2021 | Opinion

Opinion: Bethesda Row theater reopening is welcome news; now, the question is when

Community eager for a return to entertainment

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In early June, Bethesda Beat reported that Landmark Theatres’ Bethesda Row Cinema planned to reopen, but gave no date for the reopening.

Finally, Landmark has announced that it could reopen sometime in August, but still has yet to give us an exact date for the reopening.

This is good news, but what took them so long? And must we wait until the end of summer to get the theater back?

I have been periodically e-mailing Landmark at customerservice@landmarktheatres.com, posing the question as to when, or even whether, they would be reopening in Bethesda. Responses have been spotty, and lacking in information. They said they plan to reopen, but without giving a date.

I have been urging others to write to Landmark, hoping that would prompt them to reopen the theater. Perhaps if the owners realized how much of a pent-up demand there was for the reopening, they would respond quickly. That was my hope.

For years, we residents of Bethesda and Chevy Chase in particular have supported the Landmark theater in Bethesda with our dollars. It is the only movie theater easily accessible to some local residents without a car.

Now we need Landmark to step up to the plate and reopen. It is a health issue, in addition to being an issue of recreation, because people crave, and need, to be able to escape from the hot summer sun to indoor venues. It is an issue of physical and mental health.

At least we know now that they plan to open in August. But just when in August, they have yet to tell us. I do hope that it is sooner rather than later.

It would seem that an early August opening, rather than later in the month, would be ideal — our high COVID-19 vaccination rate in this area, pent-up consumer demand for movies on the big screen and the availability of students to employ at the theater, during what limited time remains of their summer break.

And during this heat wave, people are looking to escape to indoor entertainment and relief from the heat.

I previously thought that if the Landmark theater was not going to reopen, our county officials should get involved, and work with the owners of the space and the theater to see if there might be a way to convert this space into a community theater.

I copied some of my communications to Landmark to some of our county officials with this suggestion.

Now that Landmark plans to reopen, the problem appears to be solved. But in the event the owners of the theater were to back down on their promise to the community to reopen, I think that option should remain on the table.

Deborah A. Vollmer is a community activist who lives in Chevy Chase.