By Greg Godbout
37 years ago the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse opened as a second-run movie theater (1 to 3 months old) and has never played first-run movies (released in the first week). Until now! Next week — we are proud to present Star Wars: The Last Jedi. At the same release date as other theaters. Although it almost didn’t happen.
A year ago this month, we made the decision to become a first-run movie theater, because online streaming of films has cut out the second-run theater window. Our style of showing films vanished from the industry. The switch to first-run was made this summer (May 2017), and the timing was bad. This was the worst summer for the entire movie industry in 25 years. We could have done without that.
While suffering through a tragic summer movie season we experimented with arthouse films and top box office films. The top box office films performed better. The goal was to also try some first-run films in their first week of release — unfortunately, the studios wouldn’t give us early access to films. It was a difficult uphill battle. Many studios insisted that we pick between movies or live comedy. Fox Studios and Warner Brothers were the most difficult.
For the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse to thrive, we need both movies and live comedy. We are the only theater in the country to balance top national release films and top national touring comics. Our unique balance puts us at odds with the large corporate movie studios, even though we depend on them.
Disney came to our rescue. After politely declining our request to play Star Wars a couple of times, Disney ultimately agreed. They too wanted to see how we could do with a first-release blockbuster. After months of experimentation — the largest and most dominant studio helped us out.
Our experiment with Star Wars will inform many programing decisions as we move forward. So please join us and let us know what you think. This winter our programing will center on national live comedy and Oscar nominated films. If Star Wars does well, we will add stretches of movies to our line up in the summer — that are true first-run films.
Based on current pre-sales for Star Wars, it is going to be a successful experiment for us. We provide an amazing social movie experience and can’t wait to see you here. We will have Star Wars drink specials and, as always, full tableside service. Tickets will be $10 with $8 matinees.
Please help us out by purchasing tickets in advance and plan on watching Star Wars at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse this holiday season. We do not show ads or trailers so the movie start time is the actual start time. Please arrive early.
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.
Central Place Plaza (1800 N. Lynn Street) in Rosslyn will host a harvest festival next month during Halloween weekend, the neighborhood’s first.
On Friday, October 27 from 4-10 p.m. and Saturday, October 28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than 20 vendors will sell various crafts and gifts, while there will be live entertainment and activities including a pie eating contest, cornhole, a pumpkin toss, costumes contests for children and pets.
The event is part of a series of autumnal happenings in Rosslyn.
The neighborhood’s Business Improvement District is hosting Cinema & Pub in the Park at Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway) tonight — extending its summer film festival into September.
From 6-11 p.m. for the next three Fridays, beer, wine and sangria will be on offer, with food available from on-site food trucks. September 22 will be a family night, with activities beginning at 5 p.m.
The movie schedule is as follows:
- September 15: “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”
- September 22: “Lego Batman”
- September 29: “Golden Eye”
On Tuesdays beginning September 19, Gateway Park will host Yoga in the Park, a yoga class for all experience levels from 6-7:30 p.m. The entire session of five classes costs $20 per person, and attendees should bring a yoga mat.
And on Thursday evenings from 6-8 p.m. starting September 21, Gateway Park will host Bonfire Concerts around its bonfire pit. Seasonal beers, ciders and wines will be available for purchase, with a different fashion truck on site each week as well as donuts from Mama’s Donut Bites and s’mores from Capital Candy Jar.
The following acts will perform:
- September 21: Trailer Grass Orchestra
- September 28 Scott Kurt & Memphis 59
- October 5: Moose Jaw
- October 12: Justin Trawick and The Common Good
Photos via Rosslyn BID.
Alamo Drafthouse Coming to Crystal City — An Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will be coming to Crystal City to anchor a residential redevelopment by the JBG Smith. The redevelopment will convert the aging office building at 1750 Crystal Drive to a gleaming glass-and-metal residential building while topping it with a six-story addition. Also planned is an as-yet unsigned “specialty grocer” — think: Trader Joe’s or something similar. [Washington Business Journal]
Home Prices Rise in Arlington — “Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. says the median selling price in Arlington County last month was $613,500, up 15 percent from May of 2016. The change was based on 350 closed sales in Arlington in May.” [WTOP]
County Looking for More Tech Grant Recipients — Arlington Economic Development is looking for more tech companies to lure to Arlington with its $1 million “Gazelle Grant” program. AED is seeking another 8-13 companies that are growing by at least 30 percent over a three year period and are willing to commit to at least a three year lease. [Technical.ly DC]
Rosslyn’s annual outdoor summer cinema series is set to kick off one month from now.
The free Friday night movies in Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway) will begin June 2 and run through Aug. 25.
There will be food trucks on site to serve dinner and popcorn, while a “Pub in the Park” will offer beer, wine, mocktails and movie-themed cocktails. On five nights — June 2, June 16, July 7, July 28 and Aug. 18 — a DJ will perform before the film.
The films on the docket for 2017 are:
- June 2 — Grease
- June 9 — Frozen
- June 16 — Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
- June 23 — National Lampoon’s European Vacation
- June 30 — Some Like It Hot
- July 7 — GoldenEye
- July 14 — The Father of the Bride
- July 21 — Moana
- July 28 — The Wizard of Oz
- August 4 — When Harry Met Sally
- August 11 — Lego Batman
- August 18 — The Avengers
- August 25 — Mary Poppins
The films generally start shortly after sundown. The event is sponsored by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.
Another local BID, Crystal City, decided to discontinue its usual summer movie nights this year, citing a crowded marketplace of similar events around the area.
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.
So many notable people died in 2016 that the losses have contributed to some Twitter users dubbing this the #WorstYearEver. Now the Arlington Public Library has compiled a list of its books, DVDs, and music files that users can borrow to find out what made some of these people stand out from the crowd.
The list is not comprehensive because the library does not own items relating to every single notable person who died this year. It does, however, include items related to 67 well-known authors, performers, activists, scientists, and public figures.
Some of the items on the list are:
- All You Need Is Ears by George Martin: An autobiography of the record producer and composer best known for his work with The Beatles.
- David Bowie: Starman by Paul Trynka: The book examines Bowie’s many artistic reinventions and broad influence on the entertainment world.
- Heimlich’s Maneuvers: My Seventy Years of Lifesaving Innovations by Henry J. Heimlich: An autobiography of the thoracic surgeon best known for inventing the technique to stop choking.
- Arnold Palmer: Memories, Stories, and Memorabilia by Arnold Palmer: An autobiography of the professional golfer who many consider the greatest player in the sport’s history.
- The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama by Gwen Ifill: The Peabody-Award winning journalist’s continuation of her long-time coverage of America’s race issues.
- I’m Your Man by Leonard Cohen (DVD): The documentary covers Cohen’s life and work and includes interviews with artists he inspired.
- Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (DVD): The sci-fi film features Carrie Fisher in her iconic role as Princess Leia.
- Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story by Robyn Doolittle: The biography covers the life of the controversial former Toronto mayor known for his drug- and alcohol-fueled antics.
- 40 Greatest Hits by Merle Haggard (eMusic): The music file includes songs spanning the country legend’s career.
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.