As Washington residents know all too well, this 14-screen megaplex -- located on K Street in the Ritz-Carlton complex, next door to the hallowed ground where the Bayou once stood -- was under construction for two years. During that time, several Loews-owned theaters, including Georgetown's Foundry, shuttered their doors. Every time a closure occurred, Loews representatives responded to moviegoer disappointment by saying, "Just wait. A new theater is coming." Now that it has come, most will agree the wait was worth it.
The most striking element of this massive space is the 175-foot brick smokestack, a remnant from this historic site's days as the Georgetown Incinerator. Rising out of the lobby's center, it can be seen clearly through the greenhouse-esque glass ceilings, giving the Loews Georgetown an urban feel missing from far too many cookie cutter cineplexes. The huge box office, with its colorful film titles, and the massive snack bars -- decked out with sparkling signs that say "Refreshments" and neon images of steaming hot mugs of cocoa -- add to the playful, old-time moviehouse feel.
But all of that is just window dressing. The bigger issue is the movie houses themselves, and they don't disappoint. Yes, as mentioned earlier, there's a whopping 14 of them. Four of the auditoriums seat 300 people (the smallest seats 100), and screens are wall-to-wall, or close to it. The theaters are equipped with Sony Dynamic Digital Sound and Dolby Digital Sound. And best of all, each auditorium has stadium seating, complete with high-backed, cushy rocking chairs and arms that can be lifted, just in case you want to snuggle up to your honey during a touching moment in the latest Adam Sandler flick.
Which brings us to the film choices. Loews intends to screen a mix of mainstream movies, such as "Die Another Day," as well as smaller, artsier selections such as "Ararat"and "Far From Heaven." This should be a great relief to D.C. dwellers weary of seeing the latest indie sensation in cineplexes smaller than their efficiency apartments. (Not to mention names or anything.)
Prices are about what we've all come to expect these days: $9 for evening shows. The matinee situation is a bit trickier: it's $6.50 for all weekday shows before 6 p.m. But on weekends and holidays, the discount only applies to the first show of the day, a policy that warrants one of my few complaints about the new Loews. Students can score tickets at any time for $7.50, and senior citizens luck out with a $6.50 discount for all shows. And, to the relief of anyone who's ever tried to park in Georgetown, there is an underground garage and Loews staff will validate patrons' tickets. If you're carless, Metro Connection buses can transport moviegoers from the Rosslyn or Foggy Bottom Metro stations at a cost of 25 cents with a Metro transfer, or 50 cents without one.
Despite the misguided matinee pricing, Loews Georgetown should have no trouble attracting a faithful clientele. Seeing a movie here (at least on a recent, relatively uncrowded afternoon) is a pleasure. Given the dearth of fine cinemas in our capital city, I think this long overdue theater is just the place to rejuvenate the passion in Washington, D.C.'s love affair with the movies.
-- Jen Chaney