Washington D.C. Cinema to Close

posted by Patrick Crowley on January 12, 2005 at 6:27 am

Howard Haas has sent us this news about the impending closing of Cinema 1 on Wisconsin Ave.

I know your readers will want to know this sad news.

Somebody emailed me that the single screen Cinema 1, located at 5100 Wisconsin Ave in Washington DC, operated by Loews Cineplex, will close by next month. I telephoned today the theater, and the employee stated that Jan. 27 is the last day. He thinks the current movie “A Very Long Engagement” will be the last one.

Robert Headley’s book “Motion Picture Exhibition in Washington, D.C.” states the Cinema opened in 1965 with 826 seats. Many of us know it as the K.B. Cinema.

The theater’s ad in the Washington Post has stated that it has Washington D.C.’s 2nd largest screen. Apparently the competing new multiplexes are not matching its screen size. The Uptown has the largest screen in Washington.


Comments (9)

muviebuf on January 12, 2005 at 10:01 am

One has to wonder just how long the Uptown will continue to survive. Loews Cineplex recently announced that it was converting the Uptown’s two projector changeover booth to a platter system.

bufffilmbuff on January 12, 2005 at 11:40 am

It is really a sad day for DC filmgoers if we lose this large single screen movie house with high quality projection and sound. And fron what I have read in another comment, the Uptown is not only going to a platter system, but will only have a true projectionist PART TIME. Apparently this has already resulted in major damage to the projectors and the current print (THE AVIATOR). I was there New Year’s Day and the projection, sound and print quality were superb. There is nothing like the Uptown extant on the east coast.
Let us hope that Loews Cineplex can be pursuaded to preserve this theatre.

JodarMovieFan on January 12, 2005 at 3:25 pm

If the theater had better programming, films that showcased its capabilities; 70mm & classic films that other theaters were not showing, then perhaps it would’ve survived. Maybe the local P&G theater group will take it over after its gone. Anyone know what will happen to the theater when it is closed?

As far as the Uptown is concerned, maybe it will be twinned; a theater upstairs where the balcony presently is and the curved screen below. Oops. I probably shouldn’t have suggested that…

Michael21046 on January 13, 2005 at 4:18 pm

I am very sorry to hear the Cinema is closing. The Upper Northwest section of Wisconsin Ave. never hungered for movie theatres. Now, it looks like it’s starving. My memories of the Cinema include the premieres of “A Clockwork Orange”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”(in Panavision and Dolby Stereo), and the 70mm presentations of “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Untouchables”. When 70mm festivals were still popular during the ‘80s I saw the revival of the musical Camelot.

It seemed that the Cinema along with the Uptown had a good chance to survive.The Cinema was among the best theatres for movie-going and was highly regarded as a premiere house by movie distributors. However, the last time I was there I noticed there were a small number of empty seats. During most of the Cinema’s tenure it was the only major theatre before the D.C. line near Bethesda. Now that D.C.’s “suburban lines” stretch out past Rockville I guess The Cinema is no longer a destination for suburban dwellers.

sguttag on January 13, 2005 at 7:15 pm

I guess I can feel priviledged to have been the cheif projectionist of the K-B Cinema in the early ‘80s in addition to the K-B MacArthur (now closed), the K-B Silver (closed but renovated back to the AFI/Silver) and now the Uptown theatre.

The Cinema was good competition to the Uptown and the Avalon in her day. It is sad that it is not to survive but it had lost its luster after the K-B days, where it became the flagship theatre after the Apex closed in the mid ‘70s. When Titanic came out, they didn’t even run it in 70mm despite the Uptown playing the area premier of Titanic in 70mm. It was a sign of the Cinema’s standings.

I wish Sam Brooks, the senior operator there (even for the brief period where I was chief) all the best and I presume a retirement…he has been at the Cinema since the mid ‘70s.


brianstorms on January 14, 2005 at 10:41 pm

Sorry to hear the K-B Cinema’s closing. I went to school around the corner in the 70s, and still remember when TOMMY came out there in “Quinto-phonic” sound.

Saw “Close Encounters”, “ET”, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, and countless other films there. I remember seeing “Lawrence of Arabia” there during one of its roadshows in the 70s or early 80s.

carolgrau on January 18, 2005 at 3:57 am

Steve, is it really true? Is the Uptown going to a platter system?
What a shame if it does. I am truly sad to hear the fate of the Cinema.
Take care my friend.

zcknight on February 9, 2005 at 7:06 am

Sorry to hear about the Cinema closing, but what is being done with the seats? I’m in need of some theatre seats. Does anyone know who to call about purchasing some seats. Thanks, Dawn

OttoP3 on March 24, 2006 at 7:20 am

I remember working the Cinema before/after the Norelcos went in; both in maintenance (my dad was head of Maintenance for K/B from 1965 until his death in 1983), and then as projectionist (not an “operator” as cracker-boxes have these days). It was quite a place – and palace.

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