A Drafthouse Grows in Montgomery
Here's some good news for those who like to wash down a trip to the movies with a frosty mug of beer. Late this summer, the owners of the Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse will open a new location in the P & G theater space at Westfield Shoppingtown Wheaton. The current P & G theater will close in April so that construction can begin on the Montgomery Cinema 'N' Drafthouse, as the 32,000-square-foot space will be known. The new theater will be larger than its Arlington sibling, featuring six theaters and the same table seating that is a staple of the Arlington location. Patrons will be able to order drinks, sandwiches and dinner platters while sitting down to take in a movie or a comedy act. While the Arlington location focuses on second-run films, the new space will offer new studio releases.
"We will do a ton of indie films, but we will also be doing the 'Spider-Mans' and the 'King Kongs' and things like that," says Greg Godbout, one of the owners. He cites "Knocked Up" and other offbeat comedies as the kind of films that would be a perfect fit for his audience.
"The quality of the film is far more important to us than the sellability. If the film is of good quality, there's enough dedicated filmgoers in the the D.C. area that they will want to see it in a quality environment," he said. Tickets for first-run films will be $8.50-$9, but the cinema will also offer $1 movie nights and some films for under $6.
Like its Arlington relative, the Montgomery Cinema 'N' Drafthouse will offer stand-up comedy, family-friendly programming and other forms of entertainment, but the new location will have much more space to work with. In Arlington, all these entertainment options share one theater with a capacity of 295. In Montgomery, each of the six theater spaces can be dedicated to a different sort of programming.
Godbout is interested in upping the new Drafthouse's sports offerings, particularly around events like March Madness and the Super Bowl. Stand-up comedy acts have been selling out at the Arlington location, so he is now booking comedians to perform at the Arlington and Montgomery drafthouses.
The owners signed the lease two weeks ago and are moving quickly toward permitting, aiming to open in late July or early August. According to Godbout, the Arlington location currently brings in 100,000 people per year. In the additional location, which is located near the Wheaton Metro, he is projecting an annual audience of 400,000.
This opening marks the first return of a cinema/restaurant to Montgomery County since 2001, when the historic, art-deco Bethesda Theatre Cafe -- now used for live theater -- closed. "A lot of the reason for this is the people who miss the Bethesda [theater] e-mail us and are like, 'Can't you come back?'" says Godbout.
To sign up for the Montgomery Cinema 'N' Drafthouse's e-mail list, visit the official site.
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