Most movie theaters are characterized by sticky floors, trash everywhere and popcorn in every nook and cranny. However, cinemas do exist that offer visual treats other than the images on the screen. After seeing how nice some of these theaters are, you’ll find your next Fandango experience to be far more difficult.
Olympia Theater, Paris
What could possibly be better than watching a movie in bed? What about watching a movie in bed in a theater? That’s exactly what the Olympia Theater in Paris did a few years ago to promote a new line of Ikea mattresses. Unfortunately, it was a one time only event, so the beds are no longer in the Olympia. But it’s still a beautiful theater even if the nap potential has decreased.
Disney’s Sci-fi Dine-in Theater, Hollywood Disney’s Sci-fi Dine-in Theater recreates the experience of a 1950s drive-in theater without all the hassles of being outside. Families can enjoy a meal as well as sci-fi and horror B-movies from the 1950s and 1960s. When it opened in 1991, servers used state-of-the-art mobile devices to place orders from tables without going to the kitchen. And everyone says Pixar’s the ones at the forefront of technology.
Electric Cinema, Notting Hill
One of England’s oldest movie theaters, Electric Cinema opened in 1910 and has had an up-and-down relationship with fans. During World War One, angry mobs attacked the theater because they believed the German-born owner was signaling Zeppelin attacks on the city. After closing in 1993 and falling into disrepair, a group of entrepreneurs bought it back and renovated the cinema in the early 2000s. Today it is one of the most popular theaters in all of London.
Also, Electric Cinema may be haunted since infamous British serial killer John Christie worked there in the 1940s. So, maybe skip the late show.
The Paramount Theater, Oakland, California
When the Paramount opened in 1931, it became the largest theater on the West Coast, seating more than 3,400 people. In the ensuing decades, it’s shown everything from classic Hollywood movies, George Carlin and Chris Rock stand-up specials and is also the home of the Oakland East Bay Symphony and Oakland Ballet. In 2011, it held the premiere for Moneyball, which was a greater success than the Athletics run in the 2002 MLB Playoffs.
Orinda Theater, California
Originally opened in 1941, the Orinda Theater’s most notable for the elaborate murals painted on the walls throughout the building. Preservationists fought to keep the cinema intact after being slated for demolition in 1984, and it remains to this day. Although spectators may be confused about whether to keep their attention on the screen or the décor.
Hot Tube Cinema, London
Ever been in a movie theater and thought, “This would be so much better if the entire audience was shirtless and soaking wet?” If that bizarre thought has come to your mind, Hot Tub Cinema in London is perfect for you. Just sit back, relax, drink some champagne and enjoy some classic cult movies. Unfortunately, most people who like going to the movies will probably not have the best swimsuit bodies.
Cinema City, Jerusalem Cinema City is so big you could say it’s like it’s very own, well, city. The theater is 20,000 square meters (look up your own conversion) with eight floors, 19 theaters, an indoor mall and it’s own movie museum. There’s even five-floors of parking lots which is free for patrons (good luck finding that in America). There’s also a Smurfs’ Village in Cinema City, although the cartoon originated in Belgium, so not quite sure what the connection is between it and Judaism.
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Los Angeles Grauman’s is probably the most famous movie theater in the world. Almost every famous movie ever made held its premiere here, with dozens of hand prints in front of the theater to prove it. And once you step inside, it’s no wonder why Hollywood’s elite have enjoyed watching themselves on-screen here for decades. Well, they’d probably like watching themselves on any screen, but they’re most comfortable doing so here.
The Fox Theater, Oakland
Opened in 1928, the Fox Theater was the largest theater in Oakland at the time. It played sound films ever since it’s opening, and also hosted musical acts in-between features. Although it’s mostly been converted into a concert venue since undergoing a renovation in the late-2000s, it’s still an incredible piece of architecture. Thank goodness they didn’t stick with the original name of the venue, “The Baghdad.”
Piscine Molitor, Paris
The Piscine Molitor is a famous art-deco pool in Paris. From its opening in 1929, it was the site of fashion shows, theater events and a number of film backdrops. The pool closed in 1989 and became popular amongst Parisian graffiti artists and rave partiers. The city renovated the location and re-opened it in 2013. One of their first events was hosting a screening of the film Life of Pi right on the legendary pool, since the movie’s main character was named “Piscine Molitor Patel.”
Newport Ultra Cinema, Manila, Philippines
In 2009 the Newport Mall in Manila opened four state-of-the-art theaters to revolutionize the movie-going experience. The best of the four is the Ultra Cinema. Not only do those comfy chairs recline, but there’s also personalized butler service for every patron. How has this not been exported to America?
Crest Theatre, Los Angeles
The Crest Theatre’s undergone a number of name changes and transformations over time. First built in 1940 (and known as the Westwood Theatre), the theater primarily showed newsreel footage throughout World War Two. Then in the 1980s, Disney Studios renovated the cinema and took over its programming. The 2000s were not good as the the theater shut down for two years. However the Crest is back in business and hoping to regain some of its historical luster.
Cinema City, Barcelona Cinema City in Barcelona opened in 2011 with the most state-of-the-art theater seats in the world. The seat types include the 9106 Megaseat, an “amply-sized automatically folding chair” and the 5109 Tango Club, an “ergonomic fixed cinema seat,” which means there’s literally not a bad seat in the house. Also, they change the fishes on the chairs depending on what movie’s playing. Who needs 3-D when you can literally lean your head right into Buzz Lightyear?
Cinema City, Rishon Lezion, Israel
The Cinema City in Rishon Lezion is one of the most impressive theaters in the world. The cinema’s a 24-screen multiplex and is 100% digital. Besides operating the first digital IMAX in Israel, it also became the first theater with 4DX digital projection in all of Europe. So if reality’s only 3-D, the picture projected at Cinema City is literally out of this world.
Orange Cinema Club, Beijing
The Orange Cinema Club looks less like a movie theater and more like a Hollywood nightclub. While access to international films can be tricky in China, this theater makes up for it with the poshest experience possible, complete with sofas, pillows, blankets and butlers. Unfortunately, tourists can’t just waltz in and see the show. A membership is required costing anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 Chinese Yuan (about $160 to $800) per year.