December 2019: Wynwood may have lost its beloved, single-screen indie film hub O Cinema, but Miami continues to erect new movie houses, from luxe, new-fangled options like Silverspot to quirky cult classic screening rooms like Nite Owl, both of which happen to live in Downtown. Grab a partner, decide on your favorite snacks and settle in—we’re going to the movies!
At Miami's best movie theaters, you’re as likely to see an indie feature from Cuba as you are the latest Hollywood blockbuster. There is truly something for every moviegoer. The new wave of luxury theaters cater to attendees looking for a VIP experience while Miami art cinemas continue to provide the latest and greatest in indie culture. In addition to soda, these theaters are now serving the same brews you’ll find in Miami’s best craft beer bars, and some of the more luxurious cinema menus look plucked from the best restaurants in Miami. So next time you can’t find anything to do on a rainy day, hit up these Miami movie theaters.
Best movie theaters in Miami
Housed on the third floor of Brickell City Centre, CMX Cinemas promises a “VIP cinema experience”—and it delivers on that promise. CMX, which takes up a whopping 35,759 square feet, has 10 screens and some pretty high-tech audio courtesy of Meyer Sound Laboratories. Before the movie starts, guests can enjoy a drink at CMX’s lobby bar, which sits next to an absolutely massive screen often used for sporting events. Catch happy hour ($5 well drinks, $6 sangria and $4 Bud Light and Blue Moon) Monday through Friday, 3–7pm. Once the commercials start rolling, find your plush seats (which offer USB ports in case you need a charge). And don’t forget to order something to chew on, either from the CMX app or directly from a server. The menu is as expansive as the screen, offering dishes such as popcorn shrimp ($11) and the special king crab roll ($18).
The modern solution to dinner-and-a-movie mishaps is IPIC North Miami at the Intracoastal Mall in North Miami Beach. It never fails that dinner runs over or movies end late, making the date-night combo almost impossible to execute. At IPIC, you order dinner (or lunch) from a chef-driven menu and have the option of eating at your seat or before or after the movie inside the restaurant. Plus there’s a full bar, serving mixed cocktails and craft beers, among other drinks. The movie-going experience is equally impressive, with tiered seating options (premium or premium plus) that offer perks like a personal pillow and blanket.
The Carl Fisher-designed former City Hall hosts Miami Beach’s European-inspired cinematheque. It’s also the home of the Miami Beach Film Society, which screens independent and experimental movies, along with film classics, to an audience of just 50. Like every good alternative art house, the cinematheque is about more than movies. Art exhibits hang on the walls, and there may be music, a mini-festival or talks. Now run by O Cinema, this beautiful space encompasses a theater, gallery, bookstore/library and cafe.
When it comes to luxury theaters, there’s always room for one more. Downtown’s newest boasts 17 theaters with all the bells and whistles of its mega movie house counterparts, including a full bar offering wine, craft beer and signature cocktails plus a restaurant serving upscale American fare—from lobster rolls and tuna tartare to shrimp pesto pasta. (Weekdays from 3 to 6pm, Silverspot offers happy hour deals, with specials on movie ticket prices all day on Tuesdays.) As for programming, the cinema’s 100-percent laser projection screen shows the latest flicks, plus a peppering of indie films and one-off presentations.
This 141-seat theater opens seven days a week to bring Miami's moviegoers the finest American and international independent features. The Gables Art Cinema caters to the movie buff, showing black and white versions of hits like Mad Max: Fury Road and offering Dunkirk in 70mm. They also show much-loved cinema classics so that audiences can experience them on the big screen, and host special programs and film festival events.
This (temporarily closed) luxurious multiplex typically features blockbusters and up to three non-Hollywood films at a time. If you want to avoid being stuck between the many groups of teenagers who consider this a regular weekend hangout, opt for whatever’s playing at one of the four Premier screens, which boast overstuffed leather chairs, tray tables and a gourmet menu for noshing while you watch. Cinépolis’ convenient online reservation system, which let’s you pick your seat in advance, makes this a favorite of holiday moviegoers, film buffs catching a selection from the annual Miami International Film Festival and anyone else who’d rather spend their afternoon browsing the CocoWalk shops below than waiting in line for a seat.
It’s not hard to get comfortable at CityPlace Doral’s CinéBistro; the leather recliners are optimal for sinking into. But the menu is really where this theater shines (be sure to arrive 30 minutes in advance to take advantage of the in-theater service). CinéBistro’s kitchen serves a staggering number of dishes such as Korean barbecue wings ($12), lobster roll sliders and truffle fries ($18), roasted snapper ($22.50) fried chicken and waffles ($16.50), a 16-ounce bone-in rib eye ($46) and much more. There’s also a wine and cocktail selection that goes on for pages. But, if you’re an old-school type who prefers classic concession options, don’t worry: Your buttered popcorn will be available right alongside the charred asparagus.
One of a handful of gatekeepers of 35mm film in Miami, Nite Owl Theater is a private, members-only joint that only permits non-members to its screenings via reservations or, when space allows, from the walk-up ticket line. With more than 200 midnight shows screened throughout the city, from Gramps to the now-shuttered O Cinema and beyond, it can be tricky to pin down this movie house run by the Secret Celluloid Society. But if the perfectly fuzzy glow of real-life film really gets you off, it’s definitely worth keeping up with Nite Owl via their social media.
Originally opened in 1926, Tower Theater is an architectural and historical gem in the heart of Little Havana. And, luckily, this theater is more than just a landmark. Miami Dade College has partnered with this historic cinema to present new films from Cuba and other Latin American countries, as well as shorts and features by budding Miami cineastes. Commercially released English-language films are also shown with Spanish subtitles at discount prices.
Film screenings are just one of the regular events you’ll find at the historic Colony Theatre. And if there’s one on the calendar, it’s well worth the price of admission—if only to get a glimpse of the gorgeous art deco interior of this 1935 building, originally opened as part of Paramount Pictures’ cinema chain.
Named after the late Miami Herald film critic and completely renovated with funding from his family, this is a gem of an indie movie house. It’s roomier and more plush than most first-run cinemas and offers an eclectic mix of Asian, European and arthouse fare. The downside is that it’s difficult to get to via public transport. Thankfully, it’s well worth the effort.