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
Starting Saturday, the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) will begin its annual showing of outdoor movies.
All movies will begin around 8 p.m. or when it gets dark. Seating is limited, with patrons encouraged to bring their own chairs. In the event of inclement weather, updates will be posted on the CPRO website along with its Facebook and Twitter pages.
The Penrose Square schedule is as follows.
- June 4: Spongebob Squarepants: A Sponge Out of Water
- June 11: The Martian
- June 18: Belle
- June 25: The Fault In Our Stars
- July 2: Juno
- July 9: Fantastic Four
- July 16: The Book Thief
- July 23: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
- July 30: Moulin Rouge
- August 6: Joy
- August 13: All That Jazz
- August 20: The Devil Wears Prada
- August 27: The Princess Bride
- September 3: Spotlight
- September 10: That Sugar Film
- September 17: Water
The Arlington Mill schedule is as follows.
- August 11: Kung Fu Panda 3
- August 18: Maze Runner: Scorch Trials
- August 25: The Sandlot
- September 1: The Peanuts Movie
- September 8: Brooklyn
- September 15: He Named Me Malala
Community Garden Fundraiser Fizzles — Arlington County’s attempt to crowdfund a community garden accessible to those with disabilities has not gone so well. As of Sunday the county has only raised $465 out of the $10,000 it sought, with only five days to go in the fundraiser. The failure raises questions about local government use of crowdfunding, the Post suggests. [Washington Post]
Meeting on Career Center Changes — Some major changes could be coming to the Arlington Career Center. Arlington Public Schools will be discussing that and other South Arlington school projects at a meeting Tuesday. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Career Center, at 816 S. Walter Reed Drive. [Taylor PTA]
More on Notable Tree Planted at Fire House — A Southern Magnolia tree planted outside Fire Station No. 4 in Clarendon was recognized as a “Notable Tree” last week. The tree was planted in 1965 in memory of ACFD Capt. Archie Hughes, who died while responding to a house fire at the age of 33. [NBC Washington]
New Movie’s Arlington Connection — A new indie flick, “Green Room,” follows the travails of a fictional Arlington-based punk band. The film was written and directed by Alexandria-born filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier. [DCist]
Spotluck Launches in Crystal City — Restaurant discovery and discount app Spotluck has launched in Crystal City. Participating restaurants include Crystal City Sports Pub, Kora and Kabob Palace. [Spotluck]
Arlington’s Diversity Highlighted — The world is learning about Arlington’s diversity. The Voice of America notes that Arlington is home to more than 130 ethnic groups, particularly around Columbia Pike. [VOA]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
The Regal Ballston Common Stadium 12 is replacing all of its existing seating with new “king size” plush recliners with footrests. The company is replacing the seating one auditorium at a time and expects the entire cinema to be outfitted by the end of March.
“Our guests will soon be able to stretch out, relax and recline while watching the movie,” said Regal exec Rob Del Moro, in a statement. “Regal constantly listens to our guests and looks for ways to improve. With this new concept, these luxurious recliners have scored extremely well. Moviegoers are eager to return for another visit.”
The Ballston theater has garnered poor reviews online for its dated decor, the occasional rodent sighting and various maintenance issues. Del Moro’s statement aside, the new seats seem to be getting a mostly positive reception.
The movie theater is expected to remain open during the upcoming major renovations at the mall over the next two years.
Image courtesy Regal Entertainment Group
ACFD Battles Fire on Patrick Henry Drive — On Thursday morning Arlington County firefighters assisted in battling a two-alarm blaze at an apartment building on the 3000 block of Patrick Henry Drive, just across the border in Fairfax County. [Twitter, Twitter]
Arlington Doubling Down on Startups — Arlington Economic Development plans to use the $1.5 million in one-time additional funds it’s allocated in County Manager Mark Schwartz’s budget to target early-stage tech companies and help them lease offices between 5,000 and 20,000 square feet. [Washington Business Journal]
W-L Alum to Direct Sci-Fi Film — Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams has selected Washington-Lee High School alum Julius Onah to direct “God Particle,” a new sci-fi thriller being produced by Abrams’ production company. Onah was named one of the top 10 “Up and Up Feature Directors” in 2013. He’s also signed up to direct an upcoming Universal Pictures film, “Brilliance.” [Blackfilm.com, Indiewire, Twitter]
Local Chef Nominated for Big Award — Peter Chang, whose eponymous restaurant opened last year in the Lee-Harrison shopping center, has been nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award for “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic.” [Patch]
Shirlington Profiled by Post — As part of its “Where We Live” series, the Washington Post has profiled Arlington’s Shirlington neighborhood. Shirlington earns high marks for having a variety of walkable entertainment, dining and shopping options, and for having only six crimes of note over the course of 12 months. [Washington Post]
More on Nauck History Project — Arlington County’s Nauck Green Valley Heritage Project has already received dozens of photos in its new online photo archive. A vibrant, historically black neighborhood since before the Civil War, Nauck has been changing — some say gentrifying. “Today, we’re probably less than 32 percent African American,” noted the community’s civic association president. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
That’s the takeaway from the library’s list of top books and DVDs for 2015, which was released Thursday.
The top 10 print books in circulation last year:
1. “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins
2. “All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel” by Anthony Doerr
3. “Gray Mountain” by John Grisham
4. “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt
5. “Yes Please” by Amy Poehler
6. “The Paying Guests” by Sarah Waters
7. “Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania” by Erik Larson
8. “A Spool of Blue Thread” by Anne Tyler
9. “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee
10. “Gone Girl: A Novel” by Gillian Flynn
2. “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
5. “Despicable Me 2”
7. “House of Cards: The Complete First Season”
8. “The Wolf of Wall Street”
9. “Gone Girl”
10. “Saving Mr. Banks”
See the full list of books, eBooks and DVDs here.
Snowy Scenes in Arlington Make National TV — A number of national television outlets have used video of snowy streets and outdoor activities in Arlington during their coverage of the East Coast blizzard. [ABC News, Weather Channel]
Groundhog Day at Aurora Hills Library — The 1993 Bill Murray classic Groundhog Day will be played “over and over again” at the Aurora Hills library branch on Tuesday, Feb. 2, starting at 1 p.m. [Arlington Public Library]
APS: Please Clear Your Sidewalks — In a letter to parents, Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy urges Arlingtonians to clear sidewalks and bus stops in their neighborhood so that students can go back to school safely. APS is closed through at least Wednesday. Students have Monday off due to a regularly-scheduled grade preparation day. [Arlington Public Schools]
Photo courtesy Bryanna Lansing
The AMC movie theater in Shirlington (2772 S. Randolph Street) has reopened after extensive renovations.
The AMC Shirlington 7 closed about a month and a half ago. It reopened yesterday, showing only one movie, and will fully resume a full slate of showings on Friday.
Much like the renovated AMC theater in Courthouse, the Shirlington theater now features big, plush seats that recline. Other upgrades include:
- A redone lobby and upgraded interior
- New lobby concession stand with a soon-to-open bar called “MacGuffins”
- More hot foods, like pizza, mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers and curly fries
- Coke Freestyle soda machines
- A new theater sound system
- Bathrooms are now on the first floor
The theater will begin offering assigned seating “in a couple of weeks,” around when the bar opens, an employee said.
The mix of movies will change a bit: the employee said the theater will be showing a mix of indie and mainstream films, whereas is previously focused mostly on indies.
Clarendon filmmaker Mike Kravinsky is back with a new movie.
“Geographically Desirable” tells the story of Nicole, a TV news reporter whose life is turned upside down after she inherits a house in a small town and a dog from her recently deceased uncle. As she gets to know the town and its inhabitants, Nicole has to decide between the big city and small town lives.
“She gets to experience something other than the life of news. She lives and breathes this stuff,” Kravinsky said.
While Nicole will have to decide between the two lives, audiences members may not know which one she chooses. Kravinsky purposely chose to have an open ending for the movie.
“My thoughts were both lifestyles are good as long as there is balance,” he said.
Kravinsky is no stranger to the late nights that come with TV news. An editor with ABC News for 29 years, it would be fair to say that he lived and breathed the “life of news.” He decided to take a buyout in 2010 and turned to filmmaking. He released a web video-series in 2011 about a middle-aged man deciding what to do after being fired.
“This is sort of my second career,” he said.
While Kravinsky’s ABC career taught him how to use different camera equipment, he said creating and editing a film was completely different.
“People think if you can edit [for news], you can edit [for film], and that’s not true,” Kravinsky said.
Changing from a facts-only news mindset to a more creative one was also a challenge, he said. In news, reporters are telling someone else’s story, but when it comes to filmmaking, the creators have a chance to tell their own, he added.
“With writing fiction, every character is you in some way,” he said. “And every character’s experience comes from your own. It’s nice in a way because the story is some version of you and how you see life. I guess that’s the best way to describe it.”
The AMC movie theater in the Village at Shirlington (2772 S. Randolph Street) will be closed through November for renovations.
The movie theater is expected to reopen mid to late November, said AMC Theatres spokesman Ryan Noonan.
Once renovations are complete, the movie theater will have plush reclining seats in all of its auditoriums, new bathrooms and hot food options like chicken fingers and french fries.
AMC may also add a bar that will serve cocktails, wine and beer, Noonan said.
“The entire movie experience will be enhanced,” he said.
The company expects business to pick up in Shirlington as a result of the changes, Noonan said.
“We found that guests love our upgraded movie-going,” he said. “People really enjoy the recliner seating.”
The theater will offer reserved seating. Moviegoers will be able to choose their seats when buying tickets online or at the box office.
“The easiest way to make sure everyone gets a ticket and everyone gets the seat they want is to use reserved seating,” Noonan said.
The Crystal City Business Improvement District wants to scare the daylights of people this October by holding a series of nighttime scary movie screenings.
The BID and Charles E. Smith/Vornado will show a scary movie every Monday in October, starting with 1989 horror flick “Pet Semetary” on Oct. 5 at approximately 6:45 p.m.
“With most of the area’s summer film series wrapping up before the fall, we saw an opportunity to expand the fun,” Crystal City BID President Angela Fox said in a statement. “The cooler fall temperatures and earlier sunsets combined with Halloween make for the perfect opportunity for a scary experience.”
Movies will be shown in the courtyard on S. Bell Street between 18th Street S. and 20th Street S. Attendees are encouraged to wear costumes to the screenings and can win a $20 to Schakolad Chocolate Factory (1750 Crystal Drive) by tweeting or Instagramming a photo with the hashtag #CrystalScream — a take on the name of the BID’s “Crystal Screen” summer movie series.
Each movie’s start will vary depending on sunset, between 6:15-6:45 p.m., but should before 8:30 p.m. The schedule is as follows:
- Oct. 5, 6:45 p.m. — Pet Sematary
- Oct. 12, 6:34 p.m. — Scream
- Oct. 19, 6:24 p.m. — Poltergeist
- Oct. 26, 6:15 p.m. — The Exorcist
Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
At Arlington Public Library the library isn’t just for reading and summer reading events are not just for kids.
The library is holding two outdoor movie screenings (Aug. 6 and Aug. 13) as part of its Summer Reading 2015 for Adults event. Movies start roughly at 8:45 p.m. on the field next to Arlington Central Library (1515 N. Quincy Street).
Attendees are encourage to “bring a picnic and blanket and watch a movie under the stars.” Both movie showings are free. In the case of bad weather, the event will be canceled.
The first screening is “Empire Records” on Aug. 6. The movie, rated PG-13, is about a group of record store employees attempting to save the store from selling out, which just like the movie is a very Gen X concern.
“A flashback to a time when there were record stores and people paid to work in them,” the library notes on its event page. “It’s a day in the life of a staff of hip, quirky youngsters who are fighting a store buyout from a big greedy record store chain. Those once existed too.”
The second screening is “The Great Gatsby” on Aug. 13. The 2013 movie version of the classic book by F. Scott Fitzgerald stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, a mysterious rich man pining after an old love. The movie is also rated PG-13.
“Dinner and a Movie on the Loop” will take place on four consecutive Thursday evenings at Market Common Clarendon (2700 Clarendon Blvd), starting this week. The event was started last year as Now Playing at the Loop.
Market Common has added dinner to the mix this year, with a different local restaurant is providing a fixed-price meal before each movie, beginning at 7:45 p.m. In addition, guests can round out their family-friendly cinematic experience with free candy, popcorn and water.
All movies start at 8:30 p.m. and are free and open to the public. The schedule is as follows:
- June 18 — How To Train Your Dragon 2
- June 25 — Grown Ups
- July 2 — The Sandlot
- July 9 — The Wizard of Oz
Summer Movies @Penrose Square, a free outdoor movie series at Penrose Square (2597 Columbia Pike), started last Saturday (June 13).
The event, sponsored by the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, will continue into September. The schedule is as follows:
- June 20 — The Hundred Foot Journey (8:45 p.m.)
- June 27 — Now You See Me (8:45 p.m.)
- July 11 — The Imitation Game (8:45 p.m.)
- July 18 — Enough Said (8:45 p.m.)
- July 25 — The Grand Budapest Hotel (8:30 p.m.)
- Aug 1 — Life of Pi (8:30 p.m.)
- Aug 8 — Chef (8:15 p.m.)
- Aug 15 — Birdman (8:15 p.m.)
- Aug 22 — The Second Best Marigold Hotel (8:15 p.m.)
- Aug 29 — How to Train Your Dragon (8:00 p.m.)
- Sept 5 — Big Hero 6 (7:45 p.m.)
- Sept 12 — X-men: Days of Future Past (7:30 p.m.)
- Sept 19 — Interstellar (7:15 p.m.)
Guests are encouraged to bring their own chairs or blankets to both festivals.
CPRO is also sponsoring another movie festival on the Pike this summer. Starting on August 16, CPRO will screen a movie every Sunday until September 20 at the Arlington Mill Community Center.
The movies at Arlington Mill will start at dusk. A schedule is expected to be announced mid-July.
FIFA Movie Shown in Arlington — Arlington is home to one of ten theaters nationwide that showed a biopic about Sepp Blatter, the embattled president of FIFA who last week announced that he would be stepping down from the international soccer organization. The AMC Loews Shirlington 7 grossed $161 from “United Passions” as of Friday. Nationwide the film, which cost FIFA at least $25 million to produce, grossed only $607. [Washington Post]
Crystal City Hosts Car ‘Micro-Factory’ — Crystal City is currently home to the Local Motors Mobifactory, a car factory in a shipping container. The “micro-factory” uses 3D printing technology to produce prototype vehicles. The micro-factory plans to remain at 1900 Crystal Drive for the rest of the summer. A grand opening is planned for Thursday. [Tech.co]
GGW on Tomorrow’s Primary — Greater Greater Washington weighs in on which Democratic Arlington County Board candidates would be best for smart growth, transit, walking and bicycling. The Democratic primary will be held tomorrow. [Greater Greater Washington]
CivFed Backs Affordable Housing Plan — The Arlington County Civic Federation has voted 47-29 to support Arlington County’s draft Affordable Housing Master Plan. The plan sets goals for affordable housing in the county and is several years in the making. The County Board is scheduled to vote Saturday on setting a public hearing for the plan. [InsideNova]
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