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Movie Theaters, Across the River What does a mayor have to do to get a new cinema built?

Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

You can’t accuse D.C.’s government of dissing Hollywood. Since becoming mayor, Vince Gray has promoted D.C.-set movies like Transformers: Dark of the Moon, begged HBO to move the production of an upcoming series here from Baltimore, and courted Adam Sandler’s next project. But what Gray really wants is a movie theater—specifically, a theater east of the Anacostia River, where his political base lies.

Coming up with money to woo developers hasn’t been easy. Gray’s proposal to raise incentive funds by boosting taxes on theater concessions infuriated existing operators. In the meantime, people dreaming of watching movies on Minnesota Avenue NE or at Skyland Town Center can take comfort in the fact that efforts to build smaller movie houses at crosstown locations like Dupont Underground or Uline Arena are moving just as slowly. We may be stuck, for now, with the theaters we’ve got.

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