You may not have noticed, but the Roxy has become a pretty cool place to do movies in Center City.
Really. After years as a rundown also-ran in the city’s cinema ecosystem, the Philadelphia Film Society has turned the movie theater into one of the best places in town to have a fun, eclectic movie experience. You might not always know that from the first-run movies the Roxy carries — right now the choices are Mortdecai and Black or White, ugh — but there’s so much more going on.
Consider this: Last Sunday, while everybody was getting ready for the Super Bowl, the Roxy counterprogrammed with a showing of Little Giants, the Pee Wee football classic. Friday and Saturday, there were midnight showings of The Thing, John Carpenter’s terrifying monster movie.
And take December: The Roxy ran a “12 Days of Christmas” marathon featuring classic holiday movies. (I went and saw Die Hard on the big screen for the first time. Fantastic.) Before that, there was a weeklong festival showing each of the original-cast Star Trek films on their original 35-mm prints. (My son saw Wrath of Khan for the first time — again, a wonderful experience.)
Those are just the special events. “We do a bunch of different educational and community programs,” Liz Schiller, a marketing consultant for the theater, told me.
Other regular events:
• Weekend morning movies for kids. These feature some classic and some new, quirky choices — the next one is a Japanese retelling of The Little Mermaid — and there are two screenings offered: One in a traditional setting, the other a “sensory friendly” showing in which the house lights are turned up and the movie sound volume lowered, designed for children with sensitivities bothered by traditional movie showings.
• The monthly “Filmadelphia “ series that showcases the work of Philadelphia filmmakers of a range of ages and backgrounds. (Amateurs are welcome to submit works.)
• Wednesday night BYO movies, where moviegoers can bring their own wine bottles — the theater offers glasses and charges a corking fee. “That is sort of a relaxed atmosphere,” Schiller said. “It’’s one of the more fun things we do that we get lots of calls about.”
Coming soon: A monthly “Passport to World Cinema” series that was formerly hosted at the University for the Arts.
The theater is still trying to find its way under the stewardship of the Philadelphia Film Society — that organization recently sent a survey to members asking what programming is favored and which isn’t.
But more than a year after the PFS purchased the Roxy and struggled to remodel and reopen it, the facility has become a delightful place to have a varied moviegoing experience and the only place to catch a big (well, ok, medium) screen flick in Center City. It’s worth checking out.
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