When it comes to movies, sometimes you might be looking for something a little different. When you are, you may seek out an independent film — one that wanders off the beaten path. Many enjoy these unconventional theaters because they spur discussion, stimulate your thoughts and encourage you to consider matters that might not surface otherwise. They are also frequent homes to many foreign films – some of which gain such popularity, they enter main-stream theaters nationwide or go on to become award-winning films.
If you enjoy such entertainment, you’ll want to get to know these five independent movie theaters in Philadelphia.
1. Ambler TheaterStep back into the past at Ambler Theater, which opened in 1928. You’ll be ensconced in ornate Spanish Colonial architecture of a bygone era, including spacious lobbies, plenty of marble and old-time movie posters. Visitors say they luxuriate in comfortable seats with plenty of leg room and enjoy the out of the ordinary snack offerings, such as brownies and cookies.
Ambler Theater fans also mention their reasonably priced tickets and note that if you’re a frequent visitor, you can become a member. The standard membership cost is currently listed at $50 a year ($40 for seniors and youngsters) and enables you to receive reduced admission.
2. Bryn Mawr Film InstituteBryn Mawr Film Institute was built in 1926 and known initially as The Seville Theater. In its reinvention as an institute, it does more than show independent films. It also offers film courses and special events.
Visitors say the theater is clean and well maintained. They enjoy the personal introductions that frequently occur before a film airs.
3. The Ritz TheatersThe Ritz East shows independent, documentary and foreign films. Theater-goers love its charm and the comfy seats. They rave about the popcorn and service-oriented staff.
Because it’s in Old City near Penn’s Landing, in the middle of a cornucopia of Philadelphia’s restaurants, it fits perfectly into a night on the town. If the movie you’re looking for is not showing at the Ritz East, check out a couple of other Ritz family members, all part of the Landmark Theatres — the Ritz Five and Ritz East.
4. Hiway TheaterHiway Theater opened in 1913. Back then it was the Jenkintown Auditorium. Today, it retains its vintage character and is home to independent and classic films. Located in the heart of Jenkintown, this cozy theater is a single-screen venue with a small concession stand. Because Renew Theaters, a non-profit management company, runs both Hiway and Ambler theaters, as well as County Theater (see below) there are similarities, such as affordable prices, yet each theater maintains its own unique character and local charm.
5. County TheaterThe classic County Theater in historic Doylestown is also managed by Renew Theaters. It shows independent, art, foreign and locally-produced movies as well as lectures and discussion groups. The County Theater is perfect for date night because there’s more to enjoy. Before or after the show you can stroll around the quaint town, browse the shops and satisfy your appetite at one of the restaurants.
There are plenty of interesting venues for watching independent movies in the Philadelphia area. So choose your movie, pick your spot to view it and experience entertainment that’s a feast for your mind.