9 Strangest Movie Theaters

9 Weird Movie Theaters

1. Mexican Chain To Make America Great Again By Opening Two Movie Theaters With Indoor Playgrounds

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On Tuesday, Mexico-based movie theater chain Cinépolis USA announced the forthcoming debut of America's first dedicated children’s movie theater auditoriums, where kids can play on a jungle gym inside of a movie theatre while other people (presumably—hopefully?—the parents of said children) watch a film.

The first two theaters are heading to Southern California, and will open next week in Pico Rivera and Vista, the latter of which is about 15 minutes outside of Carlsbad.

The theaters will offer families "a space to enjoy the magic of movies in an environment that caters to children, unlike anything the U.S. has seen before," according to a press release from the company. Cinépolis already has similar child-friendly theaters in México, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Spain. According to the L.A. Times, the company hopes their new kid-friendly theaters will help entice more parents to the theater and away from the comfort of Netflix and Please Stop Throwing Cheerios At Your Brother at home. Prices will be about $3 more than a regular movie theater ticket.

Each auditorium will have both a vibrantly colored play structure/jungle gym, as well as a special fenced-in play area for smaller children. Per Cinépolis, the play structures will be 55-foot long and 25-foot high, and will include two slides, stationary pogo sticks, a scaled-down merry-go-round thing, and "rounded, hanging 'Fun Forest Bags' filled with foam."

Robert Frost once said that hell is a half-filled auditorium, but I think we can all agree that what he actually meant was an auditorium half full of screaming kids on a jungle gym while a Disney movie plays in the background.
In other news, Cinépolis reports that "elevated snack favorites such as enhanced popcorn flavors like Cheetos, Chili, Caramel and Zebra" will also be for sale. We regret to report that we have no idea what zebra-flavored popcorn means.

We also regret to inform you that Cinépolis has no plans to open their Junior theaters up at night for less kid-friendly fare, so you can sadly kiss your dreams of smoking a bowl and watching the next Judd Apatow movie on a stationary pogo stick goodbye. Adults attending a screening at the Cinépolis Junior auditoriums also must be accompanied by a child 12 and under.

2. Archipelago Cinema

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The Archipelago Cinema isn’t the first open-air floating cinema that’s ever existed, but it’s certainly the most beautifully situated.

The audience floats in the middle of a serene lagoon in the Strait of Malacca, idly rocking back and forth with the tide, while watching the flickering screen floating on the horizon in front of them. The individual pieces of this floating auditorium are built from buoyant pockets of wood bound together with mosquito nets – a technique pioneered by local fishermen to farm lobsters.

German architect Ole Scheeren, who designed the venue, said he wanted to create, “a sense of temporality, randomness, almost like driftwood. Or maybe something more architectural: Modular pieces, loosely assembled, like a group of little islands that congregate to form an auditorium.”

3. Shipping container cinemas for small Russian cities

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A chain of one hundred cinemas made out of shipping containers is set to be installed in small cities across Russia.

Russian company Teterin Film plans to roll out the project in towns with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants by September 2016, with the first cinema to be installed in Lyudinovo, a city in the Kaluga region south-west of Moscow.

The aim of the project is to enable residents of Russian towns to access films, and, in turn, to support Russian filmmaking. The company’s director Oleg Teterin has stated that one third of the Russian population has no access to a cinema, and that 668 Russian towns with a combined population of 50 million lack a local cinema.

According to Mr Teterin, the cost of installing a cinema within a shipping container is far less than building a conventional structure, with construction of a shipping container cinema containing five screens taking only two weeks and costing 19.5 million rubles (US$295,000). These lower prices will allow Teterin Film to sell tickets for 2.5 times less than traditional cinemas.

While the cinemas will screen international films, priority will be given to Russian films.

4. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant

The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant is a theme restaurant at Disney's Hollywood Studios, one of the four main theme parks at Walt Disney World in Bay Lake, Florida, United States. Established in May 1991, the restaurant is modeled after a 1950s drive-in theater. Walt Disney Imagineering designed the booths to resemble convertibles of the period, and some servers act as carhops while wearing roller skates. While eating, guests watch a large projection screen displaying film clips from such 1950s and 1960s films as Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster, Plan 9 from Outer Space, and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

The restaurant serves traditional cuisine of the United States. Popcorn functions as a complimentary hors d'oeuvre. Initially, the menu listed items with themed names, such as "Tossed in Space" (garden salad), "The Cheesecake that Ate New York", and "Attack of the Killer Club Sandwich", but these playful names were later altered so that they now describe the dishes in a more standard and straightforward manner.

In 1991, the Sci-Fi Dine-In opened along with nineteen other new Walt Disney World attractions marking the complex's twentieth anniversary. By the following year, the Sci-Fi Dine-In was serving upwards of 2,200 people daily during peak periods, making it the park's most popular restaurant. Thai movie theater operator EGV Entertainment opened the EGV Drive-in Cafe in Bangkok in 2003, in a very similar style to the Sci-Fi Dine-In.

The Sci-Fi Dine-In has received mixed reviews. USA Today's list of the best restaurants in American amusement parks ranks the Sci-Fi Dine-In fifteenth, but many reviewers rate it more highly for its atmosphere than for its cuisine. Ed Bumgardner of the Winston-Salem Journal wrote that the food is more expensive than it is worth, specifically calling the restaurant's roast beef sandwich both delicious and a ripoff. In their book Vegetarian Walt Disney World and Greater Orlando, Susan Shumaker and Than Saffel call the Sci-Fi Dine-In "the wackiest dining experience in any Disney park".

5. La Peniche

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My final choice is probably the most unusual cinema of the lot because … well it’s floating. ‘Peniche’ means canal boat in French and this picture house is just that. Moored in the l’Oucq canal of the Parc de la Villete throughout summer, La Peniche screens off-beat films and short films and even offers film-making courses.

It’s become quite the hangout for aspiring directors, producers and writers who come to mingle at the art-house (or art-boat) which regularly hosts film premieres for Oscar nominated titles, salsa evenings and networking events.

6. Light House Cinema, Dublin

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Great surroundings will not camouflage poor programming in movie theatres. No matter how swanky the theatre, if it shows poor movies, we just won’t go. Which isn’t to say that we have given up on movie-theatre design. We still wish that one day, somewhere, someone is going to design a decidedly different, interesting and exciting movie theatre.

Glimpses of brilliance are visible in the new Light House Cinema at Smithfield in Dublin, Ireland designed by Dublin’s award-winning DTA Architects Of course, you really need to design – and judge – a movie theatre so that it looks and functions best when people are using it. So, having not paid personal visits to the new Light House, we cannot say for sure, but the images we have received of the empty space indicate that the play of light, colour and height works exceptionally well here.

Light House cinema has been a bit of an institution in Dublin. It started showing Irish, independent, foreign-language, art house and classic cinema 20 years ago, closed in 1966, and re-opened this summer in its new, customized space. The four-screen, intimate art-house cinema includes a wonderful, inviting and open cafe that looks like something you’d see at an art museum, not a movie theatre. The leader of the Light House project at DTA was Derek Tynan and the project architect was Colin Mackay.

The new cinema benefited from the financial assistance of The Arts Council, the Irish Film Board, and the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism. For Dublin’s city planners, this was to be a cultural magnet and a focal point for the largest mixed-use development ever in Dublin’s inner city, the massive rejuvenation plan for the historical Smithfield Market area.

And if you’d like to make our wishes come true, please let us know of any supreme movie-theatre design concepts you’ve seen, designed or commissioned. We are all eyes and ears. – Tuija Seipell

7. Hot Tub Cinema: Tub Tropicana Tour

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Of all London's open-air cinema experiences, this is perhaps the most bizarre: for filmgoers watch what's on offer from an inflatable hot tub that can take up to six people. So, while sipping on a glass of bubbly and watching cult favourites like Dirty Dancing, the audience is surrounded by simmering 40 degrees bubbles themselves. Back for 2015, The Hot Tub Cinema comes to the former Shoreditch Underground, a transformed railway station in the heart of Shoreditch where 20 hot tubs, two screens and a bespoke surround-sound system have been installed. Guests will be treated to a choice of classic films: the Lion King, Top Gun, Grease, Ghostbusters and Dirty Dancing. The only rules: keep your swimwear with you at all times and mind the gap between the train and your hot tub.

8. Sol Cinema: At just 7ft high, 16ft long and with eight seats, is it the smallest flicks in the world?

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Housed in a caravan and with just eight seats the Sol Cinema is probably the smallest flicks in the world.

In a world of massive multiplexes it is one of the few that has usherettes serving popcorn during an interval.

“It’s like a Tardis but in reverse,” projectionist and co-founder Paul O’Connor said.

“It looks big on the outside but inside it is quite small. It’s designed for eight adults, there is plenty of space for eight.”

The 7ft high and 16ft long picture house is beautifully laid out. It runs on solar power and uses a projector rather than TV.

“We felt that there had to be projectors,” father-of-one Paul said.

It was built by his pal Jo Furlong with help from artists Ami and Beth Marsden.

“You get to watch one or two short films in there,” he said.

“When we show two there is an interval and the usherette comes in with popcorn. People say going to the cinema is so dull with all the multiplexes.”

The team thought about selling ice cream too “but having a solar powered fridge is a lot of hard work”.

“Think of the mess. There is something about cinemas that makes people want to throw popcorn. And that’s OK.

“But when they start throwing ice cream that is a whole different issue. So we kept it to popcorn.

“We work with a couple who make their own popcorn. They are starting to make gourmet popcorn. It’s phenomenal. They do coconut butter flavour.”

Filmmakers “love” the cinema because it provides somewhere to show short flicks.

“They get a full house,” Paul, who lives in Penclawdd, in Gower, said.

“YouTube is the home of short film. But it is not that much of an experience because you are watching it on your own,” Paul said.

“In a cinema people come out talking because they have been in a small intimate space.”

The 45-year-old toyed with the idea of showing full length movies “but after about 40 minutes people want to get up and stretch and start moving around. We thought it did not work for long films”.

But for longer films “we just pop the projection box out the top and project onto an outdoor screen and people can sit outside the cinema”.

Films can be screened on buildings and Sol is a smash at festivals.

“People tell us they get mixed emotions about caravan holidays they had when they were kids,” Paul said.

“A lot of them recognise the particular caravan. It was built in 1965 and designed for a Morris Minor.

“And then when they get in and see a cinema the whole nostalgia of cinema comes up.”

9. Visit the cinema at the end of the world

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You know that feeling when you're the only one in the cinema? Yeah. Estonian photographer Kaupo Kikkas went one further – he's found a ghostly, abandoned outdoor cinema deep in the heart of Egypt's Sinai desert.

According to Kikkas, the cinema was built by at the turn of the millenium by a French stoner who had access to oodles of cash. Perfect if you're going to undertake a project like this: you'll need the French romanticism and the weed to cloud your decision-making skills, and then the money to go through with such a totally insane idea.

No film has ever been shown there. On the opening night, the generator powering the party mysteriously cut out. It's suspected that local Egyptians and government officials didn't take too well to the European pothead and his grand cinematic ideas.

In case you were thinking that this is all some CGI hoax, look no further than the GoogleMaps location discovered by blogger MessyNessyChic, which appears to show an aerial view of the cinema – complete with neatly lined-up seats for an audience that will never arrive.

"Egypt is and was kind of a police state," Kikkas told Dazed. "In Sinai it's actually forbidden to go to the desert if you don't take a tour or organised trip. These tours and trips take you to all the same places and actually one route is just two miles away from the cinema. I think most of the locals know about this place but because of the 'confusion' between this Frenchman, local government and Bedouins, it's a topic that's not really talked about."

As for the identity of the Frenchman? "I don't know this guy personally but a friend who took me there knew him and even helped him out," Kikkas says. "After the cinema failed the French guy disappeared, because someone financed the project and obviously the money was lost. Maybe he'll show up soon, or maybe someone will come forward who knows more, I don't know."

For now, the cinema remains in the desert: untouched and unmoved, like a relic of an ancient past – an emblem of wasted potential, unfinished business, and a symbol of a beautiful idea not quite realised.

What's the weirdest place you've ever watched a film?

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