Movie theaters have grown as generic and homogenous as many other things in American culture. If you were magically dropped inside a theater you would find it difficult to tell one from the other. The only differences between modern theaters is the sound. The newer the room, the better the sound system it boasts. So you get a super boring room with THX or Dolby 12 (or whatever it's up to now) sound.
Frankly, I don't care about sound. I'd rather have a theater with personality that doesn't have the fancy Dolby or THX sound than a boring theater with these sound systems. That's why my favorite theaters in Portland are the Living Room Cinemas; spacious pre-assigned seating, lots of leg room, and you can order meals and have them served to you in your seat while you're screening the movie. It doesn't get better than that. But it can get as good.
Last Sunday I attended the Renaissance Faire in Corvallis, and afterwards we decided to see It by Stephen King. Neither of our phones had signal at the faire so we drove into Dallas, a city of wonderful architecture, to see where the film was playing. By luck, it was playing at the Dallas Cinema (yes, I didn't notice it at the time, but that's cinema, singular).
We arrived to find a line already forming. As we listened we learned that some high school students had screened the film the night before and liked it so much that they were back to see it again, which was a relief.
Film adaptations of Stephen King's work are more miss then hit. Take The Dark Tower that I screened several weeks ago. I'm told that the books, which I assume are inspired by Robert Browning's poem Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came (and I encourage anyone unfamiliar with Browning to read Porphyria's Lover on a stormy, thundery night), are some of King's best, but the movie is utterly forgettable, even painful. I barely sat through the whole thing, so knowing that these people ahead of us were here for a second viewing was a good sign.
As we waited, one of the doors to the theater partially opened and a clown appeared, to the gasp of some of us in the line. The door closed and the clown disappeared, only to reappear in a window, or another door, until he finally walked outside. This was a tremendous moment for me because you don't see big theaters doing fun stuff like this, and this extra touch contributed immensely to the ambiance of the film.
Once inside we saw that the theater held a surprising number of seats, I mean the gladiators didn't have this many seats in their stadiums, though everyone bunched up in the middle, creating a community. And it was the kind of community you wanted for a horror movie. The crowd laughed as a group, grew tense as a group, and very few people checked their phones. I did, however, check out the gorgeous art deco lighting along the walls during slow points, which added more ambiance to the film.
Of It I'll say very little except that you should go see it, and avoid The Dark Tower. And if you can, see it in a theater with personality instead of one of those new cookie-cutter Cineplex things. The film will just seem better.