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Its beeen two years since there was a post about making this place a theater again. Anyone know what is going on, if anything? With the recent Senator woes, who happens to be a not too distant neighbor, what is the viability of revitalizing this theater?
I’d like to see a Robert Wise retrospective: “Day the Earth Stood Still” “West Side Story” (70mm)
“Sand Pebbles” or “Star” (70mm), Star Trek: The Motion Picture (70mm, Director’s Edition, if one can be struck)
Or, a Sci-Fi week featuring: “2001: A Space Odyssey” (70mm), “THX:1138” (restored in DP), “Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind” and Disney’s “The Black Hole” (70mm), “Brainstorm” (70mm..yes, at least ONE print is in circulation..see if Douglas Trumbull is available for Q&A for both films), any Star Trek motion picture (70mm, if Doug Trumbull is available he could do Q&A for ST:TMP, too :).. “Dune"
No more "Star Wars” anything. Might as well wait for the Digital 3D versions coming out soon.
Maybe a themed restrospective like “disaster week” with “Earthquake” in Sensaround, Titanic (70mm DTS). Animation week: “Sleeping Beauty,” “The Black Cauldron” both were in 70mm, or anything your contacts with Disney might have and release in 70mm.
An actor retrospective of say.. Lawrence Olivier week: “Wuthering Heights,” “Marathon Man,” “Inchon”…no..just kidding about the last one.
Oh..how about Guilty Pleasures week? “Mommie Dearest” “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”
“Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”
I have just returned from a showing of the movie at the BowTie Annapolis 11 in the glorious Real D Digital format. Surprisingly, the shows were not sell outs given all the hoopla. There were a lot of families present with little kids in tow, but thankfully, my friend and I were able to sit in our favorite seats.
The trailer for the Real D format has changed. I prefer the first one that had more of an organic feel with the seemingly hundreds of little artifacts in an organic fluid as opposed to just a creative twist on the Real D lettering.
The film, itself, was disappointing. I don’t want to get into a lengthy review of the movie but let me say that Disney may be able to get the technology right making this kind of movie, but they are no Pixar when it comes to telling a story that makes sense and that is engaging. I don’t think this film was a product of the newly acquired Pixar into the Disney fold but someone in the know can and should correct me if this is not the case. I fell asleep after the first 1/3 of the movie, or so my friend tells me, as it drags and sputters until the audience finally meets the Robinsons. They turn out to be a dysfunctional mess that even Dr. Phil could not help. Attempts at humorous set ups and one liners fall flat. There’s one scene where Grandma asks Lewis, after being chased by a T-Rex if he’s okay and has cellulite. Not funny. I doubt this movie will make it to $100M domestically.
The movie looks fine in this format. The 3D elements looked good and sharp, with excellent colors that really brough it to life. Sound was also good all around with no discernible flaws.
Judging from the audience reaction, the movie was a mixed bag. One little girl next to me started to dance in the aisles when the frogs were singing! The lady behind me was into it clapping and laughing but the man sitting behind me and to the right was snoring. His friend could be heard chastising him. At the end, there were some claps but I’d hardly say that the majority completely enjoyed the movie.
Ed, you raise an interesting issue/debate about the ‘song’ sung at the end of Jedi. My first reaction to hearing it, along with my friends, was that there was a religous overtone. The chorus sounded like “celebrate the Lord” or maybe thats what I wanted it to sound like being that my friends and I attended private religous schools at the time. And the audience seemed to like the light spirited fair with the Ewoks playing drums on the severed heads of the storm troopers. Throw in the music, the spirit forms of the ‘saved’ Anakin, Yoda and Obi-wan and, finally, the group shot and fade out to the familiar fanfare theme was a satisfying ending to the saga.
Starlog, Cinefantastique and Cineflex, at the time, made no mention of Lucas being unhappy with the ending. I believe it was a Starlog editorial that cleared up, at least for me, the lyric to the end of Jedi as ‘celebrate the love’ but the writer thought, like we did, that it was ‘celebrate the Lord.’ The 1997 Special Edition changes made sense and, unlike a lot of fans, I respect the fact that it is Lucas' film, its his story, his baby, so he can do whatever he wants to finally see his vision of what Star Wars is fully realized. Now whenever the 3D Digital versions come out, I bet there may be some further changes. I, for one, didn’t like the insertion of a Hayden Christensen’s Anakin, as opposed to Sebastian Shaw’s Anakin. Its doesn’t make sense physically as the character has aged since he became Darth Vader and eventually died as an older man. Yoda should also be replaced by a CGI animated character to give him more realistic movement.
This is an interesting discussion thread, but for me, I think the Star Trek films, at least the TOS ones were more significant, with a more…rabid fan base and sometimes raucous audience for an entertainment phenomenon that has lasted some 40 years. If there is ever a discussion of that film series' experiences, I could write volumes. ;)
Paul: Regarding the Digital vs Analog, I beg to differ with you. Let me see..the 3-D-sound envelope you refer to can and has been achieved in my moviegoing experience.
At the Senator, in Baltimore staring in ‘99, they installed a Dolby Digital EX system with a unique rear channel set up that adds more 'life’ as it were to sound. Since then, along with thousands of regular patrons over the years, we have enjoyed event films there where I can say I’ve experienced that 3D sound envelope you mention. Here is a short list of my first hand experiences:
In Phantom Menace, during the pod race sequence, the sound is loud, distinct and powerful enough that when you sit at least ¼-1/3 from the screen, you get the sensation of movement. You, along with the others move in tune with, or away from the pods as they accelerate, bob and weave. This same sensation was achieved in Clones, when Obi-wan tries to escape the sonic charges from Jango Fett’s ship. Remember that super loud BOOOOOOONG sound following a second of dead silence? Then the shockwave starts and the resulting theater’s sound and picture caused patrons to also move, as if to avoid the coming shockwave and oncoming asteroid matter and space debris.
The last Lord of the Rings movie, seen again at the Senator, and its Dolby Digital EX set up, also re-created the same enveloping 3D sound during the major land battle at Gandor with the Oliphants. After the Orcs flee from the army of Theodon, the Oliphants are on the march with their massive swinging and swaying tusks. I can remember that the whooosh sound of the trunk swinging and sweeping and then tossing multiple horse riding soldiers into the air, made patrons move in their seats as if to avoid being ‘hit’ by the approaching beasts! A powerful scene delivered and experienced!
I suspect independents like the Senator are more presentation saavy and regularly perform sound tests and maintenence to ensure their investments deliver. And, for the most part, they do! :) I’m not sure what your experiences may be where you are. Perhaps your experience with digital sound was at the multiplexes, which, at least in this market, usually don’t care about such things. In my experiences, the THX certified cinemas, are better since they have to maintain a certain standard to remain certified. When I saw the first Matrix at the THX-certified GCC (now AMC) Springfield (VA) 1, Neo and Trinity enter the building with a shootout to save Morpheus, I could here the crisp metallic clanking sound of dropping spent shells. Seen again, at the Uptown in DC, there wasn’t that metallic crispness to the sound for the same scene.
Sure. Do I get any residual points for income earned, either directly or indirectly, credit of any kind even incidentals? :)
Paul, as far as the sound format, I would think digital would have been superior given its pristine advantage over analog six-track, even Dolby. In reading some posts from moviegoers who have noticed the same thing, the general consensus is that the film’s sound editor is to fault.
I forgot to mention that I saw this movie again, in New Delhi, India, no less at one of their movie palaces, in 70mm 6-track, non-Dolby in Dec1985 or Jan 1986. The soundtrack was rock concert loud but lacked the noise reduction of Dolby to at least reduce the snap, crackle and pop of a print that, I’m sure, was played many, many times given the film scratches and fade. The distinction with this viewing was that during the scenes with the Emperor, there was a discernible choral ‘theme’ like a ghost wooo..WOOOOO…woooo heard in the rear. I could not make out this ‘new’ sound during the many viewings at the Mac Arthur, in ‘83, or even the brief re-release at DC’s Uptown in Aug '85. I wonder if perhaps there were several master prints that could explain the subtle difference of this addition to the soundtrack.
So Vito, do you think I should give NA’s Fairfax (VA) Deluxe 14 another try and see the movie there? Thankfully, its not in the Director’s Hall, so I won’t have to go through the seating problem I had the last time I went here.
I think I’ll see the movie at BowTie Annapolis' plex which has the Real D install and THX certification. I’ve seen Chicken Little in Digital 3D there and enjoyed the presentation, as well as just about every DP movie they’ve booked in #10. Its no Ziegfeld for sure, but its probably the better of just about any other venue in the Metro area. If the movie is really good, I may see it again at the Fairfax plex.
My memory of seeing this movie is quite vivid as this was the event film of the summer of ‘83. I purposely flunked a biology exam so that I could make the early afternoon show at one of the few venues that had it in 70mm in the DC metro area. This happened to be at the now closed Mac Arthur in Washington, DC. It had the largest screen and was the largest theater that booked the movie and with my familiarity with it from past 70mm events seen there, it would no doubt be THE destination point for this event! My friends were dependent on me for the ride as I was the only one in our group that had wheels (an old wagon with the vomit hideaway seat) and a license to drive.
Upon our arrival, there was the looong line that went past the theater along Mac Arthur Blvd. The theater had been triplexed for about six months but Auditorium 2 maintained most of the original theater and boasted a slightly larger screen than the original. It was a warm day and one of the Ushers was selling refreshments on the street, walking up and down servicing the crowd. A few fans even dressed up in costume for this event.
Upon filing in to the sold out show, we were able to get those sweet seats about 1/3 of the way from the front of the screen and in the center. The film begain with the familiar 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm logos, as the crowd erupted in cheers and the last movie in the Star Wara saga had just begun.
Now one thing has perplexed me over the years, especially with the release of Revenge of the Sith and that has to do with the soundtrack. The last film’s soundtrack even though they had the best state-of-the-art digital technologies did not, in my opinion, match some of even the simpler sounds from the Original Trilogy.
For example, when the Emperor uses dark force lightning to kill Luke, it had an almost thunderous, deep frying pan-type sizzle that strongly conveyed his evil powers in 6-track Dolby stereo. People were screaming, shouting at the screen for Vader to do something as Luke was screaming..wreathing in pain from the electrocution. Powerful scene back then backed up by an equally delivering sound effect.
Fast Foward to 2005, when Mace Windu and Yoda get zapped with it, it doesn’t have the same snap or gutteral impact, certainly not lightning but more of a light show. It didn’t make any difference if it was a DLP showing at a THX cert theater like Bow Tie Annapolis, or the DP show at the Ziegfeld, or the usually first rate 35mm EK special print they had at the Senator in Baltimore, which by the way, was the most disappointing film event experience I have had there. Light sabers also suffered from a more subdued vibrato, with the exception of Anakin firing his lightsaber up to slay the Younglings and Mace firing his up for the first time, in the arena, in Clones.
Event movies like this certainly bring people together to fill the movie houses, but other than that, how is it culturally significant? Other than bringing people together from different backgrounds for that communal experience, its not much different than say a major sporting event, or even a spiritual revival at church. But significant? No. Its just a movie event.
If memory serves me correctly, this may have been a single screen theater that got twinned. Eventually, 4, all non-stereo, shoebox sized theaters were built below. The last movie I saw here was way back, in 1997, Kevin Kline in “In and Out,” in one of the shoebox non-stereo auditoriums downstairs. Prior to that, I remember seeing Robin Williams in “Dead Poets Society” in 1989, in one of the twinned theaters upstairs, which are fairly large that seat about 400 or so each and have Dolby stereo. I believe the theater had long engagements of the original Star Wars trilogy, but most probably did not have 70mm capability. It is off of Rte 1 and in a shopping center strip of stores.
It was going slow.
Is it me, or does it seem that some of the older comments have disappeared. On some movie theater listings, I could’ve sworn I left a comment about an experience but its gone.
The answer is simple: they probably want to see the latest and greatest at their local movie theater as opposed to waiting months and months for it to come home on video.
Most of the younger generation don’t even know what 70mm is. On my AFI Silver post, I made mention of the fact that the introduction of the manager (probably someone just out of school) should have made some mention of it since a lot of the audience, for “2001: A Space Odyssey”, was probably in their 20s or much, much younger. I saw kids who were probably 5 and 6 in the front rows! Since a lot of them fuel the box office numbers these days, education is important.
I’ve written to Loews, now AMC, to no avail. Maybe the independents will have better luck like Balto’s Senator, but Mr. Kiefaber has been mum to 70mm posts for the last 3 years and has recently been preoccupied with his venue’s financial woes. But if the Uptown continues with its lousy projection, 70mm or 35mm, it will die.
I suppose the next time we see “2001” at the Uptown it will be in glorious 4K digital on the curve screen. ;)
With the Dreamgirls recent Oscar wins, I suspect it will stay around a little longer.
And the Oscar for Longest Cinematreasures blog goes to….. :: drumroll :: Steve!!
It is great to have this forum to hear what people, from within the industry, have to share about exhibition and practices.
My comment about my preference for digital projection is solely because regular film projection in the DC/MD/VA venues just plain suck! I’ve posted comments about independents like the Old Greenbelt and Avalon and their presentations that were consistently first rate but they don’t always book films that I want to see and, in the case of Greenbelt, they get movies sometimes several weeks after their initial release.
As for 70mm, I’d be glad to see its reemergence. In the 80s, my friends and I would go to places like the Uptown and now closed MacArthur, Fine Arts, Cinema, Embassy, Onatrio, Jenifer and, at one time, the tiny Tenley 3 for 70mm exclusives of first run films because we knew of its difference. Even if the majority of the prints were blow ups. But let’s face it, given its expense and the lack of venues to properly show it, its dead, dead, dead. Digital is the future and is here to stay. If I’m wrong and 70mm somehow miraculously makes a comeback (unlikely), then no one would be happier than I.
And how does this all relate to the Uptown???? Given several moviegoers documented experiences here of late, including my own, why should anyone patronize this venue given its less than average presentation qualities? None, if other than for nostalgia reasons. If they had fairly regular 70mm presentations of classics, then sure people will come. But they haven’t had any 70mm since “2001” in 2001, if memory serves me correctly. So short of a 70mm revival, this place is scrap left on the cutting room floor! Finito!
I don’t think the Senator ever owned the Staples parking area, though I could be wrong. I only remember at one time, they announced that they had a sharing agreement to USE the parking area back in.. ‘02 or so. If my memory is correct, than the idea of a sharing agreement, much less the non-use of the Staples area, for the previous years of alleged Senator-owned land would seem ludicrous. Even on sold out events, I don’t recall the entire Staples lot being full, which goes back quite a bit, since you have some street parking and the area around the Belvedere shopping area.
The ‘shake’ that I speak of is when they play any trailer (film) especially the THX sound one, that usually precedes the main attraction. Since they didn’t play it for 2001, there wasn’t any shake.
I am in totally agreement with you about the other theaters here. I’ll take the AFI ‘broom closets’ over anything that their neighbor Consilidated has (and believe me they aren’t as good) or the nearby Regal Rockville 13, or the shoebox AMC White Flint 5 anytime anyday. Though to be perfectly honest, I’ve never watched a movie in the smallest AFI auditorium (lucky me).
I wish the AFI would play other 70mm movies than this film and “Lawrence of Arabia.” With their pull and industry contacts and affiliation, they should be able to do better for us east coast moviefans. We’re treated like step children here! And, yes, I’ve written to them to no avail. The last time they played “West Side Story,” “Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins”(?) they were all in 35mm.
Article? Are you referring to the Balto Sun article, then the answer is yes. If you’re referring to the Senator website and forums, then that answer is yes, too. I’ve been a forum member since 2004 and a regular and frequent patron of the Senator since 1999. My comments are based on well known facts, even mentioned by the owner, himself, as far as the competitive environment and clearance issue are concerned. I’ve stated elsewhere on this site that it was rather ominous that for almost a year, the Senator had an opened ended date, as part of a list of theater obituaries. Its not a surprise to me that that venue is having operating difficulties. Let’s collectively rejoice in the fact that it has overcome this financial bump in the road and will continue for the future.
To be honest, its going to be an uphill battle given the fact that you have the Charles Theater and the Summer opening of a Landmark plex that are booking the types of movies that would do well at the Senator. Factor in the clearance issue that prevents the Senator’s single screen from booking many films and you have yet another potential future financial crisis and bail out dilemna. The Senator must implement other revenue streams than just solely rely on films and concessions.
As just a regular but frequent moviegoer, I’ve always been confounded as to why movie theaters cannot be more efficient in selling their concessions. My local Regal plex used to have a section where the more popular items were already stocked; various popcorn and soda sizes, nachos, large candy items, etc. Everything is there for you to get, no waiting. To echo and use a phrase that the comedian John Pinette says..“just grab and go” people! Grab your popcorn, soda and proceed to the cashier, pay and go quickly to your seat! Nowadays, there’s a snaked line of about 25-30 people who are individually served their popcorn and soda, while everyone twiddles their thumbs or bites their fingernails hoping to get their goodies before the show starts.
So butternut73, speaking from the other side, if you can get your customers to get the frequently asked for items ready for them to grab and go, you serve them more efficiently and quickly and earn faster $.
I happened to catch “2001: A Space Odyssey” this past Saturday to an almost sold out crowd of almost 400 that started a little late. The only vacant seats I could see were in the very first row. Management was kind enough to start the line and keep the crowd indoors and snake them around the lobby.
The presentation, itself, was very professional as they closed the curtain during the overture dimming the house lights. They also had the intermission with music..well, that 60s shreiking piece they played during the Stargate Corridor sequence. A Manager introduced the show and talked up AFI membership, but like in previous intros, they do so with the enthusiasm of visiting a proctologist. Maybe it was me since I sat in the very last row, but his voice ran fast and over the speel about joining AFI..blah blah blah. He made no mention about this particular movie as part of Kubrick’s body of work and how/why it is considered one of the best movies of all time. Or, at least explain the fact that the movie was in 70mm and how it is different from regular 35mm presentations. I say this since there were a lot of younger people (some probably no older than 6) in the audience, who probably have never seen a 70mm projected film in their lives.
The film had some scratches at the intro and at the start of the “To the Infinite and Beyond” sequence. Now, the close up of the bioreadouts of the crew before Hal killed them, looked grainy and dull to me. It made me wonder if this was a true 70mm print, or blow up, or 35mm? I suspect this print has been in circulation for awhile probably since the ‘01 rerelease. The soundtrack had an annoying tapping noise during Bowman’s rescue of Poole and proceeded up through the end of Hal’s disconnection. Other than that, the sound was full and encompassing. They played no trailers, whatsoever, not even the usual THX sound one.
On Sunday, 2-19, I was among over 400 attendees, to celebrate a birthday for Merv Conn (87), a local and very popular Accordionist, with some short films and live performances. This was a real treat as they showed some old films that showed what was Glen Echo Park and the old Trolleys that ran up through 1962…way, way before I was even born! I never knew Silver Spring had them but it was fascinating to see where they ran even though most of the tracks cannot be seen on the roads today. The live music was terrific that accompanied the silent color films. The 50 min HD video tribute to Merv Conn was played to the delight of the audiences, but I think that the director edited his interviews of his subject in a way that made him look like a buffoon. The man is 87 years old for pete’s sake and its a given that he’s going to be a little slow and hard of hearing!
All-in-all, its great to have a venue like the Silver to celebrate the arts both on film and live! Bravo!
I thought I had posted a comment on this venue several years ago and it seems like it has disappeared for some odd reason. As posted above, by Manwithnoname, the auditoriums play rather loudly but I haven’t frequented the place enough to say it is with consistency. My first visit here was way back in ‘93, where my cousin and I saw the first “Jurassic Park” in the then new sound format DTS. The show was a matinee but if I remember correctly, there was a balcony and yes, the sound was quite loud. My cousin kept clawing into my arm during the T-Rex stampede that they made impressions! The movie was quite a thrill ride due to, in part, to the digital sound system.
The last time I was saw a movie there was in ‘01 where gasp my friend and I saw Jurassic Park 3, in digital projection. This particular auditorium had the requisite crisp colors and bright picture that DP can bring and the movie, itself, was enjoyable. What I recall is that they played the THX trailer, sound trailer, DLP trailer and Technicolor trailer at the very end of the movie after the credits played.
If memory serves me correctly, didn’t this venue, or an adjacent place also have the now defunct Showscan operation? I thought I saw a Showscan poster at a theater next to this one, but it wasn’t showing anything when my friend and I saw JP3. I remember Showscan when they started out here in VA, back in …‘83 or so..70mm projected at 60fps and multi channel sound brought to life an almost life like experience that was something to behold.
Why and how on earth does the bank raise the amount needed by another $20k? I don’t see an explanation on their forums. Such a greedy bank. Whoever has an account there should close it in protest if they go through with the auction.
Nice interview! I was hoping to catch Dreamgirls again last weekend, at the Senator, but couldn’t make it. Let’s hope the Senator gets past this financial hump and can hang on to implement those different revenue streams that will ensure this venue’s continued survival.
As of this writing, they are at $61K, or about 2/3 of their goal, with just a few days left until the foreclosure. Short of a bank reprieve for a little more time, I think they should attain their goal. So everybody contribute!!! If you have, contribute again! :)
AFI will be showing “2001: A Space Odyssey” as part of its Kubrick retrospective in glorious 70mm this weekend, 2/16-18/2007. It should be showin in the historic auditorium. Though the screen is not as wide, nor the cinematic experience as engulfing as the Uptown, it will be great to see it in widescreen again.
Thinking back, I do recall that this movie theater had been outfitted with a Sensaround system because after Battlestar Galactica (the original 1978 ABC series) premiered, the two hour movie was theatrically released touting that kind of sound experience and was booked here. That being the case, maybe this theater showed Earthquake also in that sound format several years prior.