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Judging by the pictures on the website, their (presumably) largest auditorium doesn’t look all that much different from the Landmark’s we have here in DC. The auditorium with the couches looks interesting and probably comfortable for those films they might show that are over 2 ½ hours.
If the early comments on the quality of projection and sound are any indication, I guess its fair to say that the local Arclight is in no danger of being eclipsed by this venue.
If this is Landmark’s flagship theater, I imagine they have the much talked about 4K Digital projectors installed?
I’ve been to several IMAX presentations here since ‘05 or so. Polar Express in 3D IMAX was my first experience here and boy, was that something. The film broke down during the show 3x and then we were told we would be given passes for another showing. The next day, the same thing happened. I think it was the later show that things began to come together and my friend and I watched the movie. The presentation, again, had one slip up, the house lights came up and one of the ushers was trying to entertain us by talkiing about the holidays. Overall, the film was a bore and it was wasn’t worth the 135mi drive from DC. My only memory of being really engaged with the movie was the train ride through the mountains and when it skids on the iced lake.
Other films I’ve seen here was the IMAX 3D version of Superman Returns (2006). Again, that was a disapointment because the movie, itself, tried to emulate Richard Donner’s presentation and failed mostly. Brandon Routh is no Chris Reeve. What was annoying was having to be clued to put on the 3D glasses to watch the 3D parts. Robots (2005) was also in IMAX 3D and I don’t recall it having the same breakdown issues as Polar Express did before.
I’m looking forward to James Cameron’s Avatar, which reportedly will be in Digital 3D. If there is a IMAX Digital 3D venue, I suspect this place will be the one to have this format and movie.
Baltimore’s Senator had the privilege of getting special EK prints for the Fantastic Four sequel and Die Hard sequel. They also had the select vision prints for the last two Star Wars prequels, too.
I remember this because the owner went out of his way to tout the fact during those films introductions…“we would like to thank our friends, at 20th Century Fox for providing us with these exclusive select vision EK prints of…”
To be perfectly honest though, I thought the Die Hard sequel was noticably ‘darker’ at the Senator than at the Consolidated Theater multiplex at the newly opened Hyattsville MD location, which I’m reasonbly sure ran it on platter.
Longisland, the Senator has sold out their entire 900 seats for several shows that I know of this summer, primarily the opening midnight shows of such fare as the recent Spiderman 3 and Harry Potter.
A DCinema installation would make this gem even better, but with the recent financial woes, the expenses would be hard to come by and the owner has said in forums that with today’s 2K technical standards, they don’t hold up well to regular film. The digital vs. film forums have been quite vocal especially during the last two Star Wars' prequel releases.
The nice thing about the Senator is that this summer’s Fantastic Four sequel and Die Hard, they were able to get a special EK print for their respective engagements. If memory serves me correctly, they also had select vision EK prints for the Star Wars' prequels, too. I suspect they have good relations with the 20th Century Fox folks.
The Senator has been fortunate to book the summer 07 event films, which I’ve seen here. I hope they did well and believe they did. Now, if only they would invest some money into replacing those awful seats….
Love movies, I’m almost as old as you are but as this topic has been discussed over and over again, as long as these remakes, or re-imagined movies make money, we’re going to see them again.
Can you believe they are remaking Footloose with Zac Effron? I saw that when I was still in school. Makes you feel old doesn’t it? I hope they don’t update the music by using rap. Kenny Loggins' was da bomb during the 80s with his string of soundtrack single hits.
What a ridiculous story. I can’t believe that even there wouldn’t be ONE nickel at all anywhere, in any register at the theater. Maybe someone paid their concession purchase partly using nickels. Or, the Manager could have easily given him 5c out of his pocket, or heck, even a quarter back and a voucher for a free soda and popcorn, just for the sake of apologizing and providing good customer service. It should have never escalated to the point where Anthony had to take names to report it to the next level.
Vic, was that you featured in the article?
My brother took my parents and I, to see a martial arts double or triple feature at the now closed National Theater (or something..the exact name escapes me) back in the late 70s or early 80s. And like in the article, after the film, a fight broke out between some of the neighborhood guys and this poor Indian patron in the aisles. The offending guys pretended like they knew the martial arts as they went after the Indian patron complete with their own sound effects.
And, yes, I am sure moviegoers, like myself, appreciate a good projectionist when you’re at our favorite venues in town. :)
Congratulations! I like the $7.50 admission fee. If you were in the DC area, I’d be a regular.
I’m wondering why they didn’t put DP in either #2 or #9, since they are THX certified already. To a non-techie, how difficult is it to show DP in any of the auditoriums for that matter. I gather the projection booth is the upper floor that spans the entire length of the place joining each auditorium. Isn’t it just a matter of moving the digital projector to where the film projector is, connect the sound cables and flip a switch? :)
If the little theaters are close to certification, they should do it and make the most of it by advertising it so in the papers and marquee. They’d educate the moviegoing public to know and expect what good film presentation should be and perhaps increase attendance.
Since they opened, I cannot recall a bad presentation here at all, at anytime, with the exception of no air conditioning on a hot summer night back in ‘04. The crowds are decent, many being the more disciplined Naval Academy students, their friends and/or family.
Recently saw Transformers here on opening weekend in #1. Presentation was excellent along with the sound, which truly showcased what THX certification can do and how all movies should be heard. The final battle between the bots was mind boggling, very loud, very intense with hardly time to catch one’s breath. I found myself ‘dodging’ flung fighters and slightly jumping during the scorpion bot scene. Excellent and fun time at the movies, if a bit mindless.
I forgot to mention that #10 is outfitted with a Dolby Digital Cinema 3D system. I’ve seen and enjoyed every presentation, from a technical standpoint. The movies, themselves, are another matter.
They need to go back to having real people introduce the movies and add a bit of trivia to the intros like they used to right before Crown sold the place to Bow Tie. If Bow Tie’s sense of improvement is permanently removing the personal touch to their presentations, then they are just as bad as the rest of the corporations that run the rest of the crappy venues in town.
According to THX website, the only local VA certified theater is one auditorium at the AMC Courthouse 8.
I’ve seen Brokeback Mountain and slept through Pride and Prejudice here in their largest auditoriums sand, yes, they are huuuge. Seats are comfortable and sightlines great. I haven’t frequented the place enough to say about the rest of the auditoriums. While the sound was great with decent separation, the picture in both films didn’t seem as bright as they could or should be.
35' screen? That’s not very big at all. That’s probably smaller than a lot of the screens at my favorite Annapolis Mall 11 plex! So the speaker set up at the Fine Arts was considered state-of-the-art at the time, Steve? If so, I’m wondering why KB didn’t just go all out and get THX certification for this place. I remember THX was ‘new’ back in 84 but I think the then GCC Springfield 1 was the first to get it here with their 70mm engagement of Indiana Jones.
Ahhh..the memories guys. :)
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.
Whoa. This theater brings back memories. If there was one complaint about this place was the obvious lack of parking. I remember I had to drive around and around to find a parking place before showtime during the week. Weekends weren’t too bad but you’d still have to plan ahead so that you’d get to the box office on time before showtime.
As with my other favorite DC theater, the Jenifer, you had to enter in on the street level and go down stairs to the theater. I don’t recall what kind of lobby, if any, this place had. Weren’t there two entrances to the auditorium on either side of the concession stand? I don’t remember with certainty. What I do recall is the auditorium being almost stadium style as one would descend upon entering the theater towards the screen. Their speakers had a longitudinal tubular arrangement around the auditorium, not unsightly but different.
I saw Star Trek III: The Search for Spock opening day and many, many other times(yeah I know, I’m a genre fan)here during its run the Summer of 1984. This was the only venue in the DC area that had it in 70mm and was the destination point for my posse to see this event film. Compared with STII, the effects both sound and visual were truly special. There wasn’t a cheesiness to it upon its theatrical viewings.
My memorable moments from the film was the emerging Klingon Bird of Prey and the sound effect that started out slow, building up surroundly until it materialized on screen. Then there was the Enterprise as it engages at warp speed and that whoooooooooosh that started up front and went right to rear. In subsequent viewings it became apparent that the sound effect sounded too much like what the Flinstones used to aurally convey speed. The murder of Kirk’s son David was so visceral with the Klingon lunging down stabbing him with that knife. The sound seemed to convey a sense of bone breaking too from the blunt force impact and weight of that final thrust. In just about every viewing I saw here, there was always someone to be heard sniffling or blowing their nose from tearing up once Kirk realizes who was killed, falls to the floor and declares “You Klingon bastard, you killed my son!!” Performance wise, I don’t think William Shatner has done any better acting since this movie in a strictly dramatic context.
And lastly, the destruction of the beloved Enterprise. The combination of the colorful and layered visual effects (melting skin of the ship, sparking) and the sound effects of the saucer ship exploding and then hurling into the Genesis atmosphere, in a freefall, as James Horner’s sweeping score captures the dramatic moment that concludes with the Enterprise streaking across the sky, like a comet, as Kirk & Co watch on the surface. For me and others, I think this moment in Trekdom was more powerful than even the death of Spock, himself because there is an assured finality to the destruction.
Whomever started the assessment that the odd numbered films are inferior or somehow less successful than the even ones has never seen them theatrically and exhibited in 70mm 6 track stereo. Presentation is everything. Its not to say Howard the Duck in 70mm would be Gone With the Wind though.
In 1986, our local youth group, on my suggestion, went to see Aliens here in 70mm. I don’t recall it showing anywhere else and based on my prior experience here with Star Trek III, this was THE place to see it. It was a sold out showing with the theater packed. Needless to say, no one was disappointed and despite its lengthy running time, we were riveted to our seats.
The scene that stands out in my memory that got the audience going was at the very end when we think Ripley, Bishop, Newt and Hicks have nuked the colony and are back on the Sulaco..the adrenalin rush has diminished, all is calm, Ripley congratulates Bishop…then there’s a powerful, subtle and swift C-R-A-C-K and in an instant we see the stinger of the alien queen emerge with Bishop’s milk white ‘blood’ spurting everywhere. The gals sitting around and behind me collectively scream..one of them hurled her popcorn into the air, which just happened to land on us in front of them. Bishop’s body gets grabbed by the massive alien queen’s arms and gets twisted and flung in two. The resounding landing and mushy ‘thud’ conveyed so strongly what one would think a half bodily cavity would sound like hitting a concrete floor. More screams and gasps and then silence as we witness Ripley battle the queen until the end. Once Ripley eventually closes the cargo bay door and this particular chapter in the saga and holds Newt, the audience erupts in cheers. Its over, but what a cinematic experience! Yet another testament to the power of widescreen presentation done right.
The last movie I saw here in 70mm was Hook. To sum it up shortly, it was a bore. I met my old school buddy and saw it here, again, it had the exclusive 70mm print for our market. I believe I fell asleep during the first part but woke up to John Williams stirring and soaring score as Peter Pan (Robin Williams) is flying about in the skies. Julia Roberts was cute and her big teeth smile filled out the Fine Arts' 40 or 50' widescreen quite nicely. Unfortunately, those two pluses weren’t enough to get me to go back for a subsequent viewing.
Steve, the thing is my friends, relatives and I WOULD come to places like this when they booked the right movies, particularly if it was in 70mm. There was a time, where I’d see a movie, with a friend, then go again and see it with somene else, then again, with relatives and even by myself, if it was something worth seeing in the bigger auditorium. I can pretty much say I’ve seen just about every 70mm movie they booked here throughout the 80s, which isn’t much. If they had booked ST IV here and not at the Multiplex Cinemas; Mt. Vernon, Alexandria and Montgomery Mall 3, I would have come here the 8X or so I saw it in 70mm :)
Howard, I will post more KB Cinema memories, as soon as I can recall specific movie events of the last 27 years or so…
You know there needs to be a page for the KB Fine Arts. This was another favorite of mine that is sadly gone.
I have great memories of 70mm here. Its good to know Fannie Mae isn’t dismantling it yet. It would be an opportunity for one of the other chains, or better yet, a well financed and dedicated cinephile to run this as a theater.
Okay, I stand corrected Kogod and Burka. I never knew! Thanks again for the history. I wonder if the family had continued operating their chain how things would be different today. I can understand the sale of business during that time given the building of the multi and megaplexes in the later years.
I"ve been to the Harbour 9 and its not much to write home about even with the new seats. BowTie needs to do a better job with that place. Calvert 5 is too far south for me to visit, but I suspect its just a bunch of shoebox theaters.
Given the fact that the CVS selling floor occupies the old theater’s lobby space, perhaps the theater part could come back again. It would be an odd combo walking into the theater through a drug store but hey, wouldn’t it be great to have the place showing movies again?
Howard, I never knew about the write-in campaign. I’m surprised Cineplex Oden still decided to close it. I think part of the problem was getting exclusives to show here. I remember they had Star Trek IV advertised in 4 track Mag Stereo, but I preferred to see it in 70mm and THX at the then new Multiplex Cinemas in Virginia. Empire of the Sun played in 70mm at the Cinema, whereas it could have played here. Same with Roger Rabbit, which played at the Uptown in ‘88, Batman and Star Trek V at Wisconsin Ave.
Given the ever increasing and almost daily cinema treasure additions, I believe the site owners stopped posting venue pics out of conserving server space. Maybe one day we’ll see that changed.
Thanks Steve for the technical and historical information. I can’t begin to imagine what projectionists went through during those days, pre-platter and computer automation, to ensure the curtains opened and closed at the right times and the picture and sound ran smoothly and perfectly.
As my posted experiences have indicated, I will always cherish those memories as the probably the standard for excellence in motion picture exhibition.
I remember back in the day when venues with Dolby Stereo was my preferred one. The Post had that iconic Dolby with the box and the theaters in it. The same was with 70mm and the wide lines to signify the widescreen format. Today, the current movie directory don’t do ads to indicate what venues have digital (SDDS, DD, DTS, -EX or even DLP).
Whatever happened to the Kogad/Burga duo? I know they sold to Cineplex Odeon in the 80s. Are they still alive? Is there some written history about them and their history in DC/MD Cinema exhibition? I’m thinking back that the last two venues they opened were the 11 screener in Wheaton Plaza and the Harbour 9 in Annapolis and, possibly Calvert 5 before they were sold off. Or those venues not part of the Cineplex Oden sale.
Ahhh Steve. You’re the one I can thank for many years of experiencing cinema at some of my favorite DC venues like the MacArthur, Langley and Uptown, etc etc.
To add to my post above, my school buds and I saw Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan opening show, on opening day. My friends and I tried to stay back for the second show by hiding in the mens restroom..and almost succeeded until an Usher came in to inspect the place and we were almost caught. Instead of just going home, I bought my friends tickets and went to the back of the very long line to see it again. This time, we sat right smack in the front row to almost become part of the adventure with the crew of the Enterprise. This particular showing was more enjoyable as there were a lot more people to fill the theater with and they were a lot more alive than the first one.
Being a part of and observing an audience reaction to the right mix of sound and picture is something to experience. Not just the cheering and clapping but things like when in this movie Khan released those ceti eels to the shreiking jump of James Horner score..then Chekov and Terell scream…there was always a few women who would also shriek during that scene. Then there was that fish-out-of-water shot of the Reliant leaping up and over the Enterprise filling up the screen
accompanied by that subwoofer rrruuummble. So cool. My favorite sound effect/experience from the movie was a quiet one. The scene where Kirk and the landing party beam down to the Genesis cave, there is this momentary silence. Then there is a sound of a bolt dropping and then rapidly bounces on the floor. The sound is quick, distinct but heard in the rear right of the theater. I noticed heads turning back, foolishly, as if there was actually something THERE.
If there was one thing that bugged me about this presentation and many other 70mm of this time period was the grain. I know that the movie was NOT shot in 65mm and this and others during the 80s are blow ups from 35mm. It shows on screen, but the 6-track sound is oh so marvelous.
I do remember seeing Arch Campbell sitting in the back row wearing a hat. He was chatting up with some other patrons but I did not feel comfortable (being a geeky teen) enough to approach him. Even though the audience thoroughly enjoyed the movie, his rating later that night was only 2 stars or something and from then on, I never had much respect for the guy as a reviewer.
Of all the closed DC big screen venues, I wish this one comes back someday.
With the exceptions of an old John Wayne film and a 60s French film, whose titles escape me, the AFI shows the same old 70mm classics Lawrence and 2001 over and over again. They can’t or won’t book much else. And despite having state-of-the-art sound and projection, the screen in the historic auditorium doesn’t overwhelm and draw you in as the Uptown can when you sit in that perfect sweet spot, in the center 1/3 of the way back where your peripheral vision spans the width of its enormous screen.
If the Uptown were to become independent, perhaps an area Zillionnaire, with the passion for movies and exhibition like Paul Allen had for the Seattle Cinerama place, could run it and maybe, maybe bring back another DC favorite of mine such as the MacArthur triplex. And Steve, you can run both venues projection booths showing classics at least once a week, along with the normal Hollywood releases.
Howard, the last time I visited the Uptown that to see Dreamgirls. There was that annoying scratch down the middle of the screen and, yes, I should have complained to Staff but I did not. I was basking in the afterglow of watching a very good film and was discussing it with my friend and another patron at the time. Its fair to say that a bad movie going experience in today’s multi and megaplexes is like going to a McDonalds. You know you’re going to get a hamburger when you order one and not a steak burger :) The thing is when you get your burger and open it up and its flat and looks like a pancake and not sitting high and proud waiting to be devoured, you will still eat it anyway because, hey, its McDonalds and you bought something quick and fast to eat. BUT, the next time you go to a McDonalds, you just won’t go to THAT particular one again because of the experience you had the last time. You could complain, but what will management do? Give you another burger? Your money back? Maybe throw in some fries and a McFlurry and more cholesterol and fat grams to clog your arteries? :)
In the case of movie going, you complain, they’ll apologize and give you another ticket to come back to another lousy presentation. So why bother? I prefer to complain to corporate. Unfortunately, AMC doesn’t have a system in place for that. They just refer you to the local theater manager. Now Regal will usually log, acknowledge and report a thoughtful comment/complaint to the District Manager, who will review it with the Theater Manager. I’ve received responses from concerns about dirty auditoriums, staffing and projection/sound issues…and yes, they have been corrected AND I received a few free passes. And I do go back to my local Regal plex because most of the time, they now get it right.
Its just not worth it for me nowadays to see movies at the Uptown, to spend 45 minutes to get there and have to pay $10 to sit through a less than satisfactory presentation. I’d rather spend 45 minutes and go the other way to Baltimore’s Senator and pay $9 for a better experience (and parking). Programming is another issue. If they offered counter programming such as this often forum has suggested; 70mm classics or just plain classic programming, then maybe I and many others would regularly come back. They haven’t had 70mm here in years, which is a waste of this venue’s capabilities.
Since there’s no staging area at the Uptown, there would be no room for singing or preaching., I suspect there would be just the satellite feed of the main service.
As an infrequent patron of the Uptown, they have to do it right all the time, everytime, for people to come back to this place on a regular basis. I paid $10 to watch Dreamgirls with a scratch down the screen during its play…same thing during Sith. I wonder if its still there during the current run of Potter. Based on my experiences there of late, its not worth it for me to drive into town to see movies here unless its a classic one or in 70mm.