Joining the E Street, Bethesda Row and West End cinemas, the new theater — which opens Thursday night in the mixed-use Atlantic Plumbing development with screenings of "Steve Jobs" on all six screens — is dominated by a handsome bar and cocktail lounge at the very front of the house. It's only off to the side that you'll find the unassuming box office (or "guest services" desk), which visitors are encouraged to forego in favor of several touch-screen ticket kiosks.
According to theater management, Atlantic Plumbing is the first of Landmark's area theaters in which the bar was designed as a front-and-center feature — not as an afterthought to the moviegoing experience, but as an attraction in and of itself. Conspicuously, there are no movie posters, and two huge walls of windows connect the space to the surrounding neighborhood, which includes the 9:30 Club next door. It's a comfortable place to have a drink, with or without a movie ticket.
The intimate theaters themselves, which range in size from 44 seats to the mid-50s, boast all-reserved seating, with thickly cushioned, extra-wide chairs and flat-screen monitors outside each theater announcing what's playing inside. If you're killing time with a drink before the show, a countdown clock in the bar will make sure you don't miss your previews.
Movie-themed drinks — served in real glassware, not plastic cups, as long as you're at the 12-tap bar — include a kettle corn-flavored Old Fashioned and other signature cocktails inspired by films. Food ordered and eaten in the lounge also comes served on actual plates, and not the clamshell take-out containers familiar from Landmark's high-end concessions stands.
Other modern touches include digital projectors that drop down from a recess in the ceiling, removing the need for that most iconic of movie-house features: the projection booth.