At The New Parkway Theater, viewers nestle into love seats or lounge on cozy couches while munching on comfort food and popcorn, a weekend viewing party writ large. If its owners had their way, the biggest difference between a friend's house and their theater would be the size of the screen. Conceived as a community space, New Parkway's colorful cafe and couch-filled screening rooms encourage showgoers to make friends, sitting with strangers and striking up conversations with particularly interesting throw pillows. An ever-changing schedule reinforces the space's sense of discovery, constantly cycling through indie darlings, classic flicks, and second-run blockbusters.
The menu of comfort food comes out of the kitchen and straight to the seats, letting viewers chow down during flicks. Prepared with locally sourced ingredients, options include burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, and spicy fries. Beer and wine selections all come from brewers and vintners within 100 miles of Oakland.
Did you know that, on average, 88% of the seats in a movie theater remain empty during a showing? According to the New York Times, this phenomenon really surprised Sean Wycliffe a few years back when he went to see the Oscar-winning film The King's Speech and shared the theater with only two other audience members. With all the focus on online video services, Sean realized movie theaters were being overlooked, and came up with a concept that could help movie houses fill their empty seats.
His brainchild became Dealflicks, a website that offers customers discounted tickets (sometimes with popcorn or soda) for same-day showings. Customers shop a selection of deals, each of which is specific to a particular film, theater, and showtime, and upon purchase, receive an email voucher they present at the theater's ticket counter. Dealflicks is partnered with theaters around the country, particularly independent and neighborhood venues, such as the treehouse of the enterprising kid down the street.
What services does your business offer and what makes your business stand out from the competition?
I Hella Love Short Films Festival screens independent films quarterly, giving film-makers frequent opportunities to showcase their work. We also provide the community with a local, fun, inexpensive and entertaining cinema experience.
What is the experience customers can expect?
Expect to have a fun, comfortable, diverse, and entertaining experience.
What was the inspiration to start or run this business?
To have a consistent film festival, in the Bay Area, that screens quality short films by film-makes around the world.
What do you love most about your job?
Providing exposure to countless film-makers, meeting countless film-lovers, and contributing to the budding arts/cultural scene in the Bay Area.
By the Numbers: Grand Lake Theatre
1926—the year of the grand opening
1980—Allen Michaan purchases the theatre when it was just a single screen
2 major expansions: 1981 and 1985
4 separate auditoriums today
3 distinct styles of auditorium decor, including art deco, ‘20s Egyptian, and Moorish
2 projectors used for 3D films
15 minutes—amount of time viewers have to walk out of a 3D movie for a full refund (the “3D Guarantee”)
2014—the year Grand Lake wins the East Bay Express readers’ poll “Best Place to See a Movie”
5 dollars for any movie all day on Tuesdays
0 dollars for popcorn on Wednesdays with the purchase of a ticket
Sitting in a comfy seat watching an absolutely thrilling movie sounds like the perfect night. Visit Piedmont Theatre in Oakland for a great time with family and friends.
When you're out and about in the area, you'll love that this theater has a restaurant to take care of any last minute hunger.
At this theater, kids of all ages are welcome.
Piedmont Theatre even offers a drive-in theater, great for people who dislike crowds.
Parking is plentiful, so patrons can feel free to bring their vehicles.