Written by Joyelle Ronan
As the United States slowly becomes vaccinated, daily life is on the cusp of returning to normalcy. If you consider yourself a cinephile, this means regaining the beloved pastime of going to the movies. While your Regal Cinemas and AMC theatres offer perfectly fine movie viewing experiences, why not branch out and visit one of the many historic movie theatres Southwest Virginia has to offer less than an hour away.
There are great perks to patronizing a small theatre like cheaper tickets. Popcorn is also not as expensive as a chain theatre. It tastes better too. The seats may not be as comfortable, but historic theatres play better films so you’ll quickly forget about that. The beautiful architecture and ambience add a certain charm to the experience that makes it worth the extra drive time.
The Grandin Theatre// Roanoke, VA
Built in 1931, The Grandin Theatre was the first theatre in Roanoke to have “talking pictures.” The theatre has a long history of opening and closing, moveover the nonprofit prides itself on being a cultural hub for its community. Pre-pandemic, the theatre would host free midnight and weekend showings of older films. Tickets for students $8.25. Minutes away from campus ~15 minutes.
Starlite Drive-In Theater// Christiansburg, VA
Visiting the Starlite has been the perfect summer activity since 1953! You can also check out the flea market open Saturday mornings in the spring. The film selection is usually good and the snack bar is too (especially the fried mac and cheese bites,) so be sure to get there nice and early so your ride will have a spot. Tickets for students $6.00. Minutes away from campus ~27 minutes.
Lyric Theatre// Blacksburg, VA
Lyric Theatre is a non profit run primarily by volunteers. The history dates back to 1930, featuring Art Deco and Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. In addition to film screenings, past events at the Lyric include concerts, plays, and special themed screening parties of classic films like Grease. Bonus perk: Free popcorn on Mondays! Tickets for students $6.00/$7.00. Minutes away from campus ~36 minutes.
Radford Theatre// Radford, VA
What makes Radford Theatre unique isn’t that it dates back to 1935. The theatre makes movie premieres feel like Hollywood events by having green screens and characters to take pictures with. Sometimes they even have raffles before the movies! It’s a go-to for big franchise films like Marvel and Star Wars. Tickets for students $5.00. Minutes away from campus ~38 minutes.