This Town Needs Movie Theaters! Must We Go to Texas to Get One?

158px-Alamo_Drafthouse_signFilm critic Stephen Silver wrote this week on The Philly Post about Philadelphia’s anemic movie-theater situation: 14 screens–a total embarrassment for a city of this size. It doesn’t have to be this way–or at least, there was a time when it wasn’t.

I grew up downtown, with a plethora of choices in Center City alone: There was the Sameric, of course, which was open then; Sam’s Place, where CVS is now on 19th and Chestnut; an AMC, I believe, where Mandee’s is; another movie theater where the Prince Music Theater is; the Eric Rittenhouse, now a vacant lot; the Temple Cinemateque (all repertory) at 15th and Walnut; the Roxy; the TLA (which was just movies back then); the Ritz 5…surely I’m forgetting something.

Silver has a solution for our movie woes: the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas.

It offers the best of both worlds: A film snob’s appreciation for the cinematic form—including frequent special programming—and in-theater food and drink service. I’ve got a feeling that the concept is a perfect fit for a city that loves it movies, its food and its drink.

Well, food and drink, we know. But does this city really love movies? It’s not at all clear. And I guess that’s why “real estate types,” as Silver puts it, haven’t been keen to invest. Between Netflix, Hulu Plus and Philadelphian lassitude, we may be stuck with 14 as our lucky number.

Why Philly Needs an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

  • Natalie S.

    Where did they get 14 screens from? I got 38 not counting any of the places that show movies but are not dedicated movie theaters. It’s likely this Film Critic does not conciser anything outside of Center City a part of Philadelphia.

    United Artists Theaters in Manayunk and on Columbus Boulevard have a combined 23. Add Rave in West Philly with 6, all the Ritz’s in Old City with a total of 12, and Pearl in North Philly with 7 and that is definitely more than 14.