AFI Silver Theatre

8633 Colesville Road,
Silver Spring, MD 20910

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Showing 1 - 25 of 293 comments

Giles on July 7, 2015 at 5:05 am

I’d love to see 70mm prints of ‘Dark Crystal’ and ‘Aliens’! Interestingly I’m very keen on seeing the DCP of ‘Dark Crystal’ since the screening last year at the Angelika Mosaic (which was projected bluray) didn’t look or sound all that good.

I saw ‘Wreck it Ralph’ last week as part of it’s 3D festival – it looked great and it was the first time I heard the 7.1 surround sound mix [thumbs up!]

JodarMovieFan on July 7, 2015 at 4:31 am

It seems the AFI is having a final screening of the great 1980s films. Not sure what that means. Does it mean that the 90s will be the decade they consider classic now?

Even more disappointing is not one 70mm print of anything. in70mm has posted fairly recent screenings of 70mm prints of Ghostbusters, Temple of Doom, Die Hard, Dark Crystal, Aliens and Tron.

Rivest, you’ve done a great job posting opening ads/announcements of various theaters! Thank you. I have one of the MacArthur remodel that I intend to email CT for posting soon.

rivest266 on June 21, 2015 at 5:34 pm

September 15th, 1938 grand opening ad in photo section.

Giles on March 7, 2015 at 4:04 am

regarding the ‘Blade Runner’ screenings according to the Environmental Film Festival:

1982 Domestic Cut (116 min, Blu-ray) 1991 Director’s Cut (117 min, 35mm) 2007 The Final Cut (118 min, 2K DCP)

HowardBHaas on February 7, 2015 at 11:18 pm

I saw Blade Runner in 1998 at the Uptown as part of Warner Bros 75th Anniv. 35mm, I believe the ‘91 directors cut. The movie had not impressed me on TV but it was awesome on the big screen.

JodarMovieFan on February 7, 2015 at 11:03 pm

Out of first run release boredom, I was perusing the AFI Silver’s film calendar and have discovered they are planning to book not 1, not 2, but 3 different versions of Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner.’ The original ‘82 release, '91 director’s cut (I presume this was just sans the Ford voice over,’ and final (restoration and final Scott) cut and DP release of ‘07. It would be even worth more of a view if either the first two were 70mm. I suspect the '82 one is pinkish by now unless its the underground private copy or studio vault copy. The '91 cut I remember seeing at the Uptown was 35mm. The '07 final cut has Joanna Cassidy filming her character’s Zora’s death scene almost 25 years after original shooting! Even still, the movie has excellent visuals (65mm) that should have won Oscar over E.T., imho.

Unfortunately, hyperlinks are dead. I suppose info and/or final booking is fluid as of this writing.

JodarMovieFan on December 28, 2014 at 9:03 pm

I didn’t. I think they had only 1 or 2 showings.

HowardBHaas on December 28, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Did anybody see West Side Story in 70mm? How was the print? A week ago, I saw 3 of the European Union Showcase films- Black Souls (Italy, mafia, aud 1), For Some Inexplicable Reason (Hungary, comedy, Q & A with director after, sold out, aud 2)and Gemma Bovery (France, comedy, aud 1, closing film with post reception of dessert & champaign). I was told there will not be another 70mm festival, though there will sometimes be 70mm films.

JodarMovieFan on December 9, 2014 at 4:43 am

Thats awful to hear, Giles. Maybe the bookings were too heavy at AFI with their current schedule that they couldn’t get it. Or, the Wexner had exclusive rights to be the only venue in this market to show it? I forget the term now..but it was talked about in the Balto Senator’s forum a lot.

I did catch the Director’s Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture Thanksgiving week. There was a word document on the door indicating this version was not the theatrical version but is the first time this version has been shown theatrically.

An older man was at Concessions, no greeting, no thank you, no..‘your movie is showing in ..nothing. Its funny..I was running a little late, as usual, with the traffic and assumed it was in #1. They had the name of some other movie there and assumed it was in #2..ran there and nope, omg, not #3..ran there, nope. Went back to #1 and opened the door and yes, this was the one..they just started the overture with open curtains. I thought, maybe mistakenly so, that the curtains are closed during overtures. Being after the 4:30pm starting time and me finding my seat, I felt they were waiting just for me to arrive to start the movie :)

As the movie began, sure enough, the dulled picture was most likely the regular DVD that has been out for 13 years or so. Sound levels were okay, I did hear stereo in the front. Music was everywhere during the end credits. Despite the presentation quality, it was nice to see the TOS crew on the big screen. Despite its shortcomings, which are well documented, one has to appreciate the old style moviemaking such as key lighting on the bridge close ups of some of the stars, attention to detail such as the makeup, costumes and production design.

All in all, I enjoyed this presentation far better than the Richard Donner cut of Superman II they showed here in Blu Ray a few years back. Supe II was just awful and subdued as if to have a mono soundtrack.

If they ever make a proper theatrical print of the Director’s Edition of Star Trek, Paramount better do something about the current neutered soundtrack and polishing the VFX to theatrical standards of visual quality. Its okay to play at home. I’d think Gene Roddenberry would’ve objected to at least one change and that was the elimination of the ship’s male computer voice and klaxon ship alarms since it was his idea to have them in the first place. In the original release, they had you jump in your seat from the blaring alarms and the male computer voice was kind of futuristic cool, if a bit cold. It got your attention, which is the idea.

Giles on November 21, 2014 at 3:45 pm

I’m currently having a beef with the AFI Silver – apparently they are too good to be showing the latest Jean-Luc Godard’s experimental 3D Film, ‘Goodbye to Language’ – got a message from them saying they will not be showing this, whereas the Wexner Center for the Arts can pencil in two showings, but for the AFI to show a one off screening or something – no can do … guess AFI doesn’t find Godard revelant any more (and yet this also won a prize at Cannes this year). I should just stay in Iowa City, after Thanksgiving and see it there at their Film Scene theater – unbelievable.

HowardBHaas on November 21, 2014 at 4:32 am

JodarMovieFan, though not exactly originally the intent when photos were re allowed, yes, nobody will give you a problem if you post at the Uptown page a scan of the Post’s ad for 2001 back in ‘90. Many posts of newspaper ads have been made. I won’t be attending the 70mm West Side Story but hope it is well attended.

JodarMovieFan on November 21, 2014 at 4:25 am

Thanks Steve for your info..informative as always.

When you say the projectionist checks the print in, is this done all the time? With sound levels, I gather the studio, perhaps the director (himself or herself) will have instructions to play the film a certain way with sound levels at a particular setting, etc. With today’s DP, how do you ‘check’ that in if its all on the hard drive? Does the theater do a trial run of the print, film or digital, before it actually is publically screened? And there is a back up for digital, and an extra film print (for film shows) just in case? And lastly, can’t the venue request the BEST print available, or does it just settle for whatever the studio wants to give out. I would think with the venue being AFI, they can and should get the absolute best print ALWAYS since you’ve got a projectionist to take extra care in film handling especially with 70mm and those other rare prints.

Re: 2001 sound. I forgot to mention the alarm system on the Discovery that went off was also not as ear drum splitting, along with the slightly faded graphics. Was the sound on digital disc or magnetic stripes? :)

My favorite showing of 2001 is still the advertised ‘virgin’ print back in ‘90 or so at the Uptown. If I scanned the ad from the Post, i’m wondering if the site would post it…

Giles on November 21, 2014 at 3:19 am

“The soundtrack for this week’s showing was from the “5.1” mix which seemed to be nothing more than a 5.1 “safe” downmix of the orignial 6-channel for non 6-track theatres (or older players without the “Special Venue” version of the 6D). Normally, the AFI/Silver gets the 6-channel discs…not this time however.”


well that makes me feel slightly better that I missed it this go around – how frickin' annoying.

sguttag on November 21, 2014 at 2:18 am

The orbital space station was not completed, hence it does not have its normal level of commercial traffic. Furthermore, with the “outbreak” and quarantine, nobody would be cleared to travel there from the US.

The soundtrack for this week’s showing was from the “5.1” mix which seemed to be nothing more than a 5.1 “safe” downmix of the orignial 6-channel for non 6-track theatres (or older players without the “Special Venue” version of the 6D). Normally, the AFI/Silver gets the 6-channel discs…not this time however. Since there was no subwoofer channel in the original mix, you are not likely to have any. Now there was an “8-channel” mix done for this movie (I’ve seen the discs but have never personally heard them)…I suppose if they really did a remix, then it may be possible for there to have been a subwoofer added.

Hal should talk out of ALL channels…he is to be omni-present. That is part of his eeriness.

The print was relatively low-milage and all of the leaders/tails were in-tact (never been plattered). However, as I understand it, the printing left a bit to be desired as it looked to have the pre-aged look to it, unfortunately. The original prints were done by Metrocolor and they looked fantastic! I’ve noted that some of the dupes of 70mm over the years, including Lawrence of Arabia appear to be less than stellar…with often some fogging noticeable around the edges of the frame. I did not see this particular print and am going strictly by description of the projectionist that checked it in.

As for equalization…all cinemas have equalizers on their sound systems. These are what are used to achieve a uniform sound…however they are not hand-tuned by ear to each particular movie or person’s “taste.” They are not “tweaked.” With the vast diversity of product run at a place like the AFI, it would be a hopelessly lost cause and what you may like someone else may dislike. The goal is to always present the movie as close as possible to the manner it was intended to be shown.

The AFI does have special DSP processors strictly for Mono 16 and 35mm films but the person that wanted them ended up being dismissed before ever using them. The thought behind them was that mono was more of the wild-west and with a completely lack of uniformity…particularly on 16mm. Again, it would come down to what one person “thinks” sounds best for everyone…it is a potentially losing battle.

Giles on November 20, 2014 at 11:22 pm

actually ‘Pulp’ was on screen 2.

I’ve seen quite a few movies on screen 3 and personally I like the smallness of it – it’s comes across as more as a private screening.

how come I miss all the scuffles ? I was more than likely still at Potbelly having dinner.

[side comment: I was over at the Arclight today trying attempt number two to see ‘Big Hero 6’, well they ARE still trying to calibrate the two Dolby Atmos audio systems – as a result screens 6 and 7 aren’t playing anything (yet), even though I had bought a ticket yesterday to see the film at 12:05pm today – had a quick look see into screen 6 – whoah – it’s really large – I can NOT WAIT to see a movie here!

Landmark Bethesda is going to get serious competition since the Arclight is advertising it’s auditoriums as ‘black box’ – low level (no?) lighting (think Cinema Arts – the only light in the auditorium is from the screen – it’s pitch black) – I hate (hate… HATE!) the new ambient wall lighting at Bethesda since it remains on during the movie and ruins any and all dark scenes – it’s as if they know that seniors frequent Bethesda and don’t want them tripping up or down the stairs when the movie is playing]

JodarMovieFan on November 20, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Haha. Giles! I knew 2001 had a very short run and I read about ‘Pulp..’ but 2001 won out for me since last night was its last night and ‘Pulp..’ is showing in #3. For as long as AFI Silver has been open, I’ve never seen a movie in that auditorium. I’m sure its okay, but it is the smallest of the 3. :P

If the venue has curtains, why not use them? Its part of the showmanship that cinemas are losing nowadays. Look at our local AMCs and cough Regals. But hey, we are getting comfy oversized leather, or faux leather, recliners! Ho-hum. Theaters should do everything they can from excellent customer service to venue amenities to keep people coming back.

I haven’t checked out the new Arclight, but hope to very soon. I think AFI and Landmark will get some competition from them and if their concession fare is better then AFI’s, which from the website, it seems to be, its going to be tough.

I’m not sure when you arrived, but did you hear/see the little commotion about the patron who got kicked out? I’m not sure if the AFI employee was the manager, he was casually dressed, or security. From what the patron was saying, he was caught switching theaters, but the employee just said ‘you know what you did.’ Not sure how it all ended since I was already late.

From my last two blogs, security there is lax. I walked in (with my print at home ticket) and there was no one there to check in..I just went in straight to #1 and saw the movie. Then there was the homeless guy with his cart of belongings, maybe he did have a ticket..shouldn’t be judgmental..I know. :)

Giles on November 20, 2014 at 2:43 pm

oh, I was right next door last night at the ‘Pulp: A Film about Life, Death and Supermarkets" during '2001’

interestingly I saw ‘National Gallery’ before hand and I thought it was interesting for a documentary the curtains were used.

for a THX auditorium (screen 1) – I had forgotten how utterly quiet it is, during the end credits which had no music —– you could literally hear a pin drop.

JodarMovieFan on November 20, 2014 at 5:03 am

I caught ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ in 70mm tonight. The website denoted a Montgomery College gathering and I had mistakenly thought it was for students only. Surprisingly, the attendance was large for a weeknight showing, then again there were many students in attendance for a class discussion that followed after the movie.

With traffic, I knew I was going to run late and printed my ticket but still waited in the concession line to get in. I’m thinking to myself, whats the point in home ticket printing if you still have to wait to be let in. I understand its advantageous to buy concession stand fare, but its still a time waster. I missed maybe 1 minute as the movie started at the point of the ‘Thus Spake Zathrusta’ or whatever its called beginning music. It appears the curtain was used and there were probably no previews showed.

On the Concession stand front, I tried the Hummus with Pita bread for $5. While they microwaved the 5 little and I mean little pitas, its not worth $5. Maybe $2. The Capuccino was great for $3.50 and should sufficiently caffeinate someone for a movie that runs as long as 2001. :)

This time around, I just wanted to enjoy the movie and hoped the print was decent enough. On the in70mm site, there was a report about a new 4K print, yeah, this was 70mm..fine. This film print definitely was not new, or recent, there was some fading particularly the scene where the graphics to the stasis pods of the Discovery’s scientists in hybernation. Bowman’s close ups of his BIG BLUE eyes weren’t colorly vibrant, but thats ok. He looks less scary. :) Towards the middle of the end, after intermission, there were noticeable artifacts, line down the middle, blocks/patches..expected for aging film prints but not detractable from the enjoyment.

Some detractions other than the film were hearing the projector clackety clack from the booth up above when there was no music from the movie was playing (which was a good portion of it). I had thought there was sound proofing but evidently not. Also, a radio or CD playing could be heard, which I thought was an adjacent auditorium, but remembered this was no where near 2 and 3. Must have been the booth. Then there was a guy who added his own touch to the soundtrack with his buzz saw snoring. Thankfully, the intermission gave a break to it, but I believe he nodded off again afterwards but caught himself before the first snore. :)

Even with the amount of times of seeing this movie (or any favorite), sometimes you find something new that you didn’t from the prior viewings. During the Dawn of Man sequence, there seems to be a matte painting of a body of water..perhaps lake that was just beyond the ape encampment. I hoped they would reuse the same set up for a future scene to double check, but didn’t notice it again, which means I’ll need to watch the sequence the movie again to be sure.

A new question that popped in my head was why is it Dr. Floyd is the ONLY passenger not just on the Pan Am space flight to the station, but to the American moon base, too. Can you imagine an airline running a flight with just ONE passenger on it? I’d think they’d just cancel it. Not sure what Kubrick was thinking, of course, but he could have had a few more extras in those scenes other than the flight crew. Its no wonder Pan Am is out of business..can’t make money on single passenger space flights… :)

Sitting on the the other side of the theater, I did experience some surrounds not memorable from previous showings. HAL’s voice, for one. To be sure, I compared it to the voices of Bowman and Poole and sure enough, there voices were in front. I believe there needed to be more bass especially during the Stargate Corridor sequence based on my prior theatrical and home viewings. Not sure if they can be adjusted anyway.

When the movie ended, I was curious to see if anyone was going to clap and thought I would be first, but an older couple behind me beat me to it and the audience towards the theater’s rear followed. After the closing credits, a gentleman stood up and announced a discussion for his students and audience members who wanted to stay behind. I wish I had had time to stay just to see what Millenials, the close minded ones, would have to say about this film. I bet at least one would say that the 3 hour movie was 2 hours and 50 minutes too long. :)

Steve, if and when you read this, can you comment on whether the #1 or any of AFI’s auditoriums or modern venues in general, have some kind of equalizer or similar electronic device to tweak the sound? On the Ziegfeld page, with the current discussion on ‘Interstellar’s IMAX soundtrack, Vito was mentioning that on 70mm films he ran, they could improve on sound levels using some kind of equalizer.

JodarMovieFan on November 7, 2014 at 7:26 pm

HDCAM-SR? SR standing for spectral recording (stereo)? :)

I attended a showing of 2005’s ‘Corpse Bride’ along with two Tim Burton shorts in the Historic Auditorium. I believe I saw it originally in DP in #10 at BowTie Annapolis Mall during its original run. Unfortunately, someone deleted all pre-2K7 posts, so I can’t be sure, now. :P The print seems to hold up well and the sound was amazing showcasing Burton-fave composer, Danny Elfman and his wonderful score. I came in as they were drawing the curtain, surprise surprise! I didn’t know the Historic Auditorium had side masking (cropped for the shorts). When my friend and I saw the original King Kong in #2, I believe the screen was curtained off, but not sure, as that post is gone. I remember the THX trailer and thinking whats the point? This is an old B&W mono sound movie. Sadly, there was probably only 5 people in the whole auditorium for the show.

I like the director Robert Wise film memorabilia. The original Star Trek movie Enterprise model looks cute. I have the original souvenir movie program and some other things, I wonder if they’d be interested in showcasing them (on loan, of course) in exchange for some free movie passes? :)

sguttag on October 16, 2014 at 6:15 am

HDCAM is an HD format…1080i. There is also HDCAM-SR, which tops out at 1080p and 4:4:4 color space though it is almost always 4:2:2. It is nothing to worry about image or sound wise. That is the format most movies are formatted in all of the way up until release.

JodarMovieFan on October 16, 2014 at 4:36 am

HDCam being cassette?? Nooooo. That would be a travesty. I shudder at the thought of how that would look widescreen in either #2 or the Historic Auditorium.

I think the DE of TMP was made specifically with standard DVD in mind, which is what.. 480 dp? So when BluRay came out, they couldn’t release the DE of TMP because the supplemental effects would need to be rendered for the higher standard. The AFI schedule did indicate a lot of showings compared to other Wise films. I’m hoping they present it the way I remember it, complete with curtains, light dims and the overture. :)

Giles on October 15, 2014 at 9:40 pm

‘Sound of Music’ has been confirmed to be the 4K DCP

Giles on October 15, 2014 at 9:39 pm

‘West Side Story’ – a 70mm print? – oh I’ll be there!

HDCam looks like a Betamax/VHS cassette – I’m not sure why it’s encoded, delivered, presented as such since I thought it can only feature a movie no longer than 124 minutes in length (‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ is 132 minutes)

JodarMovieFan on October 13, 2014 at 4:13 am

Howard, I think I’m going to see the film locally at one of the Smithsonian IMAX theaters. I’m looking forward to it. If the movie is still booked through the holidays, maybe I can convince my friend to drive up with me to the Ziegfeld.

Looking at the AFI’s calendar, it seems they are booking ‘West Side Story’ in 70mm, afterall. The last time I saw it here in 70mm was underwhelming. One of the posters on the Ziegfeld page claimed he heard snaps and whistling from all over the theater, (was it) before the credits, in its original 70mm release. I didn’t experience that though I did sit way in the back in the lounge seats.

Now, if they can find one of the newer 70mm prints for ‘Sound of Music,’ this would be a retrospective even the late Robert Wise would love to attend.

It also appears they’ve changed the version of Robert Wise’s ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ as they are showing the director’s cut in some format called HDCam. What the heck is that? Sounds like video taken with a HD camera??? As far as I know, they never printed a film from the director’s cut even though Wise had supposedly wanted a re-release ala the ‘Star Wars’ special editions. Judging by the DVD version, its good they didn’t. I really hate the way they dumbed some of the original audio elements that, imho, took away some of the original dramatic edge. It plays okay for tv. Wouldn’t it be cool to have all 3 versions; original film (if there’s a good print), Blu-Ray (as originally planned) and the director’s cut. :)

It would be nice to have a Robert Wise pre-movie featurette before each Wise film. Or, at least have an AFI employee or intern introduce each one. With iMovie, youtube and the AFI archives, they could easily put something together… :)

HowardBHaas on October 6, 2014 at 12:36 pm

JodarMovieFan, I saw Gone Girl yesterday at the Ziegfeld. For several years, I haven’t seen the curtain used. The surround sound is incredible. It is a quicker trip from Philly than DC, but if you want to see Interstellar in regular 70mm, your other choice might be to wait to see it if is in a 70mm classic series or showing at the AFI. I doubt the Regal Majestic wants it next door at the same time.