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4 Summer Movie Alternatives To The Multiplex

Theater pubs

There are vastly different takes on this idea throughout the country, but the basic premise is the same: Provide dinner and booze with the movie and people will stick around.

On the East Coast, this idea exists as Showcase Cinemas' Cinema de Luxe. At a string of theaters in Massachusetts, a Lux Level of plush seats is equipped with a server call button that brings an attendant over to take your order for appetizers, burgers, entrees, desserts, wine, beer or cocktails. Showcase has stocked other locations with its Studio 3 bar for pre- and post-movie noshing and boozing and its Chatters Bar & Grill for more downmarket fare.

Smaller theaters, including the Dunellen Theater & Cinema Cafe in Dunellen, N.J., dispense with the formalities and offer moviegoers pizza and beer at tables between rows. It's an idea that's caught on from Massachusetts to Alaska, but has become ingrained in the culture in Portland, Ore. Not only is the city and the surrounding suburbs home to the McMenamins chain of theater pubs that includes the palatial Baghdad Theater and the converted Kennedy School elementary school, but it's also teeming with similar, smaller independent theaters such as the neon-covered Laurelhurst, the cozy St. John's Cinema, cult favorite Clinton Street and the armchair-laden arthouse known as Living Room Theaters.

Some will cook you pizza, others will offer deviled egg plates and panini, but all have beer on tap and wine if you want it. Kids are invited to most during the day, but knowing you can go to a kid-free showing of Wreck-It Ralph after 8 p.m. and enjoy it with a pint of porter is oddly comforting.

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