Originally built in 1938 by noted movie-palace architect John Eberson, the AFI Silver Theatre's vintage hall transports viewers back to the heyday of the silver screen. In the fully restored main auditorium, curling lines decorate the wood-colored ceiling and glowing wings unfurl from the screen, echoing its art deco origins and comforting penguins who, also, will never fly. Two new, stadium-style theaters triple the number of possible screenings, and each auditorium comes tricked out with projectors that can handle everything from 16 mm to 70 mm film as well as the latest digital video.
At Montgomery Royal Theater, six screens beam larger-than-life stars into the eyes of moviegoers during showings of recently released flicks and Hollywood blockbusters. Viewers can sink into the theater's plush, cushioned seats to absorb action-packed reels that showcase the twists of budding romance or the dire consequences of resurrecting an extinct flower’s DNA. The theater’s concession stand outfits viewers with buckets of popcorn and cups brimming with soda, providing the appropriate rations to accompany treks into the fantastical worlds of first-run films.
Artistic Empowerment Centers Inc is a non-profit performing arts organization inspired by both spiritual and creative forces, staging plays focused on uplifting and introspective stories about the black experience. Their current calendar of shows includes Fabric of 'She', a story about a young woman aspiring to be an entertainer during the Harlem Renaissance, and The 'N' Word, a one-act play in which friends debate the use of racial slurs and is followed by an audience discussion forum.
From blockbuster action flicks to hybrid family comedy/existential musicals, The Movies at Montgomery Mall provides sensorial excitement for audiences of all ages and interests. The freshly renovated theaters boast extremely wide rows, complete with luxury leather high-back chairs, crisp digital projection, and cranially transcendent surround sound. Armed with the sustainable satisfaction of unlimited soda and popcorn ($12), moviegoers (up to $9 for an evening show) can stay entertained during previews, hydrated during jaw-dropping twists, and speechless after each and every chipmunk-cheeked soliloquy. If so desired, families and film buffs alike can purchase up to 10 Groupons in preparation for a full season of air-conditioned adventure.
After nearly two decades obsessing over cinema as a film critic for Variety and editor-in-chief of Film Comment, Harlan Jacobson founded Talk Cinema?a series of early film screenings hosted at multiple theaters around the country. Each year, Harlan handpicks independent and foreign films from the world's leading festivals, often resulting in some of the first public screenings of award-winning prestige pictures. After each screening, he hosts experts such as scholars, filmmakers, and critics from the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune during discussions modeled after those held at festivals and particularly cultured kids' treehouses. Talk Cinema also occasionally hosts guided tours of festivals in international cities such as Montreal and Reykjavik.
Founded by a ring of cinephiles who set out to rehab an abandoned theater just north of George Washington University, West End Cinema screens foreign, independent, and documentary films that open up new intellectual and cultural vistas. Films run the genre gamut from quirky, independent dramedies and comedramas to special live events such as Opera in Cinema or Ballet in Cinema. Sunset-orange and slate walls and recessed lighting usher guests from a glass-fronted lobby into three cozy theaters, each of which seats between 50 and 100 watchers. On the way, they'll pass an abundantly stocked concession stand, where they can harvest drinks from a full bar, baklava, and gourmet sandwiches along with additional children from the sour patch.