By VERONICA GRAY
There’s something about going to a theater to see a movie. The movie theater can give you a taste of the area surrounding it. It can give you a chance to get to know new people, or spend time with an old friend. And sometimes, it’s just a place to escape to when life is overly stressful and you need a break. Here in Tampa, we have a few amazing theaters for UT students to escape to. Whether you’re going just for a study break, or getting to know your roommate, downtown Tampa and a little bit beyond has a fun experience for every type of movie watcher.
Located across the river from UT, the Tampa Theatre is a haven for those looking for a different movie experience. Much like Plant Hall, the Tampa Theatre is a historic structure in the middle of downtown Tampa. Today, it offers movie goers a chance to step back in time.
The theater is periodically being restored to keep its appearance, but even with some places not looking the cleanest or smoothest in comparison to the rest of the theater it has an amazing atmosphere. Walking up to the theater feels like you have been transported back to the 1920s with the lit up sign and box office teller out front. Inside, the first floor is a different world entirely from the downtown streets. Beautiful tile work on the floor, a ceiling that has little twinkling stars above, and a restored ascending staircase. There is also a concession stand and an information table on the recent fundraising venture of putting in new comfortable seats for the theatre. Passing through the doors into the first level of the actual theatre can take you by surprise. Instead of a lines of seats in front of a large screen, the seats are all facing a stage that is reminiscent of one that could be used for a number of Shakespearean plays. The ceiling full of stars continues into the theatre, and the second level has two tiers of seating, much like the boxed seats you could get at a play.
The movie selection at the Tampa Theatre is not like the average movie theater. The theater offers a limited amount of showings per day, one to three times per day on average and even then, because it has only one theater, it can only show a couple of different movies a day. It holds viewings of documentaries, short films from festivals and the Academy Awards, and it hosts a number of rewind or classic film viewings, especially on Friday nights. The theater also shows films based on different events they are hosting with from sing-along specials to actors or actresses talking about their experiences on set. Tickets are not overly expensive, but if you’re looking for a good deal hold out for a good rewind movie on Friday night as tickets are only $7 for the late-night classics.
The Tampa Theatre is within walking distance of campus and is definitely worth the hike. For more information about the theater, movie listings and times, visit tampatheatre.org.
Studio Movie Grill
The Studio Movie Grill is located within University Mall, about 9.6 miles from campus and near USF, making it the farthest theater on this list from UT. Studio Movie Grill is a dine-in movie experience with a large selection in movies and food.
The theater is two stories, with several auditoriums available to enjoy a number of recent releases. It has a more upscale atmosphere than an AMC theater, but that doesn’t mean you can’t walk in for a casual dinner with friends. The seat and small table combination is comfortable enough to enjoy a movie while also eating anything from popcorn to a full entree from the menu.
If moviegoers plan on ordering any food while at the theatre, Studio Movie Grill requests that everyone arrives at least 20 minutes early to allow time for choices to be made and food to arrive before the movie starts. The food is reasonably priced, usually landing close to the prices at a Chili’s or Applebee’s restaurant, and they have a number of items that everyone can enjoy. From classic popcorn and soda to pizza, burgers and even nutella filled beignets, there’s a little something for everyone to try. There are also specials each day for certain menu items and some specially marked items that help donate 5 percent of the profits to a nonprofit in Tampa.
For extra savings, have your student ID on hand for a student discount. Even without an ID, tickets are not super expensive at this theater, ranging from $7.50 for a matinee to $8 for a regular adult ticket. They even offer special movie events on some Wednesdays where tickets are $5 for movies such at The Lord of the Rings trilogy, or DC Movies like The Dark Knight.
When it is all said and done, the little drive it takes to get out to Studio Movie Grill is worth it. For more information on the theater, menu, and tickets go to studiomoviegrill.com.
Cinebistro in Hyde Park
To add a bit of comparison to Studio Movie Grill, Cinebistro in Hyde Park is another dine-in movie experience. This theater is closer to campus, located just up the road in Hyde Park. However, it is more expensive in ticket and food prices. Movie tickets, even at 3:30 p.m. showings, are $14. The movie and meal selection is smaller at Cinebistro, and there is an age limit for those who are under 21. Those underage are only allowed in the theater before 6 p.m. and only to movies marked as the theatre’s Family Series films.
This dine-in experience reflects what you might find at an upscale restaurant, featuring selections like a New York strip, a crab dip, and a spiced Florida Mahi sandwich. They also offer popcorn and candy, which are the cheapest items on their menu. To take part in the dine-in experience, the theater asks their patrons to arrive 30 minutes before the movie.
If you’re looking for a nicer place for your next date night, or night out on the town, Cinebistro is good place to start. For more information on the theater, menu and tickets go to cinebistro.com.
These three theaters are some of the best Tampa has to offer. Be on the lookout this semester for great movie releases, such as Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and the remake of Stephen King’s IT and be sure to visit one if not all of these theaters. See you at the movies.
Veronica Gray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.