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What Makes a Movie Theater Great?

Earlier this evening I met up with a friend to go see Elysium, and while I enjoyed the movie, the theater was definitely not my favorite.

Since moving to the city, I’ve been spoiled by the fact that I’m pretty close to three of my favorite theaters (The Moolah, Hi-Pointe, and Chase), and rarely will visit a multiplex if the movie I want to see is playing at a smaller venue.

The theater we visited happened to be more convenient for my friend, and I’d heard many great things about this specific theater over the years, so I decided to meet up and make the drive to the bigger theater.

Walking into the lobby of the theater, my senses were assaulted by the bright lights and busy atmosphere– not that there were a lot of patrons on a Wednesday night, but the permanent fixtures of arcade games and other activities made it seem busier to me– and I was instantly reminded of why I prefer the smaller theaters closer to my apartment.

It was pretty nice being able to experience the film on a larger screen, and probably upgraded sound system (I’m not an expert, and all movies tend to sound great to me no matter where I’m watching), but I’m not sure those amenities are enough for me to change my ways and pay the higher ticket price just to attend movies there in the future.

The other thing that really bothered me about tonight’s experience was that the whole place just felt dirty to me, and the trip to the restroom prior to the movie starting had me wishing that I wouldn’t have consumed so much water at dinner.

For me, the trade-off of a larger screen, larger crowd, and just a general feeling of being overwhelmed by the carnival like atmosphere isn’t really worth it or needed in a good movie theater. I’ll take the smaller screen, and the smaller crowd any day… plus it’s pretty hard to beat the popcorn at any of the places on my top three theater list.

When you’re choosing a movie theater to visit, what are some of the most important factors?

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