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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).
I happened to catch Chicken Little, in 3D, during it’s opening weekend. The film wasn’t bad but is more light fare than say its traditional flat animated films like The Lion King. The 3D digital images were very sharp, with vivid colors and detail. It is nice that we now have two digital screens at my local multiplex. One with the older DLP set up and now, the new one with the Dolby Digital Cinema (with 3D capability) set up. Unfortunately, the two auditoriums are the smaller of the venues, which is a disappointment, yet are THX certified.
As a Digital Cinema patron and enthusiast, I’m looking forward to the 3D digitally projected movies coming out. Disney’s “Chicken Little” will be showing near me in ‘Disney 3D Digital’ at the Crown Theater near me. Now, the extra $1 tacked on to the admission fee has me wincing but if it is a great theater experience then it will be worth it. IMAX presentations are definitely worth the extra money, so, perhaps the extra $1 for 3D Digital is worth it but the Crown auditorium that has digital projection has only a smallish 40' screen.
High definition, eh? I suspect we’ll see this in all the digital theaters in ‘06. Maybe by then, Landmark will have their new 4K projectors installed but they have such small theaters here in the DC area. How do you 'experience’ say, Cinerama on a 25' flat screen?
Okay, the news post has the article a bit out of context. I believe the EW article had the headline “Ten Theaters that Do it Right,” or something to that effect. They make little mention of showmanship or theater features.
As for our local Senator, it is a nice theater, but my experience there watching “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” was less than, um, stellar. The sound was rather muted and the picture ran off the screen, which was very, very disappointing, since I Caravan-ned (Dodge) 6 of my friends and relatives and travel some 40 miles (one way), on opening weekend, to experience this disappointing presentation.
Another sore point is the forum on this theater’s website is quite censored..almost draconian to any submission of theater criticism in any manner, no matter how thoughtfully and constructively presented. Also, any long discussion on the experiences of superior digital projection over the Senator’s film projection is also either edited or not posted at all. Now, “War of the Worlds” was another experience entirely. Watching that film there pretty much erased my bad memories of ‘Sith,’ but when I tried to post the contrasting film event experiences, with a positive note on the Senator’s redemption, it was not posted either.
The DLP website doesn’t indicate a DLP Ziegfeld booking either. Check it out at DLP.com, but then again, they don’t have the Loews Rio venue as having it either, yet they advertise a DLP showing of it.
The first three National Amusement multiplexes, in the DC/VA area started out in the mid 80s were state-of-the-art for its time. I recall they boasted at least two big auditoriums that were THX certified and had 70mm capability. I remember catching Star Trek IV, Terminator 2 and Dick Tracy in 70mm at one of those venues. Today, they are just run of the mill operations and have lost their THX certification. The Arlington VA Multiplex has DLP but its in a small auditorium that is shoe box sized. I saw X2 there, in ‘03, and was disappointed with the muddled sound though the picture was vibrant and colorful and didn’t bother going there to see Revenge of the Sith.
If they build another one in this market, they could take a page out of the Arclight Cinemas book and offer all stadium seating, with at least THX certified auditoriums, if not better, and at least one with IMAX and/or DLP. Perhaps an auditorium or two could be kept for art house classics, with 70mm capability to show older widescreen favorites. Then you can call it a ‘De Lux’ venue. :)
Okay, I’m projecting a wish that may not come true…
We have one of those ‘De Lux’ multiplexes in Virginia and, to be honest, it’s nothing great. The plasma tvs just show ads and movie trailers. The food court is just that..a food court. Sbarros, Nathans, the usual mall food fare at movie house prices!
The movie screens are decently sized, with stadium seating, nothing special. The presentation was in the Director’s Hall. The sound was muted and none of the auditoriums were THX certified, which would explain the lackluster presentation. The reserved seating is just that. I couldn’t choose where I wanted to sit and even though there were other people, the usher would check our tickets to make sure we sat in our assigned seat. I felt like I was in elementary school being told where to sit and not to move!
Is it worth the extra cost for the ‘De Lux’ treatment? Not in Virginia. Maybe it is better at the other locations where there may be at least DLP and/or IMAX.
Just returned from a screening of the original Star Wars trilogy. It was a great experience. Great sound and picture from start to end, in the largest historic theater (in THX). Unfortunately, the presenters flubbed up (though they did catch themselves) one of them referred to Star Wars as ‘Episode One’ and another referred to the second film as ‘The Emperor Strikes Back.’ It seems this was the only venue anywhere in the world that currently showed the first five movies of the saga. Its too bad the prequels weren’t in digital.
I second Doug23’s comment and responses to the previous bickering! Celebrate the fact you have the choicest venues to experience movies. The BEST! If you were in Washington DC, your choice is a decent looking art deco structure that can boast bad sound and lousy projection (Loews Uptown), or a smaller suburban multiplex.
Who cares if King Kong is coming to the Uptown? With its current lousy projection and sound standards, I’ll stick to my closer, better sounding and looking (especially if its in DLP) multiplex movie screen, thank you.
Now, the current screen must be only 40', as it appears to be about the same size as Baltimore’s Senator. So, how can they properly show Cinerama on a flat screen that is only 40' wide?
Having returned from a mid-week, evening showing of “Revenge of the Sith,” I’m sad to report that things haven’t changed a whole lot at this theater. The presentation was a disappointment all around. The movie was scratchy, blotchy and had a noticeable line running down the middle during previews and at the end credits. I realize this is a dark movie, both in subject matter and lighting, but in many of the scenes, especially during the one where Sidious reveals his true self to Anakin, the costumes were too dark. No texture differences, washed out color. The digital projection of this film was so much better hands down. The only saving grace to watching this film, at this theater, is its enormous screen size. It draws you in, but the horrible picture and sound brings you back to reality like a slap in the face. sigh
The sound was subdued even though this was supposedly an event film. Given the fact there may have been less than 20 in the audience, in a theater that could seat 800 or so, I guess whomever was responsible for the audio settings just turned it down. A waste of my $9.50.
Okay, I do remember the not-so-friendly cashier at the booth, who, on this day, was reading a book. She and the ticket taker were watching, in bemusement, as I was trying to buy our tickets using the automatic kiosk. It didn’t work, so I ended up buying it from her. She did say “enjoy the show” and that was about it. Rude, well, its NYC. At least told us to enjoy the show, perhaps she sensed we were out of town… :)
I’ve E-mailed them to find out if the original trilogy will be in 70mm, the special editions, and, if the prequels will be in digital projection. All three auditoriums are capable of any format, but I’d like to see them in the historic original auditorium. So far, no response.
My friend and I visited NYC and made a stop at this theater to see Revenge of the Sith in DLP. I must say that the theater is quite ornate and large but the screen size was smaller than I expected. I suspect its about 40' or so wide, about the size of some of the larger auditoriums in your local multiplex, or like our Baltimore’s Senator. Its a bit strange to have to go up the stairs, then turn right into an auditorium that seems to go down again. The lobby pictures show a Ziegfeld that had a much more decorative top structure that is missing from the current one. Was this the same theater?
The picture and sound are better than in most theaters I have experienced with this DLP/Dolby Digital Cinema set up. Excellent sound separation, with little reverberation, yet powerful subwoofers add to the aural experience! Its nice to see an ‘older’ theater outfitted with the latest presentation technologies and sound. If people are going to leave their DVDs and cable to see a movie, this is how it should be experienced.
My understanding of DLP is that its a Texas Instruments system and Dolby Digital Cinema is a competing system that achieves the same objective, which is digital cinema projection. DDC, according to the article link, stores, decodes and projects at “higher data rates than other image decoders,” meaning Texas Instruments DLP system.
As far as the posted theater listing, a check of the Ziegfeld indicates it is Texas Instruments' DLP set up, not Dolby Digital Cinema. Not trying to be difficult, just trying to discern the differences.
If megaplexes are the future, I’d be supportive of say a megaplex that incorporates a single screen gem and then building adjoining but distant, ornately-styled auditoriums that have the projection and sound that exceed THX cert standards like the Arclight, in Hollywood.
What specific venues have the new Dolby Digital Cinema system? Their website doesn’t say. Has anyone seen a movie with this new system? If so, how does it compare to DLP?