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West End Cinema will close at the end of March, marking a significant loss for independent film fare in D.C. When it opened in 2010, most of the city’s theaters were big-box clones serving stale popcorn be- neath whatever the major studios were pushing that week. West End owner Josh Levin claims that the theater couldn’t make ends meet in an industry landscape that includes new luxury theaters and pop- ups, plus the on-demand lure of Netflix and other streaming services.
When West End packs up its projectors, where will you go? Here’s a look at some of West End’s old competitors and new additions to the D.C. cinema scene.
E Street Cinema
Where: Metro Center
Opened: January 2004
Film selection: Indie films you’ve actually heard of, docs, plus some weirder stuff
Refreshments: Crab-covered pretzels ($7.50), espresso drinks and full bar
They say: “a sophisticated adult- oriented atmosphere”
Where: Your couch
Opened: Streaming began in 2007
Film selection: Every damn thing
Refreshments: Leftovers, a six-pack, and whatever’s in the Sodastream
Admission: $8.99 per month, standard membership
They say: “You can pause, rewind, fast forward or re-watch as often as you like. It’s really that easy!”
Where: Union Market
Opened: June 2014
Film selection: Tiny indies, Oscar bait, and special events
Refreshments: Wine-and-snack pairings to share ($27), beers ($8-$12)
They say: A full “luxurious” Angelika Film Center is set to open at Union Market later this year.
Opened: October 2014
Film selection: Standard mainstream fare
Refreshments: Prosciutto-wrapped dates ($8), lobster rolls ($15), “signature martinis”
They say: “We don’t just offer a movie; we offer a movie experience.”
Where: North Bethesda
Opened: October 2014
Film selection: Mainstream box-office hits
Refreshments: Bison ribeye ($38), crab- cakes ($18), whiskey cocktails ($13)
Admission: $13 for standard seating, $22 for reclining chairs and seatside service
They say: “sinfully decadent…you own the night”
Where: Mount Pleasant
Set to open: Summer 2015
Film selection: Vintage, international, and arthouse cuts
Refreshments: The cinema plans to partner with local chefs and bartenders.
Projected admission: $5
They say: “We also plan to screen vintage television, animated shorts, and classic sportscasts.”
Suns Cinema illustration by Dana Bierle