It sounds just like a movie: a former Disney employee and a former mayor team up to run their own theater. That's exactly what Jeff Brein and Sam Granato did in 1988 with Bainbridge Cinemas, where they still spend Friday and Saturday nights tearing tickets and scooping popcorn. Besides Bainbridge Cinemas, their theater collection—Far Away Entertainment —oversees seven other local theaters, including the historic single-screen Lynwood Theatre. Opened in 1936, Bainbridge Island's first talking picture house now specializes in independent features and foreign films in which actors rearrange the English alphabet to make strange new sounds.
Over at the two-screen Admiral Theater, projectionists give newer Hollywood releases a second run, plus host screenings every year for the Seattle International Film Festival. Far Away's five remaining theaters, each with three to five screens, show digital versions of Hollywood's freshest celluloid. Lean back in the Anacortes' reclining seats, or scarf down an all-beef frank at Oak Harbor while taking in a flick or live screening of the Metropolitan Opera.
Eschewing the impersonal aura often present in chain movie theatres, Sidney's Star Cinema remains a steadfastly independent, community-driven outpost for viewing films. A new lineup of moving pictures is presented weekly and includes offerings to sate all manner of cinematic tastes, from blockbuster action flicks to independent documentaries to filmed performances of Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet. The theatre has shown its commitment to the community by starting a film society, which brings movie buffs together for discussion-filled meetings. While the theatre's projectionists currently operate one digital projector, they have recently embarked on an initiative to raise funds for a second projector to keep the first one from getting too lonely.
With more than a century of bygone days tucked beneath its foundation, the Historic Everett Theatre is one of the oldest operating theatres in the state of Washington. Today, the nonprofit Everett Theatre Society owns and operates the cinema house, enriching the community through the preservation of film and screenings of celebrated features. From plush red seats, guests watch noir, horror, and cult classics, mouthing memorable lines and shaking their heads at Casablanca's CGI effects. To honor and further the impact of cinema, local expert Jon Noe introduces the film-noir showings, and Historic Everett Theatre hosts the occasional free-movie night.
Some things about the Clova Cinema have changed over the years; as it passed from owner to owner, it has been a video-rental shop, a youth centre, and a stage for live performances. But despite its numerous incarnations, the rich red facades, the art-deco decorations, and the bright marquee have remained proudly in place. These features hearken all the way back to the theatre's 1947 opening, when Humphrey Bogart dominated the screen and popcorn was popped in gleaming machines instead of Buick-sized microwaves. Now, the cinema's single screen flickers to life with weekly evening and weekend matinee showings of current releases. The theatre is rife with family touches, from the real butter on the popcorn to Cupcake the dog, who is on hand at matinees to entertain guests before the show and sniff out unsilenced cell phones.
Perhaps it’s the new releases, the waterfront location, or the nearby cafes and restaurants that garnered the solitary screen at Edmonds Theater more than a thousand approving thumbs on Facebook. Or maybe it was that historic screen itself, flickering like a time-traveling DeLorean or the fire that engulfs an inexperienced magician’s top hat in an old-fashioned movie house complete with colorful murals and balcony seating. No strangers to performing their movie magic, the cinephile staff members of Edmonds Theater have fostered a devoted following. Generally screening one new movie at a time, they are also known to set aside a day or seven for thematic marathons, which go down even better with candy, nachos, or kettle corn.
Just a few weeks after they first make a splash on the big screen, Hollywood flicks draw gasps, laughter, and sighs from the audiences at Cottonwood 4 Cinemas. The slight delay in the theatre’s roster of films enables movie-goers to catch recent blockbusters at a less expensive cost than the traditional ticket price. In addition to family-friendly movies, comedies, and thrillers, Cottonwood hosts a variety of special events. Screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show invite audiences to participate in the cult classic by dressing up, reciting lines, and bringing props, and a film series presented by the Chilliwack Arts Council treats cinephiles to a lineup of international films. The theatre also welcomes watchers for party packages, including a red-carpet bash where kids invade the concessions area to make popcorn and cotton candy, then force their parents to eat broccoli.