The new streaming giants have been chipping away at the brick-and-mortar movie theater business for years. But now that we’re being forced to stay home and invent ways to keep ourselves entertained, the idea of going out to catch a flick, hugging a bucket of buttery popcorn in our lap and partaking in a collective cinema experience has suddenly taken on a painfully nostalgic tinge.
Local indie theater Coral Gables Art Cinema, ringing in its tenth anniversary this year, is attempting to translate the old romance of movie-going into an online experience—and succeeding. When the beloved single-screen theater was required to close to the public on March 18, the goal was to find a way to keep the theater afloat while satiating its loyal community of movie buffs. Two days later, the team launched a rebranded website and an all-new virtual identity: Gables Cinema Drive-In. Since then, annual memberships to the theater have skyrocketed.
“The ongoing crisis has shown how important communal events are, and that extends to the movies,” says Javier Chavez, associate director at Gables Cinema. “Our doors may be closed, but through our Drive-In and Virtual Screening Room programs, we hope to capture some of that magic and bring joy to our patrons in these trying times.”
So, you’re not actually leaving your house, but you can now stream 24 public domain films for free straight from the Gables Cinema website—and three new movies are added to the collection each day. In the Virtual Screening Room, you can peep the same edgy new arthouse releases that Gables Cinema would play during normal operation (rental fees vary and directly support the continued operation of the theater). This Friday, look out for the release of certified-fresh comedy Saint Frances and a noir thriller set in Wuhan, Wild Goose Lake.
“What’s also great about this partnership is that the distributors are splitting the film rental with the cinema, which allows us to generate some much-needed income,” Chavez says. Magnolia, for instance, will donate 100% of the proceeds made through April 2.
The cinema is also putting together a live stream of a film from the Drive-In series, which will be voted on by followers and screen on April 11 via Instagram. “It's a fun way to get everyone engaged and to come together,” says Chavez. And the Chair of Gables Cinemas’ Children & Family Programs, Midge Blumberg-Krams, has curated a program of over 25 kid-appropriate films which will be virtually screened in partnership with Coral Gables Museum accompanied by lesson plans around the films.
Annual memberships for the theater start at $70 and include reduced ticket pricing, invitations to special screenings and more. Follow @gablescinema for updates.
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