Movies On The Boulevard: Even Better Than You Think

This theatre complex will blow your damn mind.

Boulevard TheatreIf you thought just having the first new movie theater in the city in 36 years was good enough, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. I attended the kick off of MovieLand at Boulevard Square yesterday and left floored like a kid in a candy store.

I must say, I am not much of a moviegoer. It has to be a pretty damn good flick if I am going to take two hours out of my day because most of Hollywood is pretty horrific. Another problem is we don’t ever see many of the good flicks that are made each year on small budgets, or come from independent directors or foreign countries.

Thus, I have been luke-cold on this entire project, assuming it was just another movie-plex churning out the same old films in the same old atmosphere. But after yesterday I am red hot on it and the January 2009 opening can not come soon enough.

Let me reel off what I learned:

  • The construction is an eye-popping adaptive reuse of a 130 year old locomotive shed.
  • There will be no video games or arcades in the entire complex.
  • There will be no on screen advertising before features.
  • Each of the 17 theaters will have stadium seating, with custom wooden and leather chairs made exclusively for the ownership group.
  • There will be a large restaurant in the old Foundry building on site.
  • Concessions will include REAL butter on popcorn, as well as coffees and teas and other hot food such as pizza and giant pretzels.
  • There is a Sunday late morning “Movies with Mimosas” where they show vintage classics and serve chilly libations.
  • There will be an Insomnia Theater with cult classics late night on weekends (remember the midnight Rocky Horror Picture Show or Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” at the Ridge Cinema?)
  • They have a submission form where you can suggest upcoming features for the above two categories.
  • Free parking for 750 cars (that’s about 500 more spots than Short Pump Cinema).
  • They have a Criterion Club that offers discounts for frequent visitors.

Boulevard TheatreWhat is better than all that, you say? While some screens will show the usual big films and blockbusters, other screens will show many of the films that do not ever get screen time in Richmond – i.e. good independent films, etc. – because other theaters won’t show them and the Westhampton only has two screens.

Think about all the great films you read about at Sundance or Cannes and then picture yourself being able to see them here. Soon it will be a reality.

In fact, the owners of the complex are heavily involved with the Toronto Film Festival – one of the world’s best – and they will be bringing first run films from that festival to little ol’ River City.

So when you read about many of those limited release movies in the Times, the Post or online, you won’t have to run to Netflix or Amazon to find them. You will be able to enjoy it on the big screen in surround sound.

We could not ask for a cooler, hipper theater complex or a better group of owners who are committed to doing this right and producing the coolest movie complex within a few hours drive – maybe even a few states – of this prime location.

With such a jewel as this on the Boulevard, the rest of that renaissance is surely close behind.

Republished from River City Rapids with permission — Ed.

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Jon Baliles

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