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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.
On the news last night, they reported that the community leaders are concerned about increased traffic because of the church. Maybe this will not happen at all. On the other hand, the argument about traffic can be said about the theater, itself, when it books those blockbusters that would have people lining up and around the block.
If the theater becomes a satellite church, that means they will need to install some kind of satellite/digital projection system. Perhaps this new DP system will show movies as well? :)
$300/week for theater rental on a Sun AM basis doesn’t sound bad at all to me. That’s probably more than what the theater rakes in on shows that early anyway, if they do have them that early.
The first and only movie I saw during this venue’s run was In the Bedroom back in ‘02. I thought Spacek would get another Oscar, but as it turned out, it was not meant to be. It was in the smaller auditorium to the right, if memory serves me correctly. There were stereo speakers all along the wall of the place but the film didn’t really make much use of them.
It seems that Wisconsin Ave is not the movie venue destination that it once was with the now closed Wisconsin Ave 6, Tenley 3, Studio 3 (a forgettable place), Cinema, Jenifer and Paris 3.
FYI. There is a terrific and inexpensive Thai restaurant across the street that is still open for business. I still go there every now and then.
So why then can’t/shouldn’t AFI book other 70mm than 2001 and Lawrence? Is it just management choice? They must be desparate to have a “Totally Awesome: Films of the 1980s” retrospective. Avalon should have taken the 70mm projector out of the now closed Cinema, since they were just a street over, instead of giving it to …what was it..the Jersey?
How on earth did I miss that? AFI had a 70mm of that recently, unfortunately, they did not run it long enough for me to catch it. I truly wish this venue and AFI would show more 70mm other than Lawrence and 2001. I cannot believe they are currently doing a 80s retrospective with such great titles such as Friday the 13th.
Wow, you West Coast people really have some audience issues don’t ya! ;) (“Love movies-hate going” being the east coast exception, so far.)
I’ve seen many child oriented films such as the recent Disney/Pixar/CGI fare and have encountered full auditoriums with mostly kids. Sometimes the kids are louder or more boisterous than others but its usually as a result of something happening on screen. On occasion, maybe a crying baby but the mother or father usually takes the child out and all is well. Just about all the CGI animated movies of late are shown in a THX-cert DLP theater near me that plays the movie loud. As such, its usually enough to keep kids quiet as they are pretty much drowned out by the movie sound. And my usual seat is the one in the auditorium that’s midway, along the entryway that has no patrons sitting behind me, so no one can kick my seat from behind. Now flying food debris is another issue, but that’s a rare occurence.
As far as the age of kids allowed in theaters, I was under the impression that the chains had policies to address this issue. A few independents, like Baltimore’s Senator, has a no child under 6 policy that seems to work well, but I believe they have made exceptions for some kid movies.
So, yes, moviegoing may not always be the perfect experience that one may expect it to be, but I’d always choose going out to see that (weekly) new movie and enjoy it with a few hundred others than watching one at home.
As with some of the other posts, my friend and I were too young to get in to see this movie the proper way. With a little creative thinking, we purchased tickets for another movie that was showing either at or the same time and snuck in to see it at a AMC shoebox theater that did have Dolby Stereo.
My interest in the movie was primarily the visual effects. Being a Starlog subscriber at the time and a sporadic Cinefex reader, I became an admirer of the work of Douglas Trumbull and followed his career with great interest. Of particular interest with Trumubull’s work is his belief, at the time, that he was a firm believer in shooting visual effects work in 65mm to capture greater detail as opposed to 35mm. I believe he stated in an interview that Ridley Scott had used the delivered 65mm visual effects footage directly into the 70mm prints, as opposed to having them reduced to 35mm and then blown up to 70mm release prints as was the usual practice in the day. I firmly believe that the quality of the effects made by his EEG company (CE3K, the first Star Trek movie, Blade Runner, Ghostbusters, Poltergeist II) are far better in film quality than anything ILM delivered for Lucas or for others. Sure, the Star Wars saga won the awards but I think it was more a popularity contest than for presentation quality and true merit.
My first impression on viewing the movie was depressing. It was dark. Everything was dark. It rained. Deckard delievered his lines in monotone. More darkness, rain. But the visual effects were sooo cool. The spinner cars, with their lens flare lighting fx and the look of LA were breathtaking. Even the Tyrell building in its enormity and Tyrell’s apartment in its expanse. Vangelis' score was eerie, moody, atmospheric and sexy (the Rachel theme).
1982 was the year of E.T. and Gandhi. Now someone explain why ET won for Best Visual FX when it was just the animatronic Carlo Rombaldi puppet, blue screen and some stop motion work???? And John Williams, again, over Vangelis' terrific score? On the latter, I suspect the Academy felt Vangelis' was awarded enough for the previous year’s Chariots of Fire.
In 1991 or ‘92, the Uptown had the Director’s Cut. It was a privilege to see the different version on a very large screen even though it was just 35mm. Without the narration, the film seemed a little open ended as to what was supposed to be going on and the revised ending, for sure, was less 'happy’ than the original one. The audience I saw it with seemed to be unmoved by anything they had just seen as no one applauded at the end of the screening.
Supposedly, there’s a new edition in the works for a Ultimate DVD version. It would be great to revisit this movie in theaters in Digital Projection or, if Ridley Scott is working with a 65mm original negative…70mm theatrical print (I’m not holding my breath) prior to the Ultimate version DVD. If they go the DP route, they should do a 3D version given that there are more than 1000 3D Digital cinemas now and would make this re-release an event to be experienced.
We’ve had similar issues here. We have two DP auditoriums and only one gets booked every so often. I can’t believe they didn’t book Shrek in DP as they have in the past. Also, they stopped the personal intros. I wrote to Customer Service to address issue and their only response is that they will book a digital movie “if they can get them.” Given the fact that other plexes in the area ‘get them’ on a more frequent basis, something isn’t right. As such, I have not frequented the Annapolis plex as often as I used to, which was weekly.
On a different note, management announced a change to the email program and were evaluating a loyalty club card-type program, but as of this date, nothing has happened. I missed Crown’s monthly free popcorn or soda coupon and birthday/anniversary free coupons, too.
One auditorium had 70mm capability. If memory serves me correctly, they showed Indiana Jones: The Temple of Doom in 70mm here and may have been the only film they had in 70mm.
Okay, there is one issue that I have that has carried over and that is getting Email for comments to theaters or news items that I never commented on. :)
Love movies – hate going! Are you saying, you’d pay for one admission and stay all day in the theater??? You robber!! I suppose that is the most creative way of ‘saving’ on ticket admission prices.
As a teen, the now closed AMC Academy 6 had $1 movie Wednesdays, which were usually movies about six months or older from their original release. If you went to that and time it right, you could see several movies that day as long as you kept low and either followed the crowd moving into the theaters, or wait in the restroom until there is movement. The most movies I was able to see for $1 was 4 because I was starving and didn’t want to pay for overpriced popcorn and soda.
I thought I was going through CT withdrawal today during work. :) The site seems to be running okay as of 9:16pm EST.
I think this subject was mentioned in a poll about movie ticket prices a year or so ago. Of the national chains, AMC and Regal, Regal probably has the better of the two member club card systems. You get points for dollars, plus extra points (5) on Thursdays, plus either an additional 5 or 10 points for certain films during opening week. Even with the 12 point cap on transactional accruals per day, you can still get an extra points (2) for concession purchases. Free movies are awarded after every 120 points.
AMC caps points according to tickets purchased up to a maximum of 4 points, or two purchased tickets. It takes about 8 ticket purchases (or 30 points) for a free ticket. As far as I know, they don’t give you more points for concessions, but the newsletter has a coupon for free popcorn Mondays-Wednesdays. Cents off purchases such as combos don’t really save you much. The nice thing about the Moviewatcher card is that if you buy tickets online at theaters that use Moviefone/Moviewatcher, they will waive the $1.00 fee, which is great for those trips to those venues that show that blockbuster movie opening weekend. Just make sure you click on the AMC-Moviewatcher link and not go there directly.
The discounted ticket prices from AAA and Entertainment aren’t bad choices, but some do have pass restrictions. If you factor in the $2 or so off each ticket from the discounted places vs the club card programs, it all runs about the same. You save enough for a ‘free’ ticket after 5 tickets used.
If you have friends and family that you go to the movies with regularly and let’s say the other party pays, then this pooling of sorts will help you get your ‘free’ ticket(s) or other free offers that much quicker.
Okay, the way I read it, it led me to believe that email accounts are coming. :) I didn’t know that the email notifications of responses was temporarily down. I thought it was just that no one was commenting.
Why would members want yet another email address? I like the current system where if there’s a comment made, we’re notified by email. Would it not be a better use of resources if we had space for pictures?
As of 12 noon EST, 6-1-07, the site seems to be working right after an early AM outtage.
Would it be fair to say that the tech specs on the auditoriums will be like the current Hollywood plex meaning projection standards that exceed THX standards and plain black boxes?
It seems to be working now. I just posted a comment. Response time is a little faster but not up to FIOS speeds :) Photos would be great, video even better. The donation corner would be great, as I’m sure people would be inclined to donate something and every little bit would help.
A Landmark Theater would be great but there is already one in DC. With the Bethesda one just up the street, I doubt the market would support another one. Mixed programming of current and classics (70mm) would be better assuming they still have their 70mm projectors.
I saw this movie at BowTie Annapolis and enjoyed the presentation and the movie for the most part. We seemed to have lost AC, which made it uncomfortable after the second hour. As far as the listing is concerned, I don’t know if it is accurate for at least MD. Muvico doesn’t list a DP version of the movie.