The drive-in movie has been replaced by the dine-in movie.
In other parts of the country it may be old hat, but the concept of a dinner-and-a-movie theater is new for residents of the Philadelphia area. Now, with the opening of a new dine-in cinema in Montgomery County, all of that is about to change.
The Movie Tavern, an eight screen theater, is in the midst of a "soft" opening at the Providence Town Center in Collegeville, Pa., this week. They've even rolled out the red carpet with a flowing red rug blanketing the outside sidewalk.
On the Providence Town center website, the new theater was introduced as "a first run movie house with full service restaurant features such as upscale menu items, liquor sales and plush amenities and will be the first theater to introduce this exciting new concept to the Philadelphia marketplace."
Yep, in addition to first run movies like "Harry Potter" and "Horrible Bosses," the Tavern serves up dinner and drinks in a comfy chair that houses a cup holder with a swing-around tray.
The first week's movie lineup was noticeably absent of kiddie movies, with the exception of the Kevin James flick, "Zookeeper." Early evening showings for that movie were sold out quickly on both Friday and Saturday night -- shutting out scores of young hopefuls -- which may point to the fact that this theater will be geared toward more adult fare.
Margaritas, wine and beer are freely served as part of a menu that includes chicken chipotle sliders and red velvet cake, while waiters maneuver through the theater as incognito as humanly possible. It's a concept that is completely foreign to locals, unless they've been to, say, Texas.
Because while Philly area residents are just now experiencing a condensed dinner and a movie night, other parts of the country have been enjoying the concept for years.
Indeed, luxury movie theaters are big business and it seems to be booming. While they may only make up a small percentage of the total movie theaters in the country, the number of dine-in movie theaters continues to grow.
The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is a Texas-based chain that boasts dine-in theaters in Houston, Austin and San Antonio. The menu there includes special wine and cheese pairings to classic movies. (Coming up: Selbach Riesling Kabinett 2008 paired with Marilyn Monroe's "Seven Year Itch.")
Also in Texas is the Studio Movie Grill, a Dallas-based chain that features Margarita Mondays and Beer-N-Burger Tuesdays. (The Movie Tavern is also based in Dallas.)
In the Chicago area, movie buffs can go to Hollywood Boulevard, which features specials like half-price buckets of beer, $3 admission for college students and menu items like Bill and Ted's Excellent Nachos and Lord of the Onion Rings.
Regal Entertainment's Cinebarr chain has locations in Denver, Seattle and North Carolina and hosts a "Crybaby Day" for parents with infants and a Sunday morning breakfast club that features mimosas and thick-cut French toast.
The AMC chains -- the over-21 only Cinema Suites and the more family-oriented Fork & Screen -- have also sprouted up in Kansas, Atlanta and Orlando (for Philadelphians, the closest locations are in New Jersey.)
Meanwhile, the official grand opening of the Philadelphia-area Movie Tavern is set for July 30, with a blast of country music and movie-themed giveaways. Better get there early.
Victoria Leigh Miller is a freelance writer and lifelong Pennsylvania resident.
- movie theaters
- Harry Potter
- Kevin James
- Supper Club
- cup holder