The Movie Tavern chain of theaters/eateries recently opened their 15th national location in Collegeville, PA, a 45 minute drive northwest of Center City. The eight theater complex is located in a massive plaza alongside the likes of a Wegmans and a Best Buy thus the programming is predictably mainstream though all of the other locations apparently have somewhat creative Retro Cinema nights. I initially found the choice of location to be strange, but we arrived Saturday night to find the 7:00 PM showing of Rise of the Planet of the Apes to be sold out. So it was either Crazy, Stupid, Love or a return trip the following day. We chose the latter.
With both a margarita bar and a traditional pub-type bar, Movie Tavern’s lobby has an airport-like feel complete with loudspeakers that announce the openings of individual theaters. The menu, which visitors are handed as they cue up to enter, features a wine list and the offerings of your typical casual chain restaurant such as “Mini Me Burgers”.
The theaters themselves are quite impressive. Great projection/sound, comfy recliners, and roomy rows that are necessary for the waiters to walk back and forth in the darkness of the room. Waiters rush around pre-show taking everyone’s orders, which are delivered shortly after the film begins. The seats have built-in trays with call buttons that can be used at any point during the film to order an additional milkshake or have your take-home beer tankards refilled. This concept leads to the predictable annoyances (waiters running around throughout the film, moviegoers loudly demanding an additional order of nachos), but the whole experience is a novelty so these things are easily forgiven. What isn’t as easily forgiven is the fact that my drink didn’t arrive until about 30 minutes after my initial order, long after we’d finished our spicy fried pickles and bruschetta flat bread. Checks are delivered a matter of minutes before the end of the film thus signaling the impending end of the film, which is also a tad annoying, at least for discriminating moviegoers.
The verdict: great fun all in all and the perfect out-of-the-way venue to see those guilty pleasures that you don’t want your friends to know about. We’re going to head back out there in two weeks for Conan the Barbarian (hush hush).