For most of the history of cinema, two questions preceded every movie-going decision: What do I want to see? and where is the nearest theater?
It was all so very 20th century. But it was a winning formula for Hollywood and the companies that owned the theaters.
Now the question many movie lovers ask is: With all the options available on my TV and computer, why would I leave the house and drop a wad of dough in the process?
Theater owners have responded with an array of options, all of which are meant to offer an incentive to get off the couch and into the car. In the Buffalo area, those options can be separated into five categories:
Old-school: There is no need to bemoan the many theaters that have met their fate at the whims of a bulldozer, not with so many historic movie houses – some of which predate talkies – still here.
From the Palace, Joylan and Aurora of the Southtowns, to the North Park in Buffalo and the Amherst in Amherst, a trip back in time does not happen on the screen alone.
Standard: When the Regal cinemas came to town almost 20 years ago, the experience was a revelation. High-backed seats in steeply ascending rows that more closely resembled a sports arena than a movie theater, each with its own cup holder, became the norm.
Now Regal is working to upgrade its cineplexes to keep up with the changes all around it.
Outdoors: A trip to the drive-in is still a summertime tradition in Western New York, bucking a trend that has seen hundreds of outdoor theaters shuttered across the United States.
The Transit in Lockport continues to lead the way, even adding an additional screen last year. But drive-ins still remain in Silver Lake, Delevan and Middleport.
Recliners: These are the theaters that answer the question, “Where can I go to catch a movie and have a better-than-average chance of catching a nap at the same time?” The AMC Maple Ridge was the first to make all of its seats mimic La-Z-Boys, but the trend has spread.
Dipson's Amherst and McKinley Mall theaters now feature recliners and Regal is in the process of converting its theaters into reclineplexes. A bonus at most of the theaters with recliners: You can reserve your seat in advance via Fandango.
Movie-plus: This is the theater experience for people who want to feel the action on the screen as well as see it. That can mean 3D images, IMAX technology, RPX (some Regal cinemas) or D-Box seats (available locally at Dipson FLIX 10 in Lancaster) that shimmy and vibrate in time with the action on the screen.
And to think there was a time when the toughest decision was Dots or Junior Mints?
Browse The News' complete movie theater guide: