About 45 percent of the reason I moved to Leesburg was because of the incredibly charming Tally Ho Theater.
It is a beautiful old movie house, which lured me in with showings of classic horror movies in October 2009. And it will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the first place I saw “Jaws,” a film I put off seeing for 26 years, and I fear this fact means I should surrender my self-imposed status as a movie buff.
But while the Tally Ho remains my favorite spot in town to watch films like Quentin Tarantino’s absurd Inglorious Basterds, I was still excited to attend a screening of Captain America: The First Avenger at the newly opened Cobb Village 12 in the Village at Leesburg.
I think examining these two World War II-era fantasy films side-by-side with the theaters will give readers a good indication of why I would chose one over the other, depending on the film.
Inglorious Basterds is a gritty, grainy intentional callback to exploitation films of the 1970s, like most of Tarantino’s movies. It makes sense to enjoy it in a more intimate environment; the squeak of the seats, the sticky spots on the floor and the atmosphere of the Tally Ho is far better for this type of movie. You can imagine Tarantino himself preferring to watch his picture there.
On the other hand, Captain America is a slick, Disney-backed comic book movie with all the bells, whistles and CGI effects. Even the Nazis in this film look like they bought their weapons second hand from the starship Enterprise. When Fritz is using a phaser on screen, it helps to be sitting in an ultra-modern environment.
And Cobb Village 12 does not disappoint.
Once I’d purchased tickets, the escalators lead me into the main lobby past security guards and various support staff, and automatically I knew this was going to be a different kind of theatrical experience.
Everything is shiny, new and engaging. The glowing font of the concession stand sign fairly commands you to buy delicious, buttery popcorn. There are private rooms for children’s birthday parties. I spied one set with Smurfs-themed party favors. There are nice tables to sit and enjoy food without having to spill it on yourself in a darkened auditorium.
Not only is there a VIP section — which I’ll probably never have occasion to visit — but there is even a very well stocked bar where you can sit and enjoy a drink prior to your chosen feature, or chat about it afterward.
The entry fee is a bit steep for a humble journalist, for two adults at 7:45 p.m. showing, it cost $21.
But for your money you are treated to extremely polite staff. I want to emphasize that, because I am not aware if it is a company policy or just grand opening enthusiasm from the teens which it employs, but it was a welcome change from the dull stares I’ve seen at some larger cineplexes. It’s really nice to hear “I hope you enjoyed your film,” and “have a nice evening,” from a smiling employee as you leave the theater.
All in all, I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to make it out to Cobb Village 12, but if I do get more chances, I’d like to make an evening of it. I’ll invite all my friends, grab a cocktail before hand, maybe I’ll even dress up.
It’s nice that some companies are trying to make going out to the movies more of an experience.
But don’t worry, Tally Ho. I still love you best for horror movies, exploitation fare, and pretty much anything other than big-budget superhero blockbusters.
Editor’s note: please pardon the quality of these photos. They were shot on my personal cell phone, which is probably due for an upgrade.