Arts Desk

Comfort Is Key at Newly Renovated Bethesda Row Cinema

No one could accuse Bethesda Row Cinema of lacking a certain sheen. The Landmark-owned movie house just off of Bethesda's tony Woodmont Avenue has been a destination for film fans since it opened in 2002. But now, after a months-long renovation, the theater is more posh than ever.

The first things you might notice are the new marquee and box office, the latter of which is now entirely automated and features an LED screen that displays showtimes. Inside, everything from wall coverings and carpet to the lobby furniture has been replaced, and a full bar now sits next to the concession stand. The bar will also serve film-themed cocktails, perhaps for cinefiles looking for some extra immersion.

The eight theaters feature luxe leather seats and new screens, featuring RealD 3D projectors and the addition of Dolby Surround 7.1 to the existing sound systems. "We decided that we can take this theater, which has been very important to us, and create some things that would help us elevate our customer service," Landmark CEO Ted Mundorff says. "It's really fun to do, to be able to enhance a theater...that the folks in Bethesda have been so loyal to. We're more than pleased to be putting money back into the theater."

Another thing that will distinguish the new Bethesda Row from some independent theaters: the ability to broadcast live performances from around the world. The theater has installed a digital system that will allow it to receive satellite feeds and has partnered with Microspace, a North Carolina-based broadcasting company, to bring opera, theater, and concert performances to the screen. Sorry, UFC fans, you'll have to look elsewhere.  The live feeds will begin on Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30, when the theater broadcasts a performance of London's National Theatre's The Audience, Peter Morgan's play about imagined meetings between Queen Elizabeth II and her prime ministers starring Helen Mirren.

Bethesda Row has also switched over to completely reserved seating. Guests will select their seats within the auditoriums when ordering them, just as you would if you were booking a live theater or plane ticket.

The theater officially reopens on Friday, May 3, with a full bill of new films, including Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg's Academy Award nominated picture Kon-Tiki. And if you want to watch The Great Gatsby in appropriate opulence, it'll arrive in Bethesda on May 10.

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  • wildcat30

    There are images of what the new interior of the theater will look like here at the Bethesda Blog:

    http://robertdyer.blogspot.com/2013/03/first-images-of-future-bethesda-row.html

  • Andy K.

    Sounds great! The theater was quite nice already but I look forward to the leather seats like Mazza has. Reserved seating sounds fantastic, hopefully other theaters will follow suit. The 3D will be great for 3D indie documentaries like Pina 3D and Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

  • NT Live fan

    The addition of the NT Live broadcasts is a valuable addition to the schedule. At present, the Shakespeare Theatre in downtown DC is the only theater between Richmond and Philadelphia that screens NT Live, and they usually do so only once, typically on a Monday evening, for each show in the series. Anyone who enjoys live theater will appreciate this new option.

  • http://davisseating.com/ Susan Marlowe

    Beautiful and elegant. I am pretty sure the inside is much more beautiful and elegant. A great way to distress oneself is to watch good movies in a beautiful theater.

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