As a movie blogger, I’m mildly embarrassed that here it is, almost June, and I’ve yet to make it to the movie theatre to watch a new release this year. It’s been a little bit of a rough year, with the broken tooth disrupting me for a while, and fixing the broken tooth disrupting my finances for a while (multiple trips to Salem add up to a lot of gas money and a drop in free spending). But I’ll admit that part of it is also that there just haven’t been a lot of “Must see on big screen” movies for me so far this year. I plan on making it to Man of Steel by hook or by crook, but that’ll probably be the first. Not because I’m super-excited about it (I’m more optimistic than I was, with the last few promos, but I’m still a bit leery about it). But just because I know the internet will explode with discussion about it once it’s out, and I’d rather be part of that discussion than covering my ears and going “La la la”.
But even though I haven’t taken advantage of it so far this year, I do appreciate the theatre selection I have in Eugene/Springfield. And as I was pondering it the other night, I got to wondering what it was like for the rest of you who are regular movie goers. I’ve written before about this curiosity, and discovered that it looks like New England is awful for movie-goers, but I’d like to hear from you. What’s your theatre situation?
For me, my nearest theatres are about half an hour away — I live a bit out of town — so they’re never quite an impulse decision. I have to check what the showtimes are well in advance. But other than that, things are pretty good. The mall in Springfield has two multiplexes, Cinemark 17 and Movies 12. Cinemark is the one that gets all the new releases, and the prices aren’t bad, at least compared to what ticket prices nationally seem to be; $6 for normal films, $9 for 3D. And it has stadium seating with a pronounced drop between rows, which is nice; it’s enough that I don’t have to worry if a tall person sits in front of me, because their head is still below eye level. Movies 12 was the original multiplex in the mall (and is the oldest still-running multiplex in the area); since it’s owned by the same company, when they built the newer one, they turned it into a second-run theatre. A week or two after films leave Cinemark 17, they arrive in Movies 12 at a much lower price. I do a lot of my theatre-viewing here since it’s so much cheaper; most films are only $2, and even 3D films are only $4 — less than a matinee at any first-run theatre. The stadium seating isn’t quite as good as the other — I do have to make sure I’m at least two rows behind any tall person in front of me — but it’s still enough that I can have the screen at eye-level if I sit in the very back. (I prefer to sit where I have as little need to bend my neck as possible.)
The other multiplex in the area is a Regal cinema in the mall in Eugene. I went there a few times when it was located across from the mall, but I haven’t been to the “new” inside-the-mall cinema yet, even though it’s been around for a year or two. Besides being further away, it’s also more expensive; it’s an extra $3 across the board. I suppose if there were a movie I really wanted to see right then that I couldn’t get into at the closer first-run theatre, I’d check it out, but it’s hard to justify paying the extra just for curiosity’s sake. However, it’s the only theatre in town which has an IMAX screen, so I’ll find my way to it when the right movie comes along — although at $14 a pop, it’s going to have to be something I’m really excited for.
There are a few smaller theatres around as well that are independently run. I have to admit I haven’t checked any of them out yet, and it’s largely due to the distance and the parking situation. The David Minor Theater is in a mall on 5th street, downtown Eugene, and it sounds like it’s a pretty nice place. Just two screens, but by staggering out the showtimes they seem to screen six movies a day. Usually films in their second run from the looks of it, though also some older cult classics — they’re screening The Big Lebowski this weekend. I’ve heard from friends who have been there that it’s a nice place to watch films; the kind of “beer and pretzel” casual place that’s becoming popular for small theatres. I’ll have to go sometime just to check it out for the experience, although the 5th Street Market only has a small parking lot. The other small theatre in town is the Bijou, located on the U. of Oregon campus. It’s an arthouse cinema, converted from an older building, and I believe it’s the oldest still-standing theatre in town. They tend to show a handful of the latest indie films and every so often some old cult classic. The main reason I haven’t checked them out is because the parking situation in the campus area is atrocious — I’d have to park my car several blocks away if I wanted to go there, assuming I could find a space at all. I suppose I could have gone when I was still a student and could take advantage of the student parking lots, but that’s still a walk of several blocks, and when I was a student I seldom had the time or money. The Bijou is currently working on setting up a second theatre, but when I saw where it was, I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry: they’re putting it in the Eugene Downtown Mall. This is a walking mall, and is notorious for the fact that there isn’t any way to park anywhere near it. I understand that, being an independent operation instead of a nationwide chain, the Bijou probably has to take what they can get in the way of existing buildings they can convert, but I can’t see this being a very effective venture for them. The same people avoiding the current one due to the parking situation are going to avoid the second one, and they won’t be getting the foot traffic from campus either. But we’ll see.
Still, even though I haven’t taken advantage of some of them, I feel relatively lucky in that there are five (soon six) movie theatres in my area. I’ve got options when I choose to exercise them, and I know that isn’t always the case for some places.
So that’s my theatre situation. What’s yours? Do you have a lot of choices, or just one? Do you have a favorite theatre to frequent, and if so, why? Let me know in the comments.