Finding a good movie theater is like falling in love.
The match between theater and audience-member is an important one; lifelong bonds can be formed if the connection resonates, and viewing a movie in the right venue can mean the difference between a relaxing day off and a bitter drive home.
Each person has their own needs for a theater, be them movie selection, general size or atmosphere. If you’re new in town, how could you be expected to choose an afternoon sanctuary when you can barely find your way around the city?
From your friendly neighborhood web series New to the ‘Burgh, here's a guide to partaking in the Steel City’s motion picture scene.
The Manor - The longstanding Manor Theater recently saw itself upgraded and renovated, with a new projection system and the classy, alcohol-serving M Bar bringing the theater into the 21st century. While it might be incorrect to characterize the Manor Theater as an arthouse — its summer lineup boasted blockbusters like "Star Trek Into Darkness" and "Iron Man 3" alongside indie darlings "Much Ado About Nothing" and "The Way, Way Back" — it would also be inaccurate to characterize it as a mainstream experience. The Manor’s interior is quiet and reserved, featuring only four theaters in a relatively contained space. As a result, the theater presents an intimate experience for its audiences, delicately and successfully walking the line between modern and old-school. (Bonus points: for late-night movie fans, The Manor hosts a Manor@Midnight every Monday this fall featuring classics like "Reservoir Dogs" and "The Shining.")
Regent Square, Harris Theater and Melwood Screening Room - The Pittsburgh Filmmakers-operated theaters form a golden triangle of local art houses. Their film offerings are similar, but they are all home to a different aesthetic. The Melwood Screening Room features the most modern environment while still remaining a casual, laid back venue. The Harris stands as the last movie theater in downtown Pittsburgh, with echoes remaining of its storied cultural history as both an art cinema and an adult film theater. The single screen of Regent Square appeals to both the new cinephiles and the old-timers who visited throughout the theater’s nearly 80-year tenure. All three strive to provide Pittsburgh with an alternative type of cinema, presenting some of the most cerebral and moving pictures available. While they might not always feature the most contemporary or mainstream fare, the quality of their content works in conjunction with their vintage atmosphere to create a unique theater-going experience.
AMC Loews Waterfront - The theater on the Waterfront is a massive, expansive cinema that threatens to swallow its patrons whole. If its tall ceilings and never-ending interior do not scare you off, however, the space has a lot to offer. Its biggest asset is the variety of films it manages to bring in. While other theaters like SouthSide Works or the Manor have to go out of their way to bring in alternative programming, the Waterfront can accomplish the same feats without sacrificing their money-making franchises thanks to its impressive 22 theaters. Those same theaters are all crisp and shipshape, and their recent addition of an IMAX screen only adds to the Waterfront’s appeal.
SouthSide Works - SouthSide’s theater is nice, featuring 10 comfortable theaters and a well-planned balance between blockbusters and films with a limited release, but its real appeal comes from its various weekday specials. Students will love deals like $6 bargain Mondays and free popcorn Tuesdays. Sci-fi and action fans can avoid 3D surcharges if they drop by on a Wednesday, and a valid student ID treats viewers to another $6 opportunity on Thursdays. Shrewd spectators can plan ahead and save money while still gaining a high quality moviegoing experience.
Carnegie Science Center - The museum’s four story Omnimax screen wins the largest screen award for the city. Featuring one of only 50 screens dome-shaped screens in the country, its science programming is both fascinating and highly educational. The nature documentaries might already be fun for the whole family, but viewing them on the IMAX screen is nothing short of awe-inspiring. The theater’s current programming offers viewers with the opportunity to experience the arctic, the butterfly migration and the Hubble space telescope, with future programming promising to expose audiences to more of the wonders of the world and beyond.
Are you New to the ‘Burgh? Or are you a Pittsburgh lifer? Either way, share your favorite movie hotspots and local theater memories on Facebook and Twitter: #new2theburgh.