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Central Cinema

Your neighborhood movie joint

Original drawing by Emma Seymour

Have you ever been in a theater where every few minutes a wave of utensils comes flying toward the screen as the audience members scream “Spoons! Spoons!” as if possessed by a cutlery-obsessed demon?


If you have, it was likely at Central Cinema’s monthly screening of The Room, a cult classic film known widely as the Citizen Kane of bad movies. The film’s devoted fans follow a raucous choreography during viewings, including spoon-throwing, singalongs, and rampant heckling and line-shouting. Attending a showing is initially bewildering, consistently exciting and extremely fun – something of a signature combination for events at Central Cinema.


At this Central District theater, which has been a neighborhood institution since it opened in 2005, every event descriptor indicates the audience is about to have a good time: “interactive,” “singalong,” “screened by a bedraggled vampire host” and, sometimes, “free of charge.”


Central Cinema serves up its best stuff on Thursdays. They start with a cartoon Happy Hour (cartoons for kids, discounted drinks for adults, happy for everyone) that’s made even happier by the price of admission: 100% free.


After the kids wrap up (and the toy-box and popcorn detritus has been cleared from the theater), adults stream in for one of Central’s signature events. It might be a ’90s singalong night (owner Kevin Spitzer described the event as “group karaoke”) or a stand-up comedy show. Sprinkled in are showings of Hecklevision, in which audience members are shown a classic (and cheesy) horror film, and given the ability to text their thoughts, jokes and heckles to a number that projects them straight to the screen.


The other undercurrent directing the flow of programming at Central Cinema is a warm appreciation for the classics. In March and April alone, Central delivered screenings of Indiana Jones, The Breakfast Club, Studio Ghibli staples and Singing in the Rain. Spitzer regularly sees audience members surprised by their own reactions to these films, either because they assumed they’d already seen them, or they’re watching them at a different point in their life and experiencing them anew.


“A pair of friends in their fifties came in to see Harold and Maude (a dark comedy about a romance between a boy of 19 and a woman of 79) expecting to laugh and, instead, found themselves swept away by the movie’s meditations on death and mortality,” Spitzer explains. The classics haven’t changed since you last saw them, but you might have – and it’s worthwhile to let a good movie illuminate those shifts.


Alongside the singing, heckling and spoon-throwing, Central offers one of the most robust dinner menus of any Seattle theater, with pizza, burgers and cocktails delivered directly to your seat.


Come try Central Cinema, to appreciate a classic or to heckle a cult classic. A showing schedule and more is available here: https://central-cinema.com/.


FAST FACTS:

Number of screens/seats:

1 screen, 120 seats.


Popcorn:

Organic popcorn, popped fresh with canola oil and lightly salted; delivered in a bowl to your seat.


Parking:

“Learn to parallel park,” suggests owner Kevin Spitzer, and you’ll be fine. There’s usually parking on E. Union St. and surrounding areas.


Signature showings:

  • Hecklevision: Showings of so-bad-they’re-good horror movies, subtitled live by audience members. Attendees can download an app that lets them send texts to be shown on screen alongside the movie.

  • Baron Von Terror events: Showings hosted by local Seattl-lebrity Barron Von Terror, a disheveled vampire with a deep love for cinema. The Baron guides audiences through viewings, providing color commentary along the way.

  • The Room: Every final Thursday of the month, Central Cinema plays the cult classic, interactive movie The Room. Billed as the best worst movie of all time, it’s worth experiencing live. Bring spoons to throw with the rest of the crowd (you’ll know when it’s time), but make sure they’re compostable!


Fun facts:

  • Central Cinema is the only all-ages theater to serve beer, wine and cocktails (as well as an excellent burger).

  • Cast members of The Room have been known to make guest appearances at the Thursday-night showings. Greg Sosteros often stops by, and even Tommy Wiseau himself has graced Central Cinema’s stage.


What’s a typical Central Cinema movie?

“Fun, entertaining and worth seeing on the big screen.”

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