Saturday, May 24, 2014


One cinema era has ended at Westfield Montgomery Mall, while another is about to dawn later this year. While the massive ArcLight Cinemas and dining terrace construction project is getting a lot of attention, the unassuming 3-screen The Movies has quietly closed forever. As old as the first Back to the Future movie, The Movies opened in 1985, when the mall was known simply as Montgomery Mall. Renovated last in 2010, but still of an earlier design era, The Movies was previously known as Montgomery Mall 3, and P & G Montgomery Mall 3. Its operators included Cineplex Odeon, and Loews.

Mall customers were actually asking where the theater was Friday afternoon, since - as you will note in these photos - you can hardly tell there is a theater in the now-shuttered space. The only notable clue at the mall was the suddenly-blank marquee on Democracy Boulevard (see photo above).

It's always sad to see a theater close, but fortunately, a spectacular new ArcLight Cinemas luxury multiplex is on the way this fall. The selection of movies, concession choices and luxury appointments will be far beyond what The Movies ever offered. 

I surely will miss the arcade at The Movies, and hope Westfield will find a spot for a similar coin-op collection elsewhere in the mall. And the classic design of this multiplex certainly holds some nostalgia. But I think fellow movie buffs will agree that the ArcLight will be a major upgrade. This closure does not pain me as much as the demise of the Baronet II (part of the now-demolished Bethesda Square shopping center in downtown Bethesda), Congressional Plaza, Jenifer 1 and 2, MacArthur Theatre (now a CVS), Druid Theatre (now a Rite Aid), Georgetown Square, Outer Circle 1 and 2, The Cinema, Pike Theater, Roth's Parkway 1-2-3, and the Aspen Hill shopping center theater. And I've left out at least one other on Wisconsin Avenue in the District. None of those theaters was ever replaced.

It's very sad, but at least this time we're getting a replacement theater. The real concern I have is, what will happen if the Regal Bethesda 10 gets torn down with the Apex Building? With the developer not required to replace it under the proposal approved by the Montgomery County Council, Bethesda could become the only significant urban center in the area without a mainstream multiplex theater.
A last peek inside

The curtain has fallen

The former entryway into the lobby
and arcade

The view you'd have if
entering from outside the


Frank said...

Hi Robert -

Here is a website that lists theaters, both current and historic, all over the country.

The pages for Washington DC and Maryland list several of the old theaters you mentioned, and more.

Andrew said...

At least we still have the Uptown. Though I don't think too many people are shedding tears over the lost theatres at our two local malls.

Steve D. said...

I remember seeing Rocky IV there once upon a time. A little sad to see it go, but hopefully the Arclight will be a major upgrade.