What’s Your Theatre Situation?

MovieTheatreAs 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.

About Morgan R. Lewis

Fan of movies and other media
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22 Responses to What’s Your Theatre Situation?

  1. ckckred says:

    There’s a big movie theater where I live and also two art house cinemas, one of which routinely plays classic films from time to time. I haven’t watched much this year mostly because there’s been little to grab my interest though I’m trying to see Before Midnight soon.

  2. Four out of the six New England states are purple in the theatres per capita chart. Of course, they’re all red on the ticket prices, but it’s New England, everything is expensive here πŸ˜‰

    I dont have an “art house” nearby that I wouldnt consider a “drive” to get to, but I have a 12 screen megaplex right in town. I can leave 7 minutes prior to showtime and be in my seats without missing previews – barring something unexpected. You bet I have that clocked πŸ˜‰ In case I need to I have two others that are 18 screens within like 20, 25 minutes drives in either direction. Ocassionally a movie “slips through” to one of those but not mine.

    By the way, if you havent seen Lebowski, you should hit that showing!

    • I guess I was a little broad on my definition of “New England”. Covered all 50 states in 7th grade geography, but never covered what that specific term was. πŸ˜€

      7 minutes to the megaplex is nice. Only place I can reach in 7 minutes is the post office and grocery store in a town that’s essentially just a dot on the map. It’s also nice that you have those other theatres within 25 minutes; I’d certainly consider that a reasonable drive when a movie skips the close one.

      Saw “Lebowski” many years ago. I’d still consider hitting that showing if I weren’t trying to conserve pennies at the moment. πŸ˜€

  3. Spikor says:

    I would consider my theatre situation pretty shitty, but that’s because in my formative years, the theatre situation was, for the size of this “city”, fantastic.

    Until I left for University, there had never been less than 3 2 screen theatres in town. When one closed my last year of elementary school, another, much larger 8 screen theatre opened at a new indoor amusement park. That was right around the time my father and I started to go see anything and everything that looked like it might be funny, gory, explodey, or all 3.

    So from Grade 6 to 11 there were 3 theatres, with a total of 12 screens for a population a little over or under 100k. They were owned by two different theatre companies and unless something HUGE was opening that weekend, there were different shows on each screen. It was not unheard of for Dad & I to hit 4, maybe 5, movies we hadn’t seen yet in a single summertime weekend.

    Then in my senior year of High School, another theatre opened with another 8 screens, from the company that only had 2 screens in town. Both companies decided to turn their smaller theatres into $2 theatres and the golden age of cinema in Moncton began. 20 screens, with 4 of them being second run $2 screens.

    In the years since, the $2 shows are long gone, and one company bought the other, so now a single company owns all 16 screens in town. For some reason, the theatres each share 75% of the same movies. Star Trek was playing on 3 screens, in each theatre, last weekend. While that left a nice amount of wiggle room for finding a showing, none of them sell out, so it’s gorram ridiculous that I can’t catch a movie that came out in February if I wanted, with 16 screens showing 5 times a day Fri-Sun.

    The nearest IMAX is 1 hr 45 mins away, door to door, if I don’t go to plaid. Takes about $30 in gas plus a $4 toll, one way. Same company owns it, too. The company has a monopoly on theatres in the region, now, I think. We do have an “Extra” screen in town, which is kinda IMAX Lite. Bigger than normal screen, that is bowed slightly, super nice seats, reserved seating, and really good sound.

    Prices are scandalous, though. 8 bucks on Tuesday, $10 weekend matinees, $12 non-3D, $15 3D, add $3 more on top of any of those for the “Extra” screen.

    Good… I can feel the hate swelling in you now. This blog-post-sized comment brought to you by… Empire Theatres.

    • Ooof. Yeah, I can see why you’re upset, considering you went from a great situation to a poor one just through (bad) company tactics. I can kind of see why they would have a large overlap on screenings if they’re across town from each other, but even so, it seems like it should be possible for their to still be an active second-run theatre around. But then, Eugene and Springfield combined are about 200 K, so maybe I just have a different perspective on what’s “normal” for an area this size.

      And yeah, those prices are lousy. I know you’re probably quoting Canadian dollar prices, but the conversion rate is about 1-to-1 right now, so….

      • Spikor says:

        Yup. Theatres are just one of the many places that never adjusted for parity when we evened out in ’08. We get raked for everything, and will continue to do so until you guys jump back up to 120% of our dollar.

        And, no, they’re not across town from one another. Nothing here is. I live “rurally” and I can get to almost anything in town faster than Charlotte’s 15 minute Mary Poppins Story Book tape.

        There’s only 2 bad spots for traffic, and they only clog up at rush hour. And you have to be a complete moron to not use the work arounds in order to get stuck in them. But that’s a whole other rant. πŸ˜›

        • OK, if they’re close by to each other, then there’s really no excuse for them to be showing the same stuff all the time. That’s just bad business.

          I hear you on the “bad spots for traffic”, too. Most of Eugene/Springfield is pretty good, but there are just a couple places that clog up during rush hour. Plus Santa Clara, which is an inexplicable mess all throughout the day.

  4. Bubbawheat says:

    There’s a Regal pretty close by, maybe a 10 minute drive, and an IMAX probably 15-20 minutes away in a different direction. I’ve only gone to the Regal so far, though I really wanted to go to a small independent theater about 20 minutes in yet another direction which has only one screen and has their online viewers vote for which movie they want to show next, usually an acclaimed independent movie. I really wanted to see the Oscar short films there, but it sold out before I got a chance to buy tickets because it was only a 2 night showing.

    Though even with all these theaters around me, I’m not in a very good financial situation to spend money on movies. I was lucky enough to win free Star Trek tickets on Facebook, and am probably going to see Man of Steel by myself just because there’s no way I’m missing that one. As for the rest of summer, maybe Kick-Ass 2 and Wolverine, though I’m not sure if I’ll make them.

    • Sounds like everything’s reasonably close by for you. That’s good. Too bad you weren’t able to get in for that short film showing, though… I guess that’s a hazard of smaller theatres.

      I know how it is about not having the money to spend on movies. There are a lot of “maybe” films I would have checked out had I had the cash.

  5. There are four near me but I only go to two, one I go for the the average new film release which nearly every weekend, but the other is for the big releases where I go to the IMAX πŸ˜€

    On the money side, I am a student so i am both poor and have a discount so they kind of cancel each other out only they really dont haha πŸ˜€

    • I took advantage of the student discount from time to time when I had the money. You’re right that it doesn’t really offset the lack of money, but it did help. πŸ˜€

  6. I’m pretty blessed, four multiplexes within 20 miles of me, two with IMAX screens if I need to go that way (I don’t). One of those four (Regal in Austell, GA) I try to avoid as they occasionally have the sound too loud for some of their shows. There are two “art house” theaters in Atlanta for when really want to see a limited release movie, and that’s about a 40 minute drive.

  7. ruth says:

    I’m so sorry about your health/monetary situation Morgan. Boy that’s a bummer man. I do have a ton of theaters near me, though I usually go to matinee showings to save money. I’m blessed to be a part of the press list for a local marketing company, so I do get free screenings.

    Hope things improve for you and you get to go to the movies again πŸ˜€

    • Thanks, Ruth. It’s not so bad; the situation’s stabilized now, it’s just a matter of getting back on track. Truthfully it’s pretty hard to get upset over anything since the tooth was taken out. Worlds better.

      Matinees are one of my favorite ways to see a film in the theatre, too. Not just because of the cost, either. A matinee on Tuesday is often so close to empty that it’s like renting a private booth. πŸ˜€

      It’s cool that you get some free screenings. I bet that helps out quite a bit.

  8. …Holy sh*t. $6? Really? I have to pay $12.50, and that’s on a student discount!

    But goddangit, I do love going to the cinema… (Though usually only only Tuesday, when I can go at the low-low-price of $10.50.) πŸ˜›

  9. I live in Chicago so I can’t complain about my theater situation. Lots of multiplexes as well as some great indie and art house options. Most of them are within a short biking distance for me, too.

  10. I’m very fortunate w/ my theatre experiences in Miami.

    My main theatre is the Regal South Beach. I’m fortunate that it shoes blockbusters as well as smaller indie films, and is used by a number of the film festivals in the city. I’m also lucky that I can use my Amex reward points to get ticket vouchers for Regal Theatres; in other words, I haven’t paid for a movie there in a long time.

    My main smaller Art-House Theatre is the O-Cinema (Wynwood) followed by the Coral Gables Art Cinema. O shows more provagative and down & dirty films while CGAC shows more high-brow stuff. Other Art-House locations are the Cosford Cinema on the University of Miami campus, Miami Beach Cinematheque, Tower Theatre in Little Havana, and the O-Cinema Miami Shores. By the end of a year I will have scene something at least once at each. The a few show similar films, the each have some unique screenings that it their target audience.

    When I know a movie has been filmed using an IMAX camera (“The Dark Night Rises”, “Star Trek: Into Darkness”), then I’ll drive up to Ft. Lauderdale to see it on the 5-Story IMAX Screen at the Science & Discovery Museum.

    The SoBe Regal is 15 minutes away by car, the remainder are within 30 minutes drive–except the IMAX which is about 45 minutes.

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