Published: February 8, 2006
Popcorn. Pizza. Beer. And now first-run movies.
Only Pensacola’s Silver Screen Theatre offers this eclectic combination. Students can view the nation’s newest blockbusters in comfy (and moveable!) chairs, sip a beer, and munch on chicken wings for about ten bucks.
PJC criminal justice major Christine Arnette, 18, advocates the inexpensive alternative theater: “I love what they’re doing by keeping things cheap.”
Thanks to recent hurricanes and the popularity of multiplexes, the Silver Screen has undergone major plastic surgery and emerged as Pensacola’s unique first-run movie theater.
Owner Ron Estrada says “pure economics” motivated the changes; multiplexes hold new releases longer than ever to fill their many screens, leaving just a fragment of time before box-office blockbusters are released on DVD.
But that didn’t stop Pensacola’s oldest theater. Prices may have risen ($4 matinees/$6 after 6 p.m.), but so has technology. The renovated Silver Screen boasts the same 35 mm projection and digital sound available at other theaters, now equipped in all four auditoriums.
Three are also outfitted with LCD digital S-XGA resolution, what Estrada fondly calls “virtual sports.” Imagine larger-than-life boxing, NASCAR, and Monday Night Football – the ability to project cable, satellite, computer and DVD feeds to a theater-sized screen creates endless possibilities. No regular sports showings are currently offered, but the auditoriums are available for private screenings and birthday parties.
Fresh additions to the theater include credit card machines and a Web site offering online ticket ordering. There isn’t an option yet to purchase discounted tickets online (such as students, military, seniors and children under 11, which are $4), but Estrada says box-office workers will accept an online child’s price ticket with appropriate ID. Online ordering costs $1.95 per ticket, but register with the site and the fee is only $1.
The snack bar features burgers, fries, chicken tenders, wings, pizza and shrimp in addition to the classic movie fares. Wednesday nights are still $1 night (soft drinks, beer, wine coolers or nachos) and Thursday night pizza for two is $7.
Veteran Silver Screeners will be pleased to learn that classic midnight movies haven’t been phased out; Estrada says “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” will return next month.
Silver Screen employee Rebecca Rodriguez is ecstatic about the changes.
“As a mother of five, I used to have to sell my soul to get my kids in to see a first-run movie. [At other theaters] there are no discounts for kids at night, and after buying popcorn and drinks.,” she said.
Not everyone agrees with the transformation. “That’ll be their downfall,” said Brett Kaetzel, 27, of the ticket price increase. However, Kaetzel doesn’t care about seeing first-run movies; he just wants the opportunity to drink beer at the movies, which is still only available in Pensacola at the Silver Screen.