In an interview with Tribeca in 2013, legendary film writer and director Paul Schrader (think Taxi Driver and Raging Bull) discussed the communal experience of filmgoing: “Films were never communal just because people wanted a communal experience — it just happened to be the economic model that made the most sense. You could sell a lot of tickets and show the film at the same time to everyone… You know, this myth that people will always want to go out to the movies, they’ll always want a communal experience – I don’t know that that’s necessarily true.” True, some people enjoy watching digital media on mobile devices — when and where they want. But nothing beats the excitement of watching a highly anticipated film with a room full of fellow cinephiles. The energy is palpable. So what if you raise the stakes and reinvent the traditional cinema, eschewing the monotonous rows of cramped seats arranged before a large screen. The editors of WhereCoolThingsHappen went on a mission to find the most amazing re-imagined cinemas around the world. What they found were remarkable theaters that would make filmgoing a true adventurous communal experience that a cinephile would never forget (and would make Schrader reconsider his position). Here are some of the coolest cinemas:
The Disney Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater in Los Angeles, California
Disney re-created a massive drive-in theater indoors. The theatre features rows of neatly parked scaled convertibles (complete with fins, brake lights, and license plates) that feature softly-lit tables.
The Olympia Theatre in Athens, Greece
The ultimate movie-watching experience: the theatre features rows of queen-sized beds (with sheets, pillows, and blankets) with headboard, two side tables, lamps, and a small area rug on each side. Perfect for romantic movies, although no privacy screens are included.
Electric Cineman in London, England
An elegant theatre lined with wide, comfortable red leather high-back chairs, each with a side table and lamp. The beautifully decorated arched ceiling is lit by soft indirect lamps.
Hot Tub Cinema in London, England
Not to be done in the intimacy category, this clever outdoor cinema sits on a rooftop under the canopy of the night sky. The theatre features over a dozen small hot tubs, which can comfortably accommodate six people, paired with a side table for drinks and food. The management actively encourages filmgoers to “dress up, sing, dance, drink, play and most of all enjoy your favourite films, alongside friends old and new.” Fun times.
The Bijou Theater in Bridgeport, Connecticut
This theatre combines the traditional cineplex experience (neat rows of small seats) with a restaurant experience (tables and chairs, like you would see in any coffee house or small restaurant). The rows of seats are arranged in the center, flanked by two restaurant seating areas, each of which contains over a dozen tables.