Langley Theatre

8014 New Hampshire Avenue,
Langley Park, MD 20873

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Langley Theatre exterior

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The Langley Theatre, Located in Langley Park, Maryland opened its doors in March 1952.

It was a single screen theatre with an auditorium of 987 seats, all on a single floor. It also featured a “crying room” for patrons who brought young children to the movies and would wind up disturbing other patrons. To accomodate the parents, they were ushered to the crying room so the parents could watch the film as their babies cried behind sound proof glass.

The Langley Theatre was one of the few theatres which utilized the ‘Sensurround’ sound system. In the 1970’s, a handful of films were released in ‘Sensurround’ which used large bass speakers during key periods in the film to cause the theatre to shake and vibrate. The films which were released in this format were “Earthquake”, “Midway”, “Rollercoaster”, and “Battlestar Gallactica”. The Langley Theatre also housed the Kintec Stereo system, a simulated stereo system for films that were presented with a stereo soundtrack.

The Langley Theatre was owned by the Kogat/Burka group (K/B Theatres). The theatre was a showcase theatre for the chain, featuring many first run exclusive engagements. The most prominent of the exclusive films were “The Godfather” in 1972 and “Star Trek-The Motion Picture” in 1979.

In the mid-late 1980’s, the theatre was converted into a twin which houses two 375 seat theatres. The original ambiance of the theatre was destroyed at that time when the theatre was forced to expand to keep pace with the multi-plexes opening during that time period.

The theatre ultimately closed in the early-1990’s when K/B Theatres went out of business, ending the chain which had 26 theatres in the Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia area during its hey day. The Langley Theatre was but one of K/B Theatres single screen gems, which also included, in Silver Spring, MD, the recently restored AFI Silver Theatre and the Flower Theatre (now a church), in Bethesda, MD, the Bethesda Theatre (now live shows) and the Baronet Theatre (demolished), and in the District, the MacArthur Theatre (now a CVS pharmacy) and the KB Cinema (now a furniture store), but to name a few.

Contributed by Kenneth London

Recent comments (view all 41 comments)

togaze
togaze on April 22, 2010 at 10:21 pm

I worked for K-B Theatres from 1973-1979, starting at the K-B Langley. I worked as an usher, a cashier, a concessionist, an assistant manager, and a manager. One of the great things that K-B Theatres did for years was to have adult and “junior” prices. “Juniors” were anyone under 17. This gave K-B a competitive edge over other theatres where children were considered 12 and under. After many years, I think the movie studios complained about the income difference between theatres with children’s prices, and K-B’s “junior” prices. K-B finally joined the mainstream and the “junior” price became a thing of the past.

My first night of work at the Langley was on December 21, 1973. “Benny and the Jets” played on my parents' car radio as I drove to work. The first movie I worked at the Langley was “Camelot,” followed by “Magnum Force.” When I worked at the Langley, we were told that the theatre was a “wedding present” when Marvin Goldman married into the Kogod family.

There were 971 seats in the Langley Theatre…920 in the main auditorium, 26 in the Nursery, and 25 in the Langley Room. While we did use the Nursery for families with young children and babies, the Langley Room was mostly used for storage. When I worked at the Langley, the theatre had been redecorated from the original 1952 décor, and everything was painted red and blue, with red and blue carpeting, and a black ceiling in the auditorium. The mirror behind the water fountain had been painted over with red paint, but occasionally someone would scratch off some of the paint to reveal the mirrors underneath. Under the water fountain, a wooden box was covered with carpeting. Small children could pull out the box so they could reach the water fountain and get a drink.

Two of the highlights (?) of working at the Langley were changing the marquee and changing light bulbs in the auditorium ceiling. The marquee at the Langley was huge. There was usually enough room to have a tag line, the film title, and the showtimes. The manager would give us the marquee copy, and then we would go out and look on the existing marquee, and check to see what letters were already on the marquee, and which letters we would need for the new copy. The marquee closet was to the left of the thick glass entrance doors to the theatre lobby. In the closet were the large 18" black letters for the movie titles, and the smaller 12" red letters for the tag lines and showtimes. We would gather the letters we needed and place them in a shopping cart that we had for that purpose. Then, we would get the huge ladder out of the closet and set it up to start changing the marquee. It was part art, part mathematical accuracy to get all of the letters off the marquee, clip on the new letters and be sure they were all centered properly. It was especially fun to change the marquee in the rain or snow.

We would access the ceiling lights in the theatre auditorium by climbing a ladder with bulbs in our hands to get into the ceiling. Then, we would carefully walk on the ceiling catwalks to access each burned-out bulb. The bulbs were housed in a barrel-sized light fixture. Each light fixture contained two bulbs: a mogul-based bulb that was probably about 500 watts, and a regular-sized yellow bulb of less than 100 watts that stayed on throughout the movie so people could find their way in the dark theatre. Most of the staff just left the burned-out bulbs in the ceiling rafters, but I would always bring out the old bulbs and throw them away. The ceiling was hot, dusty, and just a bit creepy. I often wondered if anyone had ever fallen through the ceiling. I made sure that I did not.

Throughout my almost six years with K-B Theatres, I worked in many of the theatres: the Langley, the Flower, the Silver, the Bethesda, Georgetown Square, the Cinema, the Studio, the Takoma, the Fine Arts, the MacArthur, the Janus, the Cerberus, and the Crystal. As a high school/college student, I was able to learn about some of the best and the worst aspects of the working world, and I was able to see almost every movie free that came out during the time I worked for
K-B. Over thirty years later, I still remember lines from some of them, such as “The Sting” or “The Towering Inferno.”

While the theatres of today may have better sound equipment, and the capability to create special effects has improved dramatically, none of the new humongous cinemultiplexopolises can compare with the elegance of the MacArthur or the simple sophistication of the Langley.

togaze
togaze on April 22, 2010 at 11:28 pm

K-B had this great logo…I think it had a red and blue shield with the K and B letters in fancy gold caps. I also seem to remember small stars on the fields of red and blue.

Does anyone have a link to a file with the K-B logo? I’d love to see it.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on April 23, 2010 at 12:21 am

Thanks KB for sharing your memories. ^5.

Local619
Local619 on April 23, 2010 at 12:59 am

Worked for KB off & on from the late 60s through the late 70s, (ran the Crystal City from 71 to 73).. In Virginia & DC.. KB was the best employer of their time. The Goldman’s and Burkas treated their people well. Am still intouch with three of the managers from that period (Mary Booth died in 2009)

Good company, good people & great times..

togaze
togaze on April 23, 2010 at 2:23 am

Sorry to hear about Mary Booth. I too managed the K-B Crystal for a few months in 1979. The last film I showed at the Crystal before K-B and I parted company was “Dracula,” with Frank Langella.

Kim_Daven
Kim_Daven on June 4, 2011 at 2:30 pm

I worked at the Langley Theatre from 1972 until about 1975. it was a great group of guys, most of which i still see. Bobby Hajjar, Jan Erman, David Wolf. There are many i wish i could find again, Maruice Jackson, Stacy Bates, Jimmy P…if any of you are out there gimmie a shout.

Twinkletoes
Twinkletoes on June 5, 2011 at 12:20 am

Thank you for the additional information. I couldn’t ever be 100% certain that the pink glass mirror tiles by the drinking fountain were at Langley, or Hyattsville.

eblackman
eblackman on August 15, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Kim and Togaze

Thanks for the wonderful memories I never worked for KB but i actually grew up in Takoma Park from 1975-1988. I remember as a child going to see ROLLARCOASTER, STAR WARS and Superman 1 and 2. I also remember movies that i was to young to see but wanted and remember the movie poster in the glass case at the KB Langley : CARRIE and BODY HEAT hahahah I also remember going to see SHarky’s Machine. As i got older and especially in High school it seemed that everyone started going to Beltway Plaza. I remember the C2 Bus right on University BLVD would take you straight to the mall. We also went to Flower Twins and the movie place on Georgia ave in silver spring.

Also does anyone remember the movie place in DC and VA back in the 80’s that use to show the first run kung fu blockbusters. They would show a lot of Shaw brothers movies. I cannot remember the name of the theater but i remember seeing it in the Washington Post movie section as a kid.

Eugene

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 15, 2011 at 11:06 pm

The Boxoffice Magazine article about the Langley Theatre that I linked to in a comment last year has been moved to a new url. It begins here, and continues on the subsequent two pages of the magazine.

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