TCL Chinese Theater, Los Angeles, CA
TCL Chinese Theater
The iconic Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood was already a destination for locals and tourists alike since opening in 1929. But with new owners Chinese TV maker TCL and a four-month renovation, it now the holds the title of the world's third largest IMAX screen and an additional 900 stadium seats. Despite the supersized additions, the classic theater maintains its Old Hollywood charm, with glided ceilings and ornate Chinese detailing throughout.
BAM Rose Cinemas, Brooklyn, NY
BAM Rose Cinemas
More than just cinema, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and Rose Cinemas is a cultural institution. Originally a music hall, then a playhouse and now a theater since 1998, its theatrical setting makes it the perfect spot to catch new releases or check out their BAMcinématek program that screens rare contemporary films, local movies and old classics. It's pretty much engineered for film geeks to impress their dates and the adjoining cafe features free live music every Friday and Saturday night.
Archlight, Los Angeles, CA
This sleek cinema is unparalleled in its movie-watching experience. Grab a cocktail in the lobby bar and check out their rotating selection of movie memorabilia. There's no need to queue up early for prime seating, since seats are sold in advanced and be sure to catch a film in the cavernous "Cinerama Dome," restored from 1963, which feels like an adult version of Epcot center but with much better sound. Their state of the art projection and sound coupled with plush settings make this theater a huge draw for locals and celebs alike.
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Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Austin, TX
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
This entrepreneurial theater chain knew $13 should guarantee moviegoers more than a sticky seat and old Milk Duds. With a state of the art theater and a stealthy wait service delivering hearty Tex-Mex snacks and craft beer during the shows, they found a winning formula. The Alamo also hosts premieres, festivals and appearances by filmmakers and actors as part of their regular schedule. With several locations all over Texas (also Virginia, Colorado, and Kansas), the Alamo has plans to conquer the rest of the movie-going markets, with theaters planned for Los Angeles, San Francisco, Michigan, Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn.
The Senator, Baltimore, MD
This classic art deco theater dodged the wrecking ball, unlike many of our flailing old theaters, and got a $3.5 million facelift to bring it back to its former glory. The renovation kept its original terrazzo floors and murals, replaced the creaky seats and added three small screens and a restaurant. The theater will reopen on Oct. 10 with a screening of the Baltimore cult film Hairspray, 25 years after the original premiere at the Senator.
The Castro Theatre, San Francisco, CA
The Castro Theatre
As one of the original movie palaces popularized in the early 20th century, this classic venue transports moviegoers back to elegant heyday of the roaring '20s. With an almost regal interior and imposing Wurlitzter organ that’s used for pre-show music and accompaniment to silent films, the setting feels more appropriate for an opera performance than a late night showing of Boogie Nights. Its screening schedule is a perfect mix of indie new releases, double features and cult classics at midnight.
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Bow Tie Ziegfeld, NYC
Clearview Cinema's Ziegfeld
Chances are you've seen the grand marquee of the Ziegfeld Theater as the backdrop for many red carpet film premieres. As one of the last remaining movie palaces, the world-famous theater is frequently used for film festivals and events thanks to its opulent design. With grand balcony seating, a plush gold and red interior, and the largest single screen theater in New York, it's a landmark worth protecting. After Cablevision dumped most of their Clearview Cinema locations, the theater was taken over by Bow Tie Cinemas. Can we just call it the Ziegfeld and leave the corporate name changes for banks and sports stadiums?
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, San Francisco, CA
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
If there were ever a reason to detach yourself from the comforts of Netflix and your couch, this stunning arthouse theater would be the most compelling. Saved from being another soul-sucking AMC chain, the theater was taken over from Robert Redford's Sundance Cinemas and given a complete makeover complete with upscale bars and bistros and the kind of movie seats only previously seen on MTV Cribs. The theater also offers reserved seating, hosts film festivals and saves us from sitting through commercials before the main feature.
State Theatre, Traverse City, MI
Michigan is not exactly a hotbed of filmmaking and independent cinema, except for their ambitious native Michael Moore, who started the Traverse City Film Festival and renovated the arthouse cinema, the State Theatre. The venue mixes indie fare with 25-cent matinees of family and classic films along with free admission if the temperature reaches 100 degrees. Which if you ever been to Michigan is quite a rarity.
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Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas, La Costa, CA
Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas
There's a reason this theater dubbed itself "luxury cinemas," with reclining leather seats you can pre-reserve, intriguing sounding gourmet snacks like "zebra popcorn" and a full bar — it does everything except for massage you during the show. Just don't invite anyone predisposed to nodding out during films.