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
You know comedian David Koechner as “Champ” from Anchorman, but you might not know that in addition to his film and TV work he still travels the world performing standup comedy.
David is in Arlington this weekend, performing a total of five shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse on Columbia Pike. Tickets are $25 and are still available online.
We talked with David about his roles in Anchorman, Waiting, Thank You for Smoking and The Office, and also discussed whether he plans to see any the sights around Arlington during his visit. Taking advantage of being in the D.C. area, David weighed in on some of the issues he’s passionate about as well.
This week’s sponsor is Crystal City. Take advantage of the nice September weather and check out Crystal City’s last two Wine in the Waterpark events of the season this coming Friday and next Friday.
Photo courtesy Collin O’Brien
Jon Lovitz is set to take the stage at Arlington Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) from Friday, Sept. 16., to Sunday, Sept. 18. He has Friday and Saturday shows at 10 p.m., as well as Saturday and Sunday performances at 7 p.m.
Lovitz, who also voiced the film reviewer in the animated TV show, “The Critic,” is a “versatile comedic actor instantly recognizable for his distinctive voice, acerbic wit, pear-shaped body, and hangdog eyes,” according to Arlington Drafthouse’s website.
Tickets are $30.
Photo via Flickr/Phil Konstantin
Saturday Night Live star Darrell Hammond will be performing live stand-up comedy in Arlington over Labor Day weekend.
Hammond, who had the longest tenure of any SNL cast member, was noted for his impressions of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Sean Connery and, most recently, Donald Trump. Since 2014, he has been SNL’s announcer. Last year he played Colonel Sanders for a KFC ad campaign.
Hammond is performing at the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) on Friday, Sept. 2 and Saturday, Sept. 3. There are two show times per day: 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tickets are $32.
Ben Bailey, formerly the host of Discovery Channel’s “Cash Cab” and NBC’s “Who’s Still Standing,” now makes a living saying funny things onstage. Bailey has also appeared on such television shows as “30 Rock,” “Mad TV” and “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.”
The host-turned-comedian is also apparently a talented impersonator:
Bailey will perform one show on Friday, July 15 and two shows on Saturday, July 16. Tickets are $25.
Photo via Facebook / Ben Bailey
If you typed that into a search engine, we have a simple answer: pretty much anywhere that serves beer and has a TV. It’s a safe bet that if you walk into any bar in Arlington County at 6:30 p.m. Sunday — the time that the Super Bowl festivities are scheduled to start — the big game will be on.
There are, however, a couple of options in Arlington for those who are looking for a more unique Super Bowl experience.
“Mad Rose graciously hosted a subset of fans during Snowzilla and would love to welcome us back!” the group wrote on its website. “They will feature happy hour food and drink specials and the famous blue Panthers Punch shot!”
Mad Rose will also be hosting Broncos fans, but in a different wing of the bar.
There is no official Denver Broncos gathering in Arlington that we’re aware of — the big Broncos events are both in the District — however, if you’re a fan of either team and want to watch the game on the biggest possible screen, the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) has an event for you.
The Drafthouse’s Super Bowl viewing event is free and begins at 4:30 p.m.
“We will be offering regular table side service offering a full restaurant menu with full bar service,” the Drafthouse said on its website. “And of course our huge digital sports screen!”
A Donald Trump impersonator will debate a Bernie Sanders impersonator at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) next month.
Trump, played by comedian Anthony Atamanuik, and Sanders, played by comedian James Adomian, will pretend to butt heads over taxes, immigration and which candidate has the weirdest hairdo.
Though the debate is improvised, it’s peppered with each candidate’s mannerisms. Trump, of course, utters “yuge” and purses his lips while Sanders gesticulates wildly and mumbles.
The faux candidates take the stage on Feb. 18 at 8 p.m., and tickets are $20.
However, the lineup for early 2016 is looking similarly impressive.
It includes writer, producer and actor Tom Arnold, who’s scheduled to perform four shows during the second weekend of April. He’s most recently known for hosting CMT’s “My Big Redneck” show franchise. Arnold as also appeared alongside Robin Williams, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dustin Hoffman in films including “Nine Months,” “True Lies” and “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.”
Other notable comedians — all of whom have appeared on Comedy Central — coming to the Drafthouse over the news few months are:
- Greg Fitzsimmons from “The Howard Stern Show” and “Louie” — Feb. 5-6
- Sarah Tiana from “Reno 911!” — Feb. 19-20
- Tone Bell from “Bad Judge” and “Whitney” — March 11-12
- Carlos Mencia from “The Heartbreak Kid” and “Mind of Mencia” — March 31-April 2
- Nick Di Paolo from “The Chris Rock Show” (writer) and “The Sopranos” — April 29-30
Tickets for all the comedy shows are now available online.
SNL cast member Pete Davidson is performing at the Drafthouse this weekend, but tickets are sold out.
A man dressed as a green dragon will take the stage with a Chihuahua at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) next month.
That man is Piff the Magic Dragon and the Chihuahua is Mr. Piffles, his trusty sidekick. Together, the duo’s oddball blend of comedy and stage magic propelled them to the finals in the latest season of “America’s Got Talent.”
Fresh off of a six-month stint at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Piff and Piffles will perform four shows in two nights on Friday, Jan. 1 and Saturday, Jan. 2, with performances at 7:00 and 10:00 p.m. each night. Tickets are $20.
Piff — who goes by the name John van der Put out of the costume — said he’s ready to show his audiences things they’ve likely never seen.
“Ever wanted to see a chihuahua escape from a straitjacket?” Piff said via e-mail. “Come to the show and cross that off the bucket list.”
Piff added that he’ll showcase some new tricks during his Arlington show, such as teaching his dog, Mr. Piffles, “how to punch a shark in the nose” and something from “the golden age of magic dragons.”
Photo by Virginia Sherwood/NBC
Coast Guard Drill Today — The U.S Coast Guard is scheduled to conduct a drill in the Potomac between the 14th Street Bridge and the Memorial Bridge today, from noon to 2:30 p.m. Drill participants “will be using orange Coast Guard boats with flashing blue lights, simulating a fixed security zone around a simulated high value asset. There will be no live fire or blanks used during this training; this is only a tactics and maneuvering drill.”
Metro PD Looking for Suspicious Men — Metro Transit PD and other local police agencies are on the lookout for four men seen walking and acting suspiciously around the Pentagon Metro Station and the Pentagon reservation on Sunday. Investigators would like to determine the identity of the individuals in question. Update: police say the men have been found and are not suspected of criminal activity. [Twitter]
Drafthouse to Open D.C. Venue — The Arlington Cinema Drafthouse is branching out from Columbia Pike. The owners of the iconic theater have announced plans for an “arts space committed to comedy and our community” called the Drafthouse Comedy Theater at 1100 13th Street NW in downtown D.C. The venue is expected to open as soon as January. [Borderstan]
Millennials to Impact Local Housing Market — In Arlington, home ownership is unaffordable for most of the Millennial generation, but that doesn’t mean that younger people want to stay in rental apartments and group homes forever. Fully 91 percent of Millennials eventually want to own a home, higher than the rate for the overall population, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors. [InsideNova]
Ballston As Arlington’s Downtown? — Local developer John Shooshan says an influx of tech companies and educational institutions, along with the just-approved redevelopment of Ballston Common Mall, will transform the Ballston community. “We think Ballston’s going to become the new downtown of Arlington,” Shooshan said. [Bisnow]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The film, funded by Arlington County and produced by Vancouver-based Modacity, will highlight “everyday Arlington citizens who use a bicycle as means of commuting and/or recreation.” More than 50 people answered a casting call for the film earlier this year.
Via Twitter, Arlington County Commuter Services Bureau Chief Chris Hamilton called the premiere “THE first hot film event of the season.”
This isn’t the only bike film recently commissioned by the county. In October 2013 the Drafthouse hosted a premiere for “BikeSwell,” a documentary “chronicling Arlington’s transformation into a more bike-friendly community.”
What do jello, lava, Britney Spears and a bunch of words from Urban Dictionary have in common?
They are all words that audience members may shout out during a Porkchop Volcano improv show at the Arlington Drafthouse. Jon Milstein, Seth Alcorn, Conor O’Rourke and Matt Stephan, the four members of the Arlington-based troupe, then have to take these suggestions and turn each into a scene or character, all in the hopes of a good laugh from the audience.
“My favorite part of improv is the thrill, is the rush of a real audience you’ve never met before, you don’t know them, blowing them away, and having them laugh, a good and hearted, genuine laughter,” Milstein said.
While their group does not perform any single “typical” show, each performance will consist of a combination of guessing or scene improv games. The show starts at 9 p.m. in the Arlington Drafthouse’s Green Room — its side bar — and begins with a game that will interact with the audience.
“It’s usually packed by the end of the first game,” Stephan said.
By the time the game is done, the members will also know what the audience will like, and whether their suggestions will be more along the lines of kittens or sex positions, Alcorn said.
A favorite finale is “Dating Game,” where the troupe pulls an audience member up to play a bachelorette or a bachelor hoping to find his or her perfect match. The catch is that each of three improv members involved in the game are in characters suggested by the audience and the bachelor(ette) has to guess what the character is. O’Rourke plays host.
“It’s a high risk, high reward game,” Stephan said. “If we can hit a home run with that one, that’s been a good day.”
Suggestions can get wild. One of the members once had to play someone missing a chunk of his body after a tragic swordfish accident. Ideas also range from family friendly to adult only and even uncomfortable.
“I had a couple of friends who would basically go on Urban Dictionary and the come to the show,” Alcorn said. “So they would shout out all kinds of very disgusting sex acts that nobody actually performs, and then I would have to then explain to the audience what they meant and then work it into a scene.”
The four guys have a couple tricks up their sleeves, though, as they don’t want to go for the gross out, which gets awkward, Stephan said. Even when audience members suggested something dirty, the performers could take it in a different direction that made it cleaner.
“Being able to take an inappropriate or a cliche suggestion and then do something with it that they weren’t expecting, but still works with the suggestion, is pretty great,” Alcorn said.
One example is “Twilight,” a series that both Alcorn and Milstein despise, Alcorn said. It turned into a scene of Milstein playing a human who wanted to be a vampire and Alcorn playing a very reluctant vampire.
“It was just Jon throwing himself at me saying, ‘I want to feel the night rushing through my veins, bite me,'” Alcorn said.
The group tries to keep the suggestions new and challenging, O’Rourke said. To prevent common suggestions, which can happen when they ask for B-list celebrities, the members will use one of the common ones as an example. Even with common suggestions the group can work together to take a boring suggestion and create a new, fun angle.
“What’s always a lot of fun is taking a suggestion, but not taking it too literally, and jumping off and doing something weird with it. Because just because you get the suggestion vampire does not mean you have to come out as a vampire,” O’Rourke said.
The chemistry the group may be its biggest strength, they said. The four men can create a funny scene even if they are not sure where the other is going right away.
Milstein and Alcorn were doing a scene with tweezers last week. It started out with Alcorn giving Milstein a haircut with tweezers.
“And then he came to me with with a bad tooth and I was going to pull it out with tweezers,” Alcorn said. “And the third time we came around in this game, he didn’t say anything, but I knew I was going to do surgery and he put his hand on his appendix, and that was it.”
Once they formed the group, and spitballed until they randomly came up with the name “Porkchop Volcano,” the troupe needed a place to perform. Milstein was friends with the owner of Arlington Drafthouse who offered them two Saturdays. They now are performing up to four shows a month at the bar.
“The Drafthouse is our place,” O’Rourke said. “It’s our home.
Comedian and writer Michael Ian Black is scheduled to perform live stand-up at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) later this month.
Black began his comedic career co-founding and performing in The State, a sketch-comedy group at NYU which was later featured on MTV. He’s since had roles in numerous TV series, along with movies like Ed, Wet Hot American Summer and This Is 40.
Black’s stand-up shows will take place the Friday, July 24 at 7:30 and 10:15 p.m. and Saturday, July 25 at 7:00 and 10:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now for $25 and can be purchased at arlingtondrafthouse.com.
In addition to releasing his own comedy CDs “I Am a Wonderful Man” (2007) and “Very Famous,” (2011) Black has co-written and starred in a number of comedy sketches for both film and television.
According to the Drafthouse’s event page, “Black is currently co-host of a popular podcast with Tom Cavanagh, entitled ‘Mike and Tom Eat Snacks,’ and of a new podcast with Michael Showalter, ‘Topics.'” He’s also had roles this year on the Comedy Central series Inside Amy Schumer and Another Period, and the soon-to-be-released Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.
South African comedian Trevor Noah will succeed Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show, and next week he’s coming to Arlington.
Noah, 31, is scheduled to perform seven shows at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse starting Thursday, April 9. He’s set to perform two shows apiece on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and one show on Sunday, April 12. As of this morning, all of the shows are sold out, according to the Drafthouse’s website.
Noah has been a Daily Show correspondent for two months on the show, but according to his biography on the Drafthouse’s website, he’s performed sold out shows across the globe, discussing everything from his upbringing in South Africa during Apartheid to the American “sports industrial complex.” It was announced this morning that Noah has been tapped as the Daily Show’s new host.
Noah is currently wrapping up a tour of the Middle East. He performs in Oman — the country bordering Saudi Arabia and Yemen — tomorrow.