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I grew up in that area and don’t recall any X films booked there, unless maybe that Brando movie ‘Last Tango in Paris’ somehow played here way back in ‘72?, but I doubt it as this was a suburban community theater. Definitely, no porn. I’m thinking the closest X films that played may have been that Hyattsville Drive-In (demolished but near the Metro) or the Central Ave Drive-in going a little south.
The Hot Shoppes! That brings up a memory. That was where the new bus station/stop is currently set up, that displaced a Taco Bell that was there for years. You remember the Grand Union super market at the left end? :)
My family loved the rotisserie chicken they used to make and the waft of it as you shopped in the store.
This venue is now operated by Flagship Cinemas.
Once upon a time, there was a listing here for a venue at the Luxor. Actually, it was three IMAX-type HFR auditoriums that were part of an experience having to do with a pyramid or obelisk that was in keeping with the hotel’s theme.
I think the listing above was what became of the 3 venues that eventually closed.
I visited the place back in ‘94. I think I only saw 2 of the 3 because the price was quite high to see each of the short films. Picking the last of the three to see, I figured it would be the most engaging since it was the last. My only memory now is the last shot that had these anti grav vehicles that preceded the look of '97’s Luc Besson’s 'Fifth Element and the cityscape. There were no gee whiz great first person VFX shots that made an impression on me that I can recall. Maybe by this time, I had seen it all. :) Although, there are similar visual cues very similar to the Back to the Future ride at Universal, which was also new at the time.
There were speakers in the seats but don’t exactly recall if there were minimal motion such as rocking. I do know that there was a steep viewing angle in one (probably the last auditorium).
What I thought was cool was the search light at the top of the building. At the time, it stood out among the many Vegas buildings. When I was driving out of town, I took an 8mm DV shot of it for memory sake. Not sure if I took interiors..definitely, not of the movie auditoriums inside. If I can find that tape and its in viewable condition, I’ll try to post.
Howard, I want to see Phantom Thread this week, along with the Post. Did they use the curtain? If I do, I will keep an open mind. I read a post/review on in70mm that was glowing. I’m avoiding critic reviews until after I see it.
My sense is there is a projectionist for 70mm all the time? I vaguely remember when they played Dunkirk in 70mm on weekends and in DP during the week probably to save money on labor.
Post is playing here, too, but I think I’ll see it at Greenbelt just to support them. :)
Finally made it to see this venue after its remodel. The lobby area is nicely redone with dark wood flooring and a nicer concession stand with some baked goods. Since I was too full from Christmas food, I just got a drink. Prices are reasonable ($9 Adult) and $4 or so for the large drink. Very reasonable, if cheap compared to the chains. Restrooms are a welcome change. They switched restrooms as the Mens room was the Women’s rest room. New fixtures and interiors are a welcome, long awaited change. No more creaking moveable commode. :D
I saw The Greatest Showman. I’m more than convinced Hugh Jackman cannot sing although he is good at pretending to. The musical numbers are good, especially the first one between young Jackman’s character and his future wife. The auditorium was filled with the sound of music and voices. While not quite inventive as Buz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge, there are some good moments. The actress who plays the Lady with the Beard should get a Supporting Actress nod.
I know the film isn’t a straight bio but movie ‘inspired by’ it ends too abruptly after a tragic event. What is rather poignant is the fact the real Barnum & Baily circus shut down this year as this film is released.
I’m looking to seeing The Post in the upcoming weeks assuming they book it here.
I saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi in the BTX theater buying tickets online. I’m disappointed they don’t waive the online fee like AMC does. The nice thing about the reserved seating is to choose the best seats as opposed to going early and taking your chances. The seats chosen were in decent shape unlike some other venues with similar recliners.
The $19 per price is hard to swallow given the fact the screen appears to be the same size not even AMC IMAX-lite or Cinemark XD sized. Upon entering we received 3D glasses even though the show was listed as non-3D.
Movie started and then broke down twice at about the same mark when Poe starts his attack on the Star Destroyer. Upon the reboot, the 3D kicked in. Then the movie cut off the frame at the top, which brought laughter to some in the audience. Eventually, the picture got corrected. Sound was excellent, especially the surrounds when Kylo and Rey were doing their force communicating. Nice Visual FX for the most part but the Red Guards of Snoke’s looked too video game-ish. Smoke himself, his head looked like an undercooked oatmeal cookie with the crack on top. John Williams score mixing new and the familiar; Luke and Leia’s theme, especially brought back that nostalgia feeling not heard since Return of the Jedi. On top of that is the resonance of the orchestral score..assumably with the London Symphony..quite epic. :)
Their upscale concession fare is now available. They had people distributing the menu cards. Maybe next time, I’ll give it a try.
Phantom Thread is booked here in 70mm shortly. Looking at the you tube preview and setting, its somewhat interesting. I just hope it doesn’t turn out to be as unsatisfying as The Master.
It appears a new print of Lawrence is making the rounds. Perhaps, AFI will get it here later in ‘18. Its about time for it and 2001 to come back, once again. :) Maybe with luck, something 70mm new? I’m thinking Sleeping Beauty and Brainstorm.
As many times as I’ve seen Titanic on tv and we’re talking bits and pieces, not in its entirety, this newer release sounds interesting in the 3D format. How much more definition are we going to get without it looking exaggerated? Can we see the actual rivets on the ship? Count the pores on Leo’s then fresh face? :D
On the other hand, if only the newest Star Wars movie were released in this format…
If it did, it wasn’t in 70mm. For some reason, one of the Columbia MD theaters..the newer one sticks out in my mind of possibly playing it in 70mm for a brief time. OR, had a special print? Have to search the paper archives for that one.
Tristan, do you recall what Auditorium you saw Thor in? I’ve been there once and didn’t enjoy the place or the service, so I haven’t been there again. Although, I visit that place every 2-3 months to visit my Stylist. Maybe the place has improved. I’m willing to give it another chance. :)
Saw Blade Runner 2049 in the awesome BTX Atmos Dolby Cinema #1. Excellent presentation with some very strong sound booms and other sound fx from the newer spinner cars to the bullet hits. The original opening listings had partial 3D showings but there are none now. The move opening music drum or sound effect was so strong that the jerks in my row stopped talking. :)
In buying my ticket, they blocked out many seats and tried to assign me a seat. Ridiculous! I ended up sitting too far up. It wasn’t bad as the film was still immersive but the paneling they put up to obscure the seats below lines up to the screen sight line. Again, the D Atmos trailer plays off the screen. I bought a refreshment item to be picked up in the express lane. Just as I was approaching, the lady decided to leave. Great. Waited..waited..got frustrated and went to the other end. I was about to explode but kept my cool. I should’ve just cancelled the sale as it was overpriced anyway. Remodeling efforts still continue.
I hope to catch the movie again in 3D before it goes.
Could be. At the Mall, they just shut down one side while working on the other auditoriums. Not sure how the remodel here is progressing. I may have to visit next week to see, but it depends on the movie line up. :)
The Mall’s new faux leather recliners are very comfortable, maybe too comfortable. I could easily find myself snoozing if I’m seeing a movie that isn’t particularly engaging. And like the Mall venue, prices will probably go up, too.
I don’t like the idea of reserved seating unless the movie is anticipated to open big and you buy in advance.
I can’t believe its been over 20 years since this place closed. 27 years since I’ve seen a movie inside. And its been 14 years since I’ve driven by the place and actually went in. I’m sure the CVS is the same inside as it was when I was there in 2004.
In reviewing my posts, I can’t believe I forgot to mention I saw Amadeus here in 1984 in 70mm. At that age, I had virtually no interest in Merchant Ivory-type period movies up to then, but I recall the commercials/trailer seemed to convey it to be almost unconventional. In fact, I believe MTV had commercials with the minimal frame cuts to appeal to that audience.
Upon viewing, one can say the movie isn’t Merchant Ivory-esque but a thoroughly enjoyable film and cast. In particular, was Tom Hulce cast as Amadeus and that cackle he was able to pull off that the real Amadeus supposedly had and a dirty sense of humor. This played quite well opposite F. Murray Abraham’s Salieri. I believe I saw it 2x before it went. The musical scenes were rapid cut but still audibly engaging given the sound format and McA’s auditorium acoustics. As its eventual Academy Award wins prove, I’m not the only one who thinks this way. :)
If memory serves me correctly, there was an extended or director’s cut that was longer than the original. It released only in 35mm so I avoided it.
For the first time I can remember, the venue no longer has daily matinees during the week. Just evening shows.
I suspect business is very s-l-o-w, but hopefully not to the point where they’ll close this place.
They need to get creative..maybe have lower $3/Tuesdays, book more classics at lower admission rates, offer cheaper concession combos like say buy one popcorn, get soda for free. Those are high gross items anyway, but at least you’re moving product and earning some $.
I saw the Kingsman sequel in 2D BTX #1. The theater renovation seems complete. It is a Dolby Cinema venue with Atmos. They played the Atmos trailer, which I have never seen before. It starts on earth and progresses to outer space showcasing various theater sound effects heard side to side, front to rear and up. Very cool, BUT the Dolby Atmos letters played OFF the bottom of the screen :P
What is surprising to notice about their best auditorium is the fact the left entrance is now sealed off. I had thought the last time I was there they were recarpeting and putting in new doors. If the house is packed and there’s a mass evacuation, you’ve got only the right entrance and the front right exit and upper level door. Not a good thing. There’s going to be too much congestion if there’s a rushed exit. I suspect it passed firecode inspections as it stands now.
Movie was very good, as good as or better than the original. Cool visual FX. Although, the British accent on the lead character sometimes seemed muddied, the rest of the cast was effective. Halle Barry seems out of place, with her soft voice and no accent.
The rest of the venue is still being worked on. The right two hall auditoriums are the last to be refitted. I suspect they’ll be done within the month or so.
A curious construction piece is a curved glass enclosure that looks more like an exhibit-type enclosure with outlets. Previously, the space was a second concessions stand.
Looking forward to the Blade Runner 2049 opening here this week.
This theater originally opened around Fall 1985. It was built in a then new shopping center across the street from what was Freestate Mall. Keep in mind these aren’t huge malls like Tysons or Springfield, or Landover or Annapolis. While the mall tried to get anchors, none were larger then the Safeway grocery store that was there until the place was razed for the open shopping center that is currently built now.
I recall there was a poster of the venue on the side where Safeway anchored the mall. It was originally called Showcase, the Circle Theaters suburban brand name. The theater had six theaters with only one auditorium that had stereo. On the poster ad it touted 70mm capability, probably the one with the surround speakers, which I’m guessing was #5 or #4. On the marquee after the name, one could see what was booked in the stereo theater as it had the Dolby symbol.
When you entered, there was a corridor with the auditoriums on the left and right. There was this what I’d call a ‘grand’ carpeted stairway that probably led up to the projection booths upstairs. Given the size occupied by the auditoriums, it would be reasonable to assume the upstairs must’ve been quite big. No balconies, of course, but who knows..maybe they could’ve been built in but were not.
I remember seeing Commando (1985), with my Mom’s relative’s daughter (I forget how she’s related now). The movie was violent and had those Arnold zingers. The James Horner score I recall had Carribean elements that could be heard surroundly. :)
In 1986, I saw Little Shop of Horrors with my older brother. We then snuck into see Star Trek IV, which was a disappointment being in mono. After experiencing it in 70mm THX at the then new Multiplex Cinemas and at the KB Montgomery Mall in 70mm, it was quite a let down aurally. I remember leaving before the movie was over and then being caught by the Manager for sneaking in. My brother was mortified and embarrassed. My explanation to the Manager at the time, was that I was curious about the technical aspects of the auditorium compared to the stereo one (which is partly true). As she went to call Security or the police, we ran out. My brother was pissed at me for talking him into it as he was about to start his Seminary education. :)
In 1994 or so, the stereo theater got DTS. I recall they were advertising the fact they were playing the Jurassic Park II trailer in DTS, which was basically the T-Rex THUMP…THUMPTHUMP.. THUMP THUMP THUMP in deep bass and vibration and the foot impression of the T-Rex.
I dragged my parents to see Jurassic Park II when it did open here in DTS. My Dad complained it was too loud and that I was to blame for his good ear becoming deaf. Yeah. The experience, even in DTS, was nothing compared to the DTS THX experience I remember watching the original Jurassic Park movie in Hollywood. Mom fell asleep. :)
When the Hoyt multiplex opened in ‘96/'97 (now run by Regal), this venue was pretty much deserted. Though I believed it could’ve made a decent $1 movie house or second run discounted place, its demise was only a matter of time. Across from the theater, there was an arcade and pizza place, so it was a decent place to get together for a meal and a movie for its time.
Come to think of it, they could’ve ran counter programming to the Hoyt/Regal mplex booking foreign movies, documentaries and such that you’d see in a Landmark Theater today. There weren’t Landmark-type venues back then. Just my 2c.
VFX= Visual Effects, Howard. You’re right about it not being filmed in 65mm. What I was trying to say is that the Visual Effects Supervisor, Doug Trumbull, was known to film visual effects in 65mm. 2001, this film, Star Trek and Blade Runner’s VFX were shot in 65mm..done by Trumbull.
I was thinking about seeing the CE3K rerelease at the Uptown but judging by the posts, the venue isn’t what it used to be nowadays. :(
The auditorium appears to be the same size but I could swear the screen has a slight curvature to it now but am not sure. There are led-type lights attached to the speakers in the ceiling. The side speakers are turned in but angular facing the audience. I was thinking before they were just flat on the walls. The seats are the new faux leather recliners and the swing out enumerated trays. Very nice. Cup holders hold their largest drink. I know since I used it :P
They play the Dolby cinema trailer. No 7.1 sound trailer like #6. I’m guessing there wasn’t time. There wasn’t a BTX trailer though I don’t know if one exists. The sound is loud and booming, screen is clear with no artifacts. They played the Blade Runner 2049 trailer and it blows the AFIs 70mm version away. Jared Leto’s character looks more menacing in the 4K crispness but he’s too good looking to believe as the bad guy. Tuesday $10 prices is a bargain. As feared, the normal adult price is now $15 :P
The movie seemed squished. The spaceship didn’t look quite right because of the seemingly squeezed picture. John Williams score comes through stirringly but not modern day crisp. The soundtrack is clear no doubt but its as if you’re listening to an old fashioned LP. Having not seen it in its original release, I can’t say if its better now then it was then. I’ll defer to the comments of others who have seen it in 70mm in its original release. I’m wondering with the recent NEW films in 70mm, why they didn’t just re-release it in fresh 70mm prints. I could be wrong but since Trumbull filmed the VFX in 65mm, I’m thinking they may have transferred over to the actual 70mm release print instead of being blown up from 35mm.
Lastly, the THX plaque that proudly centered the entrance wall is down, hopefully temporarily, while they continue construction. :)
I finally caught ‘Dunkirk’ in 70mm. Looking at the showtimes, it appears they run it in digital during the week, automated probably and run it 70mm with a projectionist on the weekends or evening shows?
Customer Service is lacking. No greet either at the box office, upon entering or at the concession stand. I was going to order something at the concessions and was looking at the menu for my favorite stuffed pretzels and just got stares. I just left. The movie was about to start anyway.
This time I sat closer to the screen instead of my usual comfy spot in the back to get that full immersion experience. Bad idea. The flight shots made me a little dizzy. I was not feeling so good after the show. They had the curtain open throughout. Bad. At least I thought they’d close it before the previews.
Speaking of previews, they showed the upcoming Blade Runner 2049 and Justice League. It looked like film as there were the usual spots and artifacts inherent to film projection. Being the best house, I was hoping the film would play on the louder side with the appropriate BOOMs and shakes but I didn’t feel anything. In fact, my experience at BowTie’s refurbished Annapolis Mall BTX 4K #1 was a LOT better.
As far as the film experience, it was like the other Silver 70mm presentations. All the sound seemed up front. I was hoping for some directional sound at least from the fighter planes whizzing and the bullets firing. Even the end credits walking back, no sound from the other speakers. For those who have seen it this way, correct me if I’m wrong. Maybe the low attendance resulted in them not flipping all the sound switches.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I could’ve sworn when I saw the Master, there was a slide presentation or little video about the differences between 35mm and 70mm film and the experience. Looking at the audience in attendance, the younger people (younger than me anyway) would probably not know, much less appreciate the difference.
For an archival organization like AFI, you’d think they’d be able to use one of those 70mm trailers presentation trailers. On the other hand, if you’ve got wide film directors like Tarantino and Nolan utilizing 65mm, no one younger then that group is going to know or appreciate it. May as well buy the movie and watch it on your iPhone/Pad. Why not make a new 70mm trailer with sound?
Looking at the total box office grosses, it seems Dunkirk is doing well. Perhaps, we’ll see more 70mm but if its all like this, I’d rather go see it in 4K Digital even if its IMAX-lite. I can’t believe I’m saying it.. ;)
Overall, I was a little underwhelmed with the Dunkirk experience at the AFI Silver. It wasn’t worth the drive for sure and the lack of customer service doesn’t help either. While I believe in the AFI and its mission on film preservation and all that, on the business end of showing films at this location its just not there.
I caught ‘Birth of the Dragon’ in the remodeled #6. The new faux leather seats are quite comfortable though not as wide as Brandywine. They have numbered swing out trays for what I assume will be table side service. With the new seat installs, there is reduced capacity. The seats have that flip switch on the left that extends the foot rest. I’m just wondering how soon it will take for these seats get broken.
Unfortunately, it appears they didn’t do anything with the screen. With the decent sightline and raised floor level, one would think a larger, immersive screen would’ve sealed the deal even in this smaller auditorium. They played the Dolby 7.1 trailer but the sound didn’t seem as strong as before. Not sure if it was just a volume thing or the plusher, larger seats may be more sound absorptive?
The movie was quite good. I had missed seeing what I wanted to see but was pleasantly surprised how this movie turned out. The fighting styles show its influence on more recent flicks such as Star Wars and the Matrix series.
I forgot to post I saw ‘La La Land’ back in Jan or Feb. It was not as good as I had hoped. The sound was underwhelming in #4 as if it were muffle. Disappointing. Story was not engaginig but Gosling and Emma Stone make a pretty couple.
Upgrades like seats are nice, but they do need to do something with the sound…larger curved screens? :) I suspect prices will go up, too.
There was a news report on the local news station WTOP that this venue was to be shut down by Sept 30. Someone had put up a website to stop it with an online petition. Reportedly, the Smithsonian wants to expand the restaurant by getting rid of the theater.
With all the money spent on upgrades to laser, one would think they would’ve thought about this before shutting it down. What a waste.
I thought I put a comment on seeing Star Wars Episode II way back in the early 00s or 2003 :P I remember after the opening crawl and the camera slow pans down to Coruscant, the audience just went ahhhhh because of the vastness it all..planet, space and ships. Very immersive. Also, they had to trim the movie to make it all fit. We won’t talk about the bad acting, but it was still a lot of fun.
According to the AFI Calendar, Dunkirk will open 7/21 in 70mm. There are no showtimes listed. I suppose they will be hiring a projectionist for the event.
I saw 70mm listings for Wonder Woman in southern California. It would’ve been nice if they had booked it here. I suspect the Regal’s proximity prevented them from that.
Gore Vidal is presenting Alien in honor of the passing of John Hurt. I remember the 2004 or 5 Director’s digital cut they released. I suspect that will be what they will show. Didn’t know Vidal was still around. I remember his Creature Feature show on Channel 20 waaaay back. :)
I was aware this place existed but its nowhere I’d like to go to in DC. No one has visited here, yet? I imagine its like the other Landmarks.
I agree with you, David. An interesting name. One I would have not chosen. Perhaps, the building was a landmark (pardon the pun) for a plumbing company… now long gone? :)
Since I couldn’t get to the IMAX showings, I decided to see Alien: Covenant in D-Box..but on the cheaper Tuesday discounted day. I didn’t realize that there was no 3D release for the movie. Prometheus was quite good in the XD auditorium the last time.
The online seating chart doesn’t really give you a decent sense of where the seats are. I choose the one closest to the screen that wasn’t in the stadium area.
After what seemed like 20 previews, the D-Box trailer played and the seat rumbled and shook to alert me the movie was starting. My initial impression was that the seat movements (shake, vibration and tilting) were annoying. I’m thinking the screen was not immersive in the sense that I’m looking up to the screen. If it had been more on the level..which is why I’m not a great fan of stadium seating, I think the experience could have been better, overall. However, the ending part of the movie is when I forgot about my misgivings and the picture and movements seemed better in synch.
Picture and sound were digital good, however, during pre-show time, it seemed like the right half of the screen was darker. The soundtrack was distinct and clear. The appropriate sounds came out of the front left, but in the temple scene the constant water flow sounded more like a guy taking a whizzz then anything else. :)
For $13, the discounted price is palatable. The regular $20 D-Box price gives one pause for thought. I’m wondering if a different movie, like a space one would be a better experience. I missed a recline feature. Overall, the experience reminded me of the Doug Trumbull tri-feature experience at the Luxor in the 90s. They had minimal sensation but had speakers in the seats, if I recall correctly.