Cinema

5100 Wisconsin Avenue,
Washington, DC 20016

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Showing 26 - 45 of 45 comments

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on July 22, 2007 at 6:28 pm

I’d like to say that the only reason why my friends and I would come here was because they’d book 70mm movies.

In 1983, my brother and I (since I was not of age to see it alone or with my underaged friends), saw Flashdance on opening weekend and even though it was not in 70mm, I was quite amazed at the cinematography(Oscar nominated Don Peterman), editing, dance numbers and Giorgio Moroder (Oscar winning) soundtrack. The stereo track was heavy but not ear splitting particularly the title number and Gloria Branigan’s “Imagination”…probably my favorite dance sequence because of its abstract construction of fantasy vs reality in that white brick corner set and the climax with that very cool strobe lighting effect. The whole theater was flashing in that light as if it were transformed into a dance club. So cool. So very cool! I thoroughly enjoyed the contrasts in music when the tracks would go from say, classical and melodic…the music made you feel like you were in a concer hall, then it would transition to something contempoary with a rapid beat such as in the Maniac sequence. Of course, it was one of the hits of the year and this theater showed it quite nicely.

The next booking was War Games in 70mm. I was very surprised that this movie was booked here and not Return of the Jedi since Empire played here for a long time back in 1980. While War Games was a thoughtful movie, it just didn’t capture my interest at the time. Matthew Broderick was heralded as the next big thing after his broadway debut in some Neil Simon play, but he didn’t do much for me in this movie. His performance was as inspiring as eating white bread and just as memorable. The presentation was what would one expect visually and aurally from a 70mm 6 Track stereo experience but nothing outstanding that I can recall…hey, this was 24 years ago!

I can recall seeing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom here in 70mm. A school buddy of mine came with me and we sat pretty close to the front of the theater to be enveloped by the sound and picture. Critics and certain members of the public complained about the violence levels and Spielberg did push things beyond the PG limits, but hey, this was one heckuva ride. The Today show had a piece with Gene Shalit interviewing Spielberg and Ford and they showed a bit of the opening sequence where Indiana takes Willie and Short Round and flies out of the plane in that boat raft. Now to see it on the wide screen with all the preceding heavy action, Willie’s ‘Anything Goes’ song and dance number was a lot of fun. Kate Capshaw’s character would later become increasingly irritating througout the movie lacking the previous street smarts and saavy that Karen Allen brought as Marion Ravenwood and Indiana’s previous main squeeze. She whined and complained so much that I thought if either Short Round or Indiana didn’t get rid of her, I wanted to grab her off the screen myself.

The movie boasted lots of visual effects that played quite well, looked so real and seamlessly integrated itself into the movie that I thought that many of them were done live action. The Cinema’s great sound system got some workout from the action. Of particular mention is the human sacrfice scene at the temple with the evile Molo Ram. Aurally there were lots of things going on; fire, chanting in surround sound, Molo Ram praying to that god in Hindi, the sacrificed guy praying all increasing in a frenetic pace until his heart gets ripped out and he eventually gets lowered into that pit of fire. What was brilliant to me was the way the scene was not rated R blood spurts and guts but brilliant editing, close ups, vfx, make up and sound effects.

Once again, a wonderful cinematic experience thanks to the great presentation and format!

Empire of the Sun played here, in ‘87 or so, and I thought it was a very good movie. Christian Bale’s debut performance was very impressive not playing the usual cutesy boy-next-door type as we’d later see from Macaulay Culkin. I can’t believe its been 20 years since then and, boy, has Bale grown as an actor.

I’m thinking the last 70mm movie I saw here was probably in 1989 and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The film did not have the over-the-top action sequences or gross out monkey brain scenes like The Temple of Doom and maybe, just maybe it was to this film’s detriment. The film’s climax wasn’t that great with the finding of the Last Supper’s cup.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on July 22, 2007 at 6:25 pm

Auditorium which I photographed in 2004 by which time the curtain wasn’t being used:
View link

another view of the exterior from 2004 (same visit as the photo that I posted above)
View link

sguttag
sguttag on July 22, 2007 at 6:20 pm

Ah, the Cinema…I was the chief projectionist there from the end of 1982 (after the MacArthur Closed) and well into 1983. Sam Brooks was the projectionist there for most of its life…in fact he worked it until it closed. I only got the lead position when Sam transitioned from the Army to the Post Office and couldn’t work there full time for a brief period.

In the summer of 1982 I swapped quite a bit of time between the MacArthur running Star Trek II and the Cinema running ET. The following year at the Cinema we had Wargames which was a bit of a surprise hit (and in 70mm). I seem to recall showing Amadeus and Temple of Doom there in 70mm quite a bit too.

The Cinema did indeed have some of the best pair of Norelcos (as Mungo pointed out above) I ever laid hands on. They came from the KB Apex.

The Cinema had one of the very first Dolby CP200s (installed for The Empire Strikes Back).

One should also mention Mrs. Lange…she was a fixture in the boxoffice for many years and we even had a party for one of her birthdays where the price of admission was her age…I remember that during Amadeus.

The Cinema was also one of the first theatres in the area of any size that really put the right amount of light on the screen…in fact, after the Cinema purchased its lamphouses…the Uptown followed suit.

I had many good times at the Cinema and met/worked with some really great people….the MacArthur remains my favorite though (as a single).

SG

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on May 20, 2007 at 5:47 am

This was one of my favorite cinemas. I first knew it as the KB Cinema. After the KB chain closed, Cineplex Odeon reopened it and placed their tree-looking sconces on the side walls of the auditoriums. Eventually, C.O. also installed new luxury chairs. In the mid to late 1980’s, it played mainstream blockbusters. After the early 1990’s, it hosted some mainstream films in the summer, but mostly played arthouse films

It had 826 seats. The screen was 40 feet wide and looked even bigger. The screen was perfectly set, for wonderful sightlines! Before it closed, it advertised as having the second largest movie screen in Washington, D.C.

The ability to showcase mainstream blockbusters diminished when Cineplex Odeon opened the Wisconsin Avenue Cinemas, since most blockbusters played there or the Uptown. Later, the Mazza Gallerie opened, so most mainstream films played Uptown, Wisconsin, or Mazza for Northwest Washington and mostly arthouse films were shown at the Cinema. Before the Mazza Gallerie opened nearby, the projectionist told me he didn’t understand why the Cinema would close because it was doing a million dollars business a year. He wasn’t looking forward to Loews taking over, as he thought the Cineplex Odeon concessions including candy had better selections.

The moviehouse’s problem with getting enough people to see arthouse films probably resulted from the openings of the suburban and downtown Landmark multiplexes.

Until it closed, samples of food, gum, etc. were often given out to departing movie patrons.

I saw many movies to sold out crowds in this once very popular moviehouse.

In December, 2006, I visited it in its current form as a furniture store. Staff told me trucks had used much concrete to level the auditorium. They said the store opened in May, 2006. The decorative metalwork and stairs leading downstairs to the former auditorium, now a furniture showroom, survived. Before going downstairs to the main floor is the former projection booth, now a gallery for dining and kitchen furniture.

The 70 mm projectors were retrieved by the Loews Jersey volunteers.

Here’s a photo I took in 2004 when still a cinema:
View link
“A Very Long Engagement” indeed! That was the last film.

carolgrau
carolgrau on May 15, 2006 at 6:19 am

The cinema had 2 of the nicest Norelco AAIIs I ever saw,They were very well kept, untill managment started running them. I was the last projectionist at the Jennifer, and te norelco we had in theatre #1, ended up behind the screen of the cinema. It was placed there upside down on the floor by the stupid people Cineplex Odeon had hired to put it there. Broke my heart to see such a beautiful, projector that I took care of be treated that way.I had my first heart attack in the booth of the Jennifer on April 13th, 1993, the asst.mngr. did not want to let the ambulance crew up to the booth to take me away, because she thought they were just trying to see a free movie. They had the gurney and all. When they did get me out she stood between the rear of the ambulance and the gurney saying I dont know how to shut the switches off. The hell with me, she just worried about the theatre, and her job. Another great example of big theatre chains and thier managment, and thier attitude towards Union projectionist. Let them die just keep the movie on the screen.
Norelco

FunkD
FunkD on May 14, 2006 at 5:56 am

This was the pride of KB Theatres back in the 80s. I remember being there for a staff meeting and seeing Indiana Jones (The last one with Sean Conery) in 70mm (6 Track Dolby surround) for a special staff preview. I loved the sound system, wish I saw more movies there when I was working for them.

It was a company pride meeting…but all pride aside KB theatres had one foot in the grave and the owners were just trying to hold on.

Should have sold out much earlier if they were smarter, still I doubt the Goldman’s are living in the street somewhere.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on September 5, 2005 at 10:53 pm

The architect of the Cinema was Ben Schlanger, who was also instrumental in the development of the Cinema I-Cinema II in New York City.

Glennm
Glennm on March 11, 2005 at 8:18 am

Dear Ron,

Its closed—I don’t know its future!

drosnin

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 11, 2005 at 7:26 am

So, is it open or closed now? If closed, what is its future?

Glennm
Glennm on March 11, 2005 at 6:49 am

Hello Mr. Charles Van Bibber!

5100 is the correct address for the Cinema—Wisc. Ave. is numbered even on the west side, odd on the east. 5101 is the Transit Workers Bldg., I believe.
Rodman’s Discount Drugs and the Cinema share the same address (5100) because they’re both in the same block-long building!

drosnin

KeithMadden
KeithMadden on January 11, 2005 at 9:05 pm

Sadly the Cinema was just closed by Loews Cineplex Entertainment.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on August 20, 2004 at 10:08 pm

Yes, the first Star Trek movie premiered at the MacArthur, but it also opened at other theaters in the DC Metro area. I saw it, on opening weekend, at the now closed KB Langley and later at the Jenifer, which I believe had the movie longer than other theaters in the area. The Jenifer played the movie on both screens starting at 8 or 9 am, on opening weekend, too, if I remember correctly.

Michael21046
Michael21046 on August 20, 2004 at 12:19 am

In response to JodarMovieFan. I thought the first Star Trek movie opened at the old MacArthur theatre. It also had a dolby system. Maybe it was a second run at the Jenifer. When there was little first run material the old GCC theatre would should second run films.
I know I saw the last Star War movie at the Jenifer which was shown there in 70mm and dolby. There may have been a 70mm run of Superman at the Uptown but as I recollect the Embassy theatre(which is now the Visions theatre and bar)was the first to show Superman in the 70mm format.

That second theatre at the Jenifer was really too small for anything! Would you believe when the Sensurround movie
Rollercoaster was not getting any business the manager moved it to the second theatre? He moved everything including the special speakers to that much smaller screen! Ocassionally the Jenifer would show some arthouse films if nothing else was available. During my duration there they had a double feature of early Lina Wertmuller films! Later they showed the old 1965(?) Czech film “The Shop on Main Street” – on the big screen! No one showed for that on a Saturday night except for two people!

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on August 19, 2004 at 9:09 pm

I remember the Jenifer. Maybe it should be listed on Cinema Treasure, too. I saw the first Star Trek movie there several times as well as a few other movies. It had a killer dolby sound system that was turned up nice and load..the way I like it :) And, yes, the second theater didn’t have Dolby, if I remember correctly.

I think Superman played at the Uptown in 70mm. I was too young to go downtown when it came out and saw that film at a shoebox multiplex theater called the Landover 6, now thankfully closed.

Michael21046
Michael21046 on August 19, 2004 at 5:36 pm

No, there was a GCC theatre called the Jenifer & & II. It was located a couple of blocks from KB’s Cinema. It was originally named the GCC Jenifer Cinema I & II but KB objected so it was shortened to Jenifer I & II. The GCC theatre opened in 1975 with Funny Lady. But it hit its stride with long lines outside its theatre for the immortal “Jaws”. Unfortunately, after Jaws' run, it ran a gamut of bad movies and B movies that did not attract many crowds. (Part of this may be due to the fact that it ran many of Universal’s films which were, aside from “Jaws”, pretty awful. None of them are mentioned as great classics of the ‘70s). However, by 1976 the problems were rectified and the Jenifer showed better, more prestigious films. The list of films shown included The Bad News Bears, An Umarried Woman, Julia, Annie Hall, Hustle and Animal House.

Initially, although it had a big widescreen in its larger hall, it did not have stereophonic sound. By 1979 Dolby Stereo was installed in the first house, its first stereo feature being “Superman”. It was one of the very few houses that ran the Superman in Dolby Stereo.

The Jenifer’s second screen was much smaller and its original screen was the size of a postage stamp. It was later replaced by a more subtantial larger screen.

I’m familiar with the Jenifer because I worked as a doorman part time for a few years there. The security problem was immense as the entrance to both screens were across from one other. One could easily go from one theatre to the other without any real scrutiny. As it was located in the lower level of a building that included a Booeymonger and old Herman’s store this also posed problems of security.

I’m not sure but I believe the local Circle chain bought the Jenifer I & II. When the Circle chain was gobbled up by Loew’s Cineplex the Jenifer was closed down and gutted for new stores.

Ron3853
Ron3853 on August 19, 2004 at 1:31 pm

To the best of my knowledge, it was the KB chain which opened the Cinema in April 1965.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on August 15, 2004 at 9:45 am

I’m not sure if this theater was part of the General Cinema chain, during the 60s, but I’m sure it was part of the KB chain during the latter part of the 70s and most of the 80s.

If memory serves me correctly, the GCC chain had just a few theaters in the DC area; namely the Springfield Mall (VA) multiplex (now AMC), Mazza Gallery (now AMC), Columbia 9, in MD, and I think the Fair Oaks Mall 10.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on August 14, 2004 at 3:14 am

This must have been General Cinema when it first opened – the sign on the front above the entrance canopy – ‘Cinema’ in an unusual stylized script is the same script used in the theatre sigs for the GCC formatted display advertising in the 60s, and it was also used on the uniform blouses the female employees wore in the 60s & 70s. When Cineplex had the theatre (Loews aquired it from the merger) they probably put the pink neon tubing in the sign, since they were out of their minds with that damn pink neon everywhere. It was probably blue neon, originally.

Most of the Cinemas at the time used the red serif-style block letters, but there were a few theatres where the landlord of a more upscale property did not want that type of sign, and felt that the script was more elegant looking.

Ron3853
Ron3853 on March 27, 2004 at 2:26 pm

Films which played at the Cinema from 1965-1976 Research from microfilms of The Washington Post and Variety. Theater opened 4/1/65.

04/01/65 White Voices
04/07/65 The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
05/19/65 Nobody Waved Goodbye
06/09/65 All These Women
06/16/65 The Yellow Rolls-Royce
09/29/65 The Ipcress File
12/22/65 Bunny Lake is Missing
02/02/66 Where the Spies Are
03/02/66 Lord Love a Duck
03/16/66 The Sleeping Car Murders
04/27/66 Cast a Giant Shadow
05/25/66 The Guns of Navarone
06/29/66 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
11/09/66 La Dolce Vita
11/23/66 10:30 PM Summer
12/21/66 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
03/15/67 Hotel
04/12/67 The Deadly Affair
05/24/67 The Honey Pot
07/12/67 The Family Way
09/20/67 The Flim-Flam Man
10/18/67 Point Blank
11/22/67 More Than a Miracle
12/20/67 The Graduate
01/29/69 The Subject Was Roses
03/05/69 Funny Girl
10/15/69 Take the Money and Run
12/17/69 John and Mary
02/25/70 The Magic Christian
03/25/70 Woodstock
06/24/70 Catch-22
12/23/70 Love Story
07/07/71 McCabe and Mrs. Miller
08/25/71 The Hellstrom Chronicle
10/06/71 The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker
10/20/71 The Steagle
11/10/71 Bless the Beasts and Children
12/01/71 Glen and Randa
12/22/71 Straw Dogs
02/09/72 A Clockwork Orange
06/28/72 Portnoy’s Complaint
08/16/72 The New Centurions
10/04/72 Deliverance
12/20/72 The Getaway
02/14/73 Steelyard Blues
03/07/73 Billy Jack
03/28/73 Fantasia
04/11/73 Scarecrow
06/27/73 The Last of Sheila
07/18/73 O Lucky Man
09/19/73 Bang the Drum Slowly
10/24/73 The Paper Chase
12/26/73 The Exorcist
06/12/74 Buster and Billie
07/10/74 Our Time
08/14/74 The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
10/16/74 The Gambler
11/20/74 Ladies and Gentlemen…The Rolling Stones
12/18/74 The Night Porter
01/29/75 Murder on the Orient Express
03/26/75 Tommy
07/02/75 Nashville
10/08/75 Three Days of the Condor
12/24/75 Barry Lyndon
02/18/76 (repertory film festival showings)
02/25/76 Taxi Driver
04/07/76 All the President’s Men
06/30/76 The Big Bus
09/15/76 The Tenant
10/13/76 Marathon Man
12/22/76 The Last Tycoon

The Cinema was one of the most desired theaters in the Washington DC area during the late 1960s and 1970s for film studios to exhibit their product, as witness the many popular films that played first-run engagements there as well as the length of those engagements. Yes, “The Graduate” played there over a year and most of the other films were youth-oriented hits and box-office smashes of their year.
All of the listings above were either first-run bookings or official studio reissues such as “The Guns of Navarone” and “La Dolce Vita.”

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on March 8, 2004 at 11:01 am

1980 was the year, in which I made a long bus ride from the MD suburbs, with a few of my school chums, to stand in a line that went around the block, to watch “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.” This theater had a 70mm print of this eagerly awaited sequel to “Star Wars.” This particular theater is not as opulent or otherwise memorable as say DC’s MacArthur or Uptown, but it had a killer Dolby 6-track sound system and 70mm capability. I still have vivid memories of watching Empire, especially the asteroid belt sequence and just being blown away by the sound and moving, in synch, with Millenium Falcon, as it bobbed and weaved avoiding asteroids and the pursuit of firing Imperial ships!

E.T. played here, also in 70mm, but the lines were too long and I ended up seeing it at the now closed Landover 6 theaters, one of the worst places to have seen a movie in the DC area. The last film I saw here, in 70mm, was Spielbeg’s “Empire of the Sun,” in 1987. I don’t think this theater booked any 70mm films after that time as I’m sure I would’ve gone there. Then again, 70mm presentations became far and fewer into the 90s.

In 1991, this theater had a Star Trek movie marathon where they showed the first five films and the trailer, for the eagerly anticipated sixth and final Classic Trek cast film. Yes, I sat and watched all five films, with a friend from work, whom I cajoled into playing hooky from his job. Unfortunately, it was a non-70mm event but it was some experience to revisit those movies again all in one day, on the big screen with an enthusiastic audience. How else would one want to experience movies, eh?

The last film I saw there was Shrek, in ‘01’, playing in digital stereo and the theater seemed pretty much the way I remembered it but seemed to be in need of some touch ups here and there. They don’t seem to book the mainstream films that they used to anymore, as the recent films shown were more of the art house variety or festivals.