Old Greenbelt Theatre

129 Centerway,
Greenbelt, MD 20770

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Greenbelt Theatre ... Greenbelt Maryland

The Greenbelt Theatre was opened on September 21, 1938. The opening attraction was “Little Miss Broadway” with Shirley Temple. The original seating capacity was 590. It was designed in an Art Deco style by architects Reginald S. Wadsworth & Douglas O. Ellington.

The Greenbelt Theatre showed movies for almost 40 years until it closed in 1976. Reopening as a community arts center in 1980, the theater struggled again and closed in 1987.

P & G Theatres purchased the Old Greenbelt Theatre and reopened it as a movie theatre in 1990. The Greenbelt Theatre is, again, one of the best movie houses in the capital area with a 40-foot wide screen and a sound system with 4,900 watts of power and 60 speakers.

The theatre was renovated by the City of Greenwood in 2014-2015, with funding provided in part by Partners in Preservation, a joint grant program of American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Maryland Historical Trust, and private donors. The renovation includes new digital projection equipment, a new 35mm projector for archival screenings, a restored lobby and ticket booth, restrooms improvements, and an enhanced concession area. The Friends of Greenbelt Theatre, a non-profit organization, was awarded a contract by the City of Greenbelt to operate the 400-seat theatre starting May 1, 2015.

On July 3, 2019, a second screen opened at the storefront next door, at 125 Centerway, as a ‘Pop-up’ temporary, 40-seat microcinema with plush cairs, and will close in Spring 2020 & would then be renovated as a permanent 40-seat screening room and Media Arts Literacy Lab educational space.

Contributed by Alexander Barnes, Paul Sanchez

Recent comments (view all 38 comments)

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 8, 2016 at 8:13 am

I am an official volunteer but can’t edit the Intro outright. Post a new Intro or amendments in a comment & if the site editor doesn’t see it, I will & will send it to him. Also if you can please post any photos of the theater in the photo gallery, that would be great, too!

OGTDan
OGTDan on March 4, 2016 at 11:35 am

Hey all! It would be great to get this on the page:

The theater was renovated by The City of Greenbelt in 2014-2015, with funding provided in part by Partners in Preservation, a joint grant program of American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Maryland Historical Trust, and private donors. The renovation includes new digital projection equipment, a new 35MM projector for archival screenings, a restored lobby and ticket booth, restroom improvements, and an enhanced concession area.

The Friends of Greenbelt Theatre, a nonprofit organization, was awarded a contract by the City of Greenbelt to operate the theater starting May 1, 2015.

Website: greenbelttheatre.org
Phone: 301-329-2034

Thanks!

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on March 5, 2016 at 2:42 pm

Thank you for the info which was used to update the page. Please let us know of future renovations or other important changes.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on March 7, 2016 at 6:01 pm

Dan, when will Phase 2 be complete? I had thought the renovations were all but done when they reopened the venue last year.

The adjacent space that was a dry cleaner would make for a great second auditorium :) Not sure if its still there or has been occupied, but the last time I was there you could still see clothes hanging from the machines as if customers had forgotten to pick up their finished items.

Just what changes have been done? I suspect there is a DP system in place, which has allowed you to reopen and book titles unavailable on 35mm. With the DP system in place, have management considered booking non-movie shows to save on booking fees such as sporting events and just charge for high gross profit concessions and such?

Aside from cushioning, I didn’t think the old seats were all that bad with the exception of some that were broken and not repaired.

Then there was that one toilet in the mens room that could easily be moved..

I hope they still have pictures of the local old theaters; Flower, Hyattsville, Allen that were on the lobby wall.

I’ve been following the bookings of late and have yet to find movies of interest to me. I was hoping they’d book recent Oscar shorts and minis. They should be cheaper now to book since the Oscars are over. This year is the first year I’ve missed most of the nominated films due to work and other activities :(

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on March 7, 2016 at 6:22 pm

JodarMovieFan, from the website Remodeled in 2014-2015 by the City of Greenbelt, today the Theatre has 380 seats, a 40’ CinemaScope screen, two Simplex XL 35mm projectors, a Christie 4K digital projector, and a Dolby Digital 5.1 sound system. In 2015, Friends of Greenbelt Theatre signed a contract with the City of Greenbelt to operate the Theatre as a non-profit organization.

Giles
Giles on March 7, 2016 at 7:35 pm

apparently my comments made on April 25th of last year – was sort of pointless – thankfully OGTDan’s comments on February 6th of this year here on Cinema Treasures and on Facebook corrected and described ‘Phase 2’ – I’m curious what the “upgrading … of the screen” actually means – larger?

OGTDan
OGTDan on March 10, 2016 at 3:27 pm

Thank you, Howard, for getting the new info up!

Jodar: Appreciate your interest in the OGT! The plan is for phase two to happen in about 18 months and not require the theater to be closed for any period. Hopefully some of our upcoming programming catches your eye. Have you checked out our noir series? As a big film fan myself, I’ve been nerding out about all of the films that we’re showing (in general, but especially for that series). Thanks!

Giles: That’s not totally set, but the plan is not necessarily larger, just newer (microperf, etc). That said, our 40' screen is still awe inspiring. Thanks!

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on December 25, 2017 at 5:22 pm

Finally made it to see this venue after its remodel. The lobby area is nicely redone with dark wood flooring and a nicer concession stand with some baked goods. Since I was too full from Christmas food, I just got a drink. Prices are reasonable ($9 Adult) and $4 or so for the large drink. Very reasonable, if cheap compared to the chains. Restrooms are a welcome change. They switched restrooms as the Mens room was the Women’s rest room. New fixtures and interiors are a welcome, long awaited change. No more creaking moveable commode. :D

I saw The Greatest Showman. I’m more than convinced Hugh Jackman cannot sing although he is good at pretending to. The musical numbers are good, especially the first one between young Jackman’s character and his future wife. The auditorium was filled with the sound of music and voices. While not quite inventive as Buz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge, there are some good moments. The actress who plays the Lady with the Beard should get a Supporting Actress nod.
I know the film isn’t a straight bio but movie ‘inspired by’ it ends too abruptly after a tragic event. What is rather poignant is the fact the real Barnum & Baily circus shut down this year as this film is released.

I’m looking to seeing The Post in the upcoming weeks assuming they book it here.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on December 15, 2019 at 10:49 am

We’ve added to the Intro the news that there’s a 2nd screen.

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on January 30, 2020 at 12:04 am

Finally made it to the original auditorium after its long period of remodeling work. You no longer buy tickets at the box office but enter inside. While this is a good way to increase concession sales, it takes forever to get into the theater if you don’t want to buy anything. Maybe there should be a kiosk to self-purchase tickets to bypass the concession counter. Or, go straight to the cashier to buy movie tickets.

The seats are nice and firm but get tiring to sit in after awhile. I suspect I am spoiled by the faux leather seats at the chains. The big screen looks wonderful as does the projection. They play a nice DP trailer and historical bit at the start of the show. There is a pictorial on the restoration but to be honest, you wouldn’t notice a whole lot of difference between the before and after the remodel. Perhaps, one can’t fully appreciate the details, or in my case, don’t have the eye for it but $250K is a lot to spend. This isn’t a criticism at all. I just figure this is what it cost to modernize and update the place.

I saw ‘Little Women’ on Christmas Day (2019) and ‘1917’ a couple of weeks ago. Both films were very good and deserve whatever accolades and awards they are likely to receive. For'1917'I sat especially close to the screen to better immerse myself into the experience. I was. I love the ‘long take’ style as you feel like you are there in real time. The group next to me snuck in cans of beer. I could hear the sounds of the tab click opening of the cans they consumed. Then the smell. Ugh. Fortunately, they were quiet and not rowdy. There were two employees to greet me but no one bothered to clean up the spilled popcorn on the floor before the start of the show. Not a good thing.

With the Chinese restaurant next door and the sandwich shop across, it would be nice to have more concession fare than the usual popcorn and bakery fare. A decent coffee making machine maybe..iced coffee..latte? Or, movie/restaurant combo special…20% off menu prices with a ticket stub? :) Or, discounted movie ticket with a $20 restaurant purchase?

I peaked into the second theater next door. It is tiny. I remember the dry cleaning place that vacated the space and can recall an enormous space that appeared to run8 adjacent to the original auditorium’s length. There is obviously more to the space than what they’ve used. Maybe they could one day open yet another, larger auditorium if the economics can support a third screen behind the screening room.

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