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I’m wondering if this is the same 70mm print the AFI Silver had last Feb ‘07. It had an annoying tapping sound starting with the scene with Bowman rescuing Poole. You can read my experience at the AFI Silver’s page. I don’t know how to do the html thingy, yet.
Nice update, Howard. I like the history write up, to include its restoration effort and current technical offerings. Its the best write up of any theater on this site. And, yes, I’m biased because its in my area. :)
I’m contemplating catching the restored El Cid tomorrow night. Even though its a workday and some of the reviews were not too kind and with the reporting of its two stars; Sophia Loren and Charlton Heston not getting along led to wooden performances, I feel if someone went through the money and expense of restoration, it must be worth a look.
My friend and I saw Batman Returns here back in ‘05. Having driven and braved the drive from Wash DC and having seen Revenge of the Sith at the wonderful Ziegfeld, the same day, I was beat. Needless to say, I slept through probably half the movie. The presentation, from what I did see was immersive and satisfying.
What I do remember is the usher’s demanding tickets to enter the theater, on the second level, even after you’ve proved you belonged there the first time. I guess no one switched theaters or spent the day there watching movies here on one ticket. On another note, there was quite a diversity of the crowd; mostly younger, some professional and the amount of singles spread throughout the theater and then this HUGE big boned man, who decides to sit right next to me even though there were plenty of individual seats around the theater. I suppose he was sitting in his favorite seat. :)
All right then. If this is the theater that I believe all of you are referring to, it was located next to where Target is now, actually to the right of where Montgomery Wards used to be. Its not the outdoor one next to Social Security, across the street from Bally Total Fitness. There was a lamp shop in between that sold nothing but lamps and there were an assortment of 25c kiddie rides and gumball machines at one time or another. At the end of the wing, there used to be a pet shop. In the 90s, Burger King opened up across from the theater, too.
I saw Cloverfield and am wondering if exhibitors were instructed to play the movie extremely loud. It was perfectly presented in DP at a THX cert theater, my fav BowTie plex, and as a result, my ears were ringing for hours after the show. On Sunday, I took my niece to see Alvin and the Chipmunks, at a different theater, and Cloverfield was just ending and you could hear the exit music all the way to the entrance to the multiplex. They need to issue audio warnings about the sound levels.
Though it is nice to dream of this place reopening to its original glory and capacity of some 900 seats, I can’t help wonder about the parking problem that would exist. Anyone who has driven by this place will know that the shopping center is usually full of cars on any given time. Probably the only sensible place to park would be around the corner where the Giant supermarket is to accommodate everyone.
I read somewhere that the strike will effect movie production for ‘09. That being the case, I guess I don’t really care about it either. I figure they’ll settle before then. On the tv front, I never watch much of broadcast programming anyway because of the commercials, even with DVR.
I’m scratching my head on this one but wasn’t this theater located at the corner of the block? And one of the theaters had a design flaw of having a column that obstructs a patron’s view of the screen? I remember going to a Circle theater that had that. Supposedly, all 3 had stereo installation and an operating curtain that dropped and rose before and after the show. I’m guessing I visited this place around ‘87 or so.
If memory serves me correctly, the original auditorium, or largest one also had plays. My first and only visit here was back in 1982 where I saw the movie Tron. It was probably the best venue to see it as there were no 70mm bookings of it in the DC area. The seats were steeply raked..almost stadium-style and had Dolby stereo. I don’t remember if the other 3 had stereo.
This was a horrible theater that was probably the worst of the theaters that lined up Wisconsin Ave. My first and only visit to this place was in 1982 and I believe they closed sometime in the later 80s. The acoustics were horrible and, if memory serves me correctly had no stereo sound in any of the auditoriums. Sound insulation was lacking as you could hear two soundtracks for the price of one. This place was hardly a “treasure” by any stretch of the imagination.
My family attended a 5:05pm showing of “Alvin and the Chipmunks” in one of the 4 smaller theaters. I didn’t know that 5pm was the cut off of matinee prices. I always thought that 6pm was the cut off, but their prices are lower than the chains. There is freshly popped popcorn as you are welcomed by the waft of it as you pass the ticket booths.
The interiors haven’t changed since AMC opened this place up 22 years ago, except the stadium seating and Dolby Digital sound upgrades. When they first opened up this place, they had a 70mm booking of Top Gun that showed in two auditoriums of the four largest auditoriums. It was a great theatrical experience to hear and almost feel the roar of the jet fighters do their thing mated to the great score by Giorgio Moroder score and Kenny Loggins' title song. I wonder if they still have the same projectors there.
There was an annoying buzz like an old alarm clock alarm that eminated from one of the speakers at the top of #8 where we were. It came and went during the show. Another annoying detraction is the lack of proper sound insulation between the theaters. You could hear the other auditoriums soundtrack at various times during the movie. Not a good thing.
Lastly, their Customer Service Email address is either not accepting email or its closed.
When I lived in the area, I could have sworn that this theater was a twin operated by the Roth group in the early 80s. I don’t think as a twin, either had stereo, which was probably why I never went back.
I’m not 100% sure about this, but I believe this place opened in the mid 80s? I’m thinking ‘87 or so and it was under the APEX or KB name. My friend and I attended a movie on opening weekend, but I can’t remember what it was! The theaters are upstairs and are about the same size..I’m guessing 150-250, maybe 300. If you attend on a Thu evening-Saturday, do visit the Amish Market that’s right below the theaters. They have wonderful fresh farm produce and dairy, along with snack foods such as fresh made pretzels (with or without salt or butter) and a variety of freshly baked-on-the-premesis cookies, breads, pies and cakes! Ian says he enjoys Pot Bellys and, yes, their sandwiches are good and reasonably priced, but they only have bottled and canned drinks. I prefer the fountain variety.
When Crown took over, they completed a remodel back in ‘04 or so, which included a refurbished concession stand area and sound systems. I believe they all have digital sound (at least Dolby) that I am aware of. They do play the Dolby Digital trailer the last few times I’ve seen movies here. I read on a website on 70mm capable theaters, that the projector from the old MacArthur supposedly made its way to this venue back in '97 and that auditoriums 1 and 2 were 70mm capable. Unfortunately, I don’t recall this venue ever booking 70mm anything.
BowTie took over in late ‘06 and the programming has remained art house-type fair, which would explain the lack of teens attending this place..as if that were a bad thing? The Mall gets the popular films but this is not always the case. Last year, this place got Dreamgirls as opposed to the Mall, so go figure. BowTie installed new rocker type seats, which are very comfortable. The last film I saw here was Sweeney Todd, in #1, to an almost empty theater but enjoyed the movie and the sound. It was nice to lie down and enjoy the show.
Ken, as far as your post to a link about underaged ticket buying, I’ve seen cashiers at the ticket counter ask for ID to those who look underaged. Maybe on that particular night, someone slipped up but I probably can guess who asked for ID upon entering the theater, too. Correct me if I’m wrong, but a film that is Rated R states that no one under 17 is allowed without a guardian or parent? If thats the case, then the parent legally should have gone to the showing with the kids. Or, maybe he did go with them to buy the tickets then decided not to go to the show thinking that once the kids had been cleared to buy tickets, his presence was not required for the actual show.
I honestly think he has no standing since legally, his child was attempting to watch a movie that legally required a guardian or parent to be with him and his friends.
During my years of frequenting the Mall 11, I’ve had to ask for a refund only one time and that was because they advertised Superman Returns as being in digital projection, yet it was not. I was told that the “key” to the digital projector had expired and that the last show of that movie of the day was on film. The ticket taker tried to explain to me that there was “no difference” between digital projection and film but I was not having it. The Manager was going to give me money back, but I opted for passes because I frequent the place often. If that offended parent had seen the General Manager, I’m sure he would have gotten his money back.
Tonight, my ears are ringing as if I’ve been at a loud rock concert, but alas, it was due to the loud but excellent presentation of the movie, “Cloverfield”, in DP. The audience of mostly 20somethings and naval academy kids enjoyed the sold out show, which was introduced by one of the managers, but had little to say other than to move closer together to make room for others. I primarily wanted to see the new Star Trek teaser trailer and knew it would be attached to this movie being that J. J. Abrams and Paramount is involved in both films. Needless to say, I was not disappointed and am looking forward to more trailers for this movie as well as more movies at this, my favorite multiplex.
Juno was very good. I saw it in DP at Landmark Balto. I’m glad its doing well at the AFI. I’m surprised to see its calendared to run well into February.
On the issue of what is showing in the Historic Auditorium, we’ve been over this subject over and over, over the years and its not going to change, unless they’ve booked a 70mm movie. Posting here may be a good outlet but one has to call AFI management and voice your protest or start an organized petition for what you want.
How depressing. When they first came into our area, I received a nice Email from someone who touted how much of the family is involved in the business and how dedicated they are to showmanship in motion picture exhibition. While their newest plex opening in Hyattsville MD is a nice place, it doesn’t displace my favorite and closer theaters that have state-of-the-art DP and THX cert. Its just not worth the drive. Now, they’ve been gobbled up by Regal.
The Regal nearest to me, which I’ve frequented for years has gone downhill in quality since their people took over. At least comments were acknowledged and complaints were addressed by a corporate Customer Relations person…a Lisa Beeler? But I think she’s been long gone as my latest comments and complaints have gone unanswered. Saturday nights are a hit or miss affair if they have enough staffing at the concession stand, or if they know how to make coffee and if the restrooms are going to be flooded with waste matter. Security seems to be top notch as there are plain clothes policemen everywhere eyeing everyone as if we’re all people of ‘interest.’ To be fair, at least one of the auditoriums in the plexes around here is DP outfitted. I suppose that is some progress.
I suspect the Indian staff that are there may be the same ones that were running the theater when I saw the last SW film there back in ‘05. They do speak English, but I think the better question to ask is if they know how to run a theater..the projector, make sure the picture looks and sound the way it is supposed to. If they offered Indian snacks like samosas and pakoras, along with the usual theater food, I would buy them! :)
They should at least mix up the programming to include classic films (70mm) and not just the latest Hollywood offerings.
I’d have to disagree with you about the MacArthur losing its charm after it was triplexed. Granted, its nice to be in a nice large auditorium and take in the sight and sounds of the environment BUT, I think the theater gained some in that the two smaller auditoriums did not detract a whole lot from the original. In fact, you can recall, they opened up the upper level to balconies and had decent Dolby systems and I believe the screen was replaced in the big auditorium, with a larger one. And the smaller auditoriums had curtains that rose and fell during their respective shows (at least the times that I saw movies in them, which wasn’t a lot..I probably can recall three showings.. Flashdance, Eleni and Heaven Help Us) and it was a vertical rise and drop at that.
In any case, with three screens, you should be able to balance some decent programming between the first run and classics. As nice as the Landmarks are, they aren’t that much different to me than your usual multiplexes.
With the Dupont Circle 5 closing, maybe this venue could be viable once again. The other night, there was local news coverage of the closing and it was stated that there are more screens in the city than ever! I suppose they’re factoring in the large multiplexes at Gallery Place and Georgetown. But those venues are on the other side of town and I’d hardly consider them treasures by any stretch of the imagination. If the Avalon can be brought back and made a success, the MacArthur can, too, with the right support. To be honest, the MacArthur is more of a treasure than the Avalon is and, of course, holds more favorable memories. There was talk about turning the place into office space, maybe they could partially do that to make the theaters more of an economical viability. I’d think they could clear up the empty space at the top of the building and back.
Giles, SHH! Don’t suggest any more venue closings. I like Shirlington and the surrounding restaurants and public library.
Jack, are you sure the pictures you have depict an original single screen venue? The pictures you have are of the Roth’s/Loews, now P&G plex that opened up back in 1987 or so. I remember being there opening weekend to watch Batteries Not Included in one of the theaters…thats why. I always thought they were brand new theaters from the ground up.
Nice pictures, Howard! So..maybe after CVS lease runs out the theater will return? It seems as if it would be an easy conversion since the CVS shopping floor takes up only a small part of the theater..probably just the lobby area.
Pierre, you have quite an exhaustive list, but something is amiss. Chicago had a 5 month run back in ‘02? I thought the movie was good, but I doubt it played that well with NYers to play for 20 weeks.
Also, there’s no mention of Blade Runner playing here, which was just a few months back.
The East mezzanine picture is ½ of the twinned balcony? Or is it the main auditorium? It seems cut off in the middle. The hallway pictures and ceiling fixtures look quite good. I suppose someone is maintaining the theater.
DC Metro area (NoVA, MD and DC), I’d say we have three. possibly four; Washington DC’s AMC Uptown, the independent Greenbelt MD’s P&G Old Greenbelt and Baltimore MD’s Senator and lastly, DC’s Avalon. I’d say the Avalon is single screen given the fact that it originally was that and that an upstairs auditorium was added years later not changing the original auditorium’s set up in any way.
Actually, you could count AFI’s Silver, too. The original auditorium is still showing first fun movies..Juno comes to mind.