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One detail in this theatre’s description needs to be corrected. The sound process used in 1940 for FANTASIA was Fantasound, not Perspecta Sound. Perspecta Sound was a pseudo-stereo system used in the 1950’s which used a monoaural optical soundtrack and created a stereo effect by pushing the sound around to one or more speakers using subaudible tones. From all accounts it was an inferior process. Fantasound on the other hand was a unique system which was really the first attempt to do anything like surround sound effects.
Only a handful of theatres were equipped for this in 1940, so that is some special to note about this theatre.
It was announced on the news tonight that they will be having an open house on Saturday October 27 from 1 to 4 p.m. What great news!
I agree about AFI Silver and 70mm showings. There are some great newly struck 70mm prints out there of classic titles…. like SOUTH PACIFIC and CLEOPATRA… that are being shown elsewhere to great acclaim. I realize these prints are expensive to ship and require special handing as they are increasingly rare, but that is the kind of thing one would expect AFI to do. An 80’s retrospective???? NOT my idea of film classics, but I guess the idea is to get younger audiences in the door….even if the films are junk. Of course, the dream 70mm festival would be at the Uptown on that giant screen, but sadly the way that theatre is currently run, with new prints regularly damaged, I doubt they would be allowed access to the 70mm prints.
Is the AVALON even still equipped for 70mm? I had understood that when Loew’s Cineplex closed it, they ripped out everything, including the projectors. The last 70mm presentation there that I recall was the 1996 Kenneth Branaugh version of HAMLET. This film was also the last film to be entirely shot on 65mm negative (parts of THE NEW WORLD were shot this way). Most films shown in 70mm in the 70’s through the 90’s were blow ups from 35mm sources. Overall I think the Avalon theatre project has done a great job.
Here in Richmond, Va, the Byrd theatre is nice palace which recently got a major upgrade to Dolby Digital. The foundation for this theatre has recently been able to start plans to actually buy this theatre and do further renovations, after years of negotiations. On Saturday nights they also play the Wurltizer. All for two bucks.
And in DC—– definitely try to get to the Uptown. Though currently poorly managed by AMC, their 70 foot Cinerama screen (no longer made of strips of material, but otherwise authentic)is a thriller and the sound is great. This may be the last such screen extant on the east coast. And since AMC is not renewing their lease when it expires early next year, the days may be numbered for the Uptown. Also in DC… the Avalon, an old neighborhood theatre re-opened by a local group. And the AFI Silver, the main auditorium is a restored art deco marvel designed by Eberson…. and they are equipped for just about every film format except three projector Cinerama.
Any more word about if and when AMC is going to close the Uptown? I saw DREAMGIRLS last weekend there myself and noticed the scratched print…. something that wouldn’t have happened with a real projectionist and would have never been tolerated in the past. It is a great and rare venue, it is too bad the people who own it do not appreciate it.
Does anyone have any new news about AMC possibly closing the Uptown?
I believe the opening attraction for the Star Twin was the Russian version of WAR AND PEACE. The American version was around six hours long (the Russian is closer to eight), shown in two parts with each of the two auditoriums showing a different section. The only time I remember going there was to see THX-1138 in 1971.
Ditto to that request for the article about Norfolk movie theatres.
Wow— thanks for the info. When I was growing up I visited the Rosele, Memrose, Riverview, Newport, and Colony. Had I not been afraid of the huge outdoor display of the giant dragons outside, I would have seen WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM at the Rosna in Cinerama. I had to wait until about a decade ago to see three panel Cinerama, with THIS IS CINERAMA and HOW THE WEST WAS WON screened at the New Neon theatre in Dayton, Ohio. Is it possible that you might have the addresses of any or all of the theatres in your post? Thanks.
Someone from Norfolk will need to clarify this, but I remember hearing a story one that the man who owned this theatre also owned the Rosna and named his theatres for his wife, Rose. And I think he owned a few other theatres in Norfolk as well. Anyone from the area know the story????
Gee—– wish I was closer to NY State… what a great program listing!!! I did see BECKET on a widescreen vhs ( I guess derived from the laserdisc) about eight years ago, rather less than the perfect presentation, though it did have a stereo track. Didn’t BECKET get blown up to 70mm for some of its initial engagements?
One minor note: THE PINK PANTHER was shot in Technirama not Panavision.
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.
I was lucky enough to see the recently struck 70mm/DTS print of HELLO DOLLY at the AFI Silver last month and I can attest to the incredible visual and aural quality. As another comment said, not a great movie, but in this format… well worth your time.
Curious about the eight channel D-150 sound system. How was that configured? I know Todd-Ao had six channels, five behind the screen and one surround and three projector Cinerama had seven, five behind the screen and two surrounds…. but eight channels? Was this actually part of the soundtrack on the print, a separate interlocked sound system (like Cinerama) or was this just some kind of enhancement that worked only in playback. Thanks.
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.
Actually SUGARLAND EXPRESS was in scope, not 1.85.
Per Malick’s THE NEW WORLD… I read an interview with the cinematographer and he said only portions of the film were shot on 65mm…. that they could not afford to shoot it all in large format. I do hope we will get some 70mm prints in any case, though venues that can handle 70mm are disappearing quickly. Maybe the Uptown in DC, which has one of the last of the giant curved Cinerama screens, will show a 70mm print of THE NEW WORLD… but the latest from that theatre is that they are no longer using union projectionists during the week, only on weekends, and that this has resulted in damage to equipment and prints. So—– that would only leave the American Film
Institute’s Silver theatre as a possible 70mm venue in that area. Too bad Malick’s film will probably not get the presentation it deserves.
Actually the best line in TEN COMMANDMENTS comes fairly early on when the slave Mamnet(Judith Anderson) threatens to reveal Mose’s true identity and her mistress (Nina Foch) says “Your tongue will dig your grave old woman.” Hard to top that one…. though this movie is full of lines like that.
It is really a sad day for DC filmgoers if we lose this large single screen movie house with high quality projection and sound. And fron what I have read in another comment, the Uptown is not only going to a platter system, but will only have a true projectionist PART TIME. Apparently this has already resulted in major damage to the projectors and the current print (THE AVIATOR). I was there New Year’s Day and the projection, sound and print quality were superb. There is nothing like the Uptown extant on the east coast.
Let us hope that Loews Cineplex can be pursuaded to preserve this theatre.
One correction to the main description of this theatre: None of the auditoriums, including the two original ones, had a full stage. This was purely a movie house, NEVER for live performance. Too bad we lost this one though… especially for the giant screen in the largest auditorium. This theatre also tried every new technology that came along during the time it was open: 70MM, 3-D, Dolby Stereo, Dolby Digital, DTS and even Sensaround.
East coast 70mm fans: Try and get to Silver Spring, Maryland sometime. AFI has a newly restored art deco theatre there which is fully equipped for all formats except three projector Cinerama. In recent months they have shown two very rare 70mm prints: the French 1967 comedy PLAYTIME directed by Jacques Tati (which on the giant screen plays like a cross between Stanley Kubrick and Buster Keaton) and the Russian version of WAR AND PEACE (undoubtedly the most spectacular movie ever made). Also in the same vicinity, in DC, is the Uptown theatre with one of the last of the old Cinerama screens… deeply curved and about 70 feet wide. They show mostly new blockbusters, but has been a prime site for such restorations as LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, MY FAIR LADY, VERTIGO, and SPARTACUS. It was also where 2001 had its world premiere in 1968. Too bad about NYC… it is amazing to me that they have lost/destroyed so many venues for spectacular presentation.
The renovations at the Naro are great. The auditorium features new seating, new curtains, newly painted gold leaf highlights and new carpeting. There is also new projection and digital sound equipment, though I did notice that the screen is now somewhat smaller than it once was. They used to have 70mm equipment, but apparently that is now gone. Still one of the best places to see a movie anywhere——Tom and Tench, the managers since 1977, have created a haven for true film buffs. Norfolk should be proud.
I was able to tour this theatre yesterday. Currently it is undergoing extensive renovation scheduled to be completed in May. It will be a nightclub/comedy club/concert venue. The renovation is re-working the space to include a variety of seating options with tables and chairs, theater seats, etc with multiple levels. A dance floor will be created just in front of the stage. Though the theatre will not be used for films, one of the old projectors will be on display. Much of the original plaster was damaged and had to be removed, but ceiling medallions and pedaments are being re-created. Currently the old marquee is down, but is in the process of being restored and re-installed. This theatre has been closed since 1985. It was a movie house. In 1967 it had an extensive renovation and was used for the road show engagements of CAMELOT and FUNNY GIRL. The downtown area unfortunately was in decline and by the early seventies they has slipped to low grade action and horror films. Great to see that three theatres in downtown Norfolk ( the Loews, The Norva and now the Granby) have found new uses. The re-birth of that area is inspiring.
I had noticed a sign on the marquee several months ago with an website. This site says something about a “Paramount” event… and some kind of club in this restored theatre. There was a phone number which only gives you an answering machine for a property management company. The site mentioned a big event in late 2003. Any idea when this is to occur?