Grab a ticket to a virtual screening with your local cinema.

There’s nothing quite like stepping into an old theatre with the fresh smell of popcorn wafting through its ornate interiors as you settle into a plush recliner, waiting to immerse yourself in a cinematic world with like-minded individuals. It’s a rewarding ritual that many of us find ourselves yearning for at times like these. [Featured image: @david22gil]

The industry has taken a huge financial hit during the pandemic and filmmakers are coming to terms the fact that years of work may not get the theatrical entrance they’d hoped for. But as the lights switch off for brick and mortar theatres, “virtual cinemas” are stepping in and giving us the chance to explore a boutique wave of online streaming. All while ensuring your favorite spots are still around when this is all over.

Alama Drafthouse

Alamo Drafthouse is partnering with each distributor to bring their lineup of independent and arthouse films online. The experience is aimed to mirror the usual industry motions as much as possible, given the circumstances. New and repertory titles are available through the main page. Under each film, there’s an option to choose your local virtual cinema and the rental fee goes directly to the chosen Alamo cinema.

The theatre’s first “virtual title” is Bacurau, The Brazilian thriller and Jury Prize winner at last year’s 2019 Cannes Film Festival. Kino Lorber, the distributor, is initiating the new release through “Kino Marquee”, their virtual arm. Along with the show, there’ll be a virtual Q&A with the crew and cast on Wednesday, April 1 at 5 pm PST.

This national chain is known for its bold, ad-free preshow, strict cinema etiquette and glorious food, so exciting things can be expected from their special programming series like “Terror Tuesdays” and “Champagne Cinema”. They’re already encouraging viewers to #AlamoAtHome by revealing the secrets behind their popular “vegan buffalo cauliflower.”

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Roxie Theatre

The Roxie is one of the longest-standing theatres in the country and it’s made a swift move to keep up with the times by offering a virtual screening room. There are currently three new releases on offer,  “Bacurau“, “The Wild Goose Lake” and “Fantastic Fungi.” A ticket costs $12 and allows you and your quarantine company to access it over 5 days, giving you ample time to rewatch it while keeping up with Zoom calls. The cost of each ticket, in this case, is split evenly between the theatre and the distributor.

CinemaSF (Balboa and V

Vogue and Balboa are tapping into the community aspects more than the profits. Instead of offering online streaming, they’re doing “Stay-At-Home Movie Night” where a movie is suggested, along with the various tried-and-tested platforms it’s available on (including free ones) and you’re invited to join the commentary in the chat room.

Until you can get back to your usual screening jaunts, this kind of initiative offers something different from your usual streaming platforms, it offers community and a chance to be a part of it. So take a break from the usual hyped-up trends or dull suggestions based on your viewing history, and let the experts curate your viewing while you take care of your snacks.