The D.C. suburbs are in the midst of a cinematic boom — and the latest entrant on the scene has an impressive pedigree.
The Angelika Film Center & Cafe opens Sept. 21 in Fairfax County; it's the newest outpost of the famed Angelika art house in New York City's SoHo district, and it's bringing the chain's unique blend of surprising programming, delicious snacks and ambience to Virginia audiences.
The Angelika joins Bethesda's Landmark, Silver Spring's AFI Silver and the forthcoming ArcLight Cinema in Bethesda as the most recent treat for suburban cinephiles.
"Like the Angelika in NYC and our two Angelikas in Texas, the Angelika at Mosaic will play provocative and engaging film programming in a cutting edge theatrical environment," said Ellen Cotter, chief operating officer of the U.S. cinema division of Reading International Inc. and head of programming for the cinema.
The region's burgeoning reputation as a center for intrepid artistic exploration made the D.C. area a prime target for the Angelika brand. "We were very impressed with the depth of the film community in the D.C. area, and it is one of the reasons we chose to build in Fairfax, Va. at Mosaic," Ms. Cotter said. "We are eager to partner with the local film community as we have done in our other theaters."
Before the public opening next week, the Angelika already will have hosted screenings for the DC Shorts festival and the Northern Virginia International Film Festival.
The eight-screen venue is not your average multiplex; in addition to major releases, the theater also will screen some surprises.
The slate upon opening will feature Paul Thomas Anderson's highly anticipated "The Master," a one-week engagement of Jean Renoir's "Grand Illusion" (1937) and the dizzying feast for the eyes "Samsara."
Stomachs will have plenty to feast on as well.
Lee Anne Wong, one of the contestants on the first season of Bravo's "Top Chef," has partnered with the Angelika to design the menus for the theater's cafe, lounge and concession stand. Popcorn's still on the menu, but it's going to have some classy company.
"Our goal is to provide moviegoers with healthy and fresh gourmet food options designed to pair with our craft beer and select wine list, giving new meaning to the phrase 'dinner and a movie,'" Ms. Wong said.
"Signature dishes like the Asian lemon Caesar salad, miso-glazed short ribs, baked edamame falafel panini with harissa lime yogurt, and our curry-rosemary spiced nuts incorporate flavors from around the world, created to excite the palate and enhance the film-viewing experience."
If that all sounds a bit on the healthy side to you, don't worry. You still can indulge.
"There's even what I like to think of as the moviegoer's fantasy dish, called 'The Junk' (and really just all my favorite snacks rolled into one) — potato chips, pretzels, popcorn, and Rice Krispies treats topped with warm, dark chocolate ganache and salted peanut-butter caramel," Ms. Wong said.
"You can even get bacon bits on top if you're feeling adventurous."
Appetizers, sides and salads will run $6 to $14, while dinner boxes will range from $14 to $18.
The theater features a lounge area that will overlook the main auditorium where audiences can meet for a drink before or after a screening — or during, should the picture get a bit dreary.
The management promises plenty of ticket specials targeted at film lovers of all ages.
"Certain special-value programs that are in place include Student Tuesdays, when students enjoy a $9 discounted ticket and a free popcorn; Baby Boomer Thursdays, offering anyone 55 and over a $7 discounted ticket and free popcorn with a purchase of a drink; Wake Up at Angelika, when all shows Monday through Thursday before noon are only $6," Ms. Cotter said.
Those with young families also will be welcome — a happy prospect for those wary of showing up to the theater with a crying baby in tow.
"Angelika sponsors a Cry Baby Matinee every Monday at 11 a.m., which is a select film from our regularly scheduled programming designed for parents with babies who want a worry-free day at the movies," Ms. Cotter said. "We keep the lights up and the sound down for sleeping babies. This program has proven very successful at our other theaters."
The Angelika is located near the Dunn-Loring Metro stop on the Blue and Orange lines and near Interstate 66, Interstate 495 and U.S. Route 50.