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Posted at 10:38 AM ET, 03/24/2008

A Drafthouse Grows in Montgomery

By Julia Beizer

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.


By Julia Beizer  | March 24, 2008; 10:38 AM ET
Categories:  Movies  
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this is the greatest news to start off my lunch hour!!! i live 5 minutes from there!!! :) thanks Gurus, you really know how to make a gal smile...

Posted by: around | March 24, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I agree! Fantastic news

Posted by: ghope | March 24, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Very cool! I've missed the Bethesda Cinema n'Drafthouse for a very long time!

Posted by: librarianmom | March 24, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Sweet! We've needed this kind of thing out that way for ages. There's another old theater location in Bowie with 6 screens that would be great for this kind of idea to.

Posted by: EricS | March 24, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I miss the Bethesda Cinema n'Drafthous as well. This reminds me of a venue, such as described in this plan, that I visted last fall in Lexington, KY.

Posted by: TC | March 24, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

yeah for Wheaton!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 24, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

A Metro accessible Drafthouse - Awesome! Finally! I can't wait, looks like I'll have a new hangout.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 24, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Hearing this made my day! I've always wanted to go to the Arlington Draft House to see what it was all about, but couldn't justify the trip. I'll definitely frequent the Montgomery Draft House.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 25, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I hope the food is better than the Arlington joint! Wheaton is down the street from me so I will have to at least stop to find out...

Posted by: Anonymous | March 25, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Great News! I live in Rockville. Now I can go to the Drafthouse more than just twice a year. Their Comedy programming rocks!

Posted by: June | March 25, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

this would be great news if Wheaton wasn't still a ghetto where you can get stabbed in the parking lot of this place cuz it's "conveniently" located next to the Wheaton Metro stop --the HIGHEST VIOLENT CRIME RATE in Montgomery County is at that Wheaton Metro and the Wheaton mall area right next to it....

My wife and I were mugged 6 months ago in front of this very theater at 9pm on a Saturday nite...

Maybe 5 years from now when gentrification pushes all the thugs out this will be a great place to go , but for now you better take your Mace with you ....

Posted by: wayne sedar | March 28, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I live in the area and everytime I go to the mall (quite often), I take mace, my numchucks, and a knife, just in case.

And I plan never to live in Potomac or Bethesda either because there have been (gasp) murders there.

Posted by: DCMetro | April 3, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

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