Roger Ebert’s recently offered six reasons for the drop in movie ticket sales in 2011. His general conclusion: theaters “are losing their charm.” Yes, they are. Going to the movies at our nearby multiplex means going to the movies, literally: you can hear the crashes and explosions from whatever is playing next door along with the movie you paid for. It’s like living in an apartment building.
There are still great theaters though. Close to home, my favorite place to see a movie is The Art Theater in Champaign, Illinois. The Art offers intelligent programming, atypical and well-priced snacks and drinks, appropriate pre-movie music, minimal advertising, and a terrific sound system. There’s one screen, and the audience comes to pay attention: what a difference that makes. I also recommend the more majestic Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, Massachusetts. For one lovely year in the mid-1980s Elaine and I lived a couple of blocks from the Coolidge Corner and got to see a different double-bill two or three times a week. Now we try to see a movie there when we visit Boston.
I would hate to see independent theaters go the way of so many record stores and bookstores. You too? If you know of a great theater, please, write about it in a comment. And encourage your family and friends to go to the movie, not the movies.
Update, January 10: Here are links to theaters recommended by readers in the comments:
Los Angeles, California
Traverse City, Michigan
The State Theatre
Columbia Heights, Minnesota
St. Paul, Minnesota