The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by Douglas Park resident Dan Hauser.
I wanted to thank Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse for a really lovely gesture.
I took my four-year-old son to see the Last Jedi on December 30. (If any of the staff at the Drafthouse happen to see this, he was the kid wearing the army clothes and army helmet… it looked like he was going to the premiere of Saving Private Ryan.)
He was so excited! He was sitting on the edge of his seat, eating popcorn and drinking lemonade, and giggling all throughout the movie.
When the movie ended and the credits started to roll, Pete, the manager, asked my son if he might like something from Star Wars. He walked us across the stage and into a little office. He then gave my son a lightsaber and a bag that contained the original Star Wars trilogy on Blu-ray, a Star Wars puzzle, a Star Wars book, and four free movie tickets for the Drafthouse!
My son was over the moon, and I was really touched. We’ve read the book twice and have had some epic lightsaber battles.
My family loves going to see movies at ACDH. In fact, this was the second time I’d seen the Last Jedi here. The Drafthouse was a huge draw for us when we were looking for a neighborhood to buy a house. We’ve had so many nice memories laughing, having snacks, drinking some beers (well, my wife and me), and watching movies.
The Drafthouse is a verifiable Columbia Pike institution. Maybe one day my son will take his children here.
ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.
Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk
The Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) is expanding its Christmas Movie Festival for the first time this year.
The festival usually takes place on one day, but instead will last for three weeks, starting on Friday, November 24 with showings of Elf and It’s a Wonderful Life. It wraps up on December 13 with Gremlins.
Paying for one $10 ticket will get attendees unlimited admission to all the scheduled festival movies across all three weeks, depending on space.
Dates for each movie screening are as follows:
- Elf (November 24-27, December 2-4, December 10)
- It’s a Wonderful Life (November 24, November 27, December 2-3, December 10-11)
- Home Alone (November 25, November 26, December 7, December 11)
- Miracle on 34th Street (November 25, November 26, November 28, December 3, December 9, December 12)
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (November 26, November 30, December 2, December 5, December 10)
- Scrooged (December 3, December 4, December 6, December 10)
- Gremlins (December 13)
Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards
The iconic local business will show “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” from December 14 until January 11. Customers are being asked to buy tickets in advance due to high anticipated demand.
Due to what organizers called the “special screening nature” of the film, tickets cost $10 in the evening and $8 for matinees.
It comes as part of the Drafthouse’s decision to shift to playing movies on a first-run basis, meaning it has quicker access to films.
Owner Greg Godbout has said that the rise of video on-demand services has hurt its previous business model of showing mainstream movies several months after the initial release.
Income from the movie could be small for the Drafthouse, however, as like all movie theaters it reportedly must turn over at least 65 percent of revenue generated by ticket sales to Disney, which owns the Star Wars franchise.
The Drafthouse is making the most of its Star Wars deal, holding dozens of screenings and even offering the chance to host Star Wars-themed parties for businesses. Via a Drafthouse email forwarded to ARLnow.com:
Host a STAR WARS PARTY!!! Is your company looking for a fun alternative holiday party? The Drafthouse can accommodate your group with our restaurant style seating, giant screen, no hassle buffet style catering options as well as our FULL BAR!! Give your employee’s the gift of a private screening.
Availability: Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm. December 15th – January 11th.
Contact us: [email protected] for a full offering of catering, bar and rental options.
Joel McHale is coming to Arlington.
The actor and comedian, best known for hosting The Soup on E! and for his starring role on Community, is performing four stand-up comedy shows at the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) this coming Friday and Saturday.
McHale, who also recently starred on CBS’s The Great Indoors and Fox’s The X-Files reboot, spoke with ARLnow.com for our 26 Square Miles podcast on Wednesday. He talked about hosting the 2014 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, told us what we can expect at his upcoming stand-up shows, and gave a candid answer about why The Soup was cancelled and whether it is in line for a revival.
It’s going to be a star-studded fall and winter on Columbia Pike as the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse is continuing to add boldfaced names to its standup comedy schedule.
As previously reported, Aasif Mandvi from the Daily Show will perform this coming Friday and Saturday, trying out new material and showing the audience “how the sausage is made.” He joins a fall lineup that includes Rhys Darby, Pauly Shore and Steve-O.
The recently-announced additions to the schedule include:
- Shawn Wayans of Scary Movie and In Living Color (Nov. 10-11)
- Joel McHale of The Soup and Community (Nov. 17-18)
- Darrell Hammond from Saturday Night Live (Jan. 5-6)
- Brian Posehn of The Five Year Engagement and Netflix specials (Jan. 18-20)
- Jay Mohr of Saturday Night Live (Jan. 25-27)
- Steve Rannazzisi of The League (Feb. 9-10)
- Michael Ian Black of Wet Hot American Summer (March 2-3)
The Arlington League of Women Voters is hosting a free screening of a new Zach Galifianakis film.
Better known for comedies like The Hangover and The Campaign, Galifianakis tackled the serious topic of gerrymandering and money in politics in his new film, “Democracy for Sale.”
The League is sponsoring the film’s screening at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) on Wednesday, Sept. 27.
More from an email from LWV:
A border and barbeque aren’t the only things Virginia and North Carolina have in common. The two states also have some of the most gerrymandered districts in the country. Cozy relationships between regulators and industry are another commonality. A new film called Democracy for Sale featuring NC native and comedian Zach Galifianakis puts a spotlight on the ways big money political interests have influenced the drawing of district lines and led to a lack of environmental protection and tax cuts for the upper class and corporations, education cuts, gerrymandering, and laws designed to decrease voter turnout.
After a successful tour of Democracy for Sale in North Carolina, we’re excited to bring the film to Virginia on a statewide tour beginning on September 19th. The showings are presented by the Virginia Civic Engagement Table in partnership with local organizations throughout the state. Each screening event will be followed by a Q&A and discussion with local leaders.
While the film focuses on NC as a case study, the parallels to Virginia are innumerable. We hope these screenings will shed light on the similarities and show audiences how to get involved in demanding reform.
Come and bring your friends!
Photo via League of Women Voters
With fall just around the corner, the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) has added some big names to its live comedy lineup.
On Friday, September 22 and Saturday, September 23, Aasif Mandvi will perform a “New Material Night,” with each show ending in a question-and-answer session. Mandvi was a correspondent on Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and also wrote, produced and starred in “The Brink” on HBO.
And on December 1 and 2, Rhys Darby of the BBC and HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords” comedy will perform his own standup show. Darby, who has also produced mockumentaries and appeared on TV shows like “Modern Family,” “How I Met Your Mother” and the Late Show with David Letterman, as well as movies.
Photo via Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse
The host of the CNN show “United Shades of America” is known for exploring tough subjects. In two seasons of “United Shades,“ Bell has spent time with members of the Ku Klux Klan and has sat down with Alexandria-based white supremacist Richard Spencer. The show was nominated for a Primetime Emmy award in 2016.
But although he’s been outspoken about his support of social causes, Bell says his comedy act is not about political affiliation.
“I feel the need to make the jokes about the people who I feel need to have jokes made about them, it could be the left, it could be the right, could be somewhere in between,” he said.
The comedian believes that too many of America’s issues have been politicized even though those issues exist no matter where someone is from. By poking fun at both sides, he believes he helps erases some of the social divides.
“We think of the north and the south and the west and the Midwest, but every town, every city, every part of this country, there are different things going on,” Bell said. He thinks that once people stop focusing on what makes us different, “we’d realize that we all want more money from our job, we all want better schools for our kids.”
In an especially polarized political climate, Bell thinks that his show can be a place for people to unwind. He says his visits to places with histories of racism often turn out to be the best shows, because the audience members need the break more than anyone else.
The author of the book “The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6′ 4″, African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian,” released early this month, wants people to leave his show willing to engage with those with different perspectives.
“We are not as strong in our communities as we think we are, we need to get to know our neighbors,” Bell said. “We need to get to know the people two streets over, we need to get to know people outside of neighborhoods.”
And although it can be uncomfortable, he believes it’s an important learning experience.
“Awkward can often lead to a better place, a smarter place and a more joyful and more informed place,” Bell said. “That’s what I’m encouraging people to do, lean into the awkward.”
Bell will perform two shows at the Drafthouse on Friday, an early show at 7:30 p.m. that is now sold out and a late show at 10 p.m. Tickets are $35 for general admission, $63 for general admission and a book.
It’s expected to start Sept. 7-9 with comedy legend Jon Lovitz. Later that month, Pauly Shore will be performing a “one-nighter” on Sept. 24. Another former MTV personality, “Jackass” star Steve-O, will be in town Oct. 19-22. And comic/actor Tom Arnold will perform his standup act on Nov. 3 and 4.
In addition to the comedy, actor Val Kilmer will be at the Drafthouse on Oct. 6 and 7 for a special screening of his one-man play about Mark Twain, plus a question-and-answer session after the film.
This summer’s comedy lineup includes “Super Troopers” star, director and co-writer Jay Chandrasekhar this weekend and W. Kamau Bell next weekend, followed by Chris Gethard, Gary Gulman, Kevin Barnett, Alex Moffat, Jade Catta-Preta, and Piff the Magic Dragon.
Photo via Arlington Cinema Drafthouse
The proprietor of a food truck that would park near the now-closed Food Star grocery store is set to take over the former Green Room next to the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse.
The truck, Tortas Y Tacos La Chiquita, sold Mexican food like tacos, quesadillas and tortas from the parking lot at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive.
Owner David Villalobos said on the eatery’s official Facebook page that their new digs at 2911 Columbia Pike will be open in the first or second week of June. He also said that customers can expect “new cakes and tacos” after the grand opening.
The restaurant replaces “The Green Room,” which hosted stand-up comedy and other events adjacent to the main theater. It closed earlier this year as owner Greg Godbout looked for a new tenant.
Homeless Population on the Rise in Arlington — “Most jurisdictions saw declines in homelessness from 2016, though the population… increased by 33 percent in Arlington County. Kathleen Sibert, the president and chief executive of the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, noted that because Arlington has a relatively small homeless population, modest fluctuations can create dramatic-looking percentage increases or decreases.” [Washington Post]
More on New Rosslyn McDonald’s — The new state-of-the-art McDonald’s in Rosslyn has some food offerings not available elsewhere in D.C. It has an in-house bakery that serves fresh pastries; the other closest McDonald’s with a bakery is in New York City. Also, the restaurant will soon offer two special ice cream sundaes: turtle brownie and strawberry shortcake. [Rosslyn BID]
County Seeks Volunteers for ‘BioBlitz’ — “Arlington County is seeking dedicated volunteers to support its May 20 ‘BioBlitz,’ a quick-but-intense wilderness exploration that will produce a catalog of our natural holdings spotted within a 24-hour window. Think of it as a snapshot of the common-to-rare wildlife that can be found hiding in plain sight within our borders.” [Arlington County]
Drafthouse Continues to Critique Kennedy Center — Arlington Cinema Drafthouse owner Greg Godbout has penned another letter to customers that makes the case for why the Kennedy Center is competing unfairly for comedy acts. The letter also accuses the center of “lying” and a “cover up” after Godbout went public with his initial criticism. [Drafthouse Comedy]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
The iconic local business at 2903 Columbia Pike is about to shift to playing movies on a first-run basis, meaning it has quicker access to films. Owner Greg Godbout has said previously that showing mainstream movies several months after the initial release has hurt business given the rise of video on-demand services.
But to show first-run films, the Drafthouse will need to increase its ticket prices to meet the requirements of its film distributors. In an email sent to customers Tuesday, Godbout said tickets will now cost $8 for matinee screenings, and for students and other discounted groups like children and seniors, and $10 for screenings after 6 p.m.
The Drafthouse will also no longer offer $2 discount films on Mondays and Tuesdays. Instead, Mondays will be a “discount day,” with $8 evening showings, while Tuesdays will be the full $10 price.
“While this is a low price considering the average ticket prices in our area ($12 – $16), it is still a significant increase for our customers,” Godbout wrote. “By agreeing to the studio’s terms on pricing we will get access to films earlier than normal. We are doing this because the ‘Second Run; market has vanished — and we are struggling to compete with streaming at home released, before we get access to films.”
But the cinema will also receive several upgrades. The outside marquee will be revamped at some point in the future, while “The Green Room” — adjacent to the cinema entrance — has been closed to make way for a soon-to-be-announced new tenant. A new food menu will also be introduced, as well as some new furniture over time.
In the email, Godbout also criticized the Kennedy Center for establishing itself as a “commercial entertainment entity and local competitor” that now has stand-up comics. He said the center’s “unfair advantage” of being underwritten by federal taxes will cost the Drafthouse at least $150,000 in revenue this year.
More from Godbout on competition with the Kennedy Center, after the jump.
A record number of people turned out for last night’s Democratic Party straw poll, where County Board candidate Erik Gutshall and School Board candidate Monique O’Grady were some of the victors.
Hosted at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse by Del. Alfonso Lopez (D), more than 120 people cast ballots for Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board, Arlington School Board, lieutenant governor and governor. The attendance set a record for the event, now in its third year.
Lopez said the event raised around $12,500 from ticket sales, which he said will be funneled to Democratic candidates in other House of Delegates races across the commonwealth. Lopez added that getting people excited about the upcoming races was a big point of emphasis, as opposed to focusing purely on the straw poll results from a limited voter pool.
“I think what’s wonderful about it is people are so fired up,” he said in an interview. “They’re coming into the room fired up, excited about the campaigns, they’re excited about the candidacies, they’re excited about their friends running for office.”
Gutshall won the County Board poll with 38 percent of the vote, ahead of Vivek Patil with 30 percent, Peter Fallon with 22 percent and Kim Klingler with 10 percent.
Gutshall, who won the straw poll last year in his unsuccessful bid for a County Board seat, said creative thinking is required to solve problems like school overcrowding and housing affordability.
“We’ve got a wonderful county here that I’m proud to be a part of,” he said. “But we can’t stay the same.”
In her remarks, O’Grady cited her “experience keeping our school system strong,” as well as being co-chair of last year’s successful $138.83 million school bond campaign.
O’Grady won the School Board straw poll with 46 percent of the vote, ahead of incumbent James Lander with 36 percent and Maura McMahon with 18 percent.
In the statewide races, current Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam won the straw poll for the governor’s race against former Rep. Tom Perriello with 67.5 percent of the vote. Speaking on Northam’s behalf, state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) said Northam is a “fighter for our progressive values” and has advocated tirelessly for women, children and ethnic minorities.
“We can count on Ralph to be with us as the 73rd governor of Virginia,” Ebbin said.
Justin Fairfax took victory in the straw poll for lieutenant governor with 64 percent of the vote, ahead of Susan Platt with 20 percent and Gene Rossi with 16 percent. County Board member Christian Dorsey, who spoke on Fairfax’s behalf, praised his grueling campaign schedule and his long-term view on solving problems.
“The question is, who has the skill and the will and will fight for you?” Dorsey said. “In this regard, I am so impressed with Justin Fairfax.”
The Arlington County Democratic Committee holds its caucus for County Board nominee and School Board endorsement on May 9, 11 and 13. Statewide primary elections will be held on June 13.
The Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) will shift to an art-house movie model and away from showing mainstream films several months after their initial release.
The change will be formally announced in an email to customers this afternoon, Drafthouse owner Greg Godbout said.
The announcement comes three weeks after the Drafthouse began surveying customers on proposed changes to the theater’s business model, floating the idea of showing first-run movies during the summer, at a time when live comedy audiences — the Drafthouse’s bread and butter — are down.
Otherwise, when comedy acts and special events are not booked, the Drafthouse has been showing “sub-run” movies, which are movies that have been playing at the multiplexes for several months and which are, typically, close to being released to home viewers via Video on Demand.
Earlier VOD release dates have been cutting into the audience for sub-run movies, Godbout said, so he was thinking of showing blockbuster movies for a week at a time over the summer — a model many other single-screen theaters adopt (studio rules prohibit showing multiple first-run films on the same screen).
The feedback from customers, however, pointed him to indie and art-house style films rather than the typical big-budget mainstream popcorn flick.
Starting with certain movies in January, until the change is complete in May, the Drafthouse will begin showing sub-run art-house films in winter, spring and fall, while the Drafthouse continues to focus on hosting big-name national comedy acts on weekends. Then, in the summer, the Drafthouse will switch to a three week cycle of two weeks of first-run art-house and indie films and one week of older art-house films or film festivals.
The theater will continue to offer family-friendly movies and entertainment, particularly during matinee times, but the $2 discount movies on Monday and Tuesday nights will either go away completely or the price will be raised, said Godbout.
Another change in the works: the replacement of the Drafthouse’s aging seats with new office chairs.
At the Drafthouse’s new D.C. location, meanwhile, more changes: local and national standup comedy acts will continue to perform, but there will be a new focus on hosting Esports competitions — live videogame tournaments, which are gaining in popularity.
The full letter from Godbout, after the jump.
The Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, at 2903 Columbia Pike, sent an email to customers on Sunday night, seeking feedback on a proposal that would change the way it books entertainment options.
Currently, the Drafthouse hosts national comedy acts, periodic special events and “sub-run” movies year-round.
Historically, sub-run movies are movies that have been out a few months but are not yet on home video or on-demand. But that has been changing — now such movies make it to on-demand and home video faster, which has led to a slump in the sub-run movie model, says Drafthouse owner Greg Godbout.
Godbout, who runs the venue with his wife Colleen, said the business of showing sub-run movies for discounted prices has been in decline for years, with fewer people finding a reason to pay to go out to a movie that they can just watch at home.
“The studios have no interest in keeping the sub-run model alive,” he said. “This has been something that has been trending for some time and we now have to do something about it.”
The proposal, as presented to customers, would bring first-run movies to the Drafthouse, but only for part of the year. In the summer, when comedy attendance is down, the Drafthouse would exclusively show new Hollywood releases. The rest of the year, the same mix of comedy, events and sub-run movies would return.
Studio rules dictate that the Drafthouse can’t show new releases and other entertainment on the same screen or stage. So if the change were to be made the Drafthouse would, during the summer, follow roughly the same model as the Uptown Theater in D.C., showing one first-run movie exclusively for a couple of weeks before moving on to another.
“As we make this decision, it’s a significant change — trying to figure out how we change our model to fit the movie industry, so we can continue to do movies,” said Godbout. “We’ve had so many internal discussions about this, but we’ve never opened it up and said, ‘hey customers, what do you think about this?'”
He said the response to his email has been overwhelming: less than 24 hours after he sent it Sunday night, more than 1,600 people had already filled out a survey that he linked to in the email.
“We’re so fortunate, we have a very passionate fan base,” Godbout said. “This is the best type of market research you can imagine. People have also been emailing privately, I can barely keep up with it.”
Godbout said a final decision needs to be made by February, to give the Drafthouse enough time to book movies in advance for the summer. The decision, he hinted, may be different than what was proposed in the email, in response to feedback.
“That proposal, while still in tact, is changing significantly based on responses,” he said. “People are saying, remain unique, don’t be like everything else.”
But change is likely either way.
“When you run a small business, nothing is permanent, you have to adapt,” said Godbout.
The change took on a bit more urgency this year because so-called “disposable income venues” — entertainment venues, restaurants, etc. — in the area are experiencing a downturn that Godbout attributed to election anxiety.
Despite that, the Drafthouse is investing in its future with planned maintenance to its neon “ARLINGTON” sign and the replacement of its more worn-out chairs.
Godbout said certain things about the Drafthouse, which he and Colleen first took over in 2005, are not changing. The new chairs, for instance, will still be office chairs. And the shows will go on.
“We’re not shutting our doors,” he said. “This will still be the comfortable place to come to enjoy world class entertainment.”
The full email, after the jump.
Flickr pool photo by Brian MKA