AMC Loews Uptown 1

3426 Connecticut Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20008

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Uptown Theater ... Washington DC

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened by Warner Brothers on October 29, 1936, the Uptown Theater is the last movie palace in Washington, DC still showing first-run films. The Uptown Theater is located near the Cleveland Park subway stop on the Red Line of the Metro. Many restaurants are on both sides of the street.

The theater opened with a seating capacity of 1,364 (914 seats in the orchestra and 450 in the stadium seated balcony). The Uptown Theater was designed by theater architect John Zink, a top designer of Art Deco and Art Moderne style movie houses. In 1939, Zink designed Baltimore’s historic Senator Theatre.

In the early-1940’s, the auditorium’s side walls were covered with fabric. In 1956, the auditorium was remodeled to allow films in wide screen Todd-AO. “South Pacific” ran for seven months in 1958 and “West Side Story” ran for nine months in 1961. In 1962, the auditorium was remodeled to show 3-strip Cinerama films. The original projection booth remains at the top of the balcony, but new booths were added at the front of the balcony. Since Cinerama ended, the center front booth continues to be used.

The World Premiere of “2001-A Space Odyssey” was at the Uptown Theater on April 2, 1968, in its original two-hour and 40 minute version. Kubrick trimmed 20 minutes, and the movie was then shown for 51 weeks. Local theater operators Circle tookover, and that company’s founders continue to own the building, though succeeding movie operators lease it. In 1987, Cineplex Odeon tookover, and that company later merged into Loews, which in time merged with into AMC.

Many films were shown in their original 70mm runs, and later, in reissues, to sold out crowds. The restored “Lawrence of Arabia” was shown in 1989, with director David Lean attending the premiere. The restored “Spartacus” was shown in 1991 and the restored “My Fair Lady” in 1994. Cineplex Odeon refurbished this palatial movie house in 1996, reducing the seating capacity to 840 and reopened it with the restored “Vertigo”. In 1997, the Uptown Theater was host to the re-release of the Star Wars saga (aka “Star Wars: The Special Edition”). On opening day, the ticket lines wrapped around the block, turned the corner, and continued several blocks away from Connecticut Street. New prints of 36 classic films, starting with “The Jazz Singer” were shown in 1998 to celebrate 75 years of Warner Brothers movies. The other restored classics included “Rear Window” in 2000, and in 2001, a 20th anniversary run of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”. In 2003, the Director’s Cut of “Alien” was shown, and in 2007, “Blade Runner, the Final Cut”.

Hollywood studios frequently have glittering red carpet film premieres at the Uptown Theater.

First run, blockbuster mainstream movies are the mainstay. Known for having the largest screen in DC (its curved screen measures 32 feet tall by 70 feet wide for ‘scope films), the Uptown Theater has been the best place to see event movies for several decades.

Contributed by Karim Alim, Justin Zagri, Howard B. Haas

Recent comments (view all 493 comments)

sguttag on August 4, 2017 at 8:05 pm

It was a sub run theatre. It was “Uptown” because it wasn’t “Downtown”. It became 1st run as the grand downtown theatres closed and people moved further out.

moviebuff82 on August 5, 2017 at 6:21 am

I hope they put in reclining seats and reserved seating in addition to the updated Uptown sign. It' a true cinema treasure.

Giles on August 5, 2017 at 9:09 am

Reclining seats are the LAST thing this theater needs – what a way to cheapen the theaters grandeur – all it needs is a carbon copy of what was done at Seattle’s Cinerama theatre

jeffpiatt on August 9, 2017 at 9:25 pm

if anything it should get upgraded to Dolby Cinema. Apparently Dolby requires the recliners now for there PLF spec as the seats have a link to the sound system.

The major upgrade is to make it ADA certified as the bathrooms are up a staircase with no lift. if there lucky they have the space to upgrade it to Dine-in other wise it might get stuck on the low traffic Classic brand.

richmurphy on August 18, 2017 at 11:29 am

The Uptown was first-run long before the downtown movie theatres closed. I still have the three ticket stubs my parents and I had for the reserved seat run of SOUTH PACIFIC there.

sguttag on August 18, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Sure, by the 1950s it was 1st run. But it didn’t start out that way.

bigjoe59 on August 20, 2017 at 1:54 pm


in reference to sguttag’s comment. many of the most beloved movie theaters across the country were built as very grand neighborhood theaters and only became exclusive 1st run venues years later. for instance the Coronet in San Francisco only became 1st run with the Todd-AO roadshow premiere of Oklahoma in 1955.

Giles on August 21, 2017 at 5:46 am

in response to jeffpiatt – there is a ADA certified restroom on the main floor.

HowardBHaas on September 2, 2017 at 5:09 am

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind 40th Anniversary” (the new 4k restoration only in theaters for one week) is being shown now here. So far as I recall, the 1st classic in many years!

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