We love the movies. Our first date was a movie (The Untouchables) and there was a time (pre-marriage and definitely pre-children) when we would go to the movie theater almost every day. There were times when we couldn't go to the movies...because we had seen everything that was playing. From small budget B movies, to foreign films, to animated kid flicks, we would watch it all. Ahh... those were the days. Those of you who have lived in Montreal may remember - those were the days of the Palace, the Leows, the Imperial, and the Egyptian. Charming theaters, each with it's own personality, and all easily accessible in the heart of downtown. We certainly saw our share of duds (a horror movie called Popcorn comes to mind) but only walked out of one movie (one of the Batman movies if you can believe it...the one with George Clooney and Uma Thurman - sucked !).
As we grew up and our time became filled with things like full time jobs and diaper changes, the number of movies we went to necessarily diminished. When on maternity leave however, Economia Nia would pack up baby and baby essentials every Tuesday at 10am to go to "Movies for Mommies". A unique movie-going experience for sure. Mommies (and some Daddies) and their babies watching films with the volume turned down (to protect infant ears), lights dimmed, but not off (to prevent Mommies from tripping as they walked up and down the steps to quiet screaming babies), and a diaper changing station off to the side. For a stir-crazy new mom, it was a gift from heaven. It's really too bad that as we searched for the link to Movies for Mommies, we realize that the big gun theater that offered this service in Montreal when EN was on her maternity leaves, is no longer doing so. Luckily some smaller theaters offer the event though.
These days movies are still a big part of our lives, but with the current cost of going to the theater and our commitment to tight living, it is a "special event" instead of an automatic "something to do". A family of four will easily spend in the vicinity of 35$ for admission tickets alone (and usually more). Of course, no movie going experience would be complete without "the snacks". Remember when the "snacks" were basically your choice of popcorn, chocolate and licorice? You would take your seat (which was utilitarian and not meant to be plush and reclining) and the only thing you would smell would be the butter on the popcorn and maybe the guy behind you who needed a shower. Now, you take your seat and are assaulted with the smells of french fries, pizza and hamburgers. When in the world did movie-going turn into a complete dining opportunity? You can get anything at the movies now. Forget nachos, you can practically order a roast chicken to munch on. Of course, no matter what your fancy, all this snacking is gonna cost you - figure a minimum of 20$ for a family of four (and that minimum is only achieved by having your children feeling deprived). What is a tightwad family to do?
Aha ! We actually know what to do. Yes, we can rent movies through our cable subscriber or a DVD rental place, but nothing beats going to the movies. Solution: The Dollar Cinema. Now, we realize that this is only a solution if you live in Montreal (although there may be similar places in other cities - there must be! ... and if they're aren't, then this is an excellent business opportunity!).
The Dollar Cinema used to be a regular kind of cinema, but instead of closing when the big franchises monopolized the industry, it was reinvented into what it is today. And what it is, is a place where a family of four can watch a recently shown (but now out of the mainstream cinemas) movie, for less than 15$ ...and that includes admission tickets and snacks. Today Economia Nia took the girls to see Gulliver's Travels for a grand total of 12$ and change.
Admission to the Dollar Cinema is 2$ for everyone, any day of the week, and any time of day. All snacks and drinks are 1$ (plus tax). Yes, the popcorn bags are not huge (hmmmm, saving money and calories...this keeps getting better), and the candy selection may be more limited than what you have gotten used to (you know, the way things used to be), but who cares. The seats are comfortable and were recently changed so they have that convenient cup holder thing, which is great for keeping your 1$ drink. And, the staff is really friendly. At the movie today, EN accidentally knocked her popcorn on the counter after paying for it. The employee (who may have actually been the owner) smiled and immediately passed over another full bag of popcorn. We have a feeling that the 16 year old kid at the Mega-Plex wouldn't have done that.
It is true, that if you're used to the modern day cinemas with their glitz and bright lights, you may be initially turned off by Dollar Cinema's more austere decor (and the fact that it is located in a mall that has really seen better days). But instead of focusing on what it is not, focus on what it is - a charming, low key, super affordable movie going experience.