Before getting too deep into this, I want to talk about the movie theater options I have to choose from around here.
When I first moved to Nacogdoches County, my sister told me the movie theater was the Carmike in Nacogdoches. And that was it. Until I complained about them not showing something I wanted to see, and she says, “Well, there’s a Cinemark in Lufkin.” There was a Carmike in Lufkin, too. She tells me that if the Cinemark doesn’t have it, the Carmike would, because they are almost across the highway from each other.
It took a couple more years for me to find out there was a Carmike in Tyler, too.
And not too long after that, the Studio Movie Grill opened in Tyler.
Since coming out here, AMC bought out the Carmike, and all three Carmikes are now a part of the AMC chain. Which is good for me, I need theater options. Unlike the poor bastards living in Abilene. They had a Carmike, I saw it once, drove by, and the AMC buy out happened, and the next time I drove through Abilene, the theater was shut down. But, they have since gotten a really nice Cinemark right off of I-20.
My favorite place to go lately is the AMC Lufkin, in the Lufkin Mall. Nine screens, with “luxury” reclining seats (a new feature) that have a two-setting heater, and, my favorite, self serve kiosks for both tickets & drinks. There’s also a MacGuffins bar, which Tyler is getting soon, but I don’t worry so much about that. Three years sober, go me.
AMC Lufkin. I can order my tickets online, no fees with the AMC Stubs, go to the mall, use the self serve kiosk, get my tickets, get a survey code every now & again for a free popcorn later. I still have to go to the counter to get my cup for a soft drink & popcorn. I say “soft drink,” but its Cherry Coke. Every AMC, I get Cherry Coke. That’s my drink in that setting.
Theaters One to Four are the small screens. Five to Nine are the big ones. Of the nine, Four is the worst. It doesn’t show anything when you go in, dark screen until about six minutes after the posted showtime, and then the truck commercial and trailers start. And its the coldest of the four, too. I think it may be haunted.
AMC Tyler. I wish they had a self service ticket kiosk. There’s a ticket counter near the entrance, but on slow shifts, there’s a VIP line at the concession stand to use, instead. The theater has wifi, which is good. I can pull up my email confirmation, and they scan the phone screen & I get my ticket. With the IMAX and BigD screens, you can pick your seat, its reserved. Every other theater, though, is regular seating, first come, first serve. So I have to get there early to get my preferred seat.
The theater lobby will have larger than normal movie posters on display, and will occasionally have the cardboard promo that you can sit on, or stand with for photo ops. The last one I remember was the one for Finding Dory, when I took my youngest nephew to see X-Men: Apocalypse.
AMC Nacogdoches. The first East Texas movie theater I went to, back when it was still a Carmike. You can still get cheap hot dogs there, and there’s a self serve for sodas. Six screens, all regular seating. No reserves, no stadium. If there’s a tall guy with a cowboy hat sitting in the row in front of you, you’re gonna have to say something, or miss the bottom third of the screen.
I don’t go to Nacogdoches too often, anymore. Last movie I went to see there was Mortal Engines. Its the same drive from my place to Nacogdoches or Lufkin, and Lufkin has better seats & more often than not, the same movies.
Cinemark Lufkin. Cinemark was the theater chain I grew up with, its the chain that is still in Stephenville, and they still have super low prices out there, its crazy. Cleburne is the same way. Lufkin is not. Their prices have kept up with the times. They have the glass box office booth out front, but its been forever since I saw someone in it. You go in, get a ticket at the counter, and can often get your popcorn, drink, nachos, whatever from the same person at the same register. They just recently finished their seating upgrade to have reclining, heated seats, but they do not recline as high or far as the seats at AMC Lufkin.
The Cinemark is good for Fathom Events. This year, I’ve gone to see The Opposite of Sex, Ben-Hur, and Field of Dreams there. Last year, when they were showing Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – Director’s Cut, I wore one of my Star Trek: Deep Space Nine uniforms with a tribble velcroed to my shoulder, and the guy at the counter only charged me a senior price because he liked my “ensemble.”
Studio Movie Grill Tyler. This fucking place. There’s a ticket counter as you walk in, and then the entire lobby is a restaurant bar that has almost always been empty, or close to it. Been going to SMG for about a year, the first time I went was for Tag last summer. I don’t like it that much, but when I go, its usually for a Wednesday night show of something I haven’t seen. The most recent trip was back in March, two weeks in a row, for The Death of Superman and the Reign of the Supermen. Sure, I could have watched them on DVD, but if I can, I’ll prefer a theater experience.
I love – LOVE – the Alamo Drafthouse. They have perfected the in-theater dining experience. SMG has not. The last time I was there, I hit the button on the table top, the server comes up, standing about six feet, gets between me & the screen, and says, out loud in a normal tone, “What did you want?” A refill on my drink, please. “Strawberry lemonade, right?” Yeah, yeah.
I do like their strawberry lemonade.
Jackson Cinema Jacksonville. I used to go to this place all the time. Its a small three screen place with regular seating, but the selling point was that on Tuesdays, they would have $4 shows. And since I never have Tuesdays off with my job, I could go there, see a movie, maybe two, and then go to work.
I haven’t been there in months, though. Maybe a year? I think the last movie I went to see there was Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Other theaters…there’s the one in downtown Lufkin, its a one screen place, but I’ve never been. I think about going, they have had movies I want to see, I just don’t get to it. There’s also a Hollywood Theater in Tyler, but you have to go down Broadway, past the SMG & AMC, and then hang a left & go a few more miles…ugh. I just can’t do it after getting all the way to Tyler already. I’ve been to the theater in Henderson once, for Black Panther. I don’t know what I didn’t like about the place, but I didn’t go back. I’ve heard there’s a theater in Palestine, never seen it.