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The Beacon Cinema

A new movie theater in Columbia City

Original drawing by Emma Seymour

The Beacon doesn’t do new movies. In the past five years, the Columbia City theater has only shown two films during their theatrical windows: Uncut Gems and Licorice Pizza. But don’t let the lack of premieres fool you into thinking The Beacon has nothing new to show you…

The theater cycles through a catalog of fun, strange and sophisticated films, often grouped into delightfully original themed programs. Past programs include “Mediocre Women,” “Jean-Luc Godard: Everything is Cinema” and “Rip-off Rampage” (movies that were pitched as copycat cash grabs, but far outsold and outshone their predecessors – including Star Wars, E.T. and Jaws).

The art of arranging programs is something of a specialty at The Beacon. They regularly combine features in unexpected ways and on unexpected days. This Thanksgiving, they screened Blood Rage, the only Thanksgiving-themed slasher film, and on Valentine’s Day they showed Audition, a Japanese romance with a sharp third-act turn into dazzling gore.

Guest curators join in on the fun. In one of The Beacon’s signature events, they host concert-film “double features” in which a band plays a set, then sits down with the audience to watch a film they selected for the evening.

Like a restaurateur pairs wine and cuisine, the curators at The Beacon continue to put movies in conversation with each other, jump-starting nuanced thinking about the films’ themes, visuals and technical elements by grouping two contrasting pieces of art.

The theater itself is both cozy and hip. Entering the red-tinted lobby you feel like you've stepped into the warm, beating heart of a cinephile. There are glossy art books for sale upfront, and sparkling organic wine on offer at concessions. The popcorn is coated in coconut oil in place of butter. It makes the cinema treat vegan, but mostly, “we do it because it’s just really good,” says Parker Lautensleger. He’s not wrong. The popcorn maintains the expected dose of salt while leaving behind a delicate trail of sweetness, hidden in each of the popped kernels’ ridges and divots.

Come explore a new-to-you film at The Beacon. See what’s on tonight at:


Number of screens/seats:

1 screen

48 seats


Coconut oil topping (nicely salted, softly sweet).


Easily found on Rainier Ave. or Genesee St.

Signature showings:

  • Holiday-themed horror/slasher movies: check in on Thanksgiving, Valentine’s, Flag Day, etc.

  • Movie and a show: Performance by a local band paired with a movie; recently hosted Oxygen Destroyer, a kaiju metal band, before screening a kaiju film (a Japanese sci-fi monster film).

Fun fact:

The Beacon Cinema publishes a film journal, “Bombast,” available for purchase at the theater.

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