Film Spaces – An overview of North Seattle cinemas
By Tom Smeeth ... Whether you're looking for cheap entertainment, convenience, or even an exotic adventure, the film houses nearby offer a wide range of satisfying experiences. But, of course, the key components to the pleasurable viewing of all those celluloid frames include setting, seating, and -- most importantly – good popcorn!
. In general, the Landmark theaters specialize in the offbeat independent and foreign films – and they have the best popcorn to boot! They're located throughout the U District and Capitol Hill, but the lone exception to that rule bears note: The Crest has $3 admission and the best popcorn of them all, but generally focuses on second-run features. The seven screens at the AMC Oak Tree cinemas are a few short blocks west of campus and have a good selection of dining options just across the parking lot. Their popcorn is alright, but it's nothing special. Regal Thornton Place 14, the newest addition to the local film scene, and with commendable popcorn - and fancy screen formats, is just one block east of the Northgate Transit Center across I-5 from North. They held a grand opening in the community in August. They feature friendly service and great popcorn that rivals Landmark's.
. Destination cinemas are abundant throughout the Northwest. Rather than sending you over land and sea to Port Townsend (The Rose), Tacoma (The Grand), or Bainbridge Island (Lynnwood Theatre) – all worthwhile excursions on their own – there are a few in-town screen experiences that are worth the distance you'll go to get there: Central Cinema, an original dinner-and-a movie place between Capitol Hill and the Central District, and the Northwest Film Forum, where membership grants discounts, supporting film care and development, as well as access to classes and equipment for your own movie-making hobbies. NWFF often displays an exotic reach on one screen, while honoring a cinematic theme on the other – keep an eye out for special events. And let's not forget that the Seattle International Film Festival. SIFF now has their own theater down in the Seattle Center (321 Mercer St, 206-633-7151), not far from the AMC Uptown (511 Queen Anne Ave N, 206-285-1022) with three screens.
. I just have to mention a new movement: just like home concerts, home movie viewing can be fun. Couchfest's recent line-up included animator Bill Plympton (with two new shorts) and a film noir about jaywalking. Check out www.couchfestfilms.com for more info.
. Don’t forget the Wednesday Silent flicks presented to the student body every other Wednesday or so. The line-up is esoteric and inclusive – an excellent way to combine your movie watching with lunch and the ever-elusive conversation with fellow students.
. Here’s the cinema survey reference (including parenthetical info on number of screens and service by Metro bus routes) -
Central Cinema (Metro 2), 1411 21st Ave, 206-686-6684 – Go with friends for the dinner. Check out their line-up.
Landmark Crest (3 screens, Metro 66, 44), 16505 Fifth Ave NE, 206-781-5755 – At $3, the best deal! Good people, best popcorn, hands down.
Grand Illusion (Metro 48, 66), 1403 NE 50th Street, 206-523-3935 – Check them out at www.grandillusioncinema.org.
Landmark Guild 45th (2, Metro 16, 44), 2115 N 45th St – Old school cool, new school films, if a bit grungy. West screen has better popcorn.
Landmark Metro (9, Metro 66, 44) – Wide selection makes it always of interest. Coffee lounge upstairs.
Landmark Neptune (Metro 43, 44, 48, 71-73) - Classic old cinema house with a quirky layout and great interior. Features big screen attractions. Second-best popcorn.
Northwest Film Forum (2, Metro 2, 10, 11, 12) – 1515 12th Ave, 206-267-5380 – Curator of cinema. Homemade-style popcorn, with exotic sodas from around the world.
AMC Oak Tree (7, Metro 358, 5, 75) – Main run films mostly. Closest to school, Oak Tree mall is right next door. Decent popcorn.
Landmark Seven Gables (Metro 66), 911 NE 50th St, 206-781-5755 – Nicest lobby, decent popcorn, this theater screens quirky intrigues.
Regal Thornton Place (14, Metro’s Northgate Transit Center 5, 16, 41, 66, 75, 345-8), 301 NE 103rd St, 1-800-326-3264 – Has screens equipped for IMAX, 3-D showings. Broad fare but has some indies like current Coco Before Chanel, too. Popcorn rivals the best.
Landmark Varsity (3) – 4329 University Way NE, 206-781-5755 – Appeals to university student. Sometimes one-week wonders truly shouldn’t be missed. Worst popcorn and service. Three floors!