Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is finally making its Crystal City premiere next week.
The upscale theater chain announced today (Wednesday) that it’s opening its Crystal City location on Monday, October 24. The theater first revealed its move to Arlington more than five years ago.
The nearly 50,000-square-foot complex at 1660 Crystal Drive is framed by an exterior marquee and a lit-up vertical sign. Inside, it has 9 theaters and 915 seats, all equipped with swivel tables, power recliners, and server call buttons. There’s one particular large theater called “The Big Show,” essentially a large format screen with lots of speakers.
The Crystal City location is also aviation-themed, taking its cue from the theater’s proximity to Reagan National Airport.
“Each Alamo Drafthouse location has a unique interior theme, and the D.C. team was inspired by the theater’s proximity to the historic Washington National Airport when designing Alamo Drafthouse Crystal City,” says a press release. “From aviation design elements throughout the lobby and hallways, to a horde of snakes attacking a plane at the entrance to The Big Show, the theme continues throughout the building and completely takes flight in the theater’s specialty bar, Departures.”
The 50-person second-floor, airport-themed bar overlooking Crystal Drive “evokes the feeling of a vintage lounge found within an airport gate.”
Departures’ blue and white coloring, wallpaper, and design of the round booths adjacent to the bar itself are intended “to transport guests back to the heyday of air travel.” It also will have a menu full of “signature aviation-themed cocktails.”
Flight-inspired movie posters and props decorate the entire theater as well.
Alamo Drafthouse is known for its special programming and events and the Crystal City location is planning its own assortment, including brunch screenings and “Terror Tuesdays.”
“Terror Tuesday uncovers an eclectic mix of horror and strange discoveries from the genre fringes,” notes the release.
The theater in Crystal City has been a long time coming. It was initially supposed to debut in the spring, but supply chain challenges and “construction feasibility” pushed the opening back about six months. ARLnow first reported over the summer that the plan was to open in October.
This will mark the fourth Alamo Drafthouse in the region, with other locations in D.C., Ashburn, and Woodbridge.
“After more than five plus years of looking for the right location and another five plus years of development, we are happy [to] be opening the doors to our part of the transformation of Crystal City and National Landing as a whole,” wrote co-owners Anthony Coco and Joseph Edwards in the press release.
“The theater’s theme, lobby bar Departures, and The Big Show spaces have come together to create something special and unique to this location, the co-owners continued. “Add on the Alamo Drafthouse’s top-of-the-line audio/visual presentation, unique programming, and unparalleled food and beverage service, and the Crystal City theater will provide an unrivaled out-of-home experience that we can’t wait to deliver to our guests.”
The first screening is set for 4:30 p.m. on Monday. It will be “Black Adam,” a superhero movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
The original Top Gun has the top billing for the return of Rosslyn’s fall film Fridays.
For the third straight year, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID) is hosting a fall film series in Gateway Park.
On the remaining Fridays in October, Rosslyn BID will be screening a movie in the county park along Langston Blvd. There will also be food trucks, lawn games, a cash bar, and other movie-themed activities.
The line-up for the rest of the month:
- Oct. 14 — Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022)
- Oct. 21 — Top Gun (1986)
- Oct. 28 — Scooby-Doo (2002)
This past Friday (Oct. 7), the 1978 musical Grease, starring the late Olivia Newton-John, was shown.
Movies will begin shortly after sundown, around 7 p.m., “to ensure the perfect lighting for the show!” reads the website. Given the falling nighttime temperatures, warm apparel is advised.
The decision to do a fall film series again was due to “the attendance levels and interest in our summer series,” a Rosslyn BID spokesperson told ARLnow. The movies were curated based on popularity and genre. The BID wanted to do one sing-along, one family film, one throwback, and one “howl-o-ween” feature.
“From there, we put out a survey to the BID’s entire staff to help us narrow down our choices,” the spokesperson said.
There’s also a topical angle to their choices. Top Gun was chosen partially based on the huge success of the sequel that just came out this past summer. Minions: The Rise of Gru has made nearly a billion dollars at the box office worldwide since it was first released in July.
“We know minions attract a large family crowd and we can’t wait for a major evening of family fun,” the spokesperson said.
The final film in the series — 2002’s Scooby-Doo — will coincide with the BID’s “Howl-o-ween” event at Gateway Park’s interim dog park. That event will feature dog-friendly activities, treats, and a pet costume contest. The winner will be announced at the movie screening.
Rosslyn BID has hosted movies in Gateway Park for at least a decade, including during the summer. The Columbia Pike Partnership and the National Landing BID have also held outdoor film screenings, mostly during warmer weather months; both told ARLnow they are not planning any movies this fall.
The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Crystal City is currently hiring and wrapping up construction as it prepares for its premiere later this year.
In a recent update, the upscale theater chain posted construction photos and new details about its upcoming opening at 1660 Crystal Drive. The plan is to open “this fall,” the post said. ARLnow reported the hope was October.
There were also some specifics in regard to the look, feel, and aesthetic of the nine-screen, 50,000-square-foot complex.
“The cinema’s front facade will boast a beautiful marquee, reminiscent of the grand movie palaces of old, which will be accompanied by a vibrant vertical Alamo sign further up the building,” reads the post.
A collection of vintage posters will line the staircase and escalator on the way to the second floor, where there will be the box office and a 50-person bar “with a soon-to-be-announced theme and overlooking Crystal [Drive].” The bar will have signature cocktails, local beers, appetizers, and a happy hour. Adjacent to the bar, there’s set to be a rooftop patio as well.
The theaters will range from 50 to 237 seats, each with 4K laser projectors, power recliners, swivel tables, and server call buttons. The “Big Show” theater will feature a particularly large screen and lots of speakers.
“A peek behind the curtain in our Big Show auditorium, featuring a 66-foot wide PLF screen and over 70 (!!) speakers supporting an immersive Dolby Atmos surround sound experience,” says the update.
The theater is also looking to hire a number of positions, including projectionists, bartenders, servers, box office concierge, and a marketing manager.
The Texas-based theater chain first announced it was moving into Crystal City more than five years ago. Its location at 1660 Crystal Drive is next to a CVS, an Amazon Fresh and Tacombi Taqueria — and a few blocks from the future, 25,000-employee Amazon HQ2.
The theater was originally supposed to open this past spring, but that got pushed to the fall due to supply chain and construction delays.
Franchisee Cojeaux Cinemas will operate the Crystal City location, as is the case with the other four Alamo Drafthouses in D.C. and Virginia.
After a rough two years due to the pandemic, it appears that the moviegoing industry is rebounding somewhat after a good summer. That includes Alamo Drafthouse, which filed for bankruptcy early last year.
The new Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Crystal City is hoping to open in October.
The Texas-based movie theater chain expects to complete construction on its nine-screen, 50,000-square-foot complex at 1660 Crystal Drive by late September, co-owner Joseph Edwards tells ARLnow, meaning it could open to the public in October.
Franchisee Cojeaux Cinemas will operate this location, as is the case with the other Alamo Drafthouses in Virginia and D.C.
The October debut is a bit of a push from its original timeline. Last year, it was initially hoped the movie theater would open by late spring. Edwards told ARLnow back in February that supply chain issues and “construction feasibility” were the cause of the several-month delay.
At the moment, the exterior of 1660 Crystal Drive remains rather blank, but signage is currently being manufactured, Edwards says. Interior construction, though, is progressing.
“The inside is moving along nicely and starting to look like an Alamo Drafthouse. We have risers ready and drapes installed in the auditoriums,” he says. “We will begin installing seats, screens and projectors in early July then as the kitchen continues to take shape through July, equipment will begin delivering in August.”
Many of the features at the Crystal City theater are already installed in the D.C. locations. That includes Barco Laser projectors, a QSC sound system, and what’s being deemed the “Big Show” — a large format auditorium with a 66 foot screen and more than 70 speakers.
A few other items have been updated since the theater chain first announced its expansion into Arlington last year, says Edwards. There will be a rollout of new recliners complete with a swivel table (as opposed to fixed) and server call buttons.
The theater recently applied for a state permit in order to serve alcohol at a themed bar, complete with cocktails, wine, and local craft beers on tap. The bar’s exact concept has yet to be announced, however.
Cojeaux Cinemas had been looking to bring an Alamo Drafthouse to Arlington for about a decade before signing on the dotted line with property owner JBG Smith in 2017. The theater is opening in a newly-renovated retail plaza known as Central District, which also includes a Solidcore, a CVS, and a now-confirmed Amazon Fresh. It’s 3-4 blocks from the future, 25,000-employee Amazon HQ2.
The Crystal City location is one of four Alamo Drafthouses that are set to open in various parts of the U.S. over the next 18 months. It will be the third in Northern Virginia.
The 12th annual Columbia Pike Movie Nights is set to begin on Friday, July 8.
The free summer outdoor movie series will run run through Saturday, August 27, according to its website. Similar to previous years, a film is scheduled to be shown on Friday and another on Saturday each week. All screenings are set to begin at sunset between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., according to the Columbia Pike Partnership, formerly CPRO, which organizes the series.
The movies scheduled for Fridays are expected to be shown at next to Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street). Those set for Saturdays are expected to be shown at Penrose Square (2503 9th Road S.).
The movies scheduled are set to be shown in English with Spanish subtitles, according to a press release. All are rated at or below PG-13 and come from genres such as animation, musicals, documentary and others.
The full list of movie screenings is listed below.
- Friday, July 8: Soul
- Saturday, July 9: Ghostbusters: Afterlife
- Friday, July 15: Mulan
- Saturday, July 16: Summer of Soul
- Friday, July 22: Jungle Cruise
- Saturday, July 23: The Way I See It
- Friday, July 29: The Secret Life of Pets
- Saturday, July 30: Respect
- Friday, August 5: In The Heights
- Saturday, August 6: Spiderman: No Way Home
- Friday, August 12: Encanto
- Saturday, August 13: Minari
- Friday, August 19: The Princess & The Frog
- Saturday, August 20: Hercules
- Friday, August 26: West Side Story
- Saturday, August 27: Cruella
Amazon and the Washington Forrest Foundation are underwriting the series. The Columbia Pike Partnership is still looking for local businesses to sponsor individual movie screenings, according to its website.
Parking is free at both locations and audience members are welcome to bring their own chairs or blankets for seating. Leashed pets are also allowed, according to the event’s website. However, alcohol is prohibited.
In case of bad weather, the partnership is expected to post updates on its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, as well as the event’s website. Such updates are set to be posted at 3:30 p.m. on the day of each screening.
Rosslyn movie nights are returning to Gateway Park this summer, with a selection of voted-on fan favorites.
The Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID) is once again hosting a series of movie nights in June at Gateway Park (1300 Langston Blvd).
This year’s line-up includes the following films, which all emerged victorious through a March Madness-style bracket:
- National Treasure
- Space Jam
- Mamma Mia
This year, residents were given the opportunity to not only vote on what movies were shown, but predict what the winners would be — much like the annual tradition of submitting a bracket predicting which team will win the college basketball championship. The three most accurate brackets win a gift card to a Rosslyn restaurant.
The bracket was broken up into four categories — family, sports, romantic comedies, and D.C. area-based — with National Treasure, Space Jam, Encanto, and Mamma Mia winning its respective group.
While voting on which movies will be shown in June concluded yesterday (Thursday), residents can still vote on which will be the ultimate winner.
Championship Round of March Madness: #RosslynCinema!
You have 24 hours to vote. Vote on our Instagram Stories at https://t.co/zy4Aw58wRf! Full details on how we're picking this summer's movie lineup: https://t.co/WTYCPgAazr
— Rosslyn, Virginia (@RosslynVA) March 31, 2022
Exact dates of when each movie will be shown have not been announced yet.
Rosslyn’s movie series at Gateway Park dates back at least a decade, to 2012. After taking a year off due to the pandemic, the series returned in 2021 with an abbreviated version.
Rosslyn BID is not the only community organization that will be hosting outdoor movies this summer.
The Columbia Pike Partnership’s movie nights are also set to return for their 12th year on Saturday nights starting in July, the organization has confirmed to ARLnow. The series will run July 9 through August 27 while alternating locations between Penrose Square and Arlington Mill Community Center. The calendar of movies will be announced later this spring.
In the past, the National Landing BID and Ballston BID have also both hosted summer movie nights. Ballston BID told ARLnow that they will not be hosting movies this summer, while the National Landing BID said they don’t have details to share as of yet.
The new Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Crystal City is now aiming for a fall opening, delayed from the spring.
The Texas-based theater chain first announced that it was going to open a nine-screen, 50,000-square-foot complex at 1660 Crystal Drive in the summer. The theater will be operated by franchisee Cojeaux Cinemas, which operates other Alamo Drafthouses in Virginia and D.C.
The original intent was to open the Arlington theaters in May or June, but that’s been pushed back by at least a few months, as Variety first reported and the franchisee owner confirmed to ARLnow.
“We are more than likely looking at a late Q3 opening in Crystal City due to a variety of factors related to the supply chain and construction feasibility as the area continues to rapidly grow and evolve,” Joseph Edwards, co-owner of Cojeaux Cinemas, tells ARLnow. “Construction is progressing nicely at this time and we look forward to delivering the best possible finished product and Alamo Drafthouse experience as soon as possible.”
Details about the theater complex remain a little out of focus. Like most other Alamo Drafthouses, there will be laser projectors, large recliners with individual tables, and call buttons to request service. There will also be a themed bar, but the exact concept is not yet known.
Edwards said the company had been looking to bring an Alamo Drafthouse to Arlington for a nearly decade before finally signing a deal with property owner JBG Smith in 2017. The theater is opening in a revamped retail plaza known as Central District, which also includes a CVS, Solidcore, and — most likely — an Amazon Fresh.
This will be the third Alamo Drafthouse in Northern Virginia. It is only about six miles from a D.C. location, which opened in December.
Next to a park bench, across from Bob & Edith’s Diner on Columbia Pike, there’s a converted newspaper box with the words “Free Blockbuster,” framed by that nostalgic dark yellow movie ticket stub, spray-painted on the front.
Inside, passersby can find free movies, popcorn and candy to enjoy a movie night at home.
The Free Blockbuster box was set up by Ryan Daley, who split his childhood between Arlington and D.C. The Wakefield High School grad said he saw one in Philadelphia filled with movies for locals to take and leave. He quickly decided to set up two here in Arlington and one in D.C.
Daley chose the spot near Bob and Edith’s for the box because, in his words, “I feel like diners and movies go together.” The box has been there since last Monday, July 19.
“I wanted to do something special for the movie lovers in the area, for the ones who enjoy movies as much as I do,” said Daley, who said he is in the early stages of creating an independent movie company. “I went to several thrift stores and pawn shops in the area and hand-picked over 100 movies, all movies I thought were amazing and worth watching.”
Daley also set up a Free Blockbuster in Prospect Hill Park, near Pentagon City, a place he frequently went as a child and has fond memories of. Another is in Lincoln Park in D.C. for the same reason.
Brian Morrison set up the first Free Blockbuster box in 2019. He says there are now over 50 Free Blockbusters across the U.S. and one in Canada. The Los Angeles local and movie buff says the concept is to “take a dead space and make it into a live space.”
Morrison said he wants today’s families to have the experience of going to pick out a movie in person together, an experience he says he enjoyed in his childhood, and one that is rare in the age of streaming services, after the bankruptcy of Blockbuster.
(Out of the thousands of stores worldwide, only one Blockbuster store remains — a store in Bend, Oregon that was recently the subject of a documentary.)
The inspiration for Free Blockbuster came from a trio of observations and experiences, Morrison says. One source was his friend, a fellow movie buff who couldn’t take her large collection of movies with her on a cross-country move and was struggling to figure out what to do with them. At the same time, he noticed a local newspaper, LA Weekly, was cutting down on their print publication, leaving lots of empty newspaper dispensers around the city unused or filled with trash.
He decided to find a use for the receptacles and create a way for people to get and give movies to their neighbors — following the model of Little Free Library, a nonprofit that helps people set up free libraries across the U.S.
Morrison emphasized that the box is for borrowing movies, not taking them, saying, “we generally hope things make their way back.”
And movies are not the only items one might find in a Free Blockbuster. Some can be found filled with candy and popcorn, and sometimes gaming consoles, VCR players and VHS tapes, said Morrison.
The Free Blockbuster website sells all the supplies one would need to make a Free Blockbuster, including a logo stencil, logo stickers and Free Blockbuster box.
“Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to make a Free Blockbuster,” said Morrison.
But Daley decided to use his own supplies to build Arlington’s boxes. He drove around a few different neighborhoods and found some abandoned newspaper stands that he took home to spray-paint.
“I had to laser print the stencil myself,” he said.
Daley dubbed the boxes “Kurt’s Movie Rack,” which he said is an homage to his “favorite human, Kurt Cobain,” the late frontman of ’90s grunge band Nirvana.
Daley has been documenting the creation of his Free Blockbuster boxes and the development of his indie movie company on his Blue Tape Movies Instagram account, which already has more than 10,000 followers.
Hat tip to Chris Slatt
“Moonrise Kingdom,” “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Rushmore” and other beloved Wes Anderson films will be showing at Westpost Plaza, formerly Pentagon Row, every other week for the rest of the summer.
“Pull up a chair or blanket and join us on the plaza on Wednesday evenings for movie nights,” says an event listing. “Grab a drink (to-go drinks from our restaurants are allowed) and food from one of our restaurants, and enjoy the weird wonderful world of Wes Anderson.”
This is the first outdoor movie series at the plaza, located at 1201 S. Joyce Street. Movies will be shown on Wednesdays starting tomorrow, July 28, and running through Sept. 22.
The schedule is as follows:
- July 28, 8 p.m.: Moonrise Kingdom
- Aug. 11, 8 p.m.: The Life Aquatic
- Aug. 25, 8 p.m.: Rushmore
- Sept. 8, 7 p.m.: The Royal Tenenbaums
- Sept. 22, 7 p.m.: Fantastic Mr. Fox
Tickets are free, but attendance will be limited to 125 people per film. Ticket reservations can be made online.
Westpost asks moviegoers to bring a chair or blanket, as seating will not be provided.
Outdoor movies are returning to Columbia Pike.
The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization will be screening summer cinema from the Arlington Career Center parking lot starting this Saturday.
The group’s annual movie series, now in its 11th year, was held under the stars until the pandemic struck. Last summer, it decided to offer a drive-in movie theater experience instead, a format that the CPRO will be repeating this year.
Admission requires a donation to the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization and registration in advance. Both can be done through forthcoming links in the neighborhood’s newsletter, which is sent out every Thursday. The event is being funded in part by Amazon and the Washington Forrest Foundation.
Showtime begins at sunset, between 8 and 8:30 p.m. depending on the evening. The movies are rated between G and PG-13 and the lineup ranges from dramas to animated films, and musicals to action flicks:
- July 3, 8:30 p.m.: La Misma Luna
- July 10, 8:30 p.m.: The Addams Family
- July 17, 8:30 p.m.: The Farewell
- July 24, 8:30 p.m.: Just Mercy
- July 31, 8:30 p.m.: Hairspray
- Aug. 7, 8:15 p.m.: Gojira
- Aug. 17, 8 p.m.: A League of Their Own
- Aug. 28, 8 p.m.: Raya and the Last Dragon
Each movie will be shown in English with Spanish subtitles.
The Arlington Career Center Parking lot can be accessed by entering on S. Walter Reed Drive, according to the event page. There will be no public bathrooms available at the facility while the film is shown.
Moviegoers can arrive up to one hour early to secure a spot for their vehicles, the event page said. A Kona Ice truck will be making shaved ice treats before the movie.
Photos courtesy of CPRO
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is planning to open its Crystal City location about a year from now.
Set to be located at 1660 Crystal Drive, the nine-screen, 50,000-square-foot Alamo Drafthouse National Landing will be near a new CVS, Solidcore, and likely linked to a specialty grocery store (perhaps Amazon Fresh).
Just last week, the Texas-based movie theater chain announced it was emerging from bankruptcy and poised to open a number of new theaters, including two in the D.C-area. The Crystal City location is currently expected to open in May or June 2022, theater representatives confirm to ARLnow.
The other new theater will be in Northeast D.C.’s Edgewood neighborhood. That one is planning a November 2021 opening.
Founded in 1997, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has nearly 40 locations while marketing itself as a movie-lover’s oasis, complete with craft beers and locally-sourced snacks.
The theater in Crystal City will be operated by a franchisee, Cojeaux Cinemas. The company operates three other Alamo Drafthouse franchises in Virginia as well as the new D.C. location.
Cojeaux Cinemas has had an eye on the Arlington market for the better part of a decade, but jumped at a deal a few years ago amid an opportunity presented itself.
“We signed this deal in 2017 when JBG Smith gained control of Crystal City,” Joseph Edwards, co-owner Cojeaux Cinemas, tells ARLnow. “We had confidence in their vision and their people to transition the market by bringing tenants like us in to rebalance the overall mix of office, residential, retail and entertainment, creating a more modernized urban area that will draw from all the surrounding areas.”
Just last week, JBG Smith released an investor relations video detailing its ambitious plans for National Landing.
JBG Smith has nearly finished its portion of the work on the building that will house the movie theater, and Cojeaux Cinemas will start the interior build-out within the next couple of months, Edwards said. The theaters will all have laser projectors, large recliners with individual tables, and call buttons to request service (“quietly and seamlessly during the show”).
There will also be a themed bar with the exact concept still in development.
As the operator of other Virginia theaters, the last year has been an immense challenge, Cojeaux co-owner Anthony Coco concedes. But they are confident that folks are ready to go back to the movies.
“Having seen some fantastic box office numbers, like we saw last weekend, it is clear that movie goers are ready to get back in cinemas,” writes Coco. “And enjoy the craveable, one of a kind experience that Alamo Drafthouse provides its guests.”