The Big House
Anyone know what film is going to be showing at the new AMC 1000 Van Ness 14-plex movie house when it opens its doors on Friday, July 3? Reel World doesn't, and neither does AMC. Danny Glover's latest career low point, Lethal Weapon 4, is tentatively set for the Van Ness on July 10; but the only big-budget flick scheduled to open the week before is the Bruce Willis-'n'-asteroids package Armageddon. Problem: Armageddon, like the recent Godzilla, opens on a Wednesday, in this case July 1. That's two days too early for the Van Ness.
The good news: AMC Kabuki General Manager Shawn Eisner reports that the new house's top price will be $7.50, same as the Kabuki. This confounds predictions made in this space last year that the new wave of multiplexes -- there's another 15-plex going up in Yerba Buena Gardens -- will bring with them $8 tickets. We're betting, however, that the $7.50 ducat lasts only until the Christmas season; in the next five months the comfy Van Ness plex will likely deal mortal blows to the United Artists Galaxy and Blumenfeld Enterprise's Regency I and II just up the street. Once established, and with highly touted films like Brian De Palma's controversial 8 Millimeter (with Nicolas Cage) on the holiday marquee, AMC Van Ness will be able to match the city-high $8 prime-time tab pioneered at local United Artists outlets like (in order of ascending shabbiness) the Coronet, the Galaxy, and the Alexandria.
No surprise, then, that UA's refurbished and renovated Metro, reopening Thursday, June 18, with a benefit screening of Gone With the Wind -- followed the next day by The X-Files -- keeps its $8 admittance charge. The viewing experience will be noticeably enhanced thanks to a new 4,500-watt projector lamp house (the previous brightness was 3,000 watts), a curved 54-foot screen, and eight-channel digital sound with improved acoustics. The prewar murals have been cleaned and restored as well, returning a touch of period elegance to the 800-seat landmark. Needless to say, nothing can be done to improve the parking situation, so the Metro still won't lure moviegoers from other S.F. neighborhoods. But we can all rest easy knowing that the well-paid and well-scrubbed denizens of the Marina have a snazzy movie theater with clean new seats in which to park their crisp new khakis.
The Nutty Professor
Shameless Self Promotion Department: Wednesday, June 17, marks the first session and the last chance to enroll in "And Justice for All: Bay Area Documentary Filmmakers," a seven-week course taught by your trusty correspondent at the Laguna Street campus (in S.F.) of UC Berkeley Extension. My guests include the likes of Crumb director Terry Zwigoff, Oscar-winner Debra Chasnoff (Deadly Deception), ATA's Craig Baldwin, and Ellen Bruno (Sacrifice). The tuition is $195, and it's good for class credit. Call 252-5250.