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I drove by here on Monday, 4-19-21, and discovered they are tearing down the building. I took a picture of what I believe was the multiplex entrance and will send it in.
I’m reading they raised the complex today to build a new VA Tech facility. Place has been shut down since the pandemic 3/20. Oh well.
The last movie I saw here was Bridge to Terabitha in 2007, which I’m 99% sure I posted here and is gone (again). It was the only place in the DC/Metro area that was playing it in Digital projection..or maybe it was one of the last DP bookings before going.
As I reflect back on my ‘99 experience with Phantom Menace, I attended with my late friend, who was in a wheel chair. Can’t precisely recall if we took the elevator to the EX house but I know we sat high up, as it was his preference. As I sat a little to the back of him, and this was into my X number of times seeing it, I can still see him move his upper body in tune to the pod racing vehicles as they zoomed to the left.. to the right due to the powerful sound delivery and projection. This is what you call the living the movie experience.
While I hope the pandemic’s hold on moviegoing lessens, I don’t think it will ever go away. You just can’t deliver that kind of experience with movies at home, without the audience oohing, ahhing, clapping and reacting to whats up on that screen.
So Giles, would you say your experience there during the current pandemic, was relatively safe? People social distancing and wearing masks? My thing is being in the auditorium..someone taking off the mask in that enclosed space and coughing/sneezing. They’re reporting aeration and ‘spotting’ are primary Covid transmission methods. I’m reconsidering going to the movies now. LOL!!
Giles, so how many people were at your showing in total? I wanted to visit there when they opened even though I’m in MD. Its just that movie wasn’t of much interest to go all the way to Tysons. I thought of seeing Empire Strikes Back but it was showing in the small theater at the AMC Hoffman.
Did you order any concession fare? Is it a full menu or limited? Just wondering with all the Covid restrictions.
Since I live in an area with high Covid numbers, movies here aren’t opening anytime soon. I thought of visiting the Senator in Baltimore since I haven’t been there since they reopened like what.. 8 years ago?
I’m hoping things open up in time for the James Bond movie. If they have that in IMAX at Tysons, I’ll be there.
With the Seattle Cinerama’s closure, Netflix buying the Egyptian in Hollywood, it would make sense for Amazon (Jeff Bezos) to either buy the Cinerama..maybe the Uptown, too. Both great classic movie houses. They could dismantle the 3-strip cinerama projection and bring it back here, too. :) How cool is that?
Based on what I am able to obtain from different online news sources, it appears Vulcan Inc., owned by the late Paul Allen attempted to renovate the theater (fix wear and tear items and adjust the concession menu..no disclosed tech changes) but stopped in Feb. Now Vulcan puts out a statement that the venue remains closed for the forseeable future and has shut down its arts & entertainment division.
The speculation now is Amazon may be interested in the venue for its own venture into the entertainment business as Netflix has bought the Egyptian in Hollywood. Sounds sensible, if this all turns out to be true.
I can’t imagine anyone dismantling what is in place now, including the 3 strip projection set up. Its just crazy. On the other hand, DC’s Uptown had a 3 strip set up way back when..and it is now currently vacant. Bezos, who has a large presence in DC owning the Washington Post and opening up a campus in Arlington VA, could take over that venue. The 3 strip set up could be transferred there and DC could have show Cinerama. Okay, that last part is my fantasy projection.
This is unfortunate, but not unexpected given today’s pandemic. I suppose another philanthropist needs to step in and take over. Probably would need to be a Hollywood type individual who appreciates the film experience. Page Steven Spielberg and/or George Lucas, please. :) Or both of them. How about programming on during the weekends/week of exclusive screenings of their films? Maybe do the original un-tweaked Star Wars one weekend..CE3K original edition the next? Yeah..yeah.. Disney owns Lucasfilm now. Its just an idea.
A job routed me past this venue a few times. The exterior looks the same although I’m reading this CVS has consulting rooms. Not having gone inside but recalling how the store takes up the venue’s previous lobby area, I’m thinking they probably expanded the place to create the consultation rooms. They could easily have carved up #3, which was probably the smaller of the triplexed screens and is closer to the road.
Also, the next door Safeway has been closed, which is not surprising. It would have been closed after my last post.
Being stuck at home due to the corona virus and feeling a touch nostalgic, I’ve been virtually revisiting some of my favorite venues of the past on CT. I’ve discovered yet again, some of my comments from the site are gone like here.
After buying tickets, one gets the feeling of walking gradually on a decline to the theaters. The restrooms were awful, although not as bad as the ones in the food court.
I believe I started visiting this place on occasion since the late 80s. I know I saw Star Trek VI (1991), with a co-worker in the Grand because it was the best/largest place to see the Star Trek movie in the DC area, and the first one aside from the first one, that wasn’t in 70mm ..but at least it was in THX. I distinctly remember an intro by, presumably, the Manager who was bald and made the often stated but incorrect belief (imho) that the even numbered films are better than the odd ones.
I saw the Eddie Murphy remake of The Nutty Professor (1996) not in the Grand but in one of the auditoriums further down, but in the same row on the left. The memory that sticks in my mind was a sell out with a racially diverse crowd. When they talk about movies being communal and should be experienced with others, this movie is a great example. The club scene with Jada Pinkett Smith’s character and Buddy brought the house down with collective laughter and enjoyment.
LA Confidential (1997) I remember seeing this here because I had a date that went bad. LOL. We enjoyed the movie but couldn’t agree on what to eat. So we ended up just eating separate meals purchased from two different vendors. I paid for both. :P I remember walking around and around the food court undecided what to buy and coming back, I saw my date’s neck stretched, looking for me, as if I had left the place. :)
Can’t remember if I saw anything here in the 00s, prior to its closure. My movie stub collection is partly faded due to the cheap ink used to print them back in the day so that is no help now. :(
As the closure of the theater is sinking in, I’ve become more disappointed in the Post’s article. They are too lazy to go and get a current picture of the place and use one from years ago. How crazy is that? I’m just curious as to how badly the theater was doing for it to close. You’d think if there was a marginal loss, the others in the chain would help offset it.
If they want to twin it, make the upstairs an auditorium to itself. Actually, you could do two. Split the balcony into two screens. Keep the big one downstairs intact. :)
Oh wow. What sad news among everything else that is going on. The Washington Post has an article today on the closing online. I’m surprised the venue was kept open this long to be honest. My last experience there a decade or so was poor. I think I saw Dreamgirls here. Ok, that was 15 years ago.
I suppose when they got rid of their 70mm projectors it sealed its fate as just another theater. The opportunity to offer counter programming with occasional 70mm retrospectives gone. Not that the AFI Silver doesn’t do them, but honestly, its not as immersive as the Uptown.
Maybe we should write Jeff Bezos to buy the property and do a Paul Allen and modernize and restore the Uptown ala Seattle’s Cinerama. :) How cool would that be? Restore 3-strip Cinerama, 70mm, maybe do an IMAX laser install, or Doug Trumbull’s new HFR 3D laser system.
I’d do it but I’m $9,999,999 short of being a multi-millionaire. :( :)
I must have had my notification turned off otherwise I would have responded sooner. Scott, thanks for the correction.
Kevin, the Academy 6 is where I saw my first movie with the family. My oldest brother talked my conservative parents to see a movie in a theater and we saw Rocky. I remember waiting in line to go in but hearing the sound from Star Wars and audience cheering and clapping. I begged to go see Star Wars..almost crying, but Rocky it was. In spite of the shoebox, tunnel-like, sloping auditorium the concept of the movie going experience and theatrical immersion got its start in me. :)
They need to put up the Academy 6 page. It was up, then down, then up, then gone. Memory fades with age. I used to attend many midnight and Wednesday dollar movie shows back in the day.
Finally made it to the original auditorium after its long period of remodeling work. You no longer buy tickets at the box office but enter inside. While this is a good way to increase concession sales, it takes forever to get into the theater if you don’t want to buy anything. Maybe there should be a kiosk to self-purchase tickets to bypass the concession counter. Or, go straight to the cashier to buy movie tickets.
The seats are nice and firm but get tiring to sit in after awhile. I suspect I am spoiled by the faux leather seats at the chains. The big screen looks wonderful as does the projection. They play a nice DP trailer and historical bit at the start of the show. There is a pictorial on the restoration but to be honest, you wouldn’t notice a whole lot of difference between the before and after the remodel. Perhaps, one can’t fully appreciate the details, or in my case, don’t have the eye for it but $250K is a lot to spend. This isn’t a criticism at all. I just figure this is what it cost to modernize and update the place.
I saw ‘Little Women’ on Christmas Day (2019) and ‘1917’ a couple of weeks ago. Both films were very good and deserve whatever accolades and awards they are likely to receive. For'1917'I sat especially close to the screen to better immerse myself into the experience. I was. I love the ‘long take’ style as you feel like you are there in real time. The group next to me snuck in cans of beer. I could hear the sounds of the tab click opening of the cans they consumed. Then the smell. Ugh. Fortunately, they were quiet and not rowdy. There were two employees to greet me but no one bothered to clean up the spilled popcorn on the floor before the start of the show. Not a good thing.
With the Chinese restaurant next door and the sandwich shop across, it would be nice to have more concession fare than the usual popcorn and bakery fare. A decent coffee making machine maybe..iced coffee..latte? Or, movie/restaurant combo special…20% off menu prices with a ticket stub? :) Or, discounted movie ticket with a $20 restaurant purchase?
I peaked into the second theater next door. It is tiny. I remember the dry cleaning place that vacated the space and can recall an enormous space that appeared to run8 adjacent to the original auditorium’s length. There is obviously more to the space than what they’ve used. Maybe they could one day open yet another, larger auditorium if the economics can support a third screen behind the screening room.
Caught Terminator: Dark Fate in the BTX Atmos Theater last week. Great surrounds in the beginning and throughout. Why can’t they BTX all their auditoriums? Even if some are smaller. The $10 Tuesday rate is great. The CGI de-aging of Sarah Connor and John is the best I’ve seen, much better than Princess Leia in Rogue One. The automated kiosks reduces the need for live cashiers, which is okay but the inattentive Attendant should go. Took what felt like an eternity to recognize me and split my ticket to admit me. They should automate his job, too.
Joker is opening here Thu in 70mm. Its a rarity to have the AFI run a more commercial movie here with the 20 screen & Imax Lite Regal just around the corner. With so much bad news reported these days, I don’t know about a dark film and judging from the trailer, a dark character study and probably an acting (insert award title) nomination for sure.
I caught the 40th anniversary release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in #3 this week. This was not my first venue choice as I thought either Cinemark Egyptian or the AMC Tysons had a larger screen judging by the seating charts. Unfortunately, it was the closest venue and the last show time for the event.
This wasn’t the the same auditorium as the one I saw Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ back in ‘12 or '13 but the screen was rather large from ceiling to floor but not scope wide for Star Trek. There were more people here for the weekday showing than I had anticipated.
The picture was cropped and to my surprise, was a digital copy of probably the master they used for the VHS release way back when. Colors looked tv faded. I can say this with certainty because the translation font used was the soft rounded one in the video release and NOT the TMP font in the theatrical release. Also, some of the visuals were slightly panned! I haven’t seen the Blu Ray version but I’m thinking the Blu Ray would’ve looked/sound much better than this one.
I came in with the preshow movie retrospective already midway through. I first thought it was a rehash of the 2K1 Director’s Edition but the copyright has 2009 stamp. Hmmm.
Sound was very good. The rear speakers came alive at least during the Vger reveal. Jerry Goldsmith’s score especially the use of the blaster beam delivered that theatrical resonance that made this movie positively memorable. Although, it does not surpass my original experience way back when the movie came out.
Let’s hope Paramount does a proper 4K cut on this film, as they’ve done releases on far lesser movies.
I noticed Regal has an unlimited $21/month movie membership offer. This is not unreasonable given one can easily recoup the cost after 2 evening shows.
I saw Spiderman: Homecoming in BTX here today. Great sound and presentation. The preview for the next Furious movie and Terminator played surprisingly low. I’m glad I waited a week to pay only $10 today vs $19 last holiday weekend when the movie opened. Had a sense of deja vu with the films VFX. The water creature looked like the water version of the Sandman from the Tobey McGuire era Spidey films. The Spidey flybys could use more visual flair with first person-type fx.
Too late for me, rl. I wanted to catch at least one of the films but couldn’t. Oh well. Maybe they’ll have the films again prior to the Dec opening of the ‘last’ Star Wars film.
Looking at the current summer programming roster, nothing really worth seeing. With 35 yr and 25 yr and older retrospectives, I can think of many good films from ‘94 and '84 they could have that are worth experiencing on the big screen here.
I saw Toy Story 4 in the BTX theater with Atmos. I loved the rear voice track of the characters just as the picture opens. Excellent aural experience but I was not quite ‘feeling’ it at the much talked about ending. They have alcohol now but I opted for the mozzarella bites and cheese sandwich since they were rather cheap. Too much cheese in one sitting but served hot. The service could be better if the server would remember to bring napkins. I’m sure as long as this film makes the $, we’ll see another one as long as the story is compelling. They could reboot the thing with new kids.
I saw Hunt in 70mm also, but I don’t exactly where. I usually chose the best venue in the area. If it was exclusively 70mm here, then it was here. If it was also booked in 70mm in a THX cert house, I would have probably saw it somewhere else like Wisconsin Ave down the street, or one of the Multiplex Cinemas in VA. The last 70mm anything I saw here was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in ‘89.
Giles, I’m reasonably sure they had 70mm prior to Raiders because I saw ‘Empire Strikes Back’ here when it opened in ‘80. Steve says above they got the Apex’s 70mm projectors for 'Empire.’ My experience is detailed somewhere deep into the postings here.
Being a teen and the only one of my friends who had a job (delivering the Washington Post) I paid for all of us to take the bus, movie tickets and food at the Booeymongers a few blocks down. :) Okay.. I didn’t exactly ‘pay’ for my friend’s tickets, but made them help me deliver the huge Sunday paper with all the ad inserts. Remember when the papers were 5 lb monstrosities? Imagine having to deliver hundreds of those things on a Sunday AM.
With today’s IMAX-lite screens, I’m not sure if I’d enjoy movies here the same way now as I did back then. Its hard to say. Back then, it was a new experience for me having grown up with just a 20" Motorola mono sound color tv.
Star Wars fans..the complete saga is being shown here for one long weekend starting 5/3. I’m wondering why they don’t do this closer to the last film coming out this December. It will still be the 20th anniversary of the start of the middle trilogy.
I don’t recall #1 having EX, yes it has the THX..almost audio nirvana. What I’m wondering if Episode 2 will show here with the same aural power as I remember watching it at the Senator and at the Annapolis Mall in DP. The scene I’m talking about is when Jango Fett sets off those weapons against Obi Wan in the asteroid field with that super loud BONNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGG. The visual and sound effects are so powerful that you almost weave and bop in tune with the ships navigating avoiding the bombs and asteroids. Then there’s the low, but powerful woooosh of Windu’s light saber just before the Jedi knight fight in the arena.
I remember the last time they had the SW movies here they were sell outs. I suspect this will be the same. Its too bad, they couldn’t get someone, anybody..actor or production staff, from some of the movies for a Q&A ala the 2001 retrospective in recent years.
BTX is Bow Tie cinemas branding of a large screen premium presentation experience. 4K, Dolby everything..Atmos. Other than the admission increase, its not much more than what they had when it was just THX and Digital. To cinephiles that may sound blasphemous, but I have had great movie EXPERIENCES here prior to Atmos and the Vision installs. The faux leather recliners are welcome but it gives reason to jack up admission prices such as the IMAX-type places like AMC. Bow Tie is a north east chain.
Had a great time seeing ‘Aquaman’ in BTX. Dolby Vision trailer is the same. Great sound and visual effects. For the $10 bargain Tues price, it is a bargain. Better than paying $18 for IMAX-lite and you still get Atmos. I have to admit, the still pics of Aquaman didn’t do much for me having grown up with the cartoons. Of course, this is probably the way with pretty much all of the Marvel and DC Comic movie adaptations. Wasn’t until Donner’s Superman, that that mold was broken.
Ordered a $13 pizza thinking it was a huge..Costco-like big slice, but it was enough for 2 or 3! Its more of a flat bread pizza like CA Pizza Kitchen. I wish they had a drink order option at the kiosk, they don’t. Delivery service is friendly, but they don’t think to give you napkins. Should have worn long sleeves tonight.. :)
Is 8 still THX, Giles? No placard or signage anywhere? If the sound was as bad as you described, I’d write to THX and complain.