Since its origins as a converted parking garage, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has ushered film-lovers of all breeds into its auditoriums, even gaining a following among Hollywood legends; Quentin Tarantino has been known to host five-day movie marathons at Alamo. The theater has earned that reputation by making moviegoing a personal experience, from the menu of handcrafted snacks and locally brewed beer to the completely ad-free presentations before shows. Alamo’s ninja servers pick up written food and drink orders throughout the movie and serve moviegoers directly at their seat. The staff enforces a strict no-talking, no-texting policy by kicking out any offenders, falling just short of yanking them from their seats with a giant's shepherd's crook.
Both first-run blockbusters and classics are projected onto Alamo's silver screens in crisp 35-millimeter or digital format. Meanwhile, surround speakers immerse audiences in the cinematic soundscape, whether they're seated in one of the expansive theaters afforded to blockbuster reels or the more intimate spaces reserved for indie films wound around tiny bobbins. Despite Alamo's vow of silence, fan-centric Quote-Along and Sing-Along nights encourage guests to shout their favorite lines, and actors, directors, and other celebrities often attend special screenings to lead in-depth discussions. These exclusive events have led to acclaim for Alamo from publications such as Entertainment Weekly, which called it “one of America's most fanatically unique moviegoing experiences,” and Wired, which opined that it "might just be the coolest movie theater in the world."
Starplex Cinemas mans more than 200 screens from the Midwest to the West Coast. In each theater, digital projectors enthrall audience members seated in comfy stadium-style chairs with vivid images, and surround-sound speakers crisply broadcast every roar of an engine in hot pursuit and every romantic slurp of soda. To make the cinematic experience maximally cushy, guests at many locations also can sink into luxury leather seating and chew thoughtfully on Starplex Cinemas's signature $1 hot dogs.
The Picture House's very first film flickered across the screen in 1921, and today, the recently restored nonprofit continues its legacy by showcasing a variety of new independent features, foreign films, and classic cinematic wonders. The theater projects hard-to-find flicks in both its 300-seat main house and intimate 20-seat screening room, eliciting laughter, kick-starting sorrow, and rekindling dreams of finding one's destiny during a battle with merpeople. To keep guests on the back edge of their seats, the owners frequently curate and host dedicated series that highlight family-friendly flicks, international pictures, and acclaimed documentaries.
The first event held in Symphony Space was a signal of the venue's ambitions and its creative approach to programming. In 1978, Allan Miller and Selected Shorts public-radio host Isaiah Sheffer reopened the formerly decaying market-turned-skating-rink-turned-theater to the public with 12 straight hours of Bach, including a night's-end chorus of hundreds of amateur and professional voices singing the composer's Mass in B Minor. Today, Symphony Space continues to welcome a diverse community from the neighborhood and beyond for performances from established and emerging artists.
Just before a film leaves the theatre, the movie lovers at Empire's Columbia Park Cinemas throw it a fitting farewell party. Each week, on what they appropriately dub Last Chance Thursday, the cinema hosts a special for a film coming to the end of its run. Of course, there's plenty of cinema magic on display every day of the week. The cinema showcases first-run movies in all of its stadium-style theaters, and ongoing renovations mean movie goers follow the plot in comfort. For example, Empire's Columbia Park Cinemas plans on adding reclining seats in the near future.
Equipped with comfy red carpet recliners and an online reservation system, Kerasotes ShowPlace in Secaucus puts an end to the days of fidgeting in uncomfortable seats and camping out for the best view. The 14 renovated theaters feature Dolby Surround 7.1 digital sound and high-frame-rate projectors, ensuring that every trip to the movies feels as real as watching a dog plan and execute a mission to Mars possibly can. All patrons who attend a movie on Tuesdays receive free popcorn.