MacArthur Theater

4859 MacArthur Boulevard NW,
Washington, DC 20007

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MacArthur Theater

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened as a single screen movie theater on December 25, 1946. On December 7, 1979, the MacArthur Theater held the world premiere of “Star Trek:The Motion Picture”. It was triplexed in 1982 (architects Goenner & Woodhouse), and closed in 1997.

Drugstore chain CVS took over the lease of the building that the same year and the once proud interior of the MacArthur became a place to buy discount band-aids. Sadly, many of DC’s classic movie theaters have also been acquired by CVS.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 65 comments)

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 6, 2010 at 11:48 am

There were alot nights i didn’t want to there especially with a hangover,but it never entered my mind to cancel a show because of “projector Problems”.Now if the folks came in and saw 800 empty seats and wanted a pass I certainly wouldn’t have talked them out of it. But,really all this is moot becuase there aren’t that many single screen theatres anymore.If this happened while it was a single screen and not a triple.If it was a triple I don’t see what it would matter because surely someone would be in the other theatres,So I guess it happen before the MAC was tripled.I was luckly to have worked when Union Projectionists ran the movies.I know i met several men always put on a “good show” like Buddy.

moviegoer on August 14, 2011 at 4:35 pm

I was fortunate enough to get to a film here just before it closed while I was in college. Saw El Cid. It’s demise at the hands of CVS (not that it’s their fault) is a real shame.

HowardBHaas on August 14, 2011 at 4:38 pm

A restored 70mm print of “El Cid” was shown in 1993 at the Avalon Theatre in Washington, D.C. If that’s when you went to college…..then perhaps that’s the theater you saw it at?

SteveBehrens on September 10, 2011 at 6:17 pm

The MacArthur’s special role within the K-B chain when I was a kid in the late ’50s and early ’60s was to show British imports. My parents and I drove more than 10 miles round trip from Virginia to see low and high comedies that most often featured at least one of these players: Robert Morley, Alec Guinness, Margaret Rutherford, Alastair Sim and Peter Sellers.

Somehow, Sellers’ many male and female roles in “The Mouse That Roared” made it officially My Favorite Movie of all time — until I saw it as an adult, many years later. I guess I must have admired the early and deft satire of nuclear proliferation.

Even as a kid I knew the “Carry On” comedies were kinda cheesy, but they were British, so they existed on a higher plane than Abbott & Costello.

I don’t know if Agatha Christie enjoyed Ms. Rutherford’s interpretation of her amateur detective Miss Marple, but I came to believe that no one else had the spirit or the jowls for the role.

Guests of the MacArthur were directed to the second-floor lobby where tea and cookies were served until showtime, when the chimes of Big Ben struck and I’d brush the cookie crumbs off my clothes and we’d descend to the auditorium.

I don’t think my parents would have taken such a long drive to see French imports. Years later when friends could drive I was finally able to get to the Circle Theater downtown where I’d see the work of the great French directors Truffaut, Godard and Woody Allen.

JohnMessick on May 21, 2012 at 10:57 pm

SWCphotography….cool photos..thanks for posting them.

beverlynick on December 7, 2012 at 9:59 am

I managed it for KB twice, when Start Trek opened, the world premiere night which was on a Thursday, then they made me manager for the weekend when the place was packed, I was 21 maybe? December 1979. I came back and managed it again October 1981 thru March 1982 before I pissed off the two managers above me at KB and they moved me to the dead Silver Theatre where I lasted 2 days before I quit. All the people who worked there were very nice, Ms. Bowman especially. The place had ghosts too, some great tales of weird things always happened there. I was the manager when we showed REDS there on an exclusive along with the KB Cinema. A beautiful theatre.

DC on May 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm

This was a gorgeous theater before it was divided into smaller venues. I recall seeing The Sound of Music here during a re-release of the film. Seems the curtains were a heavy gold color, and I can still recall the music playing at intermission just before the second half of the movie started. There was a balcony of course, and I remember adults could have cocktails there before the film started, and during intermission. They sold programs to the film as well. It’s still a wonderful memory, and I am happy to have a place to share my recollections!

jojopuppyfish on July 20, 2014 at 1:48 pm


I live in the area and took this in June 2014.
I saw Wolf there in 1989.

Jay Harvey
Jay Harvey on July 21, 2014 at 2:11 pm

CVS sure didn’t do much at all in remodeling the place lol

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