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Howard, I think I’m going to see the film locally at one of the Smithsonian IMAX theaters. I’m looking forward to it. If the movie is still booked through the holidays, maybe I can convince my friend to drive up with me to the Ziegfeld.
Looking at the AFI’s calendar, it seems they are booking ‘West Side Story’ in 70mm, afterall. The last time I saw it here in 70mm was underwhelming. One of the posters on the Ziegfeld page claimed he heard snaps and whistling from all over the theater, (was it) before the credits, in its original 70mm release. I didn’t experience that though I did sit way in the back in the lounge seats.
Now, if they can find one of the newer 70mm prints for ‘Sound of Music,’ this would be a retrospective even the late Robert Wise would love to attend.
It also appears they’ve changed the version of Robert Wise’s ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ as they are showing the director’s cut in some format called HDCam. What the heck is that? Sounds like video taken with a HD camera??? As far as I know, they never printed a film from the director’s cut even though Wise had supposedly wanted a re-release ala the ‘Star Wars’ special editions. Judging by the DVD version, its good they didn’t. I really hate the way they dumbed some of the original audio elements that, imho, took away some of the original dramatic edge. It plays okay for tv. Wouldn’t it be cool to have all 3 versions; original film (if there’s a good print), Blu-Ray (as originally planned) and the director’s cut. :)
It would be nice to have a Robert Wise pre-movie featurette before each Wise film. Or, at least have an AFI employee or intern introduce each one. With iMovie, youtube and the AFI archives, they could easily put something together… :)
Giles, I Saw ‘Dark Crystal’ here, too, as it was 70mm and it was when the place was triplexed. While the puppeteering (spelling) and creatures were cool for its time, my only memory was the score and surrounds at the end of the movie.
I still remember running around the now ‘new’ balconies made as a result of the remodel. I think I caught 2001 here during a rare 70mm screening sitting in #2, the main auditorium, and just enjoying the place for what it was. Also, I believe ‘White Nights’ or is it ‘Knights’ with Gregory Hines and Mikhail Barishnakov was playing here in 70mm. The only reason I wanted to see the movie and remember enjoying was the dancing part that had a great set up, but went nowhere as Hines' character couldn’t hit it and Lionel Ritchie’s ‘Say You, Say Me’ in the theater’s stereo system, at the end of the movie.
Interesting info, Steve, as always. You state the Mac never had stereo surrounds only mono surrounds, so how would you explain me hearing the following:
In Star Trek II, as I posted on the AFI Silver page, there was this screw dropping hitting the floor sound heard right and rear in the BACK of the theater. I distinctly heard this many times and on the subsequent viewings, looking forward to audience reaction (heads turning towards the sound. Then Kirk shouting ‘KHAAAAN’ starting in front, progressing to the middle of the theater and echoing in the rear trailing off..as the camera seems to pull back to show his voice carrying off into space..or something to that effect.
What I’m trying to say is if this ‘mono’ how is the sound separation such that its around you and there’s that s-p-a-t-i-a-l quality to it that brings the movie to life? When I hear ‘mono,’ I think pre-1950s movies, B&W, flat sound, no right to left, left to right, nothing. Okay, Fantasia may be the exception.
In Brainstorm (1983), when Natalie Wood’s character is sobbing for her husband to ‘come back’ from the trip going to ‘heaven,’ you hear her voice all around the theater..i forget where but various lines are heard in rapid succession and repeated, ‘Michael’ was heard in one part, ‘Anthony (character’s middle name) 'Brace’ somewhere else. Then her next lines, ‘don’t leave me’ and ‘GET UP’ would be sound mixed heard all over the theater as the visuals take you on this light trip. It is all happening super fast ..Michael..Michael..Anthony..Anthony.. BraceBraceBrace..don’t leave (get up!) me!
So all this is ‘mono’?
What was cool was the regular shots were 35mm but almost filled up the Mac’s screen, then the 65mm visual fx and/or pov shots would go wide. As you state, the screen wasn’t large enough (wide) for 70mm, that makes sense.
I think the director’s intent would have made more dramatic impact had the right screen been had to show the difference. But during its DC release, this was the largest theater. Not sure about VA..I remember it was booked at GCC’s Springfield’s 70mm #1 and a few others but screenwise, the other’s would be about the same, if not smaller.
Hmm. I haven’t been to the Ziegfeld in almost 8 yrs, but I’d love to see 70mm there. Unfortunately, I’m reading their curtain isn’t used. I wasn’t so enthused about The Master when it came out. Looking back, it was just a nicely filmed movie with first rate acting that
With regard to Regal, they’ve got their IMAX-lite, AFI has real 70mm, they (Regal) shouldn’t feel threatened or try to prevent the AFI from getting it.
With Chris Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ getting a 70mm initial release before it goes wide, I’m wondering if the AFI will book it! It should since its the only venue that can play 70mm now. I am told the Senator quietly got rid of their 70mm projectors during the remodel. What a waste!
I saw the preview recently and was quite impressed with the visuals. Nolan knows what do with his 65mm camera and the visuals, at least the space ones should look really decent in the original format as opposed to blow ups and/or digital manipulation.
As a Trek purist, first, then cinephile second with a stickler for good showmanship, I do remember distinct sound fx in the original theatrical releases of the Trek films, so when it comes to the movie’s soundtrack, I can pretty much tell you, which film, had this particular sound effect and how it was experienced in its original release.
However, the original post was meant to express general disappointment over 70mm anything, with regard to Wise’s films, especially with ‘Sound of Music’ and ‘West Side Story’, both of which have decent 70mm prints out there, the former having been shown just a year or two ago!
With regard to the BluRay of TMP, at least it better preserves the original theatrical release of the movie (with its flaws), which I believe is superior to the director’s edition, in that they didn’t tamper with the better sound fx, that for unnecessary reasons, was replaced for either timing or revisionist reasons and toned down in the DE DVD.
Technically speaking, TMP, aside from the reboot films, was shot in 65mm with the fx shots, which are a lot. Even reduced to 35mm, you’ve still got first rate photo res as the original source was 65mm and its larger format. I remember being disappointed with Star Trek II’s 70mm resolution (blown up, of course), at the MacArthur, and the noticeable grain and subdued colors on its initial opening weekend. On the other hand, there were some cool sound fx and tricks afforded the 6-track format. One that stands out is when Kirk yells ‘KHAAAAN’, as Khan tells Kirk he’s marooned on Ceti Alpha V forever.. that resonates starting from the front of the theater, then to the middle and trails off to an echo in the rear. My favorite sound trick was prior to that, after the crew beams down (new transporter beam effect, loud and multi layered sound beams) where one of the Regula station crew drops a ‘screw’ that hits the floor and is distinctly heard right and rear of the theater. In my subsequent viewings of the movie, it made me chuckle to myself, to watch people turn their heads towards the sound as of something DID drop inside the theater.
Robert, you’re right, the 70mm Trek movie showings were at the Royal. On TrekMovie’s website, they had the guy, who runs it I think, hosting the TOS movies along with special guest stars. From what clips I saw of the Q&A, it could’ve been much better moderated with a proper panel discussion like they do real film retrospectives.
For TMP, they did show it somehow, I think it was 35mm and it may have been that awful print I saw in WV 5 years ago. At first, I didn’t think a 70mm print existed, but was told by the moderator that there were several but in very bad shape and the one decent print, was only ½ way presentable. I would’ve shown ½ in 35mm and the rest in 70mm, with intermission, but thats just me. :)
The guest they had for TMP’s showing was one of Kirk’s girl-of-the-week TOS' guest stars, who had nothing to do with the TMP movie. I forget her name, but I think she just recently passed away. I believe they got Nick Meyer, for Q&A, for Trek II. I would’ve gladly cashed in frequent flier miles for a ticket for that, but decided not to. Given your experience, in a way I’m glad I didn’t, but I would have liked to have met Nick Meyer and asked some pointed questions about the movie.
With TMP’s rushed release, there weren’t initial 70mm prints, but I have to believe they were in the process or making them because in either Starlog or Cinefantastique, they make mention of them coming later into the release and for the European release of the movie. Plus Susan Sackett’s ‘Making of’ book makes particular mention of work on the soundtrack for an eventual 70mm release.
This is an aside and off topic, but Trek’s 50th anniversary is in 2016. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a 70mm retrospective here? I wouldn’t mind seeing a pink print of Wrath of Khan as long as the soundtrack is preserved. The succeeding movies probably look better with age. DC never got VI in 70mm, the best they could get was the ‘Grand’ THX house at the now closed Union Station 9.
If I had Steve Allen’s (whatever that Microsoft guy’s name is) money, who owns the Cinerama and has made his own preservation prints, I’d make IMAX-lite versions of the TOS movies, preserve them for DCP. :)
Heck, maybe even throw in D-Box versions.
After checking the AFI Silver’s website, they are finally having a Robert Wise film tribute. This is a long time coming. They should’ve done this years ago. I may actually make time for this one.
What is interesting to note is that his more popular films, ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Sound of Music’ are NOT in 70mm. BOO! And they have two measly showings of each film. TWO!
I’m especially glad to see they’ve booked the Wise’s ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ on the list! I have not seen the movie theatrically in 5 years and that was a horrible, horrible scratched up print that definitely was not cared for. Its too bad they couldn’t get a good archive 70mm print or a decent studio print they had for a 70mm Trek festival in Hollywood a few years ago. AFI is showing it on Blu Ray and its not the Wise revised director’s cut! Ho hum. Might as well see it at home. :P
The last movie I saw here on Blu Ray was the Superman II Donner cut, which I had seen on DVD at home, but here, theatrically, even in the Historic Auditorium, was a major disappointment. Little surrounds, very low sound levels.
As I’ve seen the movie many times during its original release as a child and since, it introduced me to the world of cinema showmanship, at its best, with curtains opening and closing, proper light dims and a real overture. While the movie has its detractors and criticisms, it was an event experience for me that is forever ingrained in my mind. I am hoping the AFI will show the film the way it should be shown..with the complete overture, the curtains opening and closing and the light dims at the right time! Even if its not in the Historic Auditorium, I’ll settle for #2, which has a similar size screen anyway. :) With the THX certs and the volume amped up, Blu Ray’s digital mix of the original soundtrack, theoretically, the experience should SURPASS my original memory of the first theatrical release back in ‘79, right? Okay, sans the 900 or so in the sold out crowds back then.
It would be nostalgic if they played the original trailers that are on the DVD. The teaser one has a 5.1 surround mix that plays nicely at home. On the big screen, it should be better.
I think the description is incorrect. The 4 interior theaters were open well after the one above the food court opened. Not sure exactly when, but I’m guessing it was the early 00s, most likely before the first Qualcom DP projector was put in #11, which was for ‘Star Wars Eps II: Attack of the Clones, in '02.
Crown operated both venues, to be bought out by BowTie in ‘06 or so.
I vaguely remember the theaters here, but never saw a movie inside. I believe seeing marquee titles and digital sound in some, maybe 2 of the 4. The DTS logo being seen as a sound format. Since the 4 were in the middle of the mall, I suspect they were more of the shoebox variety then anything grand by way of design or special projection systems. Definitely, no 70mm. 35mm for sure.
I caught X Men Future Past in #9, one of my favs and one of the 3 original THX certified auditoriums. Excellent sound and projection.
In #5, I recently saw Liam Neeson’s latest ‘A Walk Among Tombstones’ and ‘Maze Runner.’ While Tombstones was more of a thriller, the sound fx with the gun shots were very effective.
‘Runner’, on the other hand, plays like a budget Hunger Games meets Lord of the Flies, but had some really nice surrounds with the maze changing scenes, with distinct sounds rear, sides and in front. Sound booms were deep, but not as deep as in #1, which I missed opening week :(
After a long break, I am glad the self service kiosks have multiplied and also recognize the reward cards. What I am pissed about is they changed the point system to be more like Regal’s. I was getting close to the 100 mark on the old one and was going to cash in on everything at one time. Oh well.
Wow. I never knew this place existed. I remember it was the Tenley 3 for Circle Theaters back in the day.
I believe all my visits were in 2 of the 3 auditoriums. One of the 3, which had 70mm, had to have a screen not much larger than 40 ft maybe? I remember seeing Blue Thunder here in 70mm, in ‘83. I vividly remember the climax of the movie where Roy Scheider and Malcolm McDowell were dueling it out in their helicopters. The 6-track sound was enveloping with the whirring of the helicopters.
Prior to that, I recall seeing Ray Bradbury’s ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ to a sold out audience, on or about Spring ‘83. This was in the 2nd largest of the 3 theaters. The trailers and tv ads made the film more scary than it really was even for a youngster like me at the time. There was this drunk college guy, who sat behind me, who’d make comments that would elicit this chain response throughout the audience.
For example, during the scene where the boys are pursued by the Dust Witch, played by a then hot looking Pam Grier, the ‘Witch’ becomes this lightning/hand effect that was searching for the boys. When it flashes into what seems like hundreds of spiders about to jump the two boys, the film jumps as if everything was a nightmare. The jerk SCREAMED..and these other girls screamed and then there was total laughter. Then he has to blurt out that the boys look older.
When I read about this film’s production in the now-gone sci-fi/fantasy magazine Starlog, indeed they did reshoot the scene. The kids had started puberty where even their voices had deepened somewhat.
What I’d like to call Theater #2, didn’t have 70mm, but did have decent surround sound. At the end of the movie, where Jason Robard’s character and his son try to find each other, you can hear the son’s pleas and cries all around the theater…‘Dad..dad…daaad.. I..I..I..love love…love..you..you..you.’ something to that effect. Jonathan Pryce was pretty good as the villain. The effects were supposedly one of the first films to utilize CGI animation, which was quite cool at the time, with the materialization of the carnival and Mr. Dark’s ripping pages of an almanac that morph into fire.
I’ve seen ‘Innerspace,’ which I believe was in 70mm and ‘The Big Easy(?) both with Dennis Quaid. The latter film is memorable for two reasons: 1) We saw Lynda (tv’s Wonder Woman) Carter in the audience and she was gracious to say 'hi’ to everyone when she was discovered by someone in the audience. 2) My Mom came with us. The latter is not so bad, but for the fact that in the movie there is a scene of digital foreplay that went over her head even after my cousin tried to explain the scene to her. :)
I doubt they’d close the Uptown. Even if its losing money, as long as its not a ton of money, you’ve got other theaters in the area under AMC that aren’t.
On the other hand, is it confirmed the old 35/70mm Norelcos, or whatever projection they had to play 70mm is really gone? Or just pushed aside to make room for the digital projector? Then we’d know for sure if classics would ever be shown again here..at least in 70mm. The extreme curved screen would be a waste if it were..hint installation of a smaller flat one? Nooooo. ;)
As I’ve said in previous post, IMAX-lite would be a much better fit here, if it can be decently shown on the curve then the other installs, imho. Dolby Atmos installed..hmmm. Think of the possibilities.
If they could do it at the Cinerama in Seattle, why not here? I guess it depends on if AMC has the guts and funds to do it to make it worthwhile. If it becomes something technologically superior (at least until the next BIG thing comes along) to whats shown around the beltway, it could revive this place despite the lack of parking.
No one has blogged about Doug Trumbull’s new higher frame rate super DP system that I believe made its debut at the Cinerama the other month. I wanted to go just to see how immersive the brighter, hyperrealistic experience could be but couldn’t make it :P If he ever gets it commercially going, the Uptown would be a nice place to outfit it if its possible given its current condition.
Great article, Howard. ^5.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been to the movies this year as often as I would have liked, the AFI’s 70mm festival included. I’ve just been too busy with work and other things. Your review of the 70mm Ryans Daughter notwithstanding and with my previous lackluster experience of 70mm at the Silver, I wasn’t too enthused to make the trip to see anything here.
My enjoyment experiencing 70mm lies, in large part, to the sound. If the sound isn’t engulfing when its supposed to, the immersive experience is not attained. I’m not tech enough to explain the differences. I remember a Ziegfeld theater posting about ‘West Side Story’ in 70mm and the opening whistling sequence heard around the theater. When they showed it here, just about all the sounds seemed to come up front. Thats just an example of those sounds that make a film come ‘alive.’
Howard, looking at in70mm’s website, NY and Chicago had/have 70mm festivals with titles that AFI can’t seem to get at all. One would think with AFI’s hook into the film community, they’d be able to get them. On the other hand, the local AFI has had some interesting premiers and directors for film discussions recently.
The site seems to be getting better, the email notifications are workinf for me, for the first time in years.
On the other hand, I believe they’ve been pruning site comments as I have seen mine disappear. This majorly sucks. Now, some of my memories of certain films are gone forever.
I remember the first Transformer movie and was quite impressed with its soundtrack..enough to be aurally tricked into believing sound above, in addition to surrounds when the bots would fight in Bow Tie’s #1’s THX theater. It was missing in the IMAX (real) at the UA/Regal King of Prussia venue. I don’t know if I wanted to see another one. It seems more like a rehash of what was in the previous movies.
I thought I had entries here..maybe not. My posse and I saw last year’s Star Trek: Into Darkness in the IMAX auditorium. Its probably one of the smallest of the IMAX-lite installs in the area. And Giles, yes, its smaller then the Egyptian’s XD. Its a shame since this venue was built new from the ground up. My friends were upset for paying $18 for the privilege. I recall the day seeing Star Trek, as it was playing in another auditorium and sold out, people refusing to pay the extra $ to see it in IMAX and instead choosing to see other movies. I’m thinking either folks don’t know/appreciate the difference, or just don’t care. Then again, as ticket prices approach $20, you have to think about what you are spending and what you get for that money.
I think I saw the last GI Joe movie here, too..and Spielberg’s Lincoln in one of the regular auditoriums. ‘Lincoln’, the experience was underwhelming as the sound level was too low that lulled me to sleep..literally, although Daniel Day Lewis performance was great.
They’ve got hot food here such as wings and jalapeno poppers, with soda, close to $12 or more. Expensive! I’d rather (and have) snuck in better food from the nearby Wegmans' hot food bar.
The customer service with the management, at least, is good. I had an issue with my Regal card and they took my old one and transferred everything to my new card, with pick up the next day.
This theater is currently closed for renovations and is supposed to reopen in the fall. On Yelp, it says Sept 1, 2014.
AFI’s 80’s film retrospective line up looks good. They’ve got “Batman”, “Star Trek IV”, “Willow” and “Temple of Doom”, but not one in 70mm. I remember seeing/experiencing all of those in 70mm. The surround track during Doom’s Thuggee sacrifice sequence..the time warp surround in Trek IV..the siamese dragon fire coming at, through and behind you from Willow and James Horner’s playful, heroic score. Batman, I don’t remember anything grand, except for the loudness of the Batmobile in motion and the Prince track.
They’ve got “Lawrence of Arabia” in 70mm, once again. One would think they’d book 2001 again, too, but maybe the 4K version coming later may be worth waiting for.
If they can get them.. ‘The Untouchables’ in 70mm would be great, “Gandhi” is epic with its real crowd scenes of thousands. ‘Top Gun’ would be great, too, but they’ve got it in digital. Hopefully, the transfer is good and they play it up loud. The beginning sequence with the jets taking off, Giorgio Moroder’s score transitioning to Kenny Loggins' ‘Danger Zone’ was sooooo awesome.
This venus is temporarily closed until July for construction. Not sure if its construction nearby or at the facility, itself..maybe need to drive by to see for myself.
The address is correct.. I remember the West Ox Road part of it now. The picture correctly depicts its location. I remember there was (maybe still is) a Chinese restaurant below the theater.
I’m not quite 100% sure about this, but I think the venue opened around Dec 1996. The reason being I saw Star Trek: First Contact here and worked near Tysons and there was something new about this place and was advertised in the Washington Post. My visit there was during snow time. The nearby Movies at Fair Oaks was already there and remained open for a few years. I believe there were two auditoriums that were THX certified. I don’t recall the numbers but as you entered upstairs to where the theaters are, the THX cert theaters were adjoining. There were video gaming machines clustered together in the beginning..maybe they are still there..not sure since I haven’t been there in 7 years.
I can vividly recall the excitement over the trailers for the re-release of the original Star Wars trilogy after George Lucas' had tweaked them. The trailer announcer intro’d the preview by demonstrating visually and aurally that there is a pronounced difference from the way many had seen the movies on tv and on tinny sound systems to full blown wide screen and remastered digital sound with the bombastic John Williams orchestral score and sound fx.
I don’t recall anything special or unique about the place. The experience was underwhelming as I thought the sound levels should have played up louder.
Yeah, it happened again and yesterday at the Magic Johnson venue…all AMC theaters. I wonder if its the start of a pattern. I hope not and they catch the idiot that is doing this. You’d think movie theaters would be ‘safe’ as it is a destination point to ‘get away’ cinematically speaking.
I wanted to see the newly released X Men movie as it is playing in the ETX theater in 3D. I am not so sure about that now.
This is all wrong. The picture is wrong. There had to be a listing for this venue that has disappeared along with some of the others for some unexplained reason. I’ll update once my memory clears up.. :)
The last movie I saw here was the first Sex in the City Movie back in ‘07 or so because it was the only or one of the last venues showing it in DP, in one of the smaller houses down to the right as you enter.
I caught 300: Rise of an Empire in the Xtreme Theater or so I thought. There were a few people at the counter and I decided to use the automated ticket machine. Fortunately, unlike Bow Tie’s auto units, the Xscape auto machines, like Regal’s, will also accept your frequent movie card. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you what your points are, either or that it even acknowledges any point capture.
When I sat down, I was alone, the lights were on and a patron came in during previews. The lights were still on during previews. Hmm. The movie started and the lights were still on. I waited..and waited..thinking maybe someone will turn off the house lights. Finally, the other patron left. I then went to box office/concession stand and was told that someone should have told me that there were electrical problems from one of the recent snow storms that prevented the houselights from 3 theaters to be turned off! I was thinking to myself, then why did they even advertise, much less sell tickets for shows where this would be a problem. I was offered a free pass after watching the show in bright light, a refund and/or watching it in another theater and then getting a free pass afterward. The thing was I paid the premium price for the Xtreme auditorium.
I decided to go back and watch it in the bright light. A Manager came in later and asked me if I could follow the movie. Fortunately, it was intriguing enough to follow, but due to the harsh lights, contrasts and darks could not be seen. She recommended I go to another auditorium, but didn’t specify. I walked around and found it was playing and ended up seeing the first half hour again.
I think it was 11 that I ended up in and it was in a non-3D but digital format. What a difference. I almost forgot the graphic visual style of the first movie that drew me to it and the sequel. Anyways, the presentation was digital perfect even though there was no 3D. The sex scene they had was raunchy and deserves a hard R rating.
When the movie ended, I went back to the concession/box office counter. There was only one young lady there. She called the Manager to get my free pass. I waited and waited and waited. Finally, the Manager, a much younger guy than the first one I met when the place opened up earlier last year. I suppose the previous GM had enough of the place and left. :) So..after about what felt like 30 minutes, I got my readmit pass. The only thing is upon reading it when I got home, it says not valid for Xtreme, 3D shows. Well…we’ll see about that come redemption time. I kept my original stub, which is intact because no one was at the auditorium entrance to take it. Ha!
This year, with work and the very harsh winter we’ve had, I have not seen the usual amount of films I have in year’s past. I was glad to get out and see this movie even with the tech issues the venue has had. Would I go back? Sure. I have to redeem the readmit pass. :) I do love the comfy faux leather chairs and the big screens. Maybe when the Russell Crowe starring ‘Noah’ comes out next week, I’ll go back.
Its not a great venue. I still remember going there some 23 years ago and never returned.
The calendar shows they are booking 1984’s ‘Starman’ in 70mm in March. Of many of that year’s films, this wasn’t really a favorite. I saw it in 35mm at the now closed College Park theater and fell asleep during it. My sleeping during part of the movie had more to do with the fact I worked the night before and my friend kept begging me to drive him to catch a matinee. I remember the reviews of the movie being similar to ET but for grown ups. Let’s hope the presentation yields something more memorable than the other 70mm films shown here of late.
More plexes in DC? Another Landmark? I think the CEO is right about possible saturation. As much as I like the E Street venue, I seldom go there with the lack of free parking or unless there’s a free screening then paying for parking is like buying a ticket. I hope the new venues have larger screens…more like AMC’s wall-to-wall ones maybe?