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Great Cinema Experiences


#1

A thread about cinemas themselves, rather than the films shown in them.

I was inspired to post on the subject because last night I went to an Everyman cinema for the first time (a new one has just opened in my city), and was very impressed by the entire experience.

The whole thing had a much more adult and luxurious feel than most cinemas, with a smart bar instead of a lobby, much more comfortable sofa-style seating in the screens with tons of legroom and actual tables for drinks, snacks etc., and a much more personalised service all round (including table service within the cinema and individual bars immediately outside each screen).

The whole thing just contributed to an incredibly, relaxed, comfortable environment that enhanced the enjoyment of the whole experience considerably, and it made me wonder whether I’ll ever bother going back to a sticky-floored hard-seated multiplex now that I’ve got this on my doorstep.

I know the Everyman is a chain so I’m sure this won’t come as a surprise to most people, but it was a minor revelation for me.

There’s also a lovely little independent cinema in our city - Birmingham’s Electric Cinema - that has also swayed me away from the big chains recently, offering a lovely old-fashioned cinema experience as well as home-made cakes, freshly-brewed coffee, and a nice range of real ales at the bar.

It’s made me realise how much the cinema itself is an integral part of the experience (and what a great frame of mind it can put you in even before the movie has started: every trailer somehow seemed much more appealing in this environment!).

Has anyone else got any favourites or recommendations?


#2

When I was young I became friends with the local cinema manager, helped out there part time and watched endless films for free. It was an old school single screen cinema in an art deco style with circle and stalls. Sadly it had to close in 1999 after two multiplexes opened nearby (and the issue then was not that they were stealing the customers but the prints, he had to take the big films 3-4 weeks later, which wouldn’t be a problem now due to digital distribution). I loved that place and the way resolutely ran it old school, curtains were always closed when the tabs were pulled out, there were always ushers in the cinema. It’s a listed building now and there are plans afoot to re-open it as a multi purpose art centre.

He went from there to the Odeon chain which he quite liked as they also held on to some of those quality values but quit when they were sold to the US chain UCI and became what he termed ‘popcorn sheds’. It was so bad he took a job running a bingo hall instead as even that was preferable.

That didn’t last long and he now acts as GM for a small chain called Merlin Cinemas, they focus on quality again with luxury seats and quality food and beer. Some of their screens are absolute beauties, this is the Regal in Cromer:

The independent cinemas like that are actually growing at a faster rate than the big box chains which shows a desire for that extra care and the whole cinema experience rather than just the film (I think especially now you can get such high quality audio and sound at home).


#3

Nice idea for a topic!

I love going to the cinema; for me, it’s an entirely different experience from watching a movie at home, and it is still the best way to experience a movie, for me. There is simply a different dynamic of engrossment, to me, in watching something on the big screen, in the complete dark. And, ideally, with an audience that resonates with the movie in the same way I do.

The latter means mostly going to small cinemas. Often not quite up to the standard of the big ones in terms of technology, but that is more than compensated for by an audience that realises that talking during a movie is a mortal sin, and whose eating habits are bearable.

There are a few great ones in my vicinity. The Weißhaus-Kino used to be led by an elderly couple; they’re gone now, but it’s been taken over by the people running another very good one, the Off-Broadway Kino (the Broadway Kino closed down years ago). Anyway, the Weißhaus retains the charm of a 70s cinema, and I love that about it.

They recently opened one of those luxury cinemas recently; the Residenz used to be a regular cinema but was upgraded to that when it reopened after shutting down for a bit.That sounds a lot like the Everyman thing you described, Dave, with personalised service and the like. I still haven’t gone, though because they don’t have original language showings… I have to remember to go there next time I want to catch a German film.

The Off-Broadway I mentioned above is my usual place of choice, by virtue of being in a 10-minutes walking distance from my place, showing most movies in the original language versions these days, and having a brilliant programming. It also just feels right - the right kind of audience, and a friendly atmosphere. They’ve got a little beer garden outside, which is a plus.

This is what they’re currently showing:


#4

I love seeing all these pictures. There’s something incredibly romantic and nostalgic about seeing some of these old-fashioned buildings and auditoriums maintained in their true glory.


#5

When I went to school in Amsterdam I went to Tuschinski a lot. It’s a stunning place.


#6

Here are a few shots of Birmingham’s Electric:


#7

Love the leather armchairs!


#8

Every movie I saw pre 1986 was at a second run theater, The Pickwick. My dad took me took see “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” there in 1976, and got me hooked on Bond. It’s the only place I’ve seen 3 movies in one day (Star Wars, Empire and Jedi…OOT, NOT S.E. :wink: ) It used to be $0.75 to see a show but I’m sure it has gone up since then. :wink: There are 3 mini screens in the building behind it, but thankfully they preserved the main theater instead of chopping it up for smaller sections, like many of the old places have done.

It also happens to be the same place Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert filmed the opening for their show, as a kid I was convinced I would run into them there sometime. :smile:

Since I no longer live in that area our closest theater is 40 miles one way, in another state. An independent theater called Mindframe, in August of 2013 we had a “Great Cinema Experience” there to see Kick-Ass 2…
My wife and I drove 40 miles to the theater, racing to get there by the 4:40pm showing, and although I don’t generally wear costumes in public (except Halloween) I did don my Big Daddy lid, and my wife borrowed our daughter’s Hit-Girl utility belt. On a side note, I got 2 large sodas; large popcorn and a Guinness: $14 plus $12 for both tickets! Not a bad price for such an awesome time. I got carded buying the Guinness, funny thing is, I showed him my ID but never removed my cowl! There were only 3 other people in the theater, a dad with a 13 year old girl and a boy of maybe 8. After the show we talked about it on the way to pick up our daughter and decided to take her to see it (we preview all R rated films before she can watch them). My wife surprised me by saying “I’d go back tonight”. So…we drove 40 miles back home, my daughter did a quick suit-up (no time for wig combing!), and we drove another 80 miles round trip to see the late show with her (she insisted on wearing her full costume the whole time even though it was over 80 deg F). Its’ the 1st time in my life I’ve ever seen the same film in the theater twice in one day! (I could have watched it a 3rd time) and its’ a good thing the theater was cheap, because the gas for 160 miles in a V8 truck put a big dent in my wallet.


#9

http://www.everymancinema.com/ - there ya go!

Here’s one of mine - http://www.wiltern.com/

This is what it has become after a major, major refit. Just before the major refit the Chuck Norris film The Hero and the Terror was shot there (exteriors and interiors), and after the refit the Wiltern (named so because it’s at the corner of Wilshire and Wes tern) can be seen in John Fogerty - The Long Road Home - In Concert. Aside, it’s one of the last times Fogerty played or recorded with a drummer other than Kenny Aronoff - they became good buddies.

Lots of cinema stories, but I’m hungry now, so later maybe!


#10

I’m afraid I’m a complete philistine. To me a great cinema experience is “the ticket was cheap” :smiley:


#11

This seemed relevant to this thread:


#12

Yeah I saw that story yesterday, it looks beautiful.


#13

Just saw Avengers: Age of Ultron at a new cinema near me. It’s a chain place but the screen was damned near IMAX size and the seats are the comfortable ones that recline and have movable armrests. I was afraid a group of guys just down from us were going to talk loudly through the entire film but someone asked them to be quiet fairly early on. So it was a pretty great experience.


#14

Just saw these great pictures of the Stockport Plaza:


#15

Amazing, this is like porn for a cinema (the buildings as much as the films) fan like me.


#16

Wow. Some great ones here. I love the GFT in Glasgow, but Scotland’s best might be the one in St Andrew’s. Has anyone else been? It has LAZY-BOYS and a waiter service, which is how I watched The Dark Knight back in 2008!

MM


#17

Is that the New Picture House, Mark?


#18

Wow. That looks a lot like the Akron Civic Theatre complete with the organ that ascends from Hell. The Akron Civic Theatre is more of a music/stage venue though. I think Morrissey was just there last week.


#19

Yeah, the organ is my favourite part. I’d love to have a cinema near me that did live musical accompaniment.


#20

Not all cinema experiences are positive. From the local rag: