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My posting about this place is gone, again. :P
Let me see if I can remember. The auditoriums that were THX certified were the ones at either end of the venue. Not all of the auditoriums were THX certified. I do not think they continue to be certified as this venue does not show up on the THX site. I think structurally, the venue had the necessary specs to be THX certified but it may be that management chose not to renew the fees to keep its certification.
The last movie I saw here was a few years ago. Don’t remember the title, but I’m sure I have the stub in my movie stub bowl. I do remember there was just one lady, probably the manager, who sold the tickets and ran the concession stand!
I do remember seeing Titanic here in ‘97. It was in one of the THX cert auditoriums. What was memorable about it was how subdued/silent the sound was. Sure, the movie was great, it just did not wow me as it should have given the movies great visuals and soundtrack. I believe the Columbia venue had the regions only 70mm print of it at the time.
This theater has been open several years. It must have had a proper listing before as I did blog about it. For whatever reason, I have been noticing postings and theaters disappearing from the site with no reason or explanation. After several emails sent, over the years, there has never been a response. Perhaps, they’ve been lost with the site upgrades. Who knows.
This venue is about 25 minutes from where I live and my friend and I were there on opening weekend where it was a big event. It was originally a Loews Cineplex/Magic Johnson venue where the local paper had a story about its opening and how, at the time, Magic Johnson Theaters chose ‘underserved’ areas to open new movie theaters. AMC, of course, took over, having bought out Loews Cineplex a few years ago. The outdoor shopping center was also new, at the time, having been built on what was the former Capital Center auditorium where Barbara Streisand had her comeback concert way back in ‘94 or so.
Given the proximity of this venue to Washington DC, its fair to say that they get patrons from all over. Some of it, of course, of the urban and less disciplined variety. You will see police officers in and out of their cars making their presence, so there is a feeling of security after you leave a later show.
The IMAX-lite addition is a recent install, probably last year. I have not been there since the last Shrek Forever After movie, in 3D. Its funny that the weeknight showing I attended was where I had the theater all to myself. They forgot to start the movie. Perhaps they thought no one was going to show and did not bother starting it. I went back to the ticket person to remind them I was there AND to get the 3D glasses they forgot to give me. I had thought they’d hand out the 3D glasses as you went into the actual theater, as they had other screens showing movies flat.
Prior to that, my friend and I saw a movie in one of the larger auditoriums..the title I forget, but I do remember there was a BIG argument started between families over something that escalated to an almost brawl. Thankfully, it calmed down.
Perhaps one day I will visit the IMAX-lite theater, but I suspect it will be like all the other AMC installs. There were some pretty large auditoriums with huge wall to wall screens.
The Concession area is fairly large and varied. Other than White Marsh, that I know of, here they have hot wings for $15 or so!
I will probably see it mid-week. From what I’ve gleaned from a few reviews, there probably isn’t much surround sound but the Post makes comment about it being visually stunning. If its that good, I’ll probably check out the 1 35mm venue and the digital print for comparisons.
Howard, I’m surprised they didn’t use the curtain at the Ziegfield for at least this movie. I’m sure they had a projectionist running the movie since it is 70mm, why couldn’t he just push the button to open and close the curtain, too?
This week, I saw “Bourne Legacy” in #5. Coming in a little late, I missed the trailers and sat too close to the front. The jerky camera and quick shots made me a little woozy afterward but not as bad as seeing “Born on the Fourth of July” in 70mm at the Uptown way back in ‘88. Digital perfect presentation, no detractions. The movie seemed more of a reboot with the new Jason. It runs like the first movie, including the open ending.
The venue needs to upgrade their self service kiosks to accept the BowTie movie card like Regal and AMC do. Since no one was as the closed Customer Service desk, I had to trek back to the box office to get my movie credit and ticket. Not very good customer service. :P
:–) You know, Giles, I wasn’t planning on seeing it because of what you guys blogged about the possibility of them showing a pinkish print. I missed most of the 70mm screenings for lack of interest and because I work more weekends now. I had to leave as the end credits started. Today, is my brother’s birthday.. Blog about Chicken @ Landmark’s page. I wouldn’t mind seeing that and Samsara this week if I can finish my work early.
I’m going to have low expectations for “The Master.” This way when I see it, I’ll be amazed. ;–)
I hear what you’re saying about not having a trailer in front of “South Pacific.” Back in the day when they had 70mm event films, 70mm trailers were almost equally or even more exciting because you had the w-i-d-e format and the superior surround sound to get excited about what’s coming. Since “The Master” sounds like one of those event films, at least as far as 70mm is concerned, not the fact that its a big action adventure movie, I think it deserved a plug here. I think there probably was no 70mm trailer to tack on to the beginning of “South Pacific” anyway.
After reading the comments yesterday, I was hesitant about seeing “South Pacific” today, but I did anyway. I made an excuse to leave work a few hours early to catch the 1pm show.
They started 2 minutes late, with the overture music. The curtains were used. I think there was just one part in the beginning where the color was pinkish. The sound was all in the front. No surrounds. Other than that, like Howard has posted, the colors were quite good for an older film. Howard, I was thinking the same thing when I saw Ray Walston. I grew up watching him on tv, too, but years later when that program was into syndication.
They are already pre-selling tickets for next week’s new 70mm movie “The Master.” I haven’t seen any preview yet. I was thinking they’d show it today but pre show ads, no nothing. Straight to the movie. They are reporting on the news, that that movie has the highest per-screen average this weekend of any other. Hopefully, this will bode well for the AFI Silver here next weekend.
Once again, they did not have decent pretzels. Rushing straight to the theater, I had to satisfy myself with junk food..the hot dogs. They now serve the skinny Nathan kind as opposed to the larger Costco-type they used to serve. I think they microwave them now as opposed to the roller grill. Thankfully, I did not develop stomach problems as one of the hot dogs was not quite hot. They must improve on the food items. Quality wise and selection wise.
Classic films, including 70mm always looks better on bigger screen venues like here, unless its a true 70mm film..filmed in 65mm and NOT a blow up. I remember seeing many 70mm films here, almost all blow ups and wondering why there was so much grain. Grain is one of those detractions that hinder the best theatrical experiences. On the other hand, the saving grace was the six-track stereo sound track that envelopes and draws you into the movie. Even some of the worst movies I’ve ever seen were decent theatrical ‘experiences’ because of the immersive sound and picture.
Raiders would’ve been nice to see again on the Uptown’s bigger screen. Unfortunately, I had to miss it this time around. A one week run is too short.
I just looked through the AFI calendar and they have scheduled the Alien movies in November! No word on 70mm anything. I’ve only seen Aliens in 70mm, at the closed Fine Arts downtown. I suppose it will be Alien, the director’s edition in digital. The rest probably all film. At least Aliens should be the expanded edition. Prometheus is scheduled, but that is best experienced in IMAX Digital 3D. The ship’s tactical displays show off the format in its dimension and clarity.
The new Paul Anderson film is supposed to play here and at Bethesda, in gasp 70mm. This should be interesting. Their screens are rather tiny.
Howard, it seems you’re recent 70mm experience has been the same as mine. The sound is all coming from the front. Disappointing. Maybe Steve can shed some light on this if/when he sees these postings.
For all we know, we could be duped into watching 35mm and 4 track stereo and be fooled. :) Probably not.
If the AFI can play all formats, then the question is what prints arrived and was the AFI able to play them the way it should be exhibited? We can reasonably assume that the 70mm presentations were most likely run by a projectionist, especially the rare titles. It seems studios would like to protect these prints and not risk damage do them by platters. Then again, who is to say a projectionist could not mess it up..drop his drink on the print, touch it with dirty hands..etc.
My love for movies is, in part, the experience and 70mm played a great part of it, even if most of them were blow ups from 35 mm.
Curious about your DTS comment. When you surmise the newer print was with DTS and not 6 track mag, do you meant to say that DTS in the newer prints has diminished sound compared to the original? I thought the digital sound takes the original and cleans up scratches and other unwanted noise and enhances the fidelity of the original. If this is true, then DTS should exceed the original.
My first DTS experience was ‘Jurassic Park’ @ the Universal Studios theater and that THX-certified auditorium was rocking loud and booming. All they needed to do is add smellovision and you could smell T-Rex’s breath in addition to his roar. :)
Way back in the 80s, the Showscan’s rapid frame per minute projection format gave the illusion of 3D. I remember watching one of the short films where this person was talking as if he were behind the movie screen. It literally looked like he was coming at you.
I saw ‘Hope Springs’ here during a matinee showing for the measly price of $5. Seeing Meryl Streep act in various roles is amazing because she transforms into whomever the character is supposed to be. In this movie, she’s no different, giving a restrained and believable performance as an unhappy wife married to Tommy Lee Jones.
I’m so used to DP in movies that watching movies on film takes some minor adjustment. Those adjustments are of course the film scratches and abrupt changes.
Watching movies here is definitely old shoe-ish but like pleasant memories, you always want to revisit them time and time again.
This past week, I saw Whitney Houston’s final film ‘Sparkle’, during a matinee and, surprisingly, largely attended screening in #11. I had trepidations that the sound may not have been great as if it were in #2 or 9, but was pleasantly surprised. 11 was my first positive experience with digital projection, albeit at 1.2K resolution 10 yrs ago. ‘Sparkle’ looked digital great, too.
The sound was played up and very enjoyable. Of course, the inevitable comparison to ‘Dreamgirls’ is unwarranted, Jordin Sparks holds her own in her movie debut. One special thing I have noticed in Whitney Houston movies is that when she sings, she’s filmed live singing and not lip synching and ‘acting’ in the moment. You can see her vibrato motions in her throat. In this film, there’s no exception.
A film like this is best enjoyed with a vocal crowd. Since this is an African American film, there were many blacks in attendance, even older couples. There was this black lady who kept clapping, amen-ing and even exclaimed ‘kick his ass’ as Mike Epps' character was being beaten by the sisters for beating one of their own. It was a great crowd pleasing good time had by all.
Thanks for the info CSW. I remember reading something about the exhibition rights to ‘Porgy and Bess’ on the Ziegfeld thread. Thats too bad we couldn’t get it.
Howard, its ok. Its not like I bought advance tickets way in advance. Unless there is buzz in the news that there is a BIG event, I usually don’t buy movie tickets until the day of showing.
I did catch Sundays 8/19 70mm presentation of ‘Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.’ In spite of the rainy weather, there was a decent turn out.
As usual, they did not have pretzels of any kind and the usual ‘the truck has not arrived with supplies’ excuse was given.
The print looked good; very colorful, especially Ethel Merman’s red hair. Compared to the annual runs on ABC years ago, it was a treat to see it on the big screen without the annoying pan and scan motion of broadcast tv viewing. Its also great to see what older sitcom stars from the 70s did in movies like this. Norman Fell playing the Detective comes to mind. To see the Three Stooges, in color and on the widescreen, even though it was for that one scene at the airport was pleasant.
As with my experience with the 70mm ‘Hello Dolly’ and ‘West Side Story’ the stereo sound is mostly all up front. I was hoping for at least some car zooms and whooshes from the side and rear theater speakers. The sound was most alive during the end car chase between Sylvester and Otto. I suppose the sound should have been louder. As such, those presentations, from my perspective and those who want to disagree..fine, were less immersive than my anticipation for viewing these classics turned out to be.
I was looking forward to the much talked about sound chatter and sirens during intermission but there was nothing but a musical interlude.
The travel curtain was used throughout. Well done, but whatever text card they put up at the very beginning could not be read over the curtain ripples at all.
I’m wondering if the Cinerama Dome presentation will be of the same print or something else.
Looks like ‘2001’ will have a repeat performance in early Sept. Maybe it will be worth another look.
I was just glancing through the list of movies for the 70mm retro and just discovered that they cancelled the Sep 3 showing of ‘Porgy and Bess’ due to rights clearances. Recalling the Senator’s blog of clearance rights by its competitor the Charles, I was thinking to myself, who would exercise their right NOT to show the movie. Doesn’t make sense. Maybe this can be worked out in the near future.
2001 is rebooked again..ho hum.
I hope to make it tomorrow to the ‘Mad’ showing and get my favorite house seat. :)
Amen to that Howard and Giles. I sometimes get jealous at reading the programming at Hollywood’s Cinerama Dome when they have one of their retro festivals. Then I have to remind myself that that theater is in the movie capital and they have ready access to the prints and people who can make things happen.
Howard, I think 2001 was the last 70mm movie I saw at the Uptown for its 40th anniversary. I remember taking my friend there for a different movie experience. He kept asking me what kind of movie it was and I had to tell him it will be unlike anything he has seen before and will probably not see anything like it again. At the time, we saw the movie K-Pax prior and it was one of those movies that provoked discussion on its meaning. I told him there was that similarity in the thought provoking nature but 2001 was heavy on visuals that were ahead of its time and is considered one of the greatest films of all time by some.
Unfortunately, he did not share my opinion and thought it was the worst thing he had ever seen. The movie was too long and that if he had edited it, it would have lasted 30 minutes. Our ensuing argument got no where and would make for an interesting movie on its own, along the likes of My Dinner With Andre. I blame his sentiment on the post MTV generation and how today’s movies seem to be edited with something happening every 120 frames or so. I call it Gen Y ADD.
We have a running joke between us in that every time he takes me to a movie I do not like that I have to pay for, he will have to sit through 2001, again. :)
The last time I wrote to AMC was to complain about a bad experience at their Magic Johnson Theater in Landover, MD. At that time, there was no contact AMC or email. You had to write to their headquarters in KS or someplace. I wrote and got no response. I suppose writing now may not make a difference or not.
I had thought they took out their 70mm projectors based on an earlier post. So..70mm anything is not going to happen. Given the size of the screen, perhaps IMAX-lite would be? As much as I like the Silver Theater, their tiny screen, in comparison to the Uptown’s, doesn’t do much for me and of the 70mm presentations I have seen, they have not been anything that was truly memorable.
Wow. It must be tough for Mr. Kiefaber. All I’d like to say is a big thank you for the last 10 years of so of great showmanship at the Senator (‘99-'09) that I have had the privilege of experiencing. I remember the emails we received in '05 when there was the possibility that Episode 3 was not going to get booked at the Senator, but as it turned out, they got it. My posting of that has disappeared along with comments prior and a little after.. :P Even though the theater is some 50..60 mi from where I live, it was worth the trip to experience movies as opposed to watching them.
Looking forward, I’m cautiously hopeful that the remodels will be done well. We will just have to wait and see. I look forward to the grand reopening. Maybe in time for this Christmas' release of The Hobbit?
My friend and I saw a free screening of a new Chris Rock movie “2 Days in New York” on film. For a new movie, I cannot believe the scratchy print that unfolded before my eyes. Not sure whom to blame, being new perhaps the people in the booth mishandled it. Being used to digital, the scratches did detract but one gets accustomed to it.
The film went on too long anyway and will not add anything to Chris Rock’s career. After seeing it, I felt like I needed to shower with all the talk of sex, pot and a French family with hygiene issues.
As previously blogged here, for those fans of movies, join Landmark’s film club and get invites to free screenings like this one. Most are pretty good.
According to Friday’s, 8/3/12 edition of the Washington Post, there is a community meeting Sat, 8/4, to discuss the future of the theater and possible uses.
I’m thinking if it ever were to show movies again, aside from the necessary upgrades and ADA compliance, you’d have to have more then one screen here. Perhaps 3. The configuration could maybe support the main auditorium restored but capacity reduced from the original 800 to say, maybe 500. The crying rooms upstairs could be converted to the two additional screening rooms if they can be expanded to accomodate comfortable seating and larger screens.
Ahhh finally, some bloggers to share experiences with!
I saw the latest ‘Ice Age: Continental Drift’ in 3D in #9. It was THX cert once upon a time, but the surrounds weren’t as powerful as it could have been. Sitting up towards the back, I was hoping for that immersive experience but heard mostly sounds in the front, with an occasional left speaker sound effect. Disappointing.
Also, the staff needs to be more attentive. The ticket taker took my ticket and forgot to give me 3D glasses while talking to the co-worker at the concession stand. Bad.
Given my lackluster experience in #9, it was even more disheartening to hear the loud end music to Batman Dark Knight Rises from #1. Hmmm. I’m holding out to see it in real IMAX when I have time to go downtown.
On a different note, it seems Bow Tie will be rolling out their own version of IMAX-lite and XD, with their BTX. They could easily tear down Screens 5 and 6 and combine them to one BIG 80' screened auditorium to compete with Cinemark’s XD and the IMAX-lite installs at AMC and Regal. Regal’s new Crofton venue will have IMAX-lite, so it makes sense to build one here to keep up with the competition.
Hooray, the Uptown is #1. The sheer screen size is a partial element to the immersive experience. Unfortunately, the known projection and sound issues detract from it being the best it can be.
Of the ones on the list besides the Uptown, I’ve only been to Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The Arclight was just being built when I visited CA last a long time ago.
Good for them. Like many, I enjoy the experience and momentary get away that good movies provide especially at venues like the Uptown back in its day. Even on those days where its just myself and maybe a few other patrons, you can have a good time.
As the news unfolds about what this individual did in CO, it does make me pause for thought about safety. Then again, I think that of the what..20,000 screens or so, across the country, going to the movies is safe. Hopefully, it won’t start copycat incidences.
If anyone sees Knight Rises here, I’m curious as to how the presentation goes and if there have been improvements all around; projection, customer service, etc. I’m being swayed by the movie chains to see and pay for event movies in the IMAX-lite, XD, ETX formats nowadays. If the Uptown improves and comes close to what it was in its glory days, I wouldn’t mind driving back into town for those event films they book. Then again, there’s Baltimore’s remodeled Senator that will reopen soon.. :D
On its last day on the XD Screen, I saw Spiderman in 3D. I have to admit, I was apprehensive about this reboot. What is the need to reboot it other then to save money on production costs by eliminating its star and director? The FX and sound were first rate. Sound was good and, again, the 3D was dark. When I left, being the last one out, they stopped the movie. I guess there was no scenes at the end hinting at the next movie. The Starbucks drinks @ 4.50 aren’t bad but they aren’t Venti sized for what you could get at a real Starbucks.
Talk about teeny, tiny, little shoe box size theaters! More like screening rooms. I thought there was going to be just two screens added, but three?? The largest of the three has about 74 seats. I’m curious if they’re going to go all out and have decent sound systems without having them bleed over into the adjoining auditoriums. Or, imagine if sound from the main one were to bleed into the others. Not good.
Don’t quote me on this, but I had thought at the time of Episode One, back in ‘99, they were boasting the main auditorium had 40K watts of power, which would put it on par with the AMC’s ETX sound theater at Tysons Corner, VA. From my theatrical experiences here, I can still remember quite an aural experience..being compelled to 'move out of the way’ during the asteroid scene in Episode II; the Martian attack on earth in the ‘War of the Worlds’ remake, the Oliphant attack in the final ‘Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ and when Count Dooku uses the force to hurl Obi-Wan Kenobi from the left of the screen towards the back right.
I know. I’m not complaining. I’m looking forward to the rarer titles such as ‘Mad Mad Mad World’, ‘Porgy & Bess’.
Even on this site, they report LA/Hollywood theater 70mm festivals with different titles not seen in ages. Sleeping Beauty comes to mind. I’ve never seen a 70mm animated movie before..unless you count Roger Rabbit back in ‘88 at the Uptown. Yeah, that was blow up, too.
Steve, do you know if the 70mm films shown are newer prints with DTS or original 70mm with 6 track mag tracks?