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 501 comments)

Giles on August 21, 2017 at 1:46 pm

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

HowardBHaas on September 2, 2017 at 1:09 pm

“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!

HowardBHaas on December 23, 2017 at 3:29 pm

A former Uptown projectionist who has commented on this page, tells me that until c. 1986, the Uptown’s giant letters on the facade had always spelled out the name in a manner that I think would’ve been like this “U….Up…Upt…Upto…Uptow…Uptown…..U….”

MikeRadio on January 7, 2018 at 4:47 am

This is AMCs ONLY single screen theater.

HowardBHaas on January 13, 2018 at 12:23 pm

Big (1988) at 10 AM today at the Uptown. Is there a family classic series on weekend mornings?

Myrna38717 on January 13, 2018 at 4:47 pm

Yes, they’ve put it together with the Cleveland Park Business Association:

Giles on January 13, 2018 at 5:27 pm

apparently there was a December edition with ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘Elf’ – who knew ?? (I’m slipping here). For the record last weekend’s movie was ‘Sing’ (I love that movie).

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 2, 2018 at 1:29 am

Does anyone know if the Uptown is planning to show “2001: A Space Odyssey” during its 50th anniversary year? In 1993, the 25th anniversary, they showed it for a week. The movie had its world premiere at the Uptown on April 2nd, 1968.

JodarMovieFan on March 2, 2018 at 5:42 am

Bill, that would be so awesome. On the other hand, the 70mm projectors are gone, so if they do decide to show it here, it would be in 4K Digital. The only other close 70mm auditoriums would be the AFI Silver (so so past presentations), Library of Congress and maybe the MPAA theater(?).

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 2, 2018 at 3:09 pm

Thanks, JodarMovieFan. I should have realized the 70mm projectors would be gone. It would be so great to see it again on a real Cinerama screen – unless they got rid of that too?

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