Uptown Theater

3426 Connecticut Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20008

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HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on October 15, 2007 at 10:42 pm

I’m sure nobody noticed last week when the Tenley Circle finally was entered, because it arrived under the name of a new theater that’s there. I saw many movies at the Tenley and will comment on that page. For others who might also wish to comment, please go to this page:

/theaters/21786/

Giles
Giles on September 10, 2007 at 9:30 am

so… getting back to the original topic on hand since it’s diverged to Blade Runner – which is only getting theatrical exclusive run in NYC and LA only (boo, hiss, Warners come on), and digital projection (which the Uptown sadly doesn’t have). What’s the story about the future of the theatre – is AMC still toying with the idea of not renewing it’s lease come next Spring? Or has the commitment to satellite feed the McLean Bible Church secured the Uptown for being open longer? I don’t believe anyone did answer this question directly, if this is digitally fed through a yet to be determined server – is in fact AMC upgrading to a digital projection system – the Kinoton projector that Steve mentioned sounds great, or even NEC’s system that was specifically built for very large theatres (the Arclight, Ziegfeld, Seattle’s Cinerama all feature NEC’s DLP system).

sguttag
sguttag on September 10, 2007 at 7:59 am

“Look as good” is a tough question to answer. The simple facts are that 4K resolution digital is only as good as 1.85 35mm (.446 x .825"). This does not speak to the color aspects of which film has a greater range as well as better contrast ratio. For 70mm, you are dealing with a substantially larger image area (projection size of .870 x 1.912"). 8K digital is not going to capture it all with the color and contrast again still superior with film.

So, in the strictest sense, given an “EK” print from the original release, no today’s digitally remastered version will not have as good a resolution, contrast nor color. However, it sure seems like they are using the best of today’s technology to yield as faithful a reproduction of the original.

But lets look at other factors….you probably didn’t see an EK print back then (Off camera original) but a dupe print that went through the whole IN/IP process. So the edge in contrast and resolution gets very narrowed with the film versus digital.

Now take into account the projection system you saw the film on…how good was it? Any image stability issues in projector (or printing for that matter) come off of resolution. This is why 70mm projection, even from a blow-up is significantly better than a standard release print in 35mm…theatrical projection gets a significant improvement in steadiness as well as having more resolution for the IN/rellease print steps.

Kinoton (projector manufacturer) just this year released their “premiere” line of film projectors (uses an electronic intermittent) that is 4-5 times steadier than their previous version of their “E” series projector…that 4-5 times steadiness improvement will improve sharpness and actually allow one to resolve more of what is on the film.

So, as you can see it is very difficult to play a strict numbers game on will today’s film or digital print look as good or better after digital remastering. As a rule, in 2007, going into the digital domain almost always takes away from film original. 2K DIs are just plain horrible…they lower the bar way too much. At least Blade Runner looks like it went with notably better digital processing.

SG

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on September 7, 2007 at 8:03 pm

A fascinating article, Howard. Thanks for finding it and sharing it with us. Its too bad DC never got a 70mm engagement for this film at any time since its release in ‘82. I’ve been a fan of Ridley Scott’s work since Alien and also the Visual Effects Director, Douglas Trumbull since Close Encounters. Let’s say the combination of Ridley Scott’s attention to detail and Doug Trumbull’s flair for technical detail and brilliance with his choice of 65mm film for visual fx make Blade Runner a unique theatrical experience.

As I posted on the Ziegfeld Theater site, I believe the special engagement print refers to film and not a digital presentation. As I write this, I’m virtually drooling at the thought that they did 8K scans of the visual effects and high scans of the film from the original 65mm negatives. If the master remains at such a high level and gets transferred to film, it should play very well, better than anything done natively on 35mm film stock for sure, even if you’re dealing with reduced elements.

I forget the website but there was a comparison of true 70mm to 20K or 21K digital based on some mathematical formulation of digital projection and film. The only true 70mm film I can recall seeing is 2001 and probably the remastered and reissued Vertigo several years ago. Those presentations, as you know, were spectacular and probably something we will never see again except for those periodic limited-run special re-releases.

Whatever ends up at the Ziegfeld, let’s hope we can get it over here to DC. If its film, the Uptown would be good to have it as long as its properly run. Or heck, send it to AFI. At least it will be in one of their THX certified theaters.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on September 7, 2007 at 4:21 pm

oops- the “Can’t wait for this one. I may have to take the day off” comment is from the Ziegfeld poster, not me. I might go there & see it, though.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on September 7, 2007 at 4:19 pm

Steve Guttag- you are an expert.
It seems that the NYC Ziegfeld digital projector will show a digital print (if I understand this correctly). Will it look as good as the original 70 mm print? or at least, will it look as good as 35 mm?I myself saw the version shown at the Uptown only in 35 mm in 1998 at WB 75th Anniv Film Festival. Blade Runner looked great on the Uptown screen then. I hadn’t fallen too much for the movie on TV, but on the big screen…

this from the Ziegfeld thread, which I place here as I’m not sure whether you are reading that thread, but feel feel to comment there
or here, of course-Can’t wait for this one.
I may have to take the day off.
View link
BLADE RUNNER
SPECIAL ENGAGEMENT AT THE ZIEGFELD
BLADE RUNNER
Deckard is a Blade Runner, a police man of the future who hunts down and terminates replicants, artificially created humans. He wants to get out of the force, but is drawn back in when 4 “skin jobs”, a slang term for replicants, hijack a ship back to Earth. The city that Deckard must search for his prey is a huge, sprawling, bleak vision of the future. This film questions what it is to be human, and why life is so precious.
Friday October 5th – Thursday October 18th (New Print)

View link

<<All of this was occurring as the fifth version â€" Scott’s final cut â€" was painstakingly assembled from original elements, including the original 65mm negative. De Lauzirika has been working on it over a seven-year period. “And this time, Ridley approved every single thing that went into it â€" every single cut, every single effect,” he says.“We’re right back to square one,” Galvao says of The Final Cut elements. “We scanned the cut negative, plus the negatives we dug out of vaults in England, here at Warner Bros., and [co-executive producer] Jerry Perenchio’s vault as well. We went through and viewed every frame of every roll that we could find.” “Honestly, I got to go through 977 boxes and cans of mag, IP, INs, 65mm visual effects comps, 35mm original dailies … everything ever printed,” de Lauzirika says. “I saw amazing, amazing material â€" much of which we’ve been able to pull and put on the DVD in some form, even if it didn’t make it into The Final Cut.“I think The Final Cut is the best version of them all. The picture and sound on it are just astounding. We really put a lot of work into the restoration, and we transferred the actual original neg at 4K, and it just looks stunning. Even more stunning are the visual effects, which were originally 65mm elements, then scanned at 8K. It looks like 3D. It’s so sharp, with all these details that I’d never seen before.”
According to Galvao, the assembly and restoration for The Final Cut included some reworking of the original effects â€" tightening some mattes, doing some wire removal, etc.>>
posted by celboy on Sep 7, 2007 at 10:51am

SWATMAN
SWATMAN on July 31, 2007 at 10:44 pm

Myrna38717,
My sources are from the theatre. I have a copy of the rental agreement with me.

Giles
Giles on July 31, 2007 at 10:03 pm

The only beef I have with the AFI when it was over at the Kennedy Center was when they promised a screening of the 111 minute UK cut of Ken Russell’s ‘The Devils’ – they weren’t able to get the print at the last minute, BUT they did screen the rarely seen original X-rated American theatrical cut (not complete, but still had scenes that were not present in the more censored R-rated cut). Have yet to check out Harry Potter (which I have already seen at Tysons – screen 3 – which was amazing, because it’s one of the larger screens and has a stellar soundsystem. saw it in IMAX at Udvar Hazy – visually great , albeit in standard 2D, but suffered in the audio department cause of a left speaker was clipping).

VideoLo
VideoLo on July 31, 2007 at 6:40 pm

I recently went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at the Uptown and it was glorious. Also saw Dreamgirls there with no problems. It’s still the Rolls Royce of movie theaters to me. AFI is a pain because they often cancel showings with no warnings. I got burned there several times and gave up my membership. It was much better when it was at the Kennedy Center.

Myrna38717
Myrna38717 on July 25, 2007 at 8:49 am

Hi Piddy — What is your source for the $300 figure? It does seem low, especially given the Avalon advertises a $275 rental for two hours of use of their small upstairs theatre, in the morning. Thanks.

rcdt55b
rcdt55b on July 22, 2007 at 9:54 am

Piddy,
The projectionists at the Uptown are NOT union operators. I know this for a fact.

sguttag
sguttag on July 22, 2007 at 9:32 am

Hey, you won’t get any arguement from me which venue brings you more into the picture…the Uptown can beat em all (and I’m not limiting it to the DC-Metro area). But in its present state…the Uptown is incapable of handling such shows. I agree that the AFI needs to expand its 70mm play list to be more like the Egyptian in Hollywood. BTW…add Playtime to your repeat list for the AFI. Lawrence is coming back to the AFI soon.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on July 22, 2007 at 12:51 am

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.

sguttag
sguttag on July 21, 2007 at 10:08 pm

Your best bet for 70mm in the DC area at this time is the AFI/Silver. As for the Uptown’s projection quality…I know the operator there and the equipment…it just isn’t likely that they doing a very good job.

While I don’t fault the church for seeking the venue, it is something that should never have been done to this theatre…it is yet another nail in the coffin.

SG

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on July 21, 2007 at 9:12 pm

JodarMovieFan, don’t eat that food often!

I’m hoping that if AMC does depart, that a future operator could in addition to new releases, show some giant screen 70 mm epics again! I saw the restored Lawrence of Arabia at the Uptown, but missed the color corrected version in 2002 and would like to see it at the Uptown. I saw a color faded Dr. Zhivago at the Uptown in 1991, and not that long thereafter skipped the restored 70 mm Dr. Zhivago at the Avalon, but I’d like to see it at the Uptown. And, there’s many more 70 mm classics. The Egyptian in Hollywood has a summer 70 mm classic series.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on July 21, 2007 at 8:50 pm

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.

rcdt55b
rcdt55b on July 21, 2007 at 5:55 pm

I am not the one chasing people away. They will see for themselves. It’s a shame too. This was such a great theater.

SWATMAN
SWATMAN on July 21, 2007 at 12:30 pm

At the Uptown there is union projectionists. They work 3-4 days a week.And there is scratched prints the last one was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. If you go to AMC Mazza Gallerie or AMC Georgetown there a plenty of films that have scratched prints. I saw transformers at Mazza Gallerie and it had black leader at the end of each real so the movie looked like it stopped but it didn’t.AMC is the worst company.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on July 21, 2007 at 8:11 am

Since AMC tookover, I’ve been there for Flags of our Fathers, Bobby, Eragon, and Spiderman 3, and haven’t seen scratched prints or screen!

My point is the Uptown will close if you chase people away (and we don’t know if another operator will show films there or not). If customers experience problems, such as scratched anything, they should directly say something to the staff.

AMC doesn’t have union projectionists, classics or 70 mm presentations at the Uptown, but they are operating the Uptown and movies are fun experienced at the Uptown.

rcdt55b
rcdt55b on July 21, 2007 at 8:04 am

That was my whole point Howard. The majority of the single screens close because they can’t get the business to stay open. Amc lowering their presentation standards just made it worse. As an audience member, how can you possibly tell what percentage of the audience complains. Also, I have a lot of family, friends and people in my field that live and work near the Uptown. I trust what they tell me. I believe it too. The fact is, the presentation at the Uptown HAS suffered whether you want to admit it or not. If everyone wants to continue to pay the outrageous prices that they do for a subpar performance than go right ahead. Along with Jodar, I am sure there are plenty more people that feel the same way.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on July 21, 2007 at 7:26 am

JodarMovieFan, did you say something to the staff? I’ve been there since, to Spiderman 3, and didn’t see any scratches.

JohnMessick
JohnMessick on July 21, 2007 at 4:05 am

Lafayette theater, Suffern New York

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on July 21, 2007 at 12:13 am

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.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on July 20, 2007 at 10:54 pm

I meant that in various theaters, sound sometimes is lowered. I didn’t mean at the Uptown.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on July 20, 2007 at 10:53 pm

Where do you work? New York? But, you are hearing Uptown customers complain? You are a projectionist, right? A union projectionist?

As an audience member, my perception is different. It seems that 99% of the audience doesn’t complain as long as the movie runs. If you are a projectionist, yes, I’m sure you get complaints. I often hear that the sound has been turned low because one person asked. (I’m not saying you would do that).

Yes, most single screeners are gone, but there are still some special ones that have survived. I don’t know if considering the Uptown’s huge screen, they could also host some live events (other than church).