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Its depressing to read all of this, but I already knew this place was going down hill for awhile. The interesting thing about all of this is that this movie theater still hosts world premieres and benefit screenings. They must hire a projectionist for that.
Why the digital v film debate here? If drive-in owners feel there is a economic/exhibition benefit to going digital, and it seems that they do, than more power to them. It would be better to have a drive-in showing a digital movie than to have a souless building or parking lot in its space.
From what I understand, the AFI will shift movies from one auditorium to another based on ticket sales. So, to advertise say one movie to play in the main auditorium where ticket sales are less than in one of the ‘broom closets’ would be foolish. Of course, the exception would be the event film or 70mm showing of a classic movie.
I just saw “The Davinci Code” here having not been to the Avalon in probably over 14 years or so. The presentation of the film, itself, was quite good, the sound separation and clarity is very good. The only detraction to the complete enjoyment of the sound was the loudness of the air conditioning system, which seemed to be coming from above the screen and sounded like a constant hiss, which I thought was the movie’s sound. Probably for this reason, this place could never be THX certified.
The purple carpet and theme of the previous Cineplex company is gone as are the seats. The current seats are very comfortable and firm, though there are less of them to make accomodations for patrons with special needs. The surround speakers are visible, whereas, if memory serves me correctly, they were blended in the walls of the theater. The screen doesn’t use the curtain anymore, which is a shame but the old, slightly curved screen has been restored though there is a slight tear at the bottom of it. The mens room is need of repair as the waste water pipe, underneath the sink, is missing, with only a bucket to capture waste water. Lastly, there was no individual to introduce the film or encourage people to become members to support the theater. At least they could’ve filmed an announcement to show prior to the movie. AFI and The Senator do, perhaps they should take some cues from those two about growing awareness about the Avalon and independently owned theaters.
I have written twice to the individual responsible for programming, with the suggestion of having a classic film festival, ala the Ziegfeld, and showcase films in 70mm. No response has been received. I guess they don’t care much for your suggestions if you’re not a member of their non-profit group.
To my recollection, they have yet to screen any film in 70mm since they have reopened.
I vaguely remember this theater having seen Lost Boys here a loooong time ago. If memory serves me correctly, they had only one theater, out of the four, that had Dolby stereo. This venue was already doomed after Roth opened up the then seven-plex that is now part of the AMC/Loews chain back in ‘87 or '88.
Was this four plex originally a single screen theater? If so, they really did some job chopping it up into four auditoriums. Perhaps this was done by the same folks who chopped up the old Flower Theater, from a single, to a twin and eventually a four screen disaster.
Howard, at least in the DC/Baltimore metro area, AMC has not named their auditoriums (in multiplexes) after former palaces.
As far as Phoenix Theatres improving on this multiplex, it would be nice if they installed sliding curtains, improved projection and sound. The Grand is probably the best, largest and the only THX-certified auditorium in this plex.
Thanks, William. The interior doesn’t look as nice or ornate as my memory of the Westwood, but more like a studio screening room.
How about some interior shots? I’ve been to the Westwood, across the street, in ‘01 and saw Planet of the Apes there. They have a killer sound system (THX certified) but the screen is a bit small. It can’t be much larger/smaller than Baltimore’s Senator.
Gaudy? Its different and not too drab looking. Its too bad I can’t go, I misplaced my, um, passes… ;)
The Uptown still has the huge curved screen and has the potential of offering patrons a great cinematic experience and have done so with previous 70mm shows, but they don’t have regular projectionists. I was there this past summer and had a horrible experience watching the last Star Wars movie that was slightly off the screen with sound that was turned down, with little to no noticeable surround sound. The manager acknowledged that they did not have a FT projectionist and didn’t seem to care about it or know what to do to fix it. If I could speak Hindi, maybe I could’ve conveyed my sentiments a bit better ;)
The Ziegfeld’s digital projection and sound system was the best place to see it as far as I am concerned, but their screen is rather small. The ideal set up would be the Uptown’s wide screen and the Ziegfeld’s sound system. Just my 2c.
The AFI Silver Spring (in MD) theater near me recently showed “My Fair Lady” in glorious 70mm just last week. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend it. With the high quality projection standards that they have there, I’m sure the showing was a decent one, so perhaps Clearview could secure that print for their classic movies festival.
This movie theater’s exterior reminds me of the opening scenes of Janet Jackon “Lets Wait Awhile” video, did they shoot those here?
I am curious as to why this venue couldn’t show regular films on the curved screen. We have a curved 70' screen at DC’s Uptown where they show regular films all the time. They don’t look distorted or unviewable at all.
The website doesn’t pictures of the interior. Any links to what it looks like now with all the improvements?
I wasn’t even around when those places were running. We still have other theaters that aren’t documented that I remember, but I’d need to get more info from The Post and/or Variety.
I don’t know why one would consider either Wisconsin Ave or Union Station 9 a ‘cinema treasure.’ They are both multiplexes with not a whole lot to treasure by either their ornateness, sheer size or lack of opulence. Hardly a treasure.
It can be agreed that patrons of either multiplex (myself included) can reminisce about movies seen there but that is just about it. Union Station 9 has the notoriety of being downtown and attracting mostly urban attendance and programming. At least Wisconsin Ave had 70mm projection capabilities but the lack of sufficient sound deadening material gave patrons the bonus of two soundtracks, for the price of one, in Auditorium 6, while the THX Grand trailer played next door in Auditorium 5.
If Wisconsin Avenue 6 goes independent, it would be nice to have counterprogramming to the traditional Hollywood fare. Auditoriums 4 and 5 had 70mm projection capabilities and were THX certified once upon a time, but am not sure if they still have the projection equipment or quality they once had. Perhaps it could become a cafe or bistro, in addition to showing movies. Otherwise, there is no real draw to go there since it is surrounded by nothing but offices, a McDonalds and Channel 9 TV studios.
AMC Union Station isn’t in a bad location since it is located in the food court at the train station. The auditoriums have the notoriety of being named for long lost DC movie gems of yesteryear. The Grand is the largest of the nine being THX certified.
In Thursday’s (12/22/05) Washington Post, there is a news bite about 10 Loews/AMC Theaters that are closing nationwide, the Uptown isn’t listed as one of them. The two multiplexes that are closing, in downtown DC, are the AMC Union Station 9 (not a bad plex, with several auditoriums named after older DC theaters..the Grand being the best and THX certified) and the Loews Wisconsin 6 (an okay 20 y.o. plex that is decked out in Loews purple, with auditoriums 4 and 5 having had 70mm projection and were formerly THX certified.)
As far as ‘restoring’ the Uptown, why would you want to tear down the current curved Cinerama capable screen and put back the old flat one? Part of the allure and charm of the Uptown was its unique wrap around screen. The theater was refurbished back in ‘96 and isn’t in disrepair and has hosted various charity film premiers over the year. The only 'restoration’ the Uptown needs is better film programming and employees and projectionists, in particular, who can bring back a sense of showmanship and pride that this theater had in years past.
What kind of projection and sound do you offer? 70mm? DLP? DTS? Dolby Digital?
How about posting some pictures or a link to your website to see how your new acquisition looks? Before and after pictures, maybe?
To be honest, I’ve never noticed the slow downs that are mentioned here. I pretty much check back to see what comments are posted after I submit mine, or glance at the new submissions, especially if they are local theaters (DC, MD or VA).