Yet another of Washington’s diminishing number of movie theaters is about to close, but its demise will be preceded by the first (and only) opening of a new D.C. cinema in this decade.
The venue that has almost finished its run is the Tenley, a three-screen complex at 4200 Wisconsin Ave. NW. The theater’s operator, Loews Cineplex, will transfer the lease to American University, which already owns the building. The shutdown will happen “around the first of January,” says David Taylor, an assistant to AU’s president. Plans have not yet been completed for the space, Taylor notes, but it will be mostly used for “performing arts,” not film.
Before the Tenley departs, however, the Mazza Gallerie will arrive. General Cinema has set Dec. 17 for the premiere of its seven-screen complex in the Mazza Gallerie shopping mall at Wisconsin and Western Avenues NW. The multiplex will be only the second commercial movie theater in the city not operated by Loews Cineplex, and it marks a return to the neighborhood for General Cinema. The Massachusetts-based chain used to operate the now-defunct Jenifer, which was less than a block south of Mazza Gallerie.
News of the Mazza Gallerie’s opening was followed closely by the announcement of another multiplex a little farther up Wisconsin Avenue. The L.A.-based Landmark chain, which expects to open the eight-screen Biograph at 11th and E Streets NW late next year, will follow it with a similar venue in Bethesda. Like the Biograph, the Bethesda Row Cinema will be an eight-screen theater offering “entertaining and provocative art films,” according to a statement by Landmark CEO Larry Hohl, as well as stadium seating and upscale snacks. According to Hohl, both local Landmark theaters will offer “state-of-the-art environments”—which certainly can’t be said of the Tenley.—Mark Jenkins