Thanks to Philadelphia Film Society (PFS), the marquee is twinkling at Prince Theater again. The historic structure was bankrupt and all but extinct, when, in March, PFS swept in to save it. Since then, Prince Theater has rolled out some fine local entertainment, including a production by the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus. This weekend, though, it’s gearing up for summer with its promised film programming, which will make it the only movie theater in Center City where you can catch a mainstream flick.
We woke up to some big news from the Philadelphia Film Society this morning: It announced the acquisition of the 470-seat Prince Theater, saving the historic arts space, which went bankrupt and closed last November, from becoming a run-of-the-mill retail space along the Chestnut Street corridor.
This year’s Philadelphia Flower Show is themed “Celebrate the Movies,” so it’s no wonder they’ve teamed up with the Philadelphia Film Society on a pop-up film festival that will take place in the Grand Hall of the Pennsylvania Convention Center throughout the run of the Flower Show. Among the films being shown are classics, like Ghostbusters, Wizard of Oz and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, all shown on loop during regular show hours. Check out the full schedule below:
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.
Follow @JoelMMathis on Twitter.
My Trekkie officemate Joel is flipping out right now: To celebrate the 35th anniversary of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Philadelphia Film Society just announced it is teaming with, who else, Geekadelphia, to screen all six of the original films on six consecutive nights at The Roxy. “Star Trek–35 Years on 35mm: A Retrospective” begins on December 5th, with each night hosted by an array of local cinephiles, like Phil Nobile Jr of Badass Digest and Dan Tabor of Geekadelphia. There will also be a string of pre- and post-screening events, like Q&As, a Star Trek-themed wine night, a William Shatner impersonation contest, and a screening of fan-made Star Trek Web Series Starship Farragut.
There are a variety of ways to purchase tickets—individually, a full series pass, or a four pack—but I’d hurry. If Joel’s glee is any indication, these suckers are going to go fast. For more information and purchase tickets, go here. I’ve pasted the full schedule below:
Ticket film critic Piers Marchant combed through the around-100 films playing at this year’s Philadelphia Film Festival to come up with 10 that you absolutely must get a ticket for. His choices comprise flicks he saw at the Toronto International Film Festival, and ones that have generated buzz on the year’s film festival circuit.
As an addendum to its annual film festival, Philadelphia Film Society introduces its Spring Showcase, showing at the PFS Theater at the Roxy April 11-17th. The diverse programming of the Philadelphia Film Festival spills over into this new forum, featuring the same expert curation of oldies but goodies and fresh-from-the-film-circuit flicks. With over 20 new and retrospective films, the PFF spring lineup has plenty of fresh cuts and budding classics. The festival culminates with highlights from this year’s Best Director winner, Alfonso Cuarón, including Y Tu Mamá También, Children of Men, and Gravity.
See the itinerary after the jump: