Okay, so the 5-D, supersonic speaker, uber theater in your local mall is perfect for watching the latest action flick with a horde of your buddies. But tickets priced at $13 a pop, plus snacks and drinks breaking the bank (forget about smuggling your own past the rent-a-cop) make today’s moviegoing experience not as fun. Not to fear, however, as small independent theaters still exist; it’s just a matter of finding them. The following are five of the best family/privately owned shows in Pittsburgh, which are across the board cheaper, more personal and intimate. Bonus: you’re supporting the local arts with your patronage and keeping these glittering little gems of yesterday functional for years to come.
The Dependable Drive-In
549 Moon Clinton Road
Coraopolis, PA 15108
Seven dollars for two shows – yes, you read that correctly (and kids are $3). For a paltry seven smackeroos, you can enjoy two films (generally in the same genre, i.e. kids, action, drama, horror or romcom) in the beauty of your Suburban. The best part about the drive in is always the literal “driving in” part: putting the top down or climbing in the bed of someone’s truck to tuck in for the show. Outside food is welcome, so pack a snack or a meal for everyone, or grab your own munchies when you get there – the concession stand is far cheaper than the Dependable’s high-priced competitors. Visit the Dependable’s website for a list of showtimes and special discounts.
1449 Potomac Ave.
Dormont, PA 15216
A non-profit organization serving its community since 2010, The Hollywood Theater presents past and present films, community functions and events. Special programs include things like Breakfast and a Movie, and you can rent the theater out for your next big fete. The organization is currently fundraising to purchase a brand-new digital projector to assimilate into the film industry’s transition from film to digital format, so support by visiting often and spending (much less, to boot) your dollar locally.
119 N. Main St.
Zelienople, PA 16063
Built in 1914, and subsequently closed in 1980 when major multiplex cinemas came to town, The Strand was lovingly adopted and reopened in 2001; revived for a new generation of theater and movie goers. From live concerts to stand-up, new flicks and rereleases of old classics, The Strand has something for everyone. Take your family for entertainment, support the theater and help keep this amazing little initiative going for generations to come.
Melwood Screening Room
477 Melwood Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Pittsburgh Filmmakers, in addition to educating, operates three theaters that showcase foreign films, weekly series, documentaries and indie pictures. Melwood Screening Room, the tiniest of the three (it only seats 130), is the most modern. Built in 1995, the second-floor theater boasts a lobby, gallery space and concession area, plus free parking. The theater is also available to rent. Visit Pittsburgh Filmmakers website for showtimes and current events.
310 Allegheny River Blvd.
Oakmont, PA 15139
Oakmont’s only single-screen theater, the Oaks has been fully operational since 1938. Tucked neatly away on a gorgeous oak tree-lined street, the theater captures happy times of days gone by, while retaining a modern enough edge to appeal to today’s audience. Famous for hosting a regular “Rocky Horror Picture Show” event, plus “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead” runs, the Oaks also showcases new releases, cinematic art and awesome moonlit matinee events.
Nikki Tiani-Moroney is a full time mum of two boys, wife of a professional poker player/photographer/amateur pencil-sharpening competitor and writer from Pittsburgh, PA. When she isn’t studiously neglecting her housework in favor of a good book, she’s out simultaneously fighting crime and picking up sidewalk litter while savoring an occasional cigarette. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.