Safe movie theater alternatives


Photo by Sarosh Ismail

The pandemic has greatly affected the entertainment business, including the vast world of cinema and the movie-watching experience. For as long as I can remember, going to the movie theaters has been a special experience that my family and I were able to enjoy together. While the movie selection changed as we got older, the fun of arguing over which film we would enjoy and eating all the popcorn before the previews ended became a sacred tradition. However, I have not been to the movie theater in eight months due to safety concerns. In an effort to revive this tradition, with added precautions, I enlisted the help of my mom to investigate movie theater alternatives so we could continue enjoying cinema.

Jasper’s Uptown: 6/10

While I thought this unique outdoor dinner-and-a-movie classic would be my favorite, Jasper’s Uptown fell short of my expectations. The movie of the night, “Beetlejuice,” was a Halloween classic that never disappoints, but sadly it was the only celebrated aspect of the night. The service was inventive, with a system to discreetly press a light if you need assistance during the movie; however, the food was not to my satisfaction. I have a gluten allergy, and while it is not a big deal that they didn’t have an allergen menu, it should be expected that the kitchen is notified of any food allergies — yet this was not the case. Unfortunately, I was served a meal with gluten in it after asking the staff for recommendations on safe items. Even though the management and wait staff was respectably apologetic, my movie watching experience was obviously tainted by this mishap. Still, young Winona Ryder saved the night with her stellar performance and hilarious dance scene to conclude the evening. I don’t see myself returning in the future, but I’m still glad I was able to experience the fun atmosphere and see what the hype was all about. 

Staying home: 7/10

As a self-proclaimed homebody, I thrived during the beginning of isolation, but too much of a good thing has inevitably made me stir crazy. I do love a quiet movie night at home, but I find that the experience is definitely not the same. The film of the evening was yet another spooky classic, “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and while I wish I could have given it my undivided attention, I did not. I didn’t have to worry about disturbing other movie watchers, so I found myself getting distracted and going on my phone or talking to my mom during the movie. This caused me to miss some parts and made me increasingly lose interest throughout the hour and a half. There is also the absence of the previews and movie concessions that make the experience a treat. Overall, while this is the safest option, it is also the most casual, which is not what I was looking for. 

Coyote Drive-In: 9/10

I have always loved the drive in, because it’s a perfect opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and watch a good film. I ended up viewing “Monsters University,” a classic Pixar movie that provides a little bit of escapism during uncertain times. Apart from staying home, Coyote Drive-In is probably the safest option in my opinion, because customers don’t have to exit the comfort of their vehicles at any time if they don’t wish to. However, public restrooms and classic concessions are still available as long as patrons wear a face covering or mask. The only downside to this drive-in is that it’s a little less than an hour a way, depending on traffic. But, if you’re up for a drive, then this is the perfect safe option for you.  

While I don’t think anything can directly replace the unique experience of watching a new film in theaters, these alternatives to enjoying cinema are still viable options. Therefore, I am saving the 10/10 rating for when I can safely laugh, cry or smile at the authentic big screen in the future.