Movieland preview wrap up

Highlights from our excluuuuuuusive tour of the luxuuuuuuurious new movie theater.

Ross and I just got back from an excluuuuuuuusive tour of Bow Tie Cinemas‘ newest venture: Movieland at Boulevard Square.

Before I actually get into the specifics about the new theater, let me answer that question that has been plaguing all of you: Do they wear bow ties?

The answer is yes. Well sort of.

We were taken around the theater by Charley Moss and his son Ben Moss, the father-son duo that runs Bow Tie Cinemas, based in New York City. Moss the Senior was, in fact, sporting a bow tie, which somehow made this whole operation seem more legit to me.

After stuffing us full of donuts and coffee, Charley and Ben ushered us outside of the building so we could get a full grasp of the “story” this movie-going experience is supposed to tell.

The theater is in a converted locomotive plant that was built in the 1860s. Trying to stay true to the building’s history, the architects and builders have made use of the various railroad paraphernalia dug up during the renovation: railroad tracks running through the parking lot serving as planters, and railroad ties are mounted just above the box office.

The lobby taps into Richmond’s love for everything industrial with original exposed brick and steel beams running across the high ceilings. It will eventually sport your typical concession stand (with a few snazzy options like chicken fingers and jalapeno poppers!) a cafe, and a beer and wine bar (once the alcohol license come through – as license that just might allow you to take the booze INTO THE THEATER WITH YOU). They were also very proud of the catwalk crossing over the concession stand that serves as a bridge between the two exposed projection rooms. These guys seem really into making your trip to the movies An Event, and think giving you a chance to watch the projectionists do their thing will add to that.

Charley and Ben pointed out that they worked hard to create a contrast between the industrial feel of the lobby catering to Richmond’s love for reuse and preservation of the city’s historical buildings and the actual movie-watching experience. So everything past the lobby is all about being luxuuuuuuuurious. Even the bathrooms were planned out specifically with slate tile on the while, rich wallpaper, and, my favorite part of the whole tour, the Dyson Airblade hand dryers. I *might* have spent some time in the bathroom before the tour playing with them. Possibly.

Movieland has 17 screens, 2 of them with digital capabilities and the rest your standard 35mm. They all offer stadium seating. Honestly, when you go in, they look pretty much like a cleaned up version of Short Pump or Commonwealth, but there are  few subtle touches that make it special, like the custom, wood-backed chairs. Another interesting tidbit: Movieland upholds a zero-tolerance policy for disturbances while viewing a movie. Apparently there are people on each shift whose sole responsibilities are to monitor the audience for obnoxious behavior like talking too loud, texting, and so on. Anyone causing riff-raff is O.U.T. I can’t wait to see my first ousting – do you think people will applaud? Will it be a slow clap maybe, or roaring applause?

Probably what we should be most excited about is the huge variety of films Charley and Ben are promising. Movieland will show the blockbusters, but those interested in smaller, independent films will also have options. Bow Tie Cinemas recognized that Richmond was being underserved in that area and came here to answer that need. Local filmmakers are also welcome and encouraged to talk to management about screenings and festivals, a comment that took me a bit by surprise but shows that these guys actually do seem invested in giving back to the city, not just collecting its residents’ money.

Ok, enough with my jibber-jabbering. Here are some bullet points!

  • Opening day: Friday February 27, 2009
  • Yes, there is parking. The lot is pretty well-lit and has room for 800 cars. They also thought of you two wheel lovers and installed bike racks right out front.
  • Movies showing opening weekend: The Jonas Brother 3D Concert Experience (WOOOOO!!!!), Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, Tyler Perry’s Medea Goes to Jail, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Friday the 13th, The Pink Panther 2, Milk, Benjamin Button, Wendy and Lucy, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, and Slumdog Millionaire
  • Special events: Movies and Mimosas boasting classic movies AND booze, and Insomnia Theater which seems to be the same thing as Midnight Movie at The Byrd but half an hour earlier and significantly less cramped.
  • Special offers: They have a free valued customer program called the Criterion Club that lets you earn points towards free tickets and concessions AND can get you into members-only events and screenings.
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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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