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The Washington Post had an article today (including photos) on the former Park Theatre’s return to the arts:
The AMC Shirlington has reserved seating in all auditoriums. Unfortunately, at least two of the screens have “one size fits all” projection, so 2.35:1 movies are letterboxed.
The complex has reopened with AMC’s fancy reclining seats, better bathrooms, upgraded snacks, and a beer and wine bar. Also, the “Loews” has been dropped from the name and a huge AMC logo has replaced the dated changeable-letter marquee.
Sorry, bigjoe59, but Coate’s listing of the Uptown’s CIRCUS WORLD engagement is NOT a mistake. Having some time to kill today, I perused back issues of The Washington Post. (Remember that 1964 was the era of daily showtime listings and display ads, so researching facts like this is relatively easy). The dates he listed are correct.
But since you and I are both fans of the movie, may I recommend the Anchor Bay Blu-Ray from Britain that came out a year ago. You’ll need a multi-region player to view it, but the restoration work by Pinewood is quite impressive.
Out of curiosity, I went inside the building this past Sunday. All of the interior decor has been removed from the auditorium — just fluorescent lighting and cinder block walls now. The congregation of the church was very gracious and welcoming.
Thanks to Coate for bringing back many memories to me. One quibble: I believe the moveover engagement of HELLO DOLLY, the EIGHTY DAYS/WEST SIDE STORY double feature, and at least the beginning of the FIDDLER engagement were all 35mm. Prior to 1981’s RAGTIME, the Uptown manually added masking onto its Cinerama screen for 35mm engagements. I remember being disappointed with DOLLY, since I loved the opulent sets on the Warner’s screen and was looking forward to seeing it on the full Uptown screen.
As for CIRCUS WORLD, this holds a particular memory for me. My father called the Uptown to ask what times the film played, and the person at the boxoffice sarcastically told him, “What time can you come?” My family laughed at that, but later realized why the joke was made when we had the theatre almost to ourselves.
The theatre’s status should be changed to “open”.
Unfortunately, the third-hand report turned out not to be true. A notice on the Boyd’s web site (link under “Related Websites” above) currently announces the closing of the theatre through the end of the year. The tone of the notice gives mixed messages — while proclaiming “the show must go on,” it also announces concentrating on the retail and office space in the building. And as for its continued life as a movie theater: “…in the period since the theatre closed, Heydt has been approached by several community members and business people about adapting the theater to a performing arts venue or other use. We will certainly entertain any of those options, while keeping focused on the task at hand.”
This is third-hand information, but I just spoke to a friend who spoke to a friend who spoke to one of the family members that owns the theatre, and supposedly the Boyd plans to re-open mid-July with the final Harry Potter installment.
I visited Bethlehem the past two weekends and stayed at the Hyatt Place immediately behind the theatre. There was a hand-written “closed for renovations” sign scotch-taped in the Boyd box office, but no sign of workers at any time during my visit. There were giant bags of popcorn visible in the lobby. I do hope that those renovations will happen and the theatre will reopen.
Oh, and to respond to a prior post, the GCC theatre that used to be in Springfield Mall in Virginia told me that “Gattaca” was “sold out” when I went to see the last show of the evening during the last week of its run. It was a weeknight and the place was a ghost town.
I went to the Uptown for the first time in about four years yesterday to see TRON LEGACY. I first went to the Uptown in the 1950s as a child (and have the SOUTH PACIFIC ticket stub stapled to my program as proof!), and had gone fairly regularly until changing tastes in filmmaking passed me by. However, I was curious to see how much my favorite theatre had suffered over the years, as well as to check out the new digital 3D system.
First, the good news. I’ve read about the speaker modications at the theatre and feared the worst. But the Uptown seemed to me to still have its distinctive sound quality. There was perhaps less rumble in the bass, but TRON is a typical noisy special effects extravaganza, and I didn’t sense any disappointment about the sound range or volume.
Also, I was impressed with the management. I went with a visually-impaired friend, who just came along to treat me to the movie. He took the 3D glasses he received at the box office and put them in his coat pocket as a souvenir. Similarly, I put mine in my coat pocket since I had visits to the restroom and the concession stand to make before I took my seat. A manager stood by the concession stand as we entered. He stopped us to ask if we had received our 3D glasses at the boxoffice, since he didn’t see either of us with any. I appreciated the manager checking to make sure we had our glasses. (A couple of years ago at the AMC Hoffman in Alexandria, the box office DIDN’T give us our glasses. I didn’t question this, since I thought maybe they handed them out by the auditorium entrance. This was a hassle, since there was no manager in sight and it was a long trek back to the box office, where one person was handling the line for the 22 auditoria.)
As for the bad news, the curtains were not in use for the performance I caught. Since the theatre thankfully didn’t show advertising before the presentation, it would have been nice to have the curtains closed instead of staring at a blank screen. Perhaps this is because the theater was uncomfortably dark between shows, so you probably couldn’t have seen the curtain anyway before the show. The spotlights that used to be on the edge of the balcony illuminating the curtain are either turned off or gone. I’ve never understood why any business fails to highlight a feature that makes it distinctive from the pack, and you’d think the Uptown would automate its curtain opening if need be to make it part of the show.
But the worst thing about my visit was the projection. While the dark image was annoying, I think much of that was due to the production design of TRON and the limitations of the 3D technology. I took my glasses off several times during the film, and the image seemed bright enough then. The previous poster mentioned that a dual projector system has been installed. I can confirm that, since the two projectors seemed misaligned on one point of the screen (near 9:00 if you think of the screen as a clock face). Worse, non-aligned edges of the image were visible on all four sides. If this is the new permanent projection system of the Uptown, they should at least increase the masking to hide the image edges. The non-alignment of the image edges, and their distortion due to the curved screen made them too noticable.
All in all, it wasn’t as bad a visit as I feared it would be. The small audience yesterday made the theater seem more like an old grind house, but at least we found a parking space right in front of the theatre. And the movie was, like the original TRON, clunky and incomprehensible, but thanks to a great production design and an innovative musical score, lots of fun.
From today’s Washington Business Journal: “Edens & Avant has begun tearing down the multiplex cinema off of Lee Highway in Merrifield to make way for the first phase of a planned 1.9 million-square-foot mixed-use redevelopment that will replace the theater and parking lots with a new cinema, grocery store, townhouse complex, hotel and office space. Called Mosaic, the $150 million projectâ€™s retail portion is two-thirds leased by companies including Target, Momâ€™s Organic Market and Angelika Film Center.”
This theater closed in 2007, when the AMC Tysons Corner 16 opened across the highway. This location is now an Equinox fitness facility.