Senator Theatre

5904 York Road,
Baltimore, MD 21212

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Showing 26 - 50 of 181 comments

JodarMovieFan on July 9, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Talk about teeny, tiny, little shoe box size theaters! More like screening rooms. I thought there was going to be just two screens added, but three?? The largest of the three has about 74 seats. I’m curious if they’re going to go all out and have decent sound systems without having them bleed over into the adjoining auditoriums. Or, imagine if sound from the main one were to bleed into the others. Not good.

Don’t quote me on this, but I had thought at the time of Episode One, back in ‘99, they were boasting the main auditorium had 40K watts of power, which would put it on par with the AMC’s ETX sound theater at Tysons Corner, VA. From my theatrical experiences here, I can still remember quite an aural experience..being compelled to 'move out of the way’ during the asteroid scene in Episode II; the Martian attack on earth in the ‘War of the Worlds’ remake, the Oliphant attack in the final ‘Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ and when Count Dooku uses the force to hurl Obi-Wan Kenobi from the left of the screen towards the back right.

PeterApruzzese on May 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm

As linked above:

Adding screens to the facility, not chopping up the main room.

Mikeoaklandpark on May 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm

OK are they going to carve up the beautiful main auditorium or just add screens ina na adjoining building?

JodarMovieFan on May 3, 2012 at 12:00 am

The theater is currently undergoing renovation. Supposedly, two additional screens will be added. The last film to play here was ‘The Hunger Games.’

Ocomarco on September 8, 2011 at 1:42 am

Jodar: I believe that a hallmark of early moviegoing experience was loud and obnoxious behavior. I’m not condoning it but pissing off the balcony was common for matinees where the audience was mainly kids. If you want to recapture early moviegoing experience you will not object to comments and heckling.

knaveoftrumps on March 11, 2011 at 10:06 pm

The Senator appears in the 1995 film Twelve Monkeys with Bruce Willis and Madeline Stowe. Willis and Stowe are watching Hitchcock’s Vertigo (the scene in which Kim Novak traces her life along the timeline of a redwood tree cross section) and when Willis and Stowe leave The Senator, the marquis indicates a set of Hitchcock films including Vertigo, The Birds, North by Northwest, Strangers On A Train and Psycho.

CSWalczak on December 10, 2010 at 1:59 am

The new operators have received initial zoning board approval to build a second screening room, a tapas restaurant, and a creperie; they must also get the approval of the historical commission: View link

Giles on October 13, 2010 at 9:39 pm

the mention of a propsed 120 seat second auditorium (in the PDF attachment) sounds like a great addition.

JodarMovieFan on October 13, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Interesting proposals. I am glad they are not shrinking or otherwise carving up the main auditorium. I wish/had hoped they could build a little balcony in theater 2. Its about the same size, if probably larger, than the old MacArthur theater in DC had when it had twins during its ‘83 remodel.

I’ve never regularly frequented a theater that served alcohol. I just hope the booze (as I’m a non-drinker) doesn’t lead to loud and obnoxious patrons during the shows. Its one thing to have college aged patrons when the big blockbusters are booked to full house..just imagine what it would be like if these kids are boozing.

How about an espresso/high end pastry/bakery bar? If you’re going to serve alcohol, how about some decent coffee and/or baked goods aside from the usual popcorn, candy and soda fare?

JackCoursey on October 13, 2010 at 8:48 pm

These proposed renovations look very promising.

MovieTix86 on October 13, 2010 at 8:03 pm

The new owners of the Senator have set up a new web site here:

There is also a PDF document in the Renovations Blog outlining the proposed updates and renovations planned for this historic theatre.

Giles on September 6, 2010 at 6:03 pm

on a positive fun note, the Senator is featured in the new Star War Year by Year book: with a picture of the front with ‘Phantom Menace’ and queue of folk (page 204)

JodarMovieFan on August 4, 2010 at 12:05 pm

As of today, should the theater’s current status be changed to ..closed? I am surprised no one has posted anything from the last movie showing. I had work conflicts and couldn’t make it.

HowardBHaas on July 20, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Final film from current management, from Senator’s email today:

Presented with a rare 1977 35 mm British I.B. Technicolor print
from a private collection.

Show times:
4:30 pm
8:00 pm

Doors open at 4:00 pm for the 4:30 show.

Admission FREE

The Force Is With Them!

Baltimore’s Senator Theatre Ends 71 Years of Continuous
Family Ownership and Operation.

“Friends of The Senator” Express A New Hope for a Rapid Reopening

Baltimore, MD
July 21, 2010

The Friends of The Senator (FOTS) theatre advocacy group announced today
that Wednesday 7/21 marks the final day of operation for Baltimore’s historic
Senator Theatre. The shutdown date was designated by Baltimore’s City Hall.
Instructions are to cease operations, and for the theatre’s ex-owner to remove
all personal items. Baltimore City took ownership of the renowned, single screen
Art Deco landmark at a foreclosure auction in July of 2009.

For the final evening of operation, the FOTS are encouraging patrons to join
us for a gathering of The Senator’s extended family, including long time
manager Gayle Grove and The Senator’s popular border collie staff, Natty Boh
and Nipper.

The evening will feature two free celebratory screenings of a rare 1977 British
I.B. Technicolor print of “Star Wars: A New Hope” from a private collection.
Free screenings of the two hour feature will be at 4:30 pm and 8:00 pm. Doors
open at 4:00 pm for the 4:30 show.

“We wanted to do something really special for the last film to be shown at
The Senator, to honor Tom Kiefaber and his family, as well as The Senator’s
long term staff,” said FOTS President Tom Harris, who has camped on the
sidewalk at The Senator for past Star Wars midnight openings with his family.
“A film collector approached us about this rare original release print of Star
Wars, and the film is such a touchstone for so many of us, we went for it.”

“This is where I came in,” said Tom Kiefaber, in reference to Star Wars in 1977.
“I grew up in The Senator, and I officially joined the family business in 1977, just
as Star Wars was about to change the film industry forever. The saying ‘this
is where I came in’ comes from my youth, when the theatres ran short subjects,
newsreels, and features continuously. We would often arrive in the middle of a
show and stay until it was starting the repeat, noting this is where I came in."
Also popular in those days were the weekly "cliffhanger” serials where a
young George Lucas found inspiration for “Star Wars.”

“With The Senator going dark for an indefinite time, we all feel a great
disturbance in the Force,” said FOTS Managing Director Laura Perkins.
“Kathleen Cusack from the new management team predicts The Senator may
only stay dark a few days, and we hope the Cusack team understands
the importance of the theatre to this community and reopens The Senator as
quickly as possible.”

“We have many concerns about what’s in store for The Senator, particularly
plans to demolish original features that define the character of the building’s interior,” noted Kiefaber, “but we have no choice but to accept as graciously as possible that the force is with them.”

CSWalczak on July 20, 2010 at 2:03 am

The operator of the Rotunda theater now wants to be considered as the operator of the Senator: View link

Mark_L on July 5, 2010 at 12:23 pm

The device for hearing impaired customers is called an induction loop. That is the term used in the Boxoffice article.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 5, 2010 at 12:05 pm

This from BOXOFFICE on a great theatre.On the 70mm screen installed a “introduction loop” which helps those wearing hearing aids,a private parking lot and a cheap ticket rate $2.00 all afternoon shows and changing to $4.00 dollars starting at 6 pm.The manager at the time was William Hewitt and he was proud of the “intro loop” for those hearing impaired customers.They were the only theatre in Baltimoe that had the “loop"It works in conjucntion with hearing aids.The system works and customers are happy according to Hewitt.{Boxoffice,July 1984}

CSWalczak on June 24, 2010 at 4:19 pm

An opinion piece from the Baltimore Sun:
View link

Giles on June 13, 2010 at 10:24 pm

yeah I was very surprised to see that the restored ‘Metropolis’ bagan last Friday.

moviebear1 on June 12, 2010 at 2:19 pm

When did the theatre reopen? I thought it was in limbo. But very happy to hear they are showing films again. Does this meen the theatre is now safe from being torn down?

Patsy on April 22, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Tom: Thanks for the additional information.

Maximillian Genus
Maximillian Genus on April 22, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Hope? I guess you can… But consider today’s Baltimore Business Journal article, “BDC back Charles Theatre operator’s plan for Senator”(

  • They lease the building for $1/year for 40 years (had to be 40 just to be considered for tax credits)
  • They want $100,000 as a grant from the city
  • They want $600,000 loan from the city

They continue the SAME programming model that got Kiefaber in trouble.

On top of that, it’s possible he may also get the $600,000 ‘guarantee’ the city had already invested in ownership of the theatre – perhaps more… That’s more public funding than Kiefaber ever got!

Sorry, but given all this – hope to me, would be for the mayor to say, “Thanks, but no thanks, BDC. Start over. And this time, get hands-on historic theatre preservation & exhibition expertise to make sure you do it right.”

Patsy on April 22, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Stosh: Thanks for the hopeful post!

Stosh on April 22, 2010 at 2:03 pm

There’s hope yet!

View link

Maximillian Genus
Maximillian Genus on April 20, 2010 at 12:05 am

The BDC would like everyone to believe they’ve done the right thing, but the justification in Brodie’s letter is a sham, IMHO. He cites John Bell, but doesn’t tell anyone what the man said. We now know for a fact his responses did not favor the only plan left on the table… The question now is will the BDC start over (as they should – with hands-on guidance from experts) or try to sell the mayor on the remaining plan, because that’s all they have in hand? View link