Beyond the Cineplex: DC movie theaters

17 Jun

AFI Silver Theatre © Kate Mereand on Creative Commons

There’s no shortage of AMC and Regal movie complexes in the DC area, but there’s also quite a few lovely smaller chain and independent theaters too that show both mainstream movies and more artsy fartsy stuff. I thought I’d highlight a few of them.

West End Cinema: This theater opened its doors in October, taking over space that had also been a theater but closed in 2003. Located on 23rd Street between M and N, it’s tucked away in an office building and can be easy to miss. Foggy Bottom is the closest metro station but Dupont Circle isn’t too far either. You can park on the street or in one of the garages in the area, but this could be a pain depending on when you go. There are three small theaters within West End that show independent, foreign and documentary films. Of note: they have a full bar!

AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center: This 1938 restored movie house reopened in 2003 and is a filmophile’s dream. It hosts several annual events including a documentary film festival, will sometimes show classic films and occasionally has guest appearances. Parking is pretty easy thanks to several garages close by; it’s also two blocks from the Silver Spring Metro station. And did I mention they serve beer and wine?

Avalon Theatre: Avalon isn’t only independently run, but it’s a non-profit. Located at 5612 Connecticut Avenue, NW in the Friendship Heights/Chevy Chase area, it’s been operating since 1923 and shows mostly independent films. The theater is about a 15 minute walk from the Friendship Heights Metro, and street parking is available (but give yourself time to find a spot).

E-Street Cinema: Owned by Landmark Theatres, the largest art house movie theater chain in the country, E-Street is located on E Street (duh) between 10th and 11th in Penn Quarter. The theater opened in 2004 and has eight screens. A couple of E-streets theaters have amazingly few rows of seats, but I find that charming. In addition to independent films, E-Street also shows more mainstream flicks. Parking in that area can be a pain, so I’d recommend taking Metro—it’s only one block from Metro Center. What makes this one of my favorite theaters in DC is a) It’s a great location and b) there are very few kids or teenagers and c) they have cups and a pitcher of water to which you can help yourself. Like Silver Theatre, they  serve beer and wine.

Bethesda Row Cinema: Opened in 2002, this theater is also owned by Landmark and also has eight screens. Parking in this area is usually manageable, and it’s within walking distance of the Bethesda Metro station.

2 Responses to “Beyond the Cineplex: DC movie theaters”

  1. me in millions June 18, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    Don’t forget about Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse! You can eat dinner, get drinks and watch a movie at the same time!

    • marseadc June 23, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

      Good point, I love Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse! I guess I was thinking of it as more of a venue since it also has comedy shows, but it certainly is a theater as well. Thanks!

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