Warner Theatre

1299 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20004

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Warner Theatre

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A grand movie palace in the nation’s capital, the Earle Theatre was opened on December 27, 1924. It was taken over by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. in 1928. Later renamed Warner Theatre it closed as a movie theatre (screening X-Rated movies and live concerts) in the mid-1970’s.

It currently houses concerts, stage shows and more. Following a $10 million renovation in 1992, its grand lobby, balconies and large auditorium make it one of the crowning jewels of DC. Movies, sadly, are no longer exhibited at the Warner.

Recent comments (view all 41 comments)

Ron3853
Ron3853 on January 26, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Although “Cleopatra” did play there, I do believe that the world premiere of the film was at the Rivoli Theater in New York City and/or the Pantages in Hollywood on June 19, 1963, one week before it opened in Washington and most other cities.

William
William on July 13, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Ron3853, “Cleopatra” had it’s World Premiere at the Rivoli Theatre in NYC on June 12th. 1963. The West Coast Premiere at the RKO Pantages Theatre in Hollywood was held on June 19th. 1963.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on February 7, 2010 at 11:40 am

This article in Billboard (3-19-49) reports a one-time, one-week vaudeville show at the Warner after four years without any live performances. The article also reports that, at the time, Loew’s Capitol was the only theater in DC with a regular stage-screen schedule.

dickneeds111
dickneeds111 on December 19, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Saw Ben-Hur on day 2 of its D,C, Premiere. Sat in row 1 left side. Too close, got a headache and a stiff neck. Saw it later at home in Boston in a bigger theatre with a bigger screen. Sat in the middle about 15 rows deep. Much better. You say the Warner can.t show movies anymore, what a shame. In Boston our 3800 seat Metropolitan AKA The Sack Music Hall or the Wang center and now the Citi Wang Performance center was completely restored in the late 80.s- early 70,s and it has Broadway Shows, MUSIC CONCERTS AND RUNS Classic Movie Festivals in 35mm and 70mm with stereo. The Warner should also do this,

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on January 20, 2013 at 5:57 pm

I thought the Wang Center finished their classic movie series years ago & there are no more movies there.

DC
DC on May 21, 2013 at 5:26 pm

The first movie I recall seeing here was Hello Dolly starring Barbra Streisand. It was amazing to watch from one of the upper tiers of the theater. The film is wonderful for many reasons, but I can still recall the opening credits as the train runs along the Hudson River. The sound was incredible! After the movie ended my mom and I exited the theater on Pennsylvania Avenue, and waited for the bus to take us back home to Glover Park. The snow set in, and the city was suddenly all quiet in the blanket of snow.

I also enjoyed Oliver here, and recall the warning at the beginning of the film … Beware .. for it is the Anniversary of Charles Dickens death .. all that white font on the screen against all of that black on the screen, and the music just about to begin the film.

I also enjoyed the restored version of A Star is Born here with Judy Garland and James Mason. Mr. Mason actually attended this event and you had to have special tickets to the performances. It was so great to watch it and to hear it on the big screen in stereophonic sound.

I also saw a live performance here shortly thereafter of The King and I with Yul Brenner. This theater was great for movies or live performances!

JamesShertzer
JamesShertzer on January 2, 2014 at 11:07 am

I grew up in Bethesda and remember hearing my parents talk about movies at the Earle. When the Warner converted to three-projector Cinerama, I saw “This Is Cinerama” there shortly after it opened when I was 10. I still have the original program. I saw several other Cinerama films there (“Windjammer,” “South Seas Adventure'). The Cinerama films ended at the Warner in the fall of 1959. The 3 hour and 40 minute cut of "Cleopatra” played there in an exclusive roadshow engagement for some months. Perhaps the most exciting Warner Theater moment for me was the first Saturday night screening of “My Fair Lady” there. As I walked through the lobby at intermission I almost walked in Jack Warner himself and Jack Valenti. The Ontario (which had “Lawrence of Arabia” in its roadshow run) and Uptown (which installed Todd-AO for “Oklahoma!,” “Around the World in 80 Days” and “South Pacific”) were other big-screen theater that had 70mm installations. As downtown DC ran down, and all the old movie palaces were torn down (Capitol, Palace, Columbia), the Warner lost its cache and turned into an exploitation and grind house. The Ontario was in another neighborhood that decline and went dark. That left the Uptown, which converted to three-projector Cinerama in 1961, I believe (I remember seeing “Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm” there and “How the West Was Won”), then single-projector Cinerama (“Mad World” through “Ice Station Zebra”). I probably was “2001” there half a dozen times or more in its year long run. The Cinerama screen was replaced but the Cinerama screen scaffold and track were still in place when I saw “2001” there in 2001. Now I understand all that gone and so has film, which all shows now in digital format.

Cimarron
Cimarron on February 9, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Short video clip ( 30 sec. ) of President Eisenhower attending a 1955 showing of “This Is Cinerama” at D.C.’s Warner Theatre can be seen at this link: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/ike-sees-cinerama-film-performance/query/dwight Lowell Thomas is seen in this clip with Ike along with Stanley Warner V.P. Harry Kalmine in front of theater…Nice clip with footage of Warner frontage.

RickR
RickR on April 1, 2014 at 1:35 pm

The firs film I remember seeing at the Warner was “Seven Wonders of the World” in 3-strip Cinerama. Later “Ben Hur”, “El Cid” and “Dr. Zhivago” during their roadshow engagements.

In the late 1960s while working as a projectionist I learned the booth at the Warner (among others). It was equipped with Norelco DP70 machines and Ashcraft lamps. “Pop” Shannon was still the projectionist and at 90 years old and was hefting those huge reels like a 30 year old. He had some great stories going back to the days when it was the Earle. He said projectionists actually got a raise during the depression.

I also worked many of the downtown theaters before they all but disappeared. Greatly missed!

dickneeds111
dickneeds111 on June 27, 2014 at 2:40 pm

To Howard Bass: When I wrote this in 2011 they were still showing films with the classic film festival that summer. I had just taken my wife and daughter to see a very poor 35mm copy of Sound Of Music hosted by Frank Averuch(Bozo the Clown). Shortly After I wrote this they removed equipment and moved the film festival to the Coolidge Corner theatre for 1 season. We no longer have this movie festival at any area theatre. What a shame. The Coolidge can still show 70mm. They had a 3 week run of the Master awhile back. They install 70mm projection occassionally.

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