Movie theaters have always been a magical place, allowing cinema goers to travel the world from their plush theater seat. The whir of the projector as it throws the image onto the projector screen. The smell of buttered popcorn. The enthralling sounds of the theater’s speakers. The dancing of the moving picture on the tremendous projector screen.
The coronavirus pandemic has put a damper on that magic as movie theaters have had to shutter their doors. Where now the only way to get the big screen experience is to have your own home theater with a projector and screen.
Perhaps we can relive that movie theater magic with our home movie screens by watching films about movie theaters. Below is our list of films to remind you of the magic of a movie theater.
The Purple Rose of Cairo
The Purple Rose of Cairo is written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Woody Allen. It stars Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels and Danny Aiello. Cecilia, a waitress from New Jersey during the Depression is searching for an escape from her dreary life. Tom Baxter is a dashing young archaeologist in the film “The Purple Rose of Cairo.” After losing her job Cecilia goes to see the film in hopes of raising her spirits. Much to her surprise Tom Baxter walks off the screen and into her life. There’s only one problem.Tom isn’t real.
Lighthearted and sweet, The Purple Rose of Cairo stands out as one of Woody Allen’s more inventive and enchantingly whimsical movies. With a score of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.7/10 on IMBD you know you’ll enjoy this film about films.
Rising Hollywood screenwriter Peter Appleton (Jim Carrey) is blacklisted in the early 1950s Red Scare. Following a drunken car accident, he wakes with amnesia and is mistaken for a local guy who went MIA during World War 2. Peter adjusts to the new life by helping the guy’s father and high school sweetheart to renovate The Majestic, a movie theater that had become derelict due to hard times.
Though not favored in the eyes of critics, this romantic film scores big points for the idealization of the importance of movie theaters in small town America.
Matinee takes place during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and the looming threat of nuclear war. Low budget filmmaker Lawrence Woolsey, played by John Goodman, is in Key West Florida debuting his new film and thinks the mood of fear is the perfect opportunity to stir up some buzz. Meanwhile a group of local teenagers prepare for the film’s opening night with small crises of their own.
This 1993 film received excellent reviews with a 92% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It captures the power of the cinema during times of crisis.
The 1970 American comedy The Projectionist stars Chuck McCann and legendary comedian Rodney Dangerfield. The movie is about a bored film projectionist who starts fantasizing about being one of the superheroes in the film he screens.
This hilarious movie is a fun romp showing the power of the films on the big screen as a means of escapism from our more mundane lives.
The 1989 drama (not to be confused with the very different 1999 film of the same name) is an Italian film that captures the magic of the movie theater. The main character Jordan, is forced to close his movie theater due to financial problems, recalls the events, the characters and the films that marked his life.
This film Cannes Film Festival Nominee and has a score of 7.1/10 on IMDB.
The second (and better of the two) Italian movie on our list of films about movie theaters is Cinema Paradiso. This film is about a filmmaker who recalls his childhood when falling in love with the pictures at the cinema of his home village and forms a deep friendship with the cinema’s projectionist.
Cinema Paradiso captures the magic of the movie theater through the eyes of a child. It is a beloved film with a 8.5/10 score on IMDB and won the Oscar for best foreign language film in 1990.
This 1976 American comedy Drive-In basically amounts to a mostly juvenile take that brings the viewer back to the good old day at the drive in movie.
In the movie, “Disaster ’76”, the latest disaster film, is playing at The Alamo, a drive-in theater in a small Texas town. The night brings together a young couple, two rival youth gangs, a pair of thieves planning to rob the drive-in, a nervous doctor and a host of other characters.