Uptown Theater

3426 Connecticut Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20008

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DavidWallick on September 3, 2015 at 2:14 pm

I accidentally found this theater during a recent trip to Washington. I was so glad to see that it still existed. Single screen theaters are so rare these days. It looks to be relatively well cared for and in good shape. I love the fact that the newspaper advertisements refer to this as “AMC Uptown 1” as if every theater has to have a number like 10 or 14 or 16 these days!

Giles on August 29, 2015 at 9:39 am

when are you going to do the 1980’s list Coates – I’m very curious to resee what played there since those were the years I most went to the Uptown (a lot).

Well now I’m curious to find my bluray copy of ‘Circus World’ it’s somewhere here in the mess er, video collection (organizational skills aren’t my strong suits)

bigjoe59 on August 28, 2015 at 4:54 pm

Hello Again from NYC-

I thank richmurphy for his reply. as stated though Circus World isn’t Oscar material I found it a corny, hokey colorful entertaining film. i just can’t see any roadshow film presented “in Cinerama” starring John Wayne lasting only 3 weeks. a question for you. as i said in my original post i suppose CW suffered from the fact it wasn’t another El Cid. but if that’s the case than why did the film last as long as 13, 15 or 20 weeks in its roadshow run in other cities.

richmurphy on August 28, 2015 at 1:41 pm

Sorry, bigjoe59, but Coate’s listing of the Uptown’s CIRCUS WORLD engagement is NOT a mistake. Having some time to kill today, I perused back issues of The Washington Post. (Remember that 1964 was the era of daily showtime listings and display ads, so researching facts like this is relatively easy). The dates he listed are correct.

But since you and I are both fans of the movie, may I recommend the Anchor Bay Blu-Ray from Britain that came out a year ago. You’ll need a multi-region player to view it, but the restoration work by Pinewood is quite impressive.

bigjoe59 on June 21, 2015 at 7:23 pm

Hello From NYC-

i thank Coate for posting a while back a list of Circus World’s roadshow runs across the U.S. i questioned the D.C listing for the Uptown of only 3 weeks. Coate figured it might be because word had gotten out that the film while enjoyable wasn’t another El Cid. but the film opened in other big city runs after D.C yet had decent runs cancelling out Coate’s theory about word of mouth. my point being the Uptown run of 3 weeks the shortest on the list has got to be a mistake.

rivest266 on June 21, 2015 at 10:04 am

October 28th, 1936 grand opening ad in photo section

Giles on December 12, 2014 at 10:31 pm

why DID ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Grease’ start their runs in 35mm – when 70mm had already been in place to begin with?

telliott on December 11, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Here in Toronto, Circus World lasted only 5 weeks. The shortest Cinerama engagement in the city.

bigjoe59 on December 11, 2014 at 5:11 pm


I thank my fellow posters for any info about Circus World’s Cinerama reserved seat engagement at the Uptown. granted its not Oscar material but I found it even on vhs to be a corny hokey enjoyable popcorn
movie. so I should think on a giant curved screen with stereophonic sound it would have been that much more enjoyable. to which its roadshow run of only 3 weeks at the Uptown is just utterly bizarre when you consider its roadshow runs in other cities lasted from 15 to 23 weeks.

patryan6019 on December 10, 2014 at 12:15 am

Coate (and bigjoe59)…The 9/26 Circus World booking list does need a double-check. Listed for 2/17 is a run in Akron at the Falls that conflicts with your 8/27 Mary Poppins list on The Digital Bits which lists a 1/27 opening for that picture. From my research that date is correct and MP is playing there on 3/1 and 4/1 until My Fair Lady opens later that month. I also know CW opened 5/26 at the Cinema (formerly Loew’s) and two drive-ins. Where did you get the February date?( It wouldn’t be the first time a run was hidden when the search isn’t week to week). Additionally your list is missing 3 cities — Jacksonville opening 7/22 for 5 weeks and Chattanooga and Nashville both 11/12 and 8 weeks. Also missing run lengths are Providence for 23 weeks, Norfolk for 8 (the Rosna is downtown, 18 miles and 24 minutes from Virginia Beach) and Birmingham for 2 weeks. CW should have played 66 engagements, but at 54 it still was the largest (in 70 mm) until Grand Prix. This all started with big joe’s 9/5 question (which none of this will ever answer) about why the short DC run — there was at least one shorter (unless a Disney picture was interrupted in Akron). More than half —31— of the CW runs were single digit (2 months or less) so perhaps it is more significant to ponder why Providence and Hartford hold the record for this picture at 23 weeks.

Coate on September 27, 2014 at 11:54 am

I guess I may as well post the rest of the 1970s era bookings for the Uptown from the point my list from the August 4th posting left off.

Again, this is a work-in-progress which includes some details that probably should be double-checked. I hadn’t planned to post any of it given its incomplete status, but the recent roadshow and “Circus World” questions have prompted me to reconsider. Anyway, regardless of its current state of completion, I believe enough of it to be complete and accurate so as to justify posting it here for all fans of the Uptown to enjoy. If you think any detail is incorrect, simply send me an email or make it a part of the conversation. Otherwise, enjoy the flashback if you resided or visited the area and attended any of these shows at the Uptown.

1973-11-14 … THE SERPENT (5)
1973-12-19 … MARCO (2)

1974-01-02 … PAPER MOON / ROMEO & JULIET (1)
1974-02-06 … FANTASIA (1)
1974-02-13 … A TOUCH OF CLASS (2)
1974-03-06 … KLUTE / MAN IN THE WILDERNESS (1)
1974-03-20 … A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1)
1974-03-27 … CONRACK (1)
1974-06-26 … THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT! (20) 70mm 6-Track Stereo
1974-11-15 … EARTHQUAKE (27) Sensurround

1975-05-23 … 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (2) 70mm 6-Track Stereo
1975-06-04 … GONE WITH THE WIND (4) 70mm 6-Track Stereo
1975-07-02 … ROLLERBALL (9) 70mm 6-Track Stereo
1975-09-03 … LAST TANGO IN PARIS (2)
1975-09-17 … A DELICATE BALANCE (1)
1975-09-24 … THE HOMECOMING (1)
1975-10-01 … RHINOCEROS (1)
1975-10-08 … DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (2) 70mm 6-Track Stereo
1975-10-29 … AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1)
1975-11-05 … 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1) 70mm 6-Track Stereo
1975-11-12 … SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE (1)
1975-11-19 … YESSONGS (2) 4-Track Stereo
1975-12-03 … WHOSE CHILD AM I? (1)
1975-12-10 … HARRY & TONTO (1)
1975-12-17 … MALIZIA (1)
1975-12-24 … LUCKY LADY (5) 70mm 6-Track Stereo

1976-01-28 … THE SHELTER OF YOUR ARMS (1)
1976-02-04 … HARD TIMES (1)
1976-02-11 … ALL SCREWED UP (2)
1976-02-25 … GIVE ‘EM HELL, HARRY! (1)
1976-03-10 … GONE WITH THE WIND (2) 70mm 6-Track Stereo
1976-03-24 … MOSES (1) Super SpectraSound
1976-03-31 … GONE WITH THE WIND (1) 70mm 6-Track Stereo
1976-04-07 … FAMILY PLOT (7)
1976-05-26 … JAWS (3)
1976-06-16 … THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT, PART II (8) 70mm 6-Track Stereo
1976-08-11 … GATOR (1)
1976-08-18 … SURVIVE (1)
1976-09-01 … CAR WASH (9)
1976-11-03 … THE PASSOVER PLOT (2)
1976-11-17 … LED ZEPPELIN: THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME (2) 4-Track Stereo
1976-12-01 … 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (2) 70mm 6-Track Stereo
1976-12-15 … NETWORK (9)

1977-02-16 … SCOTT JOPLIN (5)
1977-03-23 … AIRPORT ‘77 (7)
1977-05-11 … CINDERELLA 2000 (2)
1977-05-25 … STAR WARS (55) 70mm 6-Track Dolby Stereo

1978-06-16 … GREASE (16) 70mm 6-Track Dolby Stereo
1978-10-05 … THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL (11)
1978-12-22 … FANTASIA (7) 4-Track Stereo

1979-03-30 … HAIR (8) Dolby Stereo
1979-05-25 … ALIEN (19) 70mm 6-Track Dolby Stereo
1979-10-03 … APOCALYPSE NOW (11) 70mm 6-Track Dolby Stereo
1979-12-21 … THE BLACK HOLE (8) 70mm 6-Track Dolby Stereo

NOTE: The 70mm notations on STAR WARS (1977) and GREASE (1978) represent a mid-run upgrade; both began their engagement in 35mm.

telliott on September 26, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Circus World was probably the shortest roadshow and Cinerama engagement in Toronto as well, with only 5 weeks at the Odeon Carlton. But it opened midsummer and the Carlton was huge, didn’t seem to work out as a Cinerama house, even It’s a Mad…World didn’t do well there at only 18 weeks even though it played over a year in some places. Probably why after the Greatest Story Ever Told, all Cinerama films were moved to the much smaller and very suburban Glendale theatre way up in North Toronto.

bigjoe59 on September 26, 2014 at 3:13 pm

to Coate-

many many thanks for your reply. I figure if anyone could answer the question you could. I didn’t see Circus World in its “in Cinerama” roadshow run at the Warner Cinerama on 47th St. I owned the soundtrack album plus I go the vhs when it came out. admittedly its a corny hokey film and while not Oscar material I still found it an enjoyable corny hokey film.

a good film is a good film. an uneven film is an uneven film and a bad film is a bad film no matter what city its playing in. I am sure NYC, San Francisco and Los Angeles have discriminating moviegoers so if they kept their city’s roadshow engagements running for respectively 19,13 and 16 weeks what gives with D.C.’s 3 weeks? the advance sale being that it was a John Wayne film , that is was “in Cinerama” and Samuel Bronston’s talent at over the top spectacle should have been enough sustain a run of longer than 3 weeks. so the only guess I can make is the same as yours- they waited to long to open its D.C. roadshow run.

Coate on September 26, 2014 at 1:28 pm


At long last, here are a few words from me regarding your (multiple) requests for comment pertaining to “Circus World” and its short run at the Uptown. I’ve rounded up all of my data on the roadshow/Cinerama engagements of “Circus World” and am presenting it here. There are a few dates that require a double-check and a missing engagement or two, but I believe it to be mostly complete. Scrolling through the list you’ll be able to compare how long the film played in each city and can draw your own conclusion as to whether or not the film’s roadshow release ought to be considered a success.

As to my take on the matter of the Uptown’s brief engagement. Washington, DC opened the movie several months into release, by which time it proved to be a commercial and critical disappointment, and so I suspect the studio lost any leverage they may have had in demanding a lengthy booking. Just a guess, though. Still, three weeks for a reserved-seat engagement is ridiculously short for a city of any size, especially a large one (and it kinda makes me wonder if I erred when I originally researched the matter).

Anyway, while there’s some risk in irking some readers that this may be somewhat off-topic, here is the roadshow booking list for the United States and Canada for “Circus World”:

1964-06-24 … Dallas, TX – Capri (11 weeks)
1964-06-25 … Boston, MA – Boston (18)
1964-06-25 … Cleveland, OH – Palace (7)
1964-06-25 … New York, NY – Loew’s Cinerama (19)
1964-06-25 … Philadelphia, PA – Boyd (9)
1964-06-26 … Atlanta, GA – Martin Cinerama (13)

1964-07-01 … Cincinnati, OH – Capitol (8)
1964-07-01 … Honolulu, HI – Cinerama (14)
1964-07-01 … Kansas City, MO – Capri (15)
1964-07-01 … New Orleans, LA – Martin Cinerama (13)
1964-07-01 … Pittsburgh, PA – Warner (8)
1964-07-03 … Milwaukee, WI – Southgate (7)
1964-07-08 … Chicago, IL – McVickers (15)
1964-07-08 … Virginia Beach (Norfolk), VA – Rosna (?)
1964-07-22 … Miami (Miami Beach), FL – Sheridan (7)
1964-07-23 … Houston, TX – Windsor (12)
1964-07-29 … Toronto, ON – Carlton (5)

1964-08-05 … Buffalo, NY – Teck (5)
1964-08-12 … Columbus, OH – Grand (9)
1964-08-12 … Louisville, KY – Rialto (8)
1964-08-20 … Charlotte, NC – Carolina (6)
1964-08-21 … Tampa, FL – Palace (8)
1964-09-23 … Albuquerque, NM – Fox Winrock (4)
1964-09-30 … Fresno, CA – Warner (10)
1964-09-30 … Rochester, NY – Monroe (4)
1964-09-30 … Syracuse, NY – Eckel (4)

1964-10-14 … Wichita, KS – Uptown (13)
1964-10-21 … Denver, CO – Cooper (8)
1964-10-22 … Portland, OR – Hollywood (11)
1964-10-28 … Salt Lake City, UT – Villa (21)
1964-10-28 … Washington, DC – Uptown (3)
1964-10-29 … Hartford, CT – Cinerama (23)

1964-11-05 … St. Louis, MO – Martin Cinerama (19)
1964-11-06 … Baltimore, MD – Town (4)

1964-12-09 … Omaha, NE – Indian Hills (15)
1964-12-14 … Newark (Montclair), NJ – Clairidge (16)
1964-12-17 … Indianapolis, IN – Indiana (12)
1964-12-18 … Los Angeles, CA – Warner Hollywood (16)
1964-12-21 … San Francisco, CA – Orpheum (13)
1964-12-24 … Providence, RI – Cinerama (?)

1965-01-13 … Las Vegas, NV – Cinerama (6)
1965-01-22 … Orlando, FL – Beacham (4)
1965-01-27 … Montreal, QC – Imperial (22)

1965-02-10 … Toledo, OH – Valentine (11)
1965-02-17 … Akron (Cuyahoga Falls), OH – Falls (?)
1965-02-17 … Dayton, OH – Dabel (7)
1965-02-17 … San Diego, CA – Center (8)
1965-02-18 … Phoenix (Scottsdale), AZ – Kachina (6)

1965-03-16 … Detroit, MI – Summit (7)
1965-03-23 … Sacramento, CA – Esquire (6)

1965-04-29 … Birmingham, AL – Eastwood Mall (?)

1965-10-27 … Minneapolis (St. Louis Park), MN – Cooper (8)

Mikeoaklandpark on September 6, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Howard when I looked this theater up a few times on AMC web page it showed they only had 1 or 2 shows daily which is what they did with the AMC Palace in Philly before it closed. So I am glad to hear they aren’t looking to close it. I wish I would hit Powerball big I would buy the Ziegfeld and this theater.

Giles on September 5, 2014 at 9:49 pm

NO —– IMAX-Lite !! [pulls hair out]– in doing that, they’d get stuck with all the crap IMAX exclusive titles i.e, ‘Teenage Mutant Turtles’.

I don’t know why AMC is thumbing it’s nose up at Atmos, when quite a number of past Atmos mixed films have played here. Personally I think Auro’s sound format is akin to the marketing and release of Kodak’s CDS sound all over again – they went tail up. They like to claim they have studio backing, but I don’t see it…

I think AMC is playing it cheap but one, not being more aggressive to the installation of Dolby Atmos – at least two other theaters that have balconies have figured out how to configure Atmos (and the speaker placement) around it.

Two: the Uptown should be considering what the Seattle Cinerama is doing now, upgrading to Christie’s new 4K laser projector system, but again, I don’t see AMC jumping up and down spending MORE money here at the Uptown for additional upgrades.

JodarMovieFan on September 5, 2014 at 6:29 pm

I doubt they’d close the Uptown. Even if its losing money, as long as its not a ton of money, you’ve got other theaters in the area under AMC that aren’t.

On the other hand, is it confirmed the old 35/70mm Norelcos, or whatever projection they had to play 70mm is really gone? Or just pushed aside to make room for the digital projector? Then we’d know for sure if classics would ever be shown again here..at least in 70mm. The extreme curved screen would be a waste if it were..hint installation of a smaller flat one? Nooooo. ;)

As I’ve said in previous post, IMAX-lite would be a much better fit here, if it can be decently shown on the curve then the other installs, imho. Dolby Atmos installed..hmmm. Think of the possibilities.

If they could do it at the Cinerama in Seattle, why not here? I guess it depends on if AMC has the guts and funds to do it to make it worthwhile. If it becomes something technologically superior (at least until the next BIG thing comes along) to whats shown around the beltway, it could revive this place despite the lack of parking.

No one has blogged about Doug Trumbull’s new higher frame rate super DP system that I believe made its debut at the Cinerama the other month. I wanted to go just to see how immersive the brighter, hyperrealistic experience could be but couldn’t make it :P If he ever gets it commercially going, the Uptown would be a nice place to outfit it if its possible given its current condition.

bigjoe59 on September 5, 2014 at 4:22 pm

to richmurphy-

I guess no matter how well reviewed or not a roadshow film was its theatrical shelf life still varied from city to city. now I don’t remember how long Circus World’s roadshow run was at the Warner Cinerama at Bway & 47 St. but it was most certainly longer than 3 weeks. so I’m guessing whatever merits the film may have had were more inviting to NYC moviegoers than D.C. moviegoers. still a roadshow run of only 3 weeks especially for a big well publicized film regardless of whether is was Oscar material still seems inordinately short. hey the biggest roadshow disappointment in the prime Oct. 1955 thru Dec. 1972 period in Manhattan was Half a Sixpence which ran 6 weeks.

Giles on September 5, 2014 at 3:20 pm

I got a Facebook message from AMC that stated they are in the process of figuring how to upgrade the sound system. It implied that it wouldn’t be Dolby Atmos but nor did the explicitly state Auto 11.1 either

HowardBHaas on September 5, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Please be clear. Did AMC state they will close this theater?

Mikeoaklandpark on September 5, 2014 at 3:09 pm

It really concerns me that AMC will close this theater. Does it do well?

richmurphy on September 5, 2014 at 3:49 am

Thanks to Coate for bringing back many memories to me. One quibble: I believe the moveover engagement of HELLO DOLLY, the EIGHTY DAYS/WEST SIDE STORY double feature, and at least the beginning of the FIDDLER engagement were all 35mm. Prior to 1981’s RAGTIME, the Uptown manually added masking onto its Cinerama screen for 35mm engagements. I remember being disappointed with DOLLY, since I loved the opulent sets on the Warner’s screen and was looking forward to seeing it on the full Uptown screen.

As for CIRCUS WORLD, this holds a particular memory for me. My father called the Uptown to ask what times the film played, and the person at the boxoffice sarcastically told him, “What time can you come?” My family laughed at that, but later realized why the joke was made when we had the theatre almost to ourselves.

mike8105 on August 23, 2014 at 5:47 pm

I recall that Earnest Borgnine attended an invitational premiere of “Ice Station Zebra” in 1969 at the Uptown. It benefited the Navy Relief Fund I believe — a charity of which Mr. Borgnine was fond. Senator Edward Kennedy attended along with many other dignitaries.

raysson on August 6, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Impressive information. Michael Coate has done it again!

bigjoe59 on August 6, 2014 at 11:45 am

to Coate-

again many many thanks for the list of the other D.C. houses the studios used for roadshow engagements. it was rather kind of you to do so. added to the Uptown list you kindly provided for me I guess this covers all the prime Oct.1955-Dec.1972 roadshow engagements. also when you have a spare moment I would greatly appreciate your take on why Circus World’s roadshow run at the Uptown lasted only 3 weeks whereas other hyped roadshow epics which likewise received critically mixed reviews sometimes lasted 15-20 weeks.thanks in advance.