Philadelphia Inquirer names Colonial Theatre among ‘Best Cinemas in the Philadelphia Region’ » The Colonial Theatre

Philadelphia Inquirer names Colonial Theatre among ‘Best Cinemas in the Philadelphia Region’


Read the Full Article “A film lover’s guide to the best cinemas in the Philadelphia Region” by John Semley, for the Philadelphia Inquirer

But things are changing. Philly, and the surrounding area, is reclaiming something of its bygone status as one of America’s foremost movie towns. Savvy programming, pop-up cinema spaces, and charitable initiatives are increasingly providing local moviegoers with something more ambitious and esoteric than the usual multiplex-standard mega-blockbuster fare. These are some of the local (and local-ish) venues well worth keeping in mind.

 

A true gem of the region — and of America’s fading drive-in culture — the Mahoning Drive-In is well worth the drive.
A true gem of the region — and of America’s fading drive-in culture — the Mahoning Drive-In is well worth the drive. David Mankey

The Mahoning Drive-In

Like something dreamed into existence by a generation of video store brats, the Mahoning Drive-In has become legendary for its wildly eclectic mix of cult, schlock, and just genuinely curious programming — almost all of which is presented on archival prints. Come for a Sunday of Three Stooges shorts, or a double-bill pairing the 1978 LSD-zombie freakout flick Blue Sunshine with David Cronenberg’s adaptation of William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. Other recent programming has includeda 35mm unspooling of the late comedian Norm Macdonald’s critically reviled 1998 comedy Dirty Work. A true gem of the region — and of America’s fading drive-in culture — the Mahoning is well worth the drive. 📍 635 Seneca Road, Lehighton, 🌐 mahoningdit.com

Since 2013, cinéSPEAK has been pursuing a mission, to engage “diverse audiences through our globally-minded contemporary and repertory independent film programming," including regular events at Clark Park.
Since 2013, cinéSPEAK has been pursuing a mission, to engage “diverse audiences through our globally-minded contemporary and repertory independent film programming,” including regular events at Clark Park. Sarah Mueller

cinéSPEAK

Since 2013, cinéSPEAK has been pursuing a mission to engage “diverse audiences through our globally-minded contemporary and repertory independent film programming.” A registered 501(c) charitable trust, cinéSPEAK is committed to serving its West Philly community, as a sort of roving cultural hub. The programming is suitably wide-ranging, presenting works by established arthouse heavies like the Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul to a mini-festival of shorts by local filmmakers screened at the Cherry Street Pier. While it’s mostly operated as a pop-up, screening in loaned venues or local parks, cinéSPEAK is currently finalizing plans to open a “permanent home” in West Philly. 🌐 cinespeak.org

As the Philadelphia Film Center settles into its new, permanent home, its programming has become more adventurous.
As the Philadelphia Film Center settles into its new, permanent home, its programming has become more adventurous. Philadelphia Film Society

The Philadelphia Film Center

In 2021, the Philadelphia Film Society split from its grungier digs on the 2000 block of Sansom and settled into the shinier, slightly more central location on Chestnut, in what was formerly the Prince Theater. In addition to the annual film festival, the Film Center hosts movie-themed quizzo nights, and runs an after-school program called Cinemaniacs. As the Society settles into its new, permanent home, its programming has become more adventurous. A standard slate of first-run features and “Film Essentials” is complemented with programs like AP Bio, which explores inventive takes on the biopic form, from Federico Fellini’s 8½ to Paul Schrader’s Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters. (The Film Society also screens films at the PFS Bourse, at 400 Ranstead Street.) 📍 1412 Chestnut Street, 📞 267-239-2941, 🌐 filmadelphia.org/phila-film-center

At the artier end of Philly’s filmgoing spectrum is the Lightbox Film Center, which prioritizes experimental and art house cinema.
At the artier end of Philly’s filmgoing spectrum is the Lightbox Film Center, which prioritizes experimental and art house cinema. Chris Giamo

Lightbox Film Center

At the artier end of Philly’s filmgoing spectrum is the Lightbox, which prioritizes experimental and art house cinema with a focus on newly struck (or otherwise pristine) restorations. The Lightbox is spotlighting little-seen films, like Michael Roemer’s Vengeance Is Mine, and Ukrainian director Roman Bondarchuk’s recent Volcano. 📍 401 South Broad Street, 📞 215-717-6477, 🌐 lightboxfilmcenter.org

 

The Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Housed inside the historic Seville Theatre (established circa 1926), this movie house has survived re-zoning kerfuffles, bankruptcies, and a close call that saw it nearly converted into a gym. Now a charitable org, the BMFI screens first-run films, as well as certifiable classics, from Michael Curtis’s Casablanca to John Woo’s Hard Boiled. Educational programs like the Cinema Classics Seminars offer additional insight into the slate, courtesy local scholars and critics. 📍 824 Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, 📞 610-527-9898, brynmawrfilm.org

 

Established in 1903 as the “Colonial Opera House,” the Colonial Theatre is famous for enjoying pride of place in the 1958 Steve McQueen sci-fi comedy classic "The Blob."
Established in 1903 as the “Colonial Opera House,” the Colonial Theatre is famous for enjoying pride of place in the 1958 Steve McQueen sci-fi comedy classic “The Blob.” Bad Chicken

The Colonial Theatre

If you’re looking for a cinema with historical bona fides to spare, well, get yourself to Phoenixville. Established in 1903 as the “Colonial Opera House,” the cinema is famous (locally anyway) for enjoying pride of place in the 1958 Steve McQueen sci-fi comedy classic The Blob. Now, renovated and restored, the three-screen movie houses mixes first-run features with classics, stand-up comedy shows, sing-a-long screenings of beloved movie musicals, and pop-ups courtesy Secret Cinema, the long-running local cult movie club. The Colonial plays hosts to a yearly three-day “Blobfest,” which surely ranks among nation’s most significant Blob-based annual happenings. 📍 227 Bridge Street, Phoenixville🌐 thecolonialtheatre.com

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