Cinema

5100 Wisconsin Avenue,
Washington, DC 20016

Unfavorite 5 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 40 comments

sguttag
sguttag on August 22, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Without a doubt, the Jenifer (under GCC ownership) and the MacArthur (under Circle) played Jedi in 1983. The Cinema played Close Encounters in 35mm, for sure. The 70mm projectors (from the Apex) didn’t get installed until 1980 for Empire. I believe that the Cinema was still using an Eprad Starscope processor the Close Encounters, rather than a genuine Dolby CP50. However, in 1980, it did get its Dolby CP200.

Giles
Giles on May 17, 2013 at 9:52 pm

actually the Coate playdate story (on in70mm.com) states the Jenifer, not the Cinema played ‘Return of the Jedi’ (which is correct since that’s where I remember seeing it at)

raysson
raysson on May 17, 2013 at 10:19 am

According to Mike Coate THE RETURN OF THE JEDI played here in 70mm.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on January 1, 2012 at 7:53 pm

1996 Courage Under Fire photo of theater exterior: http://www.flickr.com/photos/channaher/2853736923/

br91975
br91975 on October 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm

The Cinema has been converted into a Crunch Fitness location.

Cobalt
Cobalt on July 29, 2010 at 1:05 pm

According to Coate’s CLOSE ENCOUNTERS list posted here, the original Washington DC engagement was 35mm.

According to Coate’s EMPIRE STRIKES BACK list posted here, the original Washington DC engagement was indeed at the KB Cinema. The first STAR WARS played at Uptown (list posted here).

Giles
Giles on July 29, 2010 at 11:39 am

so ‘Close Encounters’ was NOT shown in 70mm – right? I could have sworn that ‘Empire Strikes Back’ was at the Uptown – but according to Jodar’s June 2007 posting it’s theatrical engagement was here at the Cinema

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 31, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Great ad Nick.I missed all the Exorcist first run crowds.Wasn’t in the business then even though Bill swears i was working. First and only big flick i worked was “JAWS” Going to watch Clint now,It is his birthday.

Nunzienick
Nunzienick on May 28, 2010 at 10:16 pm

THE EXORCIST ad from the Washington Post dated February 6, 1974. This is around the same date I saw the film for the first time. Memories of standing in long lines in the cold weather and being frightened out of my wits!
View link

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on May 28, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Thanks Mike and Nick.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 9, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Nick, I never throw any theatre stuff away the above info came from the ad you sent me years ago, Hey, now that you can SCAN you can show the ad and the pictures you took in D.C. I hadn’t started in thebusiness yet,it wasSept 12 1974 when i started; I missed the EXORCIST first run,but saw it plenty of times,but only while working,i never saw the whole movie. “JAWS” was my BIG movie.

Nunzienick
Nunzienick on March 8, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Fancy meeting you on this theatre site Mike! This is the theatre where I saw “THE EXORCIST” IN 1974!!! Back then it was called the KB-Cinema. I was living with friends in Alexandria when the film opened. We saw it several times and each time we stood in long long lines in the cold weather. Even the matinee showings sold out continously. And what a powerful film it was too. My friends and I were blown away by it. I remember at least 2 people that had fainted during the showings. I also recall several ladies had left the auditorium and were sitting in the lobby waiting for the film to end. They refused to go back inside.

The film was rated R but the District of Columbia slapped an X rating on the film forbidding admission to anyone under 17. There was a feature article in the Washingon Post about how audiences were reacting to the film. The manager was quoted as saying, “we had a good day today—only one person threw up!” The box office was taking in so much money an armored guard had to stand duty nearby. I remember the auditorium sat below street level. After buying your ticket and entering the small lobby you had to walk down a flight of stairs to the auditorium. It was a very nice theatre as I recall. I remember there were curtains that opened & closed over the large screen. So sorry to see it gone now.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 8, 2010 at 8:31 pm

The K-B CINEMA was showing “THE EXORCIST” on Wednesday Feb.6 1974. it showed daily at 1:00 3:05 5:15 7:30 and 9;45 with Midnight shows on Friday and Saturday, There was a policy that they cleared the theatre after each show,In those days most moviegoers once they bought a ticket they could watch the movie again and again, The K-B Cinema stopped thar. even with the R rating {management stated persons under 17 are not admitted} So much for a rating system. This film played day and date at the K-B Silver Theatre {couldn’t find it on CT}

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on October 30, 2009 at 8:08 pm

I drove by this place yesterday and there is still a for rent sign in the window.

Giles
Giles on June 23, 2009 at 3:19 pm

how ironic. Even at the theatre’s end of run, the theatre and it’s presentations were always the best in picture and sound ‘Chicago’ ‘Finding Nemo’ ‘Saving Private Ryan’

The real memory though was being interviewed by Channel 5, which is right across the street from the theatre on opening day of ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ my friends and I were near the beginning of the queue, enjoying some Armands pizza which we had delivered to us … in line… one friend though wasn’t really much into the antipation of the film, but informing the interviewer how good the pizza was – ah, good times!

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on March 20, 2009 at 1:06 am

Today, I happened to drive by the theater and noticed the furniture store that was there is now going out of business.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on November 11, 2008 at 10:17 pm

There might be drapes but my guess is not the same as when the theater was open. I think I would have noticed. There was some redecoration.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on November 11, 2008 at 10:02 pm

Jack,
per my Comment above, what you see is the former projecton booth. There was no balcony. You might be mistaken about drapes because I don’t believe theater drapes were still present when I visited as furniture store.

There was no concession stand on the Street level. Downstairs, next to the auditorium, was the concession stand. Opposite were the restrooms, which are still in the same place.

JackCoursey
JackCoursey on November 11, 2008 at 9:55 pm

Here is an April 2008 photo of the former Cinema Theatre. Aside from leveling the floor and opening up the projection booth (or was it the balcony) it appears that much of the auditorium is still intact. Although the screen is gone the drapes which adorned it remain. I have yet to ever see a theatre which was configured in such a fashion.
Questions: Did this theatre have balcony seating?
Was there a concession stand on the auditorium level as well as the main level?

Champlin
Champlin on June 29, 2008 at 8:20 am

I’m looking for first hand accounts of seeing The Night Porter at this theater in connection with film history research I am engaged in. Anyone with memories of The Night Porter, however vague, please feel free to get in touch with me. .co.uk

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on July 22, 2007 at 9:28 pm

I’d like to say that the only reason why my friends and I would come here was because they’d book 70mm movies.

In 1983, my brother and I (since I was not of age to see it alone or with my underaged friends), saw Flashdance on opening weekend and even though it was not in 70mm, I was quite amazed at the cinematography(Oscar nominated Don Peterman), editing, dance numbers and Giorgio Moroder (Oscar winning) soundtrack. The stereo track was heavy but not ear splitting particularly the title number and Gloria Branigan’s “Imagination”…probably my favorite dance sequence because of its abstract construction of fantasy vs reality in that white brick corner set and the climax with that very cool strobe lighting effect. The whole theater was flashing in that light as if it were transformed into a dance club. So cool. So very cool! I thoroughly enjoyed the contrasts in music when the tracks would go from say, classical and melodic…the music made you feel like you were in a concer hall, then it would transition to something contempoary with a rapid beat such as in the Maniac sequence. Of course, it was one of the hits of the year and this theater showed it quite nicely.

The next booking was War Games in 70mm. I was very surprised that this movie was booked here and not Return of the Jedi since Empire played here for a long time back in 1980. While War Games was a thoughtful movie, it just didn’t capture my interest at the time. Matthew Broderick was heralded as the next big thing after his broadway debut in some Neil Simon play, but he didn’t do much for me in this movie. His performance was as inspiring as eating white bread and just as memorable. The presentation was what would one expect visually and aurally from a 70mm 6 Track stereo experience but nothing outstanding that I can recall…hey, this was 24 years ago!

I can recall seeing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom here in 70mm. A school buddy of mine came with me and we sat pretty close to the front of the theater to be enveloped by the sound and picture. Critics and certain members of the public complained about the violence levels and Spielberg did push things beyond the PG limits, but hey, this was one heckuva ride. The Today show had a piece with Gene Shalit interviewing Spielberg and Ford and they showed a bit of the opening sequence where Indiana takes Willie and Short Round and flies out of the plane in that boat raft. Now to see it on the wide screen with all the preceding heavy action, Willie’s ‘Anything Goes’ song and dance number was a lot of fun. Kate Capshaw’s character would later become increasingly irritating througout the movie lacking the previous street smarts and saavy that Karen Allen brought as Marion Ravenwood and Indiana’s previous main squeeze. She whined and complained so much that I thought if either Short Round or Indiana didn’t get rid of her, I wanted to grab her off the screen myself.

The movie boasted lots of visual effects that played quite well, looked so real and seamlessly integrated itself into the movie that I thought that many of them were done live action. The Cinema’s great sound system got some workout from the action. Of particular mention is the human sacrfice scene at the temple with the evile Molo Ram. Aurally there were lots of things going on; fire, chanting in surround sound, Molo Ram praying to that god in Hindi, the sacrificed guy praying all increasing in a frenetic pace until his heart gets ripped out and he eventually gets lowered into that pit of fire. What was brilliant to me was the way the scene was not rated R blood spurts and guts but brilliant editing, close ups, vfx, make up and sound effects.

Once again, a wonderful cinematic experience thanks to the great presentation and format!

Empire of the Sun played here, in ‘87 or so, and I thought it was a very good movie. Christian Bale’s debut performance was very impressive not playing the usual cutesy boy-next-door type as we’d later see from Macaulay Culkin. I can’t believe its been 20 years since then and, boy, has Bale grown as an actor.

I’m thinking the last 70mm movie I saw here was probably in 1989 and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The film did not have the over-the-top action sequences or gross out monkey brain scenes like The Temple of Doom and maybe, just maybe it was to this film’s detriment. The film’s climax wasn’t that great with the finding of the Last Supper’s cup.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on July 22, 2007 at 9:25 pm

Auditorium which I photographed in 2004 by which time the curtain wasn’t being used:
View link

another view of the exterior from 2004 (same visit as the photo that I posted above)
View link

sguttag
sguttag on July 22, 2007 at 9:20 pm

Ah, the Cinema…I was the chief projectionist there from the end of 1982 (after the MacArthur Closed) and well into 1983. Sam Brooks was the projectionist there for most of its life…in fact he worked it until it closed. I only got the lead position when Sam transitioned from the Army to the Post Office and couldn’t work there full time for a brief period.

In the summer of 1982 I swapped quite a bit of time between the MacArthur running Star Trek II and the Cinema running ET. The following year at the Cinema we had Wargames which was a bit of a surprise hit (and in 70mm). I seem to recall showing Amadeus and Temple of Doom there in 70mm quite a bit too.

The Cinema did indeed have some of the best pair of Norelcos (as Mungo pointed out above) I ever laid hands on. They came from the KB Apex.

The Cinema had one of the very first Dolby CP200s (installed for The Empire Strikes Back).

One should also mention Mrs. Lange…she was a fixture in the boxoffice for many years and we even had a party for one of her birthdays where the price of admission was her age…I remember that during Amadeus.

The Cinema was also one of the first theatres in the area of any size that really put the right amount of light on the screen…in fact, after the Cinema purchased its lamphouses…the Uptown followed suit.

I had many good times at the Cinema and met/worked with some really great people….the MacArthur remains my favorite though (as a single).

SG

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on May 20, 2007 at 8:47 am

This was one of my favorite cinemas. I first knew it as the KB Cinema. After the KB chain closed, Cineplex Odeon reopened it and placed their tree-looking sconces on the side walls of the auditoriums. Eventually, C.O. also installed new luxury chairs. In the mid to late 1980’s, it played mainstream blockbusters. After the early 1990’s, it hosted some mainstream films in the summer, but mostly played arthouse films

It had 826 seats. The screen was 40 feet wide and looked even bigger. The screen was perfectly set, for wonderful sightlines! Before it closed, it advertised as having the second largest movie screen in Washington, D.C.

The ability to showcase mainstream blockbusters diminished when Cineplex Odeon opened the Wisconsin Avenue Cinemas, since most blockbusters played there or the Uptown. Later, the Mazza Gallerie opened, so most mainstream films played Uptown, Wisconsin, or Mazza for Northwest Washington and mostly arthouse films were shown at the Cinema. Before the Mazza Gallerie opened nearby, the projectionist told me he didn’t understand why the Cinema would close because it was doing a million dollars business a year. He wasn’t looking forward to Loews taking over, as he thought the Cineplex Odeon concessions including candy had better selections.

The moviehouse’s problem with getting enough people to see arthouse films probably resulted from the openings of the suburban and downtown Landmark multiplexes.

Until it closed, samples of food, gum, etc. were often given out to departing movie patrons.

I saw many movies to sold out crowds in this once very popular moviehouse.

In December, 2006, I visited it in its current form as a furniture store. Staff told me trucks had used much concrete to level the auditorium. They said the store opened in May, 2006. The decorative metalwork and stairs leading downstairs to the former auditorium, now a furniture showroom, survived. Before going downstairs to the main floor is the former projection booth, now a gallery for dining and kitchen furniture.

The 70 mm projectors were retrieved by the Loews Jersey volunteers.

Here’s a photo I took in 2004 when still a cinema:
View link
“A Very Long Engagement” indeed! That was the last film.

carolgrau
carolgrau on May 15, 2006 at 9:19 am

The cinema had 2 of the nicest Norelco AAIIs I ever saw,They were very well kept, untill managment started running them. I was the last projectionist at the Jennifer, and te norelco we had in theatre #1, ended up behind the screen of the cinema. It was placed there upside down on the floor by the stupid people Cineplex Odeon had hired to put it there. Broke my heart to see such a beautiful, projector that I took care of be treated that way.I had my first heart attack in the booth of the Jennifer on April 13th, 1993, the asst.mngr. did not want to let the ambulance crew up to the booth to take me away, because she thought they were just trying to see a free movie. They had the gurney and all. When they did get me out she stood between the rear of the ambulance and the gurney saying I dont know how to shut the switches off. The hell with me, she just worried about the theatre, and her job. Another great example of big theatre chains and thier managment, and thier attitude towards Union projectionist. Let them die just keep the movie on the screen.
Norelco