O'neil Cinemas brings the magic back to watching movies, immersing film buffs and families in walls of enriching digital sound and sharp, high-definition images. Moviegoers settle into comfy seats in tiered, stadium-seating theaters before the show begins. Films in 3D bring summer blockbusters face-to-face with audience members, while D-Box-motion seats translate on-screen explosions into realistic rumbles and movements through the seat cushions.
Film buffs across six states stare wide-eyed at large cinema screens, losing themselves in first-run Hollywood movies and the smell of fresh, buttery kernels within Your Neighborhood Theatre's 17 locations. Though all theaters prioritize comfortable seating, old-fashioned friendly service, and high-stakes preshow trivia slideshows, each location encompasses its own distinct charm, be it through arthouse décor, 3-D screens, or Rhode Island's vintage 1950's drive-in setting.
It's a tradition dating back to the 1930s, and for many moviegoers, it still eclipses the modern multiplex experience. But it's also threatened by extinction. With only an estimated 357 drive-ins still functioning throughout the US, Saco is one of the last places where an audience of automobiles can bask in movie magic under the twinkling starlight. With speakers propped by the car windows and affordable concessions at hand, viewers laugh, cry, and cheer at double features of first-run films while knowing exactly who's kicking the seat behind them. Those who want to keep this American tradition going can donate to Project Drive-In, which aids outdoor theaters as they strive to make the pricey conversions to digital projection.
Chunky's Cinema Pub has been mixing the polished glimmer of modern technology with the gauzy glow of yesteryear for almost two decades. Eight screens mingle first-run blockbusters with themed throwback classics catering to children of the ’50s or ’80s. There, in the glow of the previews, is another testament to the melding of time—a contemporary dinner-and-a-movie setup brings with it the nostalgia of old-school drive-ins. Instead of traditional cinema chairs, individual cushy Lincoln Continental surround communal dinner tables, and the seats roll and recline to let guests maximize their comfort and customize their sightlines as they catch the onscreen action and pretend to be backseat drivers. At their tables, American pub snacks and entrées from the extensive menu spread out, combining movies with burgers, quesadillas, and steak tips.
While the theater blends old with new, Chunky's Bio Truck zooms into the future with a gas tank full of the 100% trans-fat-free canola oil used for cooking in the kitchen. The bio-fuel reduces the truck's greenhouse emissions and helps to decrease its carbon footprint, spreading an eco-conscious message to the community.
New movies abound at the locally owned Gloucester Cinema, where three theaters offer an intimate viewing experience of recently released blockbusters, including those shown in 3D. On the weekends, there are usually four or five reels running critically acclaimed and family-friend flicks at both matinee and evening showtimes. The concession stand proffers popcorn and soda, and the ticket booth doles out discounts for seniors, children aged 12 and under, and those forced to sit behind Frankenstein's wife.
Recipients of Northshore magazine’s 2010 Best of North Shore award for Best Movie Theater, CinemaSalem fills four screens with first-run, art, and documentary films. Evening flicks after 6 p.m. offer stargazing opportunities for adults ($9.50) and kids ($7.50); 3-D films levy an additional $2 to compensate the hardworking technician who throws props and actors at the audience. Take in a morning movie before 12:30 p.m. ($6), or escape incessant summer sun by ducking into a matinee ($8 for adults, $7.50 for children). While you watch, crunch popcorn or traipse to the café for movie-minded concoctions such as the Vanilla Sky, a froth of espresso, vanilla, and clouds of foam ($3.50–$4), or the Holy Grail ($4.50), a peanut-butter-and-banana milkshake.