Updated: 4 p.m. Monday
The Pearl Theatre at Avenue North in North Philly is shutting down for the week and changing hands. While developer Bart Blatstein is promising a high-end experience to replace it, some movie-goers weren’t so thrilled to hear about the transformation this morning.
The Pearl, which will also re-open with a full remodel in early 2017, remains one of only three movie theaters within the city grid — the other two are the Riverview on Columbus Boulevard and Cinemark in University City near Penn — where you can catch a blockbuster and get that typical movie theater experience. The rest of the theaters around the city either require a drive, a significant train ride or just don’t offer the popular new releases.
We broke down the remaining movie theaters in the city and what you can expect at each:
If you’re looking for… An indie drama not in most theaters.
Go to: The Ritzes. This cluster of Ritz theaters, all Landmark-owned, is on the artsy film side — don’t expect major blockbusters to play here, but rather go for an indie film or a critically-acclaimed drama.
Located at: Ritz East at 125 S. 2nd St., Ritz at the Bourse at 400 Ranstead St. and the Ritz Five 214 Walnut St. in Old City.
Pros: You’ll feel very sophisticated watching a film at one of these locations in Old City and Society Hill.
Cons: Sorry, don’t expect Mad Max-type movies to be playing at these locations any time soon.
Best Yelp praise: “It’s also right next to Penn’s Landing so you can take a nice stroll next to the water and contemplate whatever indie or artsy movie you’ve just seen afterwards.”
Worst Yelp complaint: “Why does the staff have to be so mean? I was in line the other day and the poor girl in front of me was reamed out by the ticket seller!…They’re damn lucky they have the market cornered on decent flicks.”
If you’re looking for… the comfiest chairs.
Go to: University City Penn 6 (Cinemark). The Cinemark theater in University City, owned by Regal, plays your typical blockbuster movies and offers “king size recliners.”
Located at: 4012 Walnut St. in University City
Pros: This place has a decent $5.50 deal on Tuesdays and a restaurant and bar right next to it.
Cons: Expect college kids, duh.
Best Yelp praise: “I have had some really shitty experiences here and some REALLY FREAKING AMAZING experiences here…. I ended up getting to go to a screening of Nightcrawler starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Well, they kept telling us to sit near the front and fill up the whole theater. Well, JAKE GYLLENHAAL SHOWED UP!!!…Plus, did you hear that someone got shot here when it was called the Bridge? Whatever, I ‘ll still come here cause who knows who I’ll meet next.”
Best Yelp complaint: “They have mice!! I saw one running in the aisle. Cops were on guard in the lobby and concession stand was pricey.”
If you’re looking for… A movie in the middle of Center City.
Go to: PFS Roxy Theater. This small theater in Center City, the home base of the Philadelphia Film Society, will carry some of the bigger movies, but also shows ones no one else does like art flicks and old classics.
Located at: 2023 Sansom St. in Rittenhouse
Pros: BYO Wednesdays for $12 when you can see nostalgic hits!
Cons: The theater is quite small and has a tiny, sometimes dirty screen.
Best Yelp praise: “They also didn’t stop us from bringing in Shake Shack milkshakes. I loved this place and can’t wait to see more movies there.”
Best Yelp complaint: “The most uncomfortable movie theater seats I have ever sat in are turn offs. Seriously, you totally renovated this theater and these are the seats you choose?”
If you’re looking for… A place where you can talk during the movie.
Go to: United Artists Riverview Plaza. This is your typical Regal-owned movie theater. Right on Columbus Boulevard, it can get busy on weekends, but you can bet they’re showing the big Hollywood flicks getting buzz right now.
Located at: 400 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd. in Pennsport.
Pros: Sometimes you can talk all the way through a movie because you’re literally the only person in the place.
Cons: This place kind of sucks. If there is someone else in the theater with you, there’s a good chance they will be noisily eating a hoagie.
Best Yelp praise: “It has real “city character.” Yes, you may pay $8.50 for a total Hollywood flick (don’t expect Angelica/Ritz caliber movies here). And yes, the floors are as sticky as ________. But when it’s opening night for Snakes On A Plane or any scary movie, the crowd makes it.”
Best Yelp complaint: “It’s like watching a movie in a sewer. Great excuse to get cable.”
If you’re looking for… An educational or kid-friendly environment.
Go to: Tuttleman IMAX Dome Theater and Franklin Theater at the Franklin Institute. The IMAX theater inside The Franklin Institute on the Parkway shows sciencey films (for example, the theater’s currently showing “Coral Reef Adventure” and “National Parks Adventure). In addition to the IMAX, the Franklin Theater also shows movies like Finding Dory and 3D experiential films underwater and in space.
Located at: 222 N 20th St. in Center City
Pros: Great for kids and families.
Cons: Not consistent in screening big blockbusters — you’ll have to continuously check the schedule ahead of time while you’re planning where to go for a movie.
Best Yelp praise: “At first I thought that seeing a regular action film here was a bad idea, but I really loved it! It was dizzying seeing Tom Cruise jump out of the highest building in Dubai, but then again, it was the best!”
Best Yelp complaint: “This place is a planetarium meant to play documentaries about the galaxy and the Serengeti… It is NOT MEANT TO PLAY MOVIES. I saw Skyfall, and I felt like someone shoved my face 2 inches from my TV.”
If you’re looking for… the best seats in the house.
Go to: UA Grant Plaza 9. This movie theater in the Northeast that shows a pretty typical slate of blockbusters was recently redone and now has reclining seats.
Located at: 1619 Grant Ave. in Bustleton
Pros: Let’s be honest: This place used to be kind of a shithole. But it’s been redone, and now offers those fancy big reclining seats and a special “reserved seating” option.
Cons: The amount of cell phone use and loud talkers is medium-high.
Best Yelp praise: “New recliners are great! The only way I want to see a movie now.. spoiled.”
Best Yelp complaint: “The movie got close to the end then it shut off. Then it came back on with no audio. I would have never come to this movie theatre if it wasn’t for the recliners.”
If you’re looking for… Somewhere in Northwest Philly.
Go to: UA Main Street Theater 6. This popular movie theater in Manayunk plays your regular ol’ Hollywood movies.
Located at: 3720 Main Street in Manayunk
Pros: It’s pretty much your regular, schmegular movie theater.
Cons: There was that whole they-maybe-had-bed-bugs thing. And it’s a little small compared to other theaters farther out into the suburbs.
Best Yelp praise: “On a date with my girlfriend Mandie. Batman …..Everyone is so nice here ;)”
Best Yelp complaint: “When I sat down and bit into my pretzel bites there was a fingernail… I immediately went to the service counter to complain to the manager and no one really cared. I was offered more pretzel bites and a few apologies while the manager counted that night’s funds.”
If you’re looking for… Somewhere in the Northeast.
Go to: AMC Philadelphia Mills 14. An AMC theater, this cinema at the Franklin Mills mall is pretty much, yep, a mall movie theater.
Located at: 1149 Franklin Mills Circle
Pros: You can do whatever “adventure” activity is in the mall while you wait for the show to start (rock wall, giant jumpy thing, etc).
Cons: They got rid of the $4 Tuesday night special 🙁
Best Yelp praise: “Cheap prices too! $5 for a movie! #leggo.”
Best Yelp complaint: “When we got out of the movie, this pickup truck was doing donuts in the parking lot and eventually crashed into a large mountain of shoveled snow. That was actually much funnier than the movie itself, but anyhoo.”