The university district of Seattle is a perfect place to find just about anything, from vintage clothing to all night bubble tea, used book stores and one hell of a collection of movie theaters. This is essentially the home of the art house theater district, with five movie theaters within a five block radius and four of them intent on showing independent and foreign films. All but one of the below theaters is run by Landmark Cinemas, the premiere name in bringing the aforementioned gems to the states.
The Varsity – The Varsity, located across the street from the University Bookstore is the home of mostly foreign films, their billing including at least half films from overseas. They will occasionally play the domestic film if it plays to their audience, the college student crowd and the other theaters in the area don’t have the room for the reel, but this is usually the place to go for a new Japanese flick from Miike, or that documentary from India.
The Neptune – The Neptune is the premiere theater of the group. It’s decades old, a landmark in the city’s history. Located on the corner of 45th and Broadway, the Neptune is a single screen, balcony nested theater with a full sized screen and the pleasure of housing the big releases for Landmark. When a huge new film is out and the locals are willing to go see it, it plays here. You’ll also find advanced screenings, director signings and readings, and world premieres come time for Seattle’s International Film Festival.
Seven Gables – The Seven Gables theater, located on 50th and Roosevelt, nestled above a quaint little Italian restaurant and the Cinema Bookstore, is home to a single film every three weeks or so that usually best captures the arthouse aesthetic. Whichever movie is most deserving of being seen but gets almost no screens nationwide will usually find it’s home here. This week for example, they’re playing The Painted Veil, an award nominated film that no one’s seen.
The Grand Illusion – Located on 50th as well, on the corner of University, the Grand Illusion is the home of classic films resurrected for the reel. It’s small and cozy, with a tiny little screen and a coffee shop on its annex, but where else in the city can you watch the reprint of M or Metropolis every year.
The Guild 45th – A little ways away from the U-district, heading out towards Wallingford is The Guild. The Guild is actually two separate theaters across the street from each other run under the same name. The western one has the more comfortable seats though. Here you can catch films like The Inconvenient Truth, or Little Miss Sunshine, indie flicks that have a broader audience, as they usually run for a couple of weeks or so.
The Metro – The metro is the areas only multiplex. Usually you’ll find an eclectic mix of new releases, foreign films, and indie pictures playing here, trying to appeal to all audiences. The eight plus screens make it easy to do so, and generally the cozy theaters are a nice change of pace. When Howl’s Moving Castle released a couple of years ago, they offered the English Dubbed version on two screens, and the Japanese subtitled version on another screen.
The film goers atmosphere in Seattle is incredible. Just in the U-district alone, you can visit six different theaters, and see movies from around the world, underground and out of Hollywood in the same day. Turn a corner and you’ve got another option.