pass for another show and people come back and buy more popcorn. Eventually it will catch up to them. Less and less people will go to the Uptown. BTW, heat and humidity will not cause the film to warp…………..unless you’re putting it in an oven and baking it.

bufffilmbuff on July 6, 2006 at 4:22 am

An item from today’s Washington Post:

Look! Up in the Sky, It’s … Nothing

The Uptown Theater and “Superman Returns ” battled more than Lex Luthor last week.
On opening day, the historic Cleveland Park theater blew a fuse before the show and sent disappointed matinee fans into the streets. On Saturday, the afternoon crowd was on the edge of its seats as Lois Lane , her young son and her boyfriend were trapped inside a sinking yacht … then the screen turned into a blob of yellow, and a voice in the dark said ominously, “Short delay … technical difficulties.” Turns out the film snapped in two; unhappy audience members got vouchers for another screening.

Same day, three hours later: The date-night crowd endured a 35-minute delay, an extended intermission to change reels, and an overheated auditorium.

An AMC spokeswoman says heat and humidity caused the film to warp, thus the problems. By Sunday, replacement reels had arrived to let “Superman” once again fly high.

Somehow I have to wonder if all these incidents were caused by heat and humidity or maybe the lack of professional projectionists at this theatre.

HowardBHaas on March 27, 2006 at 8:02 pm

I met Steve at the Uptown when he was showing The Aviator and the platter had arrived. I’m sorry he’s gone.

I don’t disagree that the Uptown is great for 70 mm, but those of us who love this theater do enjoy 35 mm and especially Scope films there.

Steve is correct in that there seem to be fewer movies worthy of adult patronage in movie theaters. It almost seemed that Hollywood issued better movies in 70 mm 6 track, and when a decade ago that format died when DTS arrived, Hollywood stopped trying. There arestill some worthwhile films, but fewer.

70 mm classics have often returned over the years, so I hope the current exhibitor (AMC) presents more 70 mm classic films. Hollywood doesn’t seem to be issuing any new movies in 70 mm or blowups from 35 mm, but classics look & sound great on the Uptown!

sguttag on March 26, 2006 at 3:17 pm

Well it has now been over a year since I worked the Uptown…I was one of the projectionists at the Uptown from 1988 until 2005. After college, I only worked Saturdays though. I can honestly say, we had the best show in town. What some projectionists think as a clean/sharp print woudn’t cut it at the Uptown. The screen is so big and curved, any damage just shows up more and scractches take on a curved appearance.

Focus was another issue. 35mm is too small a gauge for the Uptown’s screen. The relatively poorly made prints of today really don’t have a great focus to begin with..combine that with the small gauge and the deep curve screen, which taxes the depth of focus of the lens, and you have a very tricky arrangement. While I was there, focus was checked at least every 5-minutes to ensure it is at its best. Some films were just a demonstration of futility. CinemaScope films being the worst for the Uptown due to lenses adding the most to the image challenges.

70mm is the only format the Uptown should run. It is the only format that has the resolution, light throughput and the projection lens at the Uptown is designed for the curved screen. Yes, even 35mm blow-ups to 70mm would make (and have made) HUGE differences.

As for DLP…it is definately is not up to the task at the moment. The depth of focus is not up to the task, the resolution is not good enough either. While I know that Jodar posted above about the Crown (I was part of that installation team…at least on the original system), but you are comparing apples to oranges. Technicolor limited us to 40-foot wide screens for those installations so they WOULD look good and bright. While they are in many ways quite good, they are not really at the level that cinemas should be striving for. 35mm film has the capability to exceed even 2K DCinema. DCinema needs to try and meet/exceed 70mm capability and offer an improvement.

As for the Uptown’s sound…it suffers from lack of attention combined with being played with by the latest special show that comes to town. The equipment within the place is quite good and you won’t do much better just by replacing it (in fact you will most likely do worse). The Uptown’s sound systems is quite similar to the Senator’s in Baltimore, MD. Altec A-4 stage speakers, JBL subwoofers, Altec A-7 surrounds (12 of them), QSC amps, and the Dolby CP200 (upgraded). Probably the best the Uptown sounded was back when three of us tuned the room for a Paramount film with Al Matano…we had three analyzers going for the various zones throughout the room…one could really balance it out better than even with just a multiplexed mic system…and then critical listening was done by several people rather than taking just one person’s opinion. As some have discovered…the sound in a room that large can vary quite a bit…a bit tinny downstairs towards the screen (in the middle, particularly), and notably subdued in the balcony. Then again, many techs don’t realize there are two HF horn systems for each speaker to properly cover the Balcony and main section separately. The potential to have good sound there is indeed doable…just not every tech is up to the task nor has the time available (nor prior experience) to do it.

As to the projection at the Uptown…I left shortly after the platter went in. However, once the non-projectionists started to operate, the equipment damage as well as print damage had started. Shutters were damaged, among other things. They went through several prints of THE AVIATOR in the weeks after I departed. I still hear of continual print damage to this day (March 2006) though I do not have first hand knowledge of it anymore. Given the operating policy there…I can’t see how it could be any other way though.

The short-term answer there is not DCinema…it is 70mm with projectionists. When DCinema technology reaches the level of 70mm, then it will be time.

However, the sad thing that is also true for movies at the moment…they need to make something worth watching. Movies that have a number after the name or have the same name as a TV show just is not original thinking. Hollywood needs to start making good movies again and shooting them in 65mm as if they actually cared about the movie at the start.


Ron3853 on February 21, 2006 at 4:07 pm

I visited Washington from February 6-12, as work sent me down to spend a week in our DC office. I went to the Uptown to see “Good Night and Good Luck.” It was as if I died and went to “movie theater heaven.” The theater still looked as beautiful as ever, although there wasn’t that big a crowd for the Tuesday night late show. All I can say is, “Please Washington,don’t let AMC let this place die. Do what you can to make it a historical place so they can’t mess with it or if they do decide to sell it, make sure it’s someone who will keep it just as it is…A magnificent piece of history.

HowardBHaas on December 28, 2005 at 10:13 am

I also attended King Kong this past weekend. The Uptown is not falling apart. Some armrests need repair in the balcony, but that’s all. I was told the landlord would show movies if AMC pulls out, and had shown them before. That makes the landlord the Pedas Brothers who had the Circle chain, selling the Chain (but apparently not the Uptown building) to Cineplex Odeon, which then merged into Loews, and is now merging into AMC.

What will save the Uptown for some time is PATRONAGE. From New York City to Washington, there’s not a greater moviehouse experience than the Uptown! The exterior is a great, and the auditorium’s huge 70 to
80 feet wide movie screen fantastic!

I also saw the restored Lawrence of Arabia, My Fair Lady, and Vertigo, and agree such experiences were wonderful. In the last few years, I also enjoyed restored or reissues of Raiders of the Lost Arc, 2001, and Alien, and new movies. In 1997, I enjoyed the Warner Bros 75th Anniv. films, and the big screen epics like The Wild Bunch and Blade Runner were terrific on the huge screen. And, I’ve been fortunate to see many other classics & new films there.

AFI isn’t going to takeover the Uptown. They have the Silver. The Avalon programs arthouse & classics in a historic moviehouse. The Uptown is too big for arthouse of fulltime classic. The asset is the enormous auditorum including balcony.

As to original decoration, it looks like the ceiling was gutted. My gut feeling is American Indian decoration on the walls is also gone, but I don’t know for sure. We found lots of decoration hidden in niches in the Boyd auditorium, but you could see those niches still present. Although the Uptown’s original decoration appears neat in photos, it was relatively modest. For full Art Deco spendlor, visit the Boyd in Philadelphia when it reopens in 2007,

Again, patronize the Uptown if you like it. And, buy from the concession counter, because that’s how the operator profits, and profits keep the place open, and only profits will keep it open. Otherwise, it may end up being a giant retail store. Anybody really prefer the CVS in the (also John Zink designed) MacArthur?

carolgrau on December 28, 2005 at 6:48 am

I was a projectionist at the Wisconsin 6 and it was built by Cineplex Odeon, not Loews. It was later sold to Loews.

dave-bronx™ on December 23, 2005 at 10:57 am

The 10 AMC/Loews theatres mentioned above are not closing, they are going to be sold to other operators to prevent acusations of monopoly in certain markets. This was negotiated with the Justice Dept. and various state attorneys general in order to get approval of the merger. Don’t worry, they will still be around, just not operated by AMC or Loews anymore.

bufffilmbuff on December 23, 2005 at 6:41 am

I saw KING KONG at the Uptown last weekend and the presentation was excellent. I guess the union projectionist was in the booth. It would be sad if we lost the Uptown, there are only a handful of venues left in the world that can provide an experience like this.
Seeing the 70mm restorations of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, MY FAIR LADY, and VERTIGO here was incredible. I wish somehow AFI or a similar organization could take over here to make sure this last vestige of true wide screen cinema is maintained and used to its fullest.

JodarMovieFan on December 23, 2005 at 5:16 am

In Thursday’s (12/22/05) Washington Post, there is a news bite about 10 Loews/AMC Theaters that are closing nationwide, the Uptown isn’t listed as one of them. The two multiplexes that are closing, in downtown DC, are the AMC Union Station 9 (not a bad plex, with several auditoriums named after older DC theaters..the Grand being the best and THX certified) and the Loews Wisconsin 6 (an okay 20 y.o. plex that is decked out in Loews purple, with auditoriums 4 and 5 having had 70mm projection and were formerly THX certified.)

As far as ‘restoring’ the Uptown, why would you want to tear down the current curved Cinerama capable screen and put back the old flat one? Part of the allure and charm of the Uptown was its unique wrap around screen. The theater was refurbished back in ‘96 and isn’t in disrepair and has hosted various charity film premiers over the year. The only 'restoration’ the Uptown needs is better film programming and employees and projectionists, in particular, who can bring back a sense of showmanship and pride that this theater had in years past.

gmorrison on December 23, 2005 at 2:39 am

In the book “Motion Picture Exhibition in Washington, DC” there is a photograph of the interior of the Uptown as it appeared at the time of the opening—1936. I assume it looked like this until the big screen and draperies were installed for Cinerama—the appearance the theatre has today.
My question: Does the “old” theatre still exist behind all those drapes? Is it in a restorable condition? Does anyone out there know?
I know we’re talking a considerable amount of money, but what are the chances of a non-profit buying the theatre? I know it doesn’t have a stage because it was built after vaudeville for movies only, but what if a stage could be added? Maybe it could host plays, concerts, etc. I would love to see it remain as movies-only, but I don’t know if that’s possible.
I think one would find a huge outpouring of support for such a project—similar to the Avalon’s experience. Many more people have had contact with the Uptown over the years, and may be willing to join a “Restore and Save the Uptown” organization.
Am I just dreaming?

Glenn M.
Washington, DC

dave-bronx™ on December 3, 2005 at 1:21 am

If they close it they need to get that recently-installed chandelier from the Loew’s Capitol in NYC and donate it to the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens – don’t let it get lost….

MikeRadio on December 3, 2005 at 12:36 am

Bad news for all…

After speaking to the attendent or manager at the theatre tonight, it seems there is little doubt that AMC weill close this theatre when it takes over. She seemed pessimistic about it remaining, and said the owner of the land may want to keep it as a movie house. It appears Loews is a renter.

Although this place is falling apart… No armrests in balcony anymore, paint chipping broken handrails etc, with some fixing up this can be a GREAT place.

Unfortunately, AMC being a more corporate company, will close the single screen thearte (as it has none its ownership).

I hopwe this does not happen, but I have a BAD vibe about this…