Walt Disney's "Peter Pan" didn't exactly fly with customers at the Byrd Theater in Arlington last December.
So the Byrd's new manager hopes the theater will take off next week with the presentation of "Intimate Playmates" and "Penthouse Playgirls."
After a six-month flirtation with cut-rate, family-style movies never saucier than an "R" rating, the Byrd Theater at 104 S. Wayne St. is reverting to the X-rated adult movies it abandoned last September in search of higher profits--and less trouble with local police.
Neighborhood Theaters Inc. of Falls Church, which had leased the 619-seat movie house, closed it March 7 after the last run of "An Officer and a Gentleman," which drew a nightly handful of soldiers from nearby Fort Myer.
But now, Robert A. Brown, who managed the Byrd for NTI for 10 years until he lost his job with the closing, plans to reopen the theater on April 13 to show what he says will be "soft-core" adult films, the kind of movies the theater showed for nearly a decade before its short-lived move to family fare.
"It will not be hard-core like what's shown in Washington, definitely not," says Brown. "We're going to abide by the county's regulations. This type of movie is certainly legal to show."
Arlington Police Lt. Arthur Christiansen said his vice squad will monitor the movies to make sure they don't breach county guidelines making hard-core pornography illegal.
The X-rated fare is not what Percy Scott, president of the Central Arlington Civic Association, and some others in the area think should be shown at a theater on the periphery of a neighborhood dotted with garden apartments and middle-class homes.
"We're going to try to do something, everything we can to see this doesn't happen again," Scott vows about the planned return of X-rated movies.
"We don't want our community to become like some places in Washington."
The immediate neighbors of the theater have mixed views on the reopening of the 44-year-old theater. Some said the theater, located in the aging Washington-Lee Shopping Center, is far enough away from the residential neighborhood that it won't be a problem.
Others share the sentiments of a South Courthouse Road homeowner who said, "We don't need an X-rated theater in the neighborhood . . . It would be a drawing card for undesirables and this is a family-oriented neighborhood."
Wade Pearson, an NTI vice president, said the theater went to the titillating adult movies nine years ago, "because we couldn't make it unless we showed them." But when even the X-rated films didn't draw enough to pay the bills, says Brown, the theater experimented for six months with 99-cent and then $2 tickets for family movies such as "On Golden Pond," "Chariots of Fire" and "Annie."
Brown says going back to X-rated films probably won't earn large profits for the Byrd.
But by owning and operating the business with two partners, he says, they can cut down on costs and rely on traditional money-makers at both X-rated and G-rated movie houses--popcorn, candy and soft drinks.