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Another of Washington’s dwindling group of movie theaters, the Foundry, closed without warning this past week. The cinema was operated by Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp., a long-struggling national chain that filed for bankruptcy reorganization a year ago. Loews spokesperson Mindy Tucker did not return a call requesting information about the theater’s closing.

Wedged into the lower level of a Georgetown mall, the Foundry’s seven small-screened, low-ceilinged auditoriums were few local filmgoers’ favorite places to see a movie. But the theater’s $3-ticket second-run policy was the city’s only commercial movie bargain and helped provide longer exposure for offbeat movies. Last Sunday, its last day of operation, the Foundry was showing such films as The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition, Dark Blue World, and Mulholland Drive, a critical and cult favorite but a commercial flop.

The Foundry was also an important venue for first-run (and full-price) art and foreign films, including Iranian movies marketed primarily to the local Iranian community. In addition, the theater served as a major venue for Filmfest DC, whose 16th annual film festival begins next month. “We’re going to make some calls and see if it’s still possible to use it,” said Filmfest DC Director Tony Gittens of the theater. “We’re trying to work something out with the building’s owner.”

One of the Foundry’s greatest recent successes was the Shooting Gallery Film Series, which in 2000 and 2001 presented two seasons of independent and foreign films in selected cities. At the DC Independent Film Festival two weeks ago, Shooting Gallery founder Larry Meistrich said that the Foundry had drawn the series’ second-largest audience. The two six-film series introduced such art-house hits as Croupier and A Time for Drunken Horses, which were held over at the Foundry, sometimes for months. “At one point, we had six of the seven screens,” Meistrich noted. (The Shooting Gallery went under last year, after being acquired by Itemus Inc., an Internet company that was scorched in the dot-com flameout.)

The closing of the Foundry leaves Loews, D.C.’s foremost film exhibitor, with only 21 screens in the city, which was undeserved even before the company closed the Avalon, the Tenley, the West End, and other local cinemas. Loews is currently scheduled to open just one new D.C. moviehouse: a 12-screen multiplex in the Georgetown Incinerator project, under construction a few blocks from the Foundry site. —Mark Jenkins