Showing posts with label ArcLight Cinemas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ArcLight Cinemas. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

AMC Theatres considering acquiring "strongest" ArcLight Cinemas locations

There's a faint glimmer of hope on the horizon for the shuttered ArcLight Cinemas at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Rival AMC Theatres' CEO Adam Aron said yesterday on Twitter that his chain is considering acquiring the "strongest" ArcLight locations that were recently permanently closed due to pandemic losses. Aron said the potential expansion into ArcLight locations was one reason for a recent sale of AMC stock that netted the cineplex operator $230.5 million.

The CEO did not identify which ArcLight locations he considered the strongest, but said the ArcLight option is at the very top of his list for the newly-aggressive firm. "Watch out naysayers," Aron tweeted Tuesday, "$AMC is going to play on offense again. Here we come!" 

If the Montgomery Mall ArcLight were to become an AMC, it could be a great turn of events for the mall and moviegoers alike. Without the draw of the very-expensive ArcLight addition that topped a $90 million expansion and renovation over the last decade, the future of the mall is in serious question. And AMC's Dine-In theater model could easily fit into the existing setup at the ArcLight, bringing AMC's upscale entrees, milkshakes and MacGuffins Bar to the mall cineplex.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

ArcLight Cinemas closing permanently at Westfield Montgomery Mall

ArcLight Cinemas
at Westfield Montgomery Mall, closed since the pandemic-related shutdown of movie theaters was ordered last year, will not reopen. The permanent closure was announced in a statement by the cineplex's parent company, Decurion Corporation. This is devastating news for the future of Montgomery Mall, where the third-floor luxury cineplex was the keystone of a nearly-$100 million expansion of the retail center by Westfield over the last decade.

Montgomery Mall is in new hands after a corporate merger, and the new parent company does not share Westfield's dedication to the survival of its malls. In fact, the new company plans to sell the mall and others it owns across the country next year. 

The future of the ArcLight space at the mall is unclear. Deadline reports that Decurion has "handed the keys to the landord" at all of its cineplex locations. A new theater operator could be brought in, the theater could be demolished and renovated for more retail and restaurant space, or the cineplex could sit abandoned until the mall is demolished for redevelopment in the future.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

ArcLight Cinemas Bethesda wins Governor's Crime Prevention Award

The general manager of ArcLight Cinemas in
Bethesda (second from left) holds the Governor's
Crime Prevention award received by the cineplex
ArcLight Cinemas at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda has won a Governor's Crime Prevention award from Gov. Larry Hogan. The cineplex was recognized for donating auditorium time on the first Wednesday of each month to the Montgomery County Police Department. Officers use the time to host a senior forum where seniors enjoy a free film, along with a presentation on tips to prevent becoming a crime victim.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R)
Police Chief Marcus Jones and other police officials attended the award ceremony, and thanked ArcLight and the other winners. The theater's general manager was on hand to receive the award. Target's Rockville store also received an award from the governor.

Friday, November 7, 2014


Today is the official grand opening of the new 16-screen Arclight Cinemas at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. You may have attended already during the cineplex's "soft opening" over the last couple of weeks. If so, please post a comment on your experience below.

If you haven't gone, it's not too late to order tickets. Curious about what ArcLight has to offer compared to other theaters within driving distance? Watch my video review for a preview of the ArcLight experience, and hear about the concept and dining options directly from ArcLight employees themselves. See the largest-screen auditorium, learn some technical specs, and hear about the brand's selling points - like no advertising before the movie!

Interstellar is the big movie there this weekend, as well as Big Hero 6 - which is not a sequel, despite the title.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


I returned to the new ArcLight Cinemas yesterday for a sneak preview of Westfield Montgomery's 16-screen cineplex, and have brought back plenty of photos (stay tuned for video). Obviously, the lobby wall of screens is what grabs your attention the most upon entering, and that real estate is currently promoting the highly-anticipated Interstellar, which starts showing on November 4 at ArcLight. I also sampled some of the food you can enjoy from the lobby's cafe, and their signature caramel corn. The latter is made on-site every day, and is more like taffy than the cheaper, "spray-on" caramel corn you might buy at the grocery store. Having said that, I'm a purist who enjoys the flavor and aroma of movie theater popcorn, preferably with extra butter. That aroma was in the air when I came in the door of the lobby, making this movie buff feel instantly at home.
Extra butter for me
Chris Nolan's Interstellar dominates
the lobby at the moment

This is just plain impressive


Light fixtures and a screen
"curtain" accent the upscale
feel of the lobby


Time waits for no man - and
neither will the movie, if
you're late
There is a small area of the lobby dedicated to movie-themed gifts, including merchandise from Star Wars, Star Trek, A Christmas Story and The Wizard of Oz. You'll also find exhibit space throughout the cineplex, and yesterday, that was dedicated to stills from Christopher Nolan's Interstellar and costumes from Robin Hood and Black Swan.

Costume from Black Swan

Robin Hood - as portrayed by
comic book legend Stan Lee for
ArcLight Cinemas
About that food - my favorite so far is the Popcorn Chicken. Not to be confused with a frozen chicken product, this was fried fresh, was extremely tender and juicy, and comes with dipping sauces. I also tried a flatbread pizza which was pretty good, and a fountain-prepared Coca-Cola. There are charcuterie and cheese boards, and quite a few baked pastries for dessert.
Ready for dessert?


Your diet just went out
the window

Chocoholics unite

Thick brownie

"Cookies are a sometimes thing"
- Cookie Monster (yeah, right!)

Not the typical theater food

Cheese board

"I'm crackers about cheese"
- Wallace,
The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Popcorn chicken. Verdict?

Just about all of your favorite
movie theater candies - plus
local Glarus chocolate bars!
The lobby's cafe

Enjoy food and cocktails
here, or take them into
the theater


Classic or caramel corn?
Try an adult beverage
On to the theater! In this case, it was Auditorium 6. There was a demonstration of the theater's Dolby Atmos sound system, which was very impressive. During an on-screen rainstorm, the 360º speaker setup made it sound like rain was literally falling from the ceiling and landing on the theater floor.

During an advance preview of Nightcrawler later in the afternoon, that movie's unique color scheme for its stunning cinematographic views of Los Angeles was richly displayed. As several representatives of ArcLight mentioned, the chain's California locations are where directors go when they want to see their films as they were meant to be seen. That includes the black box theater concept, no crackling popcorn bags (it comes in tubs, instead) and nacho-crunching, and no texting during the movies. Ushers take more of a host role here, and forget about standing in line - there are no lines, and all seating is reserved. As I mentioned in the past, there are also no ads. You might get a bonus feature after the movie, or a very short one as one of the few previews before it - you may recall some of those ArcLight-exclusive features I have posted here on the blog in the past.
Large numbers help you quickly
locate your reserved seat

A test drive of the plush cloth seats found them to be very comfortable (although the running time of Interstellar should give them the ultimate test!).
Remember the movie poster
cases from the hard hat tour?

Little movie called Hunger Games

Interstellar still

Big Hero 6

Returning to the lobby
from the auditoriums

Go ahead and check out the movies on sale now, and be one of the first in Montgomery County to experience ArcLight Cinemas' first location outside of California. Why wait until the grand opening on November 4, when you can buy tickets now for John Wick tomorrow night (October 23 at 10:00 PM), and enjoy a livestreamed Q and A with Keanu Reeves from Los Angeles after the film? Looking forward to more of those types of events here in the future.

ArcLight has set the bar high for the next generation of movie theaters in Montgomery County, and it will be interesting to see how iPic Theaters will stack up at Pike and Rose up the road.
But first let me
take a selfie

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Join me for a behind-the-scenes VIP hard hat tour of the future ArcLight Cinemas, and new Dining Terrace, at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The sleek, modern dining terrace is just about finished, and the cineplex will open in late October.

It's a refreshing change to be reporting on a movie theater under construction, rather than theaters being demolished in the past (or, potentially, in the future, in the case of the Regal Cinemas in downtown Bethesda).
Eric Howard of Westfield Corporation
The future Valet station is in
the background

To the left is one of several
trees that balance the
modern architecture with
an organic element

Ultimately, the new cineplex/dining terrace addition is the most prominent manifestation of Westfield's $90 million upgrade of Montgomery Mall. While White Flint Mall's owners chose to pull the plug on their successful indoor mall to gamble on an urban, "town center" concept, Westfield went in the opposite direction, bringing Montgomery Mall up to the standards of its California properties.

As Westfield representatives explained during a press conference and hard hat tour yesterday, dining and entertainment are the prime catalysts for success in a competitive market like the Washington, D.C. area. Westfield Montgomery had been a runner-up to regional giant Tysons Corner for many years, with the latter boasting more - and more upscale - dining options and a far more ambitious multiplex theater.
Westfield Montgomery Marketing
Manager Diego Gonzalez-Zuniga

Gonzalez-Zuniga described
the ArcLight/Dining Terrace
addition as "the new front
door" of the mall

It's amazing what 18 months and $90 million can do. Westfield Montgomery has pulled just about even with Tysons in dining options, with new and future tenants like The Cheesecake Factory, Lobster ME, MET Bethesda, CRAVE, and Naples 45. If you consider that the last time I was at the movies at Tysons, the theater seats were stained with holes in the cushions, I would argue that a buzzworthy replacement for Legal Sea Foods could put Westfield Montgomery ahead of Tysons by a nose.
Ted Xenohristos, founder of Cava Mezze
Restaurant Group, said the chain's new
Dining Terrace location will have
several new features, including a
wood stone oven for housemade pita,
and local craft beer and wines on tap

That potential was only made possible by the 16-screen ArcLight Cinemas and the signing of many new upscale retail tenants like Lilly Pulitzer and True Religion. Some other longstanding complaints were addressed during this period, including closing the "Starbucks gap" when Westfield finally got the coffee chain on board. It also made sure that smaller dining tenants were unique, such as Dumpling Dojo, Wicked Waffle and Aroma Espresso Bar.
Zach Sussman of CRAVE Restaurants
says CRAVE takes sushi seriously

Along with the bigger full-service restaurants coming in the months ahead, these dining options were definitely not the standard food court offerings of average malls in the past. That's one reason Westfield Montgomery's food court is now called a Dining Terrace, not a food court.
The spectacular view from the
upper level in the Dining Terrace

Sarku Japan's sushi bar is
a centerpiece in the new
dining palace

The escalator that will bring patrons
up to more dining options, and the
ArcLight Cinemas

At yesterday's press conference, representatives of Cava Grill, Lobster ME, Blaze Pizza, CRAVE and MET Bethesda offered a preview of the menus and unique aspects of their respective restaurants. In the case of Lobster ME and Blaze Pizza, there was actually food to sample (stay tuned for a separate report on Blaze Pizza).
Gretchen McCourt, Exec. VP
at ArcLight Cinemas
McCourt said ArcLight patrons
won't be bombarded with
annoying ads before movies

And, as you will see in the video, ArcLight Cinemas promises to be a major boon for film buffs, in addition to satisfying the dinner-and-a-movie crowd. I like that the chain treats movies less as a commodity and more as the art form it is, with no advertising and a black box in-theater atmosphere. And it will be the only theater in Bethesda showing films of the past, an experience that currently requires a trip over to the AFI Silver Theatre in downtown Silver Spring.
McCourt leads members of the media
on a tour of one of the 16 auditoriums
under construction in the ArcLight Cinemas

Ultimately, we are witnessing the reinvigoration of the suburban indoor mall. Rather than dying out, Westfield Montgomery remains a major retail destination in the DC area. With the new multiplex and restaurants, it is now also an entertainment and dining destination. This comes just as the momentum and population growth is shifting from urban areas back to the suburbs across the country, making it perfect timing for the rebirth of the indoor mall.
ArcLight Cinemas' lobby will feature a
small cafe/wine bar

ArcLight's signature lobby image wall,
which will have changing displays
throughout the year, was being
installed yesterday

Lobby of ArcLight Cinemas

Another lobby shot

Jordan McMeen of
Blaze Pizza

Blaze Pizza opens today - stay
tuned for a review!
Chairs, tables and other
furnishes await placement
in the completed Dining Terrace
Sarku Japan's sushi bar

Where the press conference was
held earlier in the morning

Lobby of ArcLight Cinemas

Speakers are already installed in
this ArcLight Cinemas auditorium

Very dark shot looking
at the future seats from the
future screen
The corridor inside ArcLight;
note frames to hold
Coming Attractions posters
at left

Curved walls are a feature
inside all ArcLight cineplexes,
Eric Howard of Westfield said

Entrance to Auditorium 7,
where you may one day enter
to screen a movie

The escalators were running
after the hard hat tour; later
I noticed the escalator company
truck outside, meaning they
were probably testing it

But first, let me take a selfie
Now, watch this exclusive, behind-the-scenes video: