Senior Bucket List: Boston’s Alternative Movie Theaters

By The Quad • March 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Written by Paul Squire and Monica Castillo

It’s late on a Friday night, and you’ve got a craving for popcorn. You gather up your friends and head to the local multiplex. But just around the corner are other movie theaters, ones you’ve probably never noticed before, stuffed full of the greatest cult, foreign and independent movies on the East Coast.

So, movie buff, if there’s one thing you must do before you walk down the red carpet out of Boston University, it must be to check out a true Boston movie house.

Yes, there is a world beyond our beloved Regal Theater at Fenway, and I assure you it’s worth the trip. These theaters offer up something unique. The concession stands pour real butter on your popcorn. The midnight movie is probably a title you have never heard of (ever heard of Blacula, the 70s blacksploitation horror film? Didn’t think so), but will soon come to love. These independent theaters don’t sell you the latest blockbusters; they are selling a true movie-going experience, one unlike anything you’ve seen before.

Take the Brattle Theatre, a single room moviehouse in Harvard Square on the Red Line. The theater there, tucked into a basement, has been operating non-stop since 1953, bringing the biggest cult classics to Boston for adoring fans and new converts to enjoy. From a week-long series on the Muppets to reviving the classics like Rear Window and Casablanca, the Brattle is an ideal place to turn to get your retro fix. And with student prices just $7.75, it’s cheaper than the major theaters too.

The Coolidge Corner Theatre, a staple of the town of Brookline since the 1920s,  is another prime location for a great movie night. The non-profit Coolidge, the last Art Deco theater left in Boston, has four different screens, but the main screen on the first floor will make your jaw drop (the cinema’s spectacular ceiling was recently restored). Still, the Coolidge is so much more than just a pretty face. Located on the C branch of the Green Line, the Coolidge offers a wide variety of new independent releases and special programming. The theater even hosts occasional stage acts, including plays and even burlesque dancers. Student tickets are available all day on Thursdays, but be sure to keep checking in to see if your favorite movie is schedule to play. The Coolidge plans what movies they’ll screen one week at a time.

If you’re looking for something a little more mainstream, you couldn’t do much better than the Kendall Square Cinema, a member of the Landmark chain of theaters. The Kendall specializes in foreign language and documentary films, and with nine different screens, they can fit a lot in. The Kendall features the best of both worlds: the indie sensibilities combined with the furnishings of the latest greatest multiplexes. While the Kendall may be a short walk away from the nearest Red Line MBTA stop, the walk is certainly worth it.

So, whether you’re a movie maniac or a casual theater-goer, you can’t miss these cinema shrines. Go for a movie, and be prepared to fall in love; you may never want to set foot in a big-chain multiplex ever again.


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  1. Adam

    Hi guys,

    The Coolidge Corner Theatre is in Coolidge Corner, not Brookline Village. BU Students might also want to note that you can take the 66 bus from Allston to get to it.

    • Editors note: thanks for the typo. The second word “village” was not supposed to be capitalized, so I can understand any confusion. It’s been changed to clear up any further misunderstanding.

  2. Emma

    May have died giggling at the Scarlet Jewels. Best movie I’ve seen in a while.

  3. Amy

    This is wonderful! Please do this sort of fun video more often!

  4. You missed a few great theaters. West Newton Cinema is a fabulous place to see foreign and indy films. Landmark in Waltham specializes in foreign and current indy films.m And the Capital in Arlington is very similar to Cooledge Corner.

  5. l0b0

    Blacula every one has heard of Blacula, he is one of the only real monsters.

  6. Hec

    Sorry, but the best theater in the country is the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. One can enjoy classics, foreign films, documentaries, and Anime all while enjoying an extensive food and drink menu. This is where true movie fans go to enjoy a night out… and yes, I have heard of Blacula.