ArcLight Cinemas makes big-screen debut at mall


Arjun Swaminathan

ArcLight Cinemas opened in Westfield Montgomery in early November. The movie theater provides many perks that differ from normal movie theaters including online, reserved seating and a cafe.

By Arjun Swaminathan, Online Arts Editor

Grandiose, dazzling and sparkling are all words that come to mind as one enters ArcLight Bethesda, the new movie theater that opened Nov. 6 at the Westfield Montgomery mall.

As ArcLight Cinemas’ first location outside of California, the luxury of the 16-screen behemoth is a stunning contrast to the previous mall theater, a small, dark and gloomy two-screen facility. With no box office, a variety of cosmetic improvements and brand new customer services, ArcLight Bethesda provides moviegoers with a whole new experience.

The moment moviegoers enter the theater, they are introduced to an innovative and convenient ticket buying process. Viewers must reserve and pay for specific seats in advance, either online or at machines set up in the theater’s entrance area. This speeds up the procedure dramatically and also drastically reduces the length of ticket lines.

“The idea of reserving tickets beforehand is great because in normal movie theaters if you happen to go to the movie late it is extremely hard to find a decent seat,” junior Austin Yang said. “This eliminates that problem.”

On the opposite wall of the entrance area, show times are displayed around a clock that hovers over people walking by. The ambitious theater design also adds a fancy café and bar in addition to the regular concessions area, allowing visitors a place to rest and relax while waiting for their film to start.

“I thought the concessions were really organized and clean,” junior Elya Nassaj said. “The décor is a little much, but it still makes the place look great.”

As for the show itself, one cannot help but feel satisfied with the experience. ArcLight differs greatly from other movie theaters by removing bothersome advertisements that usually run prior to a viewing, since the theater skips directly to previews instead and starts at the scheduled time. Polite employees tell viewers to be respectful and silence cell phones instead of a voice on the screen, and the show itself runs smoothly on a high definition screen.

“The theater is smaller with a bigger screen, which I like because you feel closer to the screen wherever you sit,” Yang said. “The sound is incredible.”

Despite its great atmosphere and convenience, ArcLight is not without its drawbacks. In addition to paying for relatively expensive tickets costing up to $13.75 per adult, moviegoers are required to reserve seats in advance, and anyone who arrives late for their viewing is not allowed to be seated.

According to junior Monica Oves, having to reserve seats is “too much work” for one movie.

Although ArcLight Bethesda may have minor inconveniences, it remains a vast improvement over the mall’s old theater, which was small, crammed and bland. Moviegoers will gaze around in awe at its splendor and magnificence before they enjoy a great show.

“Watching a movie at ArcLight Bethesda turns into a fun little experience that you can enjoy with your friends,” Nassaj said. “I definitely recommend everyone go at least once to see if they like this whole new thing.”