The new ArcLight Cinemas inside Westfield Montgomery Mall is ready for show time.
Bethesda’s newest movie theater will have a soft opening starting Thursday and will officially open in time for Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster “Interstellar” on Nov. 5.
When it opens, it will be the first ArcLight outside of the company’s home base in California.
On Tuesday, company officials were on hand to explain what makes ArcLight different.
“I think the signature is no advertising,” said Steve Green, ArcLight’s vice president of operations. “I asked my wife what she loved the most [about ArcLight] and she said I don’t want people wasting my time. She just wants to come to the movies, see maybe three trailers beforehand and then straight into the movie.”
Inside the lobby, there’s no box office, only kiosks where moviegoers can purchase tickets. ArcLight sells many of its tickets online before shows. There’s also a massive board that resembles a train station departure board, listing the movies being played and their show times.
“It models Grand Central Station, where you’re about to go off on a journey,” Green said.
You’ll be greeted by a simple concession stand that features ArcLight’s own caramel popcorn as well as movie food staples—soft drinks, candy and popcorn (in this case with real butter.) Nearby is the café, which offers six rotating beer taps, a number of wines, and food including pizzas, wings, spring rolls, cookies and even a lobster roll.
The café also serves $11 cocktails named after movies, such as the “Perfect Stormy” and “Miranda’s Cosmo.”
There’s a total of 16 auditoriums and they range in size. The smallest seats about 85 people and features a 30-foot by 25-foot screen, while the largest seats 295 and includes a 65-foot across by 45-foot high widescreen. Two of the auditoriums are equipped with Dolby Atmos, which sound engineers showed off Tuesday. It’s loud, for sure, but engrossing. The promotional video shown featured a jungle scene, with birds chirping in the background, booming thunder, drops of rain striking water and a thumping bass.
In a trend becoming popular in theaters across the country, each seat is assigned ahead of time, so there’s no need to get to the theater in advance to secure good seats.
Also somewhat unique to ArcLight is its eclectic mix of movies. The theater will show blockbuster features, Indie flicks, documentaries and classic movies. Although most of the projectors are high-end Christie digitals, there’s also a 35-millimeter projector, to show older movies and new movies released on film.
Movie tickets cost $11.75 to $13.75 depending on what time the movie is shown. ArcLight also offers a membership, which costs $15 per year, but provides members with $1 off each movie ticket.
Movies being shown this weekend include “Gone Girl”, "St. Vincent" and “Fury.”