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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 Admission: $11.50 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) Admission: $11 They say: A full “luxurious” Angelika Film Center is set to open at Union Market later this year.
Where: Bethesda Opened: October 2014 Film selection: Standard mainstream fare Refreshments: Prosciutto-wrapped dates ($8), lobster rolls ($15), “signature martinis” Admission: $13.75 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