Credit: Andrew Metcalf

It won’t be long until you can have a cocktail while watching the latest hit movie at Westfield Montgomery in Bethesda—ArcLight Cinemas is planning to open at the end of October, according to officials who provided a progress update on the shopping mall’s expansion during a press tour Wednesday.

The 16-screen movie theater is the biggest piece of the mall’s new $90 million, 40,000-square-foot expansion that has been under construction for the past 18 months.

“We really feel this will position us as the retail destination of Montgomery County,” said Eric Howard, a senior general manager for Westfield.

Construction of the movie theater, which is ArcLight’s first venture outside of the Los Angeles area, is still underway on the upper floor. Seats weren’t installed as of Wednesday and construction workers were installing the lobby’s signature wall of screens. The train station-like schedule board that will show movie times hadn’t been posted yet.

When the theater, opens, it will offer a new movie-going experience with wide seats, all-reserved seating and no advertising before films are shown, according to ArcLight. The theater will screen blockbusters as well as specialty films. Concessions will include house-made caramel popcorn, beer, wine and cocktails, and there will be a café where you can sit before or after movies. But expect to pay more for those amenities—ticket prices will be about 20 percent more than at traditional theaters, said Gretchen McCourt, an Arclight executive vice president.


A dining terrace, another part of the mall expansion that is connected to the existing food court, is nearly complete. It has a soaring atrium, black booths, dark laminate floors, white tables and enough space to seat 720 people.

The lower floor will feature fast-casual restaurants such as Cava Mezze Grill, Lobster ME and Chipotle. Naples Ristorante E Pizzeria will also operate a full-service location on the first floor, part of which will have mall exterior views. Above Naples will be MET Bethesda, a steakhouse with contemporary American cuisine. The restaurant will be located across from the theater on the upper floor.

An additional restaurant also will be located on the upper floor, Howard said. Westfield Montgomery is negotiating with a “boutique restaurant,” which Howard said he couldn’t name because no lease has been signed. He said additional restaurant announcements will be made later this year.


Many of the restaurants that have already been announced are expected to begin opening this fall or winter. Cava co-owner Ted Xenohristos said the company’s restaurant will likely open in November. Lobster ME announced in a press release it plans to open in late October.

Howard said the mall’s mix of restaurants along with a major attraction, such as ArcLight, is a development concept that Westfield is constructing or considering at its locations across the country.


Construction workers inside the ArcLight Cinemas space

A photographer captures a picture from the top row of one of the ArcLight theater rooms. Seats and screens are still among the things to be installed at the theater.


A rendering of what the lobby will look like once completed. Via ArcLight Cinemas


The dining terrace area (above) and a picture of the booths. Credit: Andrew Metcalf


A rendering of the CAVA Mezze Grill space planned for the dining terrace.