Not that the good old Tally Ho cinema in downtown Leesburg isn’t fancy or anything. But once you’ve been to the state-of-the-art Cobb Village 12 Cinemas, just off Route 7 behind the Wegman’s, it’s going to be tough to go back to the old-school movie theaters.
Because this place, opening today, sets a new standard for movie theaters in the entire Washington region. It’s got wide, comfy seats. It’s got food like Italian sausage ravioli and teriyaki chicken, beers like Stella Artois and Blue Moon as part of a fully stocked bar, and it’s got D-Box seats that move you with the movie.
And that, I’m here to tell you, is a heck of a lot of fun — so long as your idea of fun is a two-hour roller coaster ride.
Below is a quick video for D-Box — Leesburg is the first in the region to get this technology — and after the jump is more about how Cobb decided to launch this in The Village at Leesburg, of all places.
First of all, Loudoun County is one truly underserved jurisdiction for movies. The wealthiest county in the land has one multiplex in Ashburn, one in Sterling, and the Tally Ho, which is barely hanging on. And that’s all. The folks at Cobb Theatres, based out of Birmingham, Ala., clearly recognized this, and decided to make their first foray north of Richmond, according to Guy Austin, the company’s director of operations.
Cobb was originally a huge chain in the Southeast until it sold out to Regal in 1997. But the Cobb family missed the business, and dove back in with premium-style theaters in Florida and Alabama, Austin said. They’ve now got three in Virginia — the other two are in Hampton and Richmond — and Leesburg is the 20th in the new chain.
Some of the Cobb theaters are “cine-bistros,” with a more restaurant like setting and a full menu, according to Fred Meyers, the director of cine-bistro operations. Some are more traditional, depending on the neighborhood. Leesburg’s version is a hybrid, Austin said, designed to fit the new Village at Leesburg, which already has a bunch of diverse restaurants.
Still, “the movies are paramount,” Austin said. “That’s the most important thing we do, but we’re trying to add something special, think of what the customer wants.”
The bar and food are available for non-movie goers, and there is a cafeteria style to the set-up to try to avoid the massive lines that are endemic to multiplexes. People who order a panini or some potstickers are given a pager and come back to pick it up.
Now, back to the D-Box. This technology is available in theaters around the country, and also on DVDs for crazy fancy home set-ups. But it’s making its debut in this area today, Friday. For now, it’s only available in one theater, in 36 reserved seats. And it’s an extra $8.
So my eyes are wide and Austin says, “Do you wanna try it,” like a Dad offering to take his kid on his first amusement park thrill ride. I nodded excitedly, and probably jumped up and down.
The seat has a control panel so you canset its pitch and yaw and vibrate functions on low, medium or high. OK, high please. The lights went down.
First up, a trailer for a new “Conan the Barbarian.” And with every swing of a sword, every bob of a horse, along I went.
Next, a famed sequence from “The Polar Express,” where the train barrels down a steep grade into the ice. Just phenomenal. Then they showed the same sequence without the D-Box effects. Big letdown.
The technology will debut here with the latest Harry Potter film, also in 3D, for another $3.50. That can add up to more than $20 for a movie. But this theater may have enough attractions to bring folks from not only Loudoun but beyond. Way beyond, for serious roller coaster fans.