The Sun-Ray Cinema at 5 Points, formerly known as Riverside Theater and 5 Points Theatre, is a historic single-screen movie theater in the Riverside section of Jacksonville. Originally opened in 1927, the large room was specifically designed to accommodate live theater as well, in the event that talking movies didn’t take off as expected. Over the years, the theater was opened and closed numerous times as a performance center, a night club and general cinema house, until the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission approved it as a Jacksonville landmark and remodeled the space several years ago. Colorful murals give vibrancy to the updated space, while comfortable seating and long wooden tables in front of each row act as wonderfully modern touches, allowing each guest to set down food and drinks easily. P, pulled pork sandwiches and a host of not-seen-everywhere snacks make for a unique experience inside.
Since 2003, the Jacksonville Film Festival has annually served as one of the city's most anticipated cultural events, screening international and independent films and hosting some of Hollywood's most accomplished names. The first deal plunks cinephiles squarely on the red carpet with access to Saturday's special event, a screening of The Six Wives of Henry Lefay, starring Tim Allen, Elisha Cuthbert, and Andie MacDowell. Young film critics that already possess Roger Ebert's critical eye and Gene Shalit's bushy mustache can attend the kids' red-carpet event, which will screen the zany kid-friendly comedy Finn on the Fly. The third options gets you into the world premiere of Thespians, which documents the theater programs at two Duval County high schools as they prepare for the Florida State Thespians theater festival. Afterward, stay for a Q&A with the filmmakers and special guests.
In the center of Jacksonville’s southside neighborhood lies Cinemark Tinseltown, a twenty-screen megaplex movie house that is widely considered one of the best places in town to take in a flick. With outdoor walk-up ticket windows, an electronic ticket kiosk inside and large lobby area to welcome visitors, the sprawling complex makes every attempt to attend to their guests. A plentiful parking lot helps in that regard, as does the main concession stand, outfitted with all manner of movietime snacks or heartier fast meals. Every theater offers stadium seating and offered in supple leather, meaning even spots close to the screen are a luxury. Movie posters and the typical red hallway carpeting give off a luxe theater experience, rounding out the large, stately feel at Cinemark Tinseltown.
An endless amount of stories flicker across the screen at these cinemas, which offer stadium seating and digital sound. The theater plays films chosen from Hollywood’s newest releases, featuring stars just plucked from the vines where they grow in the California hills. Between whispered critiques of each preview, audience members can wash down fluffy kernels of popcorn with soda from the concession stand. The theater also opens its doors for birthday parties and large private screenings for up to 300 guests.
One of the oldest community theaters in the state, The Gainesville Community Playhouse has produced crowd-pleasing plays since 1927. In Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful, elderly Carrie sets out to escape the clutches of her cowardly son and his bossy wife by returning to her childhood home. A dedicated cast and crew of local volunteers ably enact Carrie's search for her past. Patrons peep through the fourth wall in the 210-seat Vam York Theater, which boasts facilities to stage the most demanding musicals or Shakespearean space battles.
Each year, the Cinema Verde festival celebrates environmentally conscious films and art. Visitors flock to the four-day event to watch more than 30 films on issues such as water access, waste disposal, and sustainable practices. The festival also features live music, art exhibits, and eco-tours that highlight the lush, natural environment of north central Florida.