Key Theatre

1222 Wisconsin Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20007

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Drofnas on January 14, 2018 at 1:29 pm

I believe it was summer of 1978 or 79 when Jimm Altman’s band Scandals played a show at the Key Theater. Was anyone else here in attendance?

smalzz on August 4, 2016 at 11:11 pm

I saw more than a few movies at the Key. The one I remember most was Cronos, from Del Toro. Brilliant film. Icing on the DC memory cake: I won two tickets to the show by correctly answering three movie related trivia questions at the original 9:30 Club. They were posted on a Xerox in the Back Bar. I don’t remember the questions but I do remember that Russ Meyer was the answer to one of them! Good times.

randytheicon on October 19, 2015 at 3:50 pm

The Key never was a double. It opened with the original single-aisle screen, and then the three smaller upstairs screens were added in 1985.

In the mid-1980s there was a movie-themed gift shop next to the main entrance. Bought a few posters there…and proceeded to lose one of them that night at the Cerberus.

rivest266 on June 28, 2015 at 2:12 pm

April 9th, 1969 grand opening ad in photo section

Giles on October 6, 2014 at 1:37 pm

my fond memory of the Key theater was a Sunday morning pre-release screening of ‘The Crying Game’ (Key Sunday Cinema Club) – someone accidentally dropped their coffee on my back … and the movie itself was great.

raysson on October 6, 2014 at 9:30 am

The KEY THEATER basically opened in 1969 as a single screener and later on was split into two sections and somewhere during the late-1970’s/early-1980’s when from 2 tO 4 screens showing first-run independent features, documentaries and foreign films.

Eddie_Dornack on May 11, 2012 at 11:36 pm

I would like to respond to all of you but that would become a thesis. I’m Eddie Dornack & I was the guy who ran the Key fron 1972 until it closed. I staged the funeral & designed the entire upstairs. Rabi, Alex & Trent were great friends & employees as were Zalman, Mimi, Misty, Baron & god forbid Mark. I’ll be glad to answer any questions. I would love to hear from Cushing 1961 & Randytheicon. Yes the barbecues on the roof were great but the ladder & the tar were a problem. E.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 19, 2011 at 9:22 pm

The entry for architect Louis Henry Layton III in the 1970 directory of the AIA lists the Key Theatre in Washington, DC, as one of his works.

Ken Holmes
Ken Holmes on September 7, 2011 at 2:35 pm

In 1974 I and a date warmed up in the Snuggery at Martin’s Carriage House, then went to the Key to watch Mel Brook’s “The Critic” (see it on YouTube), followed by Lenny Bruce Performance Film (that is Lenny Bruce performing, not the Dustin Hoffman film “Lenny” that was in theaters at the same time. I’m a little older and I might not laugh as much as I did at the time, but I do love the memory.

cushing1961 on June 26, 2009 at 6:39 pm

I worked there in 1988. Some of the movies out about that time were Babettes Feast and Tampopo.. just LOVED working there!! Rabi, Alex, Trent, where are you guys!!! When the manager hired me, he told me to show up the next day.. I did and as we started to work, I asked “do you want to know my name now?”.. it was so easy and laid back!! We watched fireworks from the roof (interesting climb to get up there!!) and we watched a “private viewing” of a film that one of the guys there made in his film class. A few of our group was in the film too, it was hilarious. I Mickey Spillane based film, but with bad acting. SO much fun!!

randytheicon on June 13, 2009 at 12:57 pm

The date of that “Rocky” funeral should be 10/11/1986. Sorry…

randytheicon on June 13, 2009 at 12:57 pm

My favorite memory of the Key is the final show of “Rocky Horror,” on October 11, 1996. The theatre staged a mock “funeral” commemorating the end of the movie’s nearly nine-year run, with the entire first floor decorated in black, and a “eulogy” read over the PA system. That time, the local media gave extensive coverage. (“Rocky” did return for one weekend in 1997, during the Key’s farewell celebrations.)

David Levy also owned the Charles in Baltimore, and the Key College Park.

sconnell1 on March 21, 2009 at 6:05 pm

The Key opened on 4/9/69 with the film CHANGES starring Kent Lane and Michele Carey. BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID opened there, and at three other local theaters, on 10/1/69 and played in a first- run engagement there for 12 weeks.

kencmcintyre on March 6, 2007 at 4:48 pm

Here is an interesting article about the owner of the Key:

SethLewis on September 19, 2004 at 3:09 pm

The Key was a true institution…I imagine sorely missed in DC…At the time of its closing it was a triplex showing a great range of art films in all languages…Among the pictures I saw there in 95-96 – Kieslowski’s Blue, A Great Day in Harlem, Crumb, Little Odessa, and a great French picture with Michel Blanc whose title escapes me…The Key also used to host a number of cinema clubs