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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.
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.