11 Unique Places to Catch a Movie


Home entertainment systems and online streaming are convenient ways to watch movies, but there are still a few brick-and-mortar movie theaters that aim to give their audiences a unique filmgoing experience. 

1. Sol Cinema

Based in Swansea, South Wales, Sol Cinema is the self-proclaimed “world’s smallest solar movie theater.” This mobile caravan-cum-cinema, which travels the U.K. for special events, screens short films with an LED video projector and can seat up to eight adults or 10 children. It also offers a mini box office, red carpet, usherette service, and popcorn to all of its guests.

"I wanted to avoid pollution and to demonstrate the practical possibilities of using the clean renewable energy from the sun,” the cinema's founder (and projectionist) Paul O'Connor told the Sunday Express of the cinema's origins. "But we have all been amazed at just how popular Sol Cinema has become. Maybe people are getting tired of the huge multiplexes and prefer the smaller independent cozy movie theaters of yesteryear.”

2. Sala Montjuïc

Each summer, Sala Montjuïc programs a lineup of world-class films—traditional classics and contemporary ones alike from a global slate of filmmakers—as part of an open-air film festival on the grounds of Montjuïc Castle, a former military fortress that sits atop Montjuïc Hill in Barcelona, Spain.

3. Kennedy School Theater

When brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin bought a defunct Portland, Oregon elementary school and converted it into a hotel, they also converted the old school auditorium into a 300-seat movie theater filled with comfy old sofas, loveseats, and antique armchairs. Kennedy School Theater showcases second-run movies, along with older family films and indies, for only $4 a ticket (or just $2 for kids 11 and under). There's also an adjacent bar where patrons can grab food and drinks.

4. Hot Tub Cinema

Though based in London, each Hot Tub Cinema event takes place at a different location (whether it's indoors or outdoors depends on the season) where the organizers set up a dozen portable hot tubs in front of a giant movie screen. Each hot tub seats up to six people and has a dedicated waiter who, according to the website, will "service your every whim, need, and desire (within reason)." But just because the movie ends doesn't mean the night has to; a movie's end credits are just the beginning of the evening's dance party. The concept was so successful in the U.K. that Hot Tub Cinema has now expanded to both New York City and Ibiza, Spain. It has also spawned the equally fun, but far less wet, Pillow Cinema, where moviegoers settle into oversized bean bag chairs for the big show (with complimentary blankets included).

5. Sun Pictures Cinema

Founded in 1916, Western Australia's Sun Pictures Cinema is the Guinness World Record holder for the "Oldest Open-Air Cinema in Operation." It has remained relatively unchanged with its corrugated iron and Jarrah wood structure, deck chair seating, and “Humphrey’s” (men’s) and “Vivien’s” (women’s) labeled restrooms that hearken back to Hollywood's Golden Age. But as historic as the vibe may be, the movies are all first-run.

6. Paragon Cineplex

smalljude, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

At first glance, the Paragon Cineplex in Siam, Thailand's Siam Paragon Mall might seem like just another mall multiplex. And while its 16 lavish auditoriums with Nokia Ultra Screens and motorized reclining seats are impressive to be sure, it's in the small details that this theater really shines. Among the theater's unique amenities are complimentary drinks, snacks, and popcorn throughout the movie plus a complimentary foot massage in the V.I.P. lounge beforehand. Moviegoers opting to watch a flick in the Cineplex’s Enigma auditorium will find sofa beds in place of regular old theater chairs; gratis wine, cocktails, or whiskey pre-screening and an assortment of pastas, crepes, and desserts during the film only add to the experience.

7. Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Since 2002, Cinespia has been showcasing classic and contemporary films at the historic Hollywood Forever Cemetery, which technically means you're watching a movie with some of Hollywood's biggest stars, as the venue is the final resting place of such movie legends as Jayne Mansfield, Cecil B. DeMille, Mel Blanc, Douglas Fairbanks, and Peter Lorre. Patrons are encouraged to bring blankets, pillows, picnic dinners, and alcoholic beverages to enjoy under (and above) the stars. Cinespia also provides live music for special themed movie screenings (Scottish indie rock band Belle & Sebastian once performed before a screening of Trainspotting, for example).

8. Electric Cinema in London

Located in London's Notting Hill neighborhood, Electric Cinema is one of the oldest running movie theaters in England. It first opened in 1910, but closed its doors due to low ticket sales and building decay in 1993. But all was not lost: in 2001, the refurbished theater opened under new management and became so popular that it's now become somewhat of a mini-chain, with two locations in Notting Hill and one in Shoreditch. The theaters include a mix of leather armchairs, loveseats, and double beds for seating, and a full bar, restaurant, and silent table service are available during the feature. 

9. Pula Arena

One of six of the largest surviving ancient Roman arenas in the world, Pula Arena in Pula, Croatia was built between 27 BCE and 68 CE, and it’s still in use for events that include concerts, ice hockey games, and movie screenings. The arena is also home to the Pula Film Festival, Croatia’s oldest film festival. 

10. Electric Dusk Drive-In 

Traditional drive-ins are a dying breed in the United States, but there are some more modern spins on the classic for people who love watching a movie behind the wheel—and Electric Dusk Drive-In is one of them. This monthly drive-in sits atop a parking garage in the middle of Downtown Los Angeles and features special screening events, double features, and family nights, along with concession offerings at a rooftop “snack shack.” 

11. Archipelago Cinema

First, the good news: Designed by German architect Ole Scheeren for the 2012 Film on the Rocks festival, Archipelago Cinema was an auditorium constructed on a floating barge in Nai Pi Lae lagoon on Thailand's Kudu Island. Scheeren, who wanted the theater to resemble floating driftwood from afar, modeled the theater on local fishermen's lobster rafts and used recycled materials. Filmgoers were ushered into the center of the lagoon on boats to watch a movie under the stars on the floating cinema. After the festival, the intention was to take the floating movie theater to other parts of the world before returning it to the community of Yao Noi, where it could be used "as its own playground and stage in the ocean." The bad news? Not much has been seen or written about this gorgeous venue since its maiden voyage.

The Origins of 5 International Food Staples

Food is more than fuel. Cuisine and culture are so thoroughly intertwined that many people automatically equate tomatoes with Italy and potatoes with Ireland. Yet a thousand years ago those dietary staples were unheard of in Europe. How did they get to be so ubiquitous there—and beyond?


For years, the wonderful fruit that’s now synonymous with Italy was mostly ignored there. Native to South America and likely cultivated in Central America, tomatoes were introduced to Italy by Spanish explorers during the 1500s. Shortly thereafter, widespread misconceptions about the newcomers took root. In part due to their watery complexion, it was inaccurately thought that eating tomatoes could cause severe digestive problems. Before the 18th century, the plants were mainly cultivated for ornamental purposes. Tomato-based sauce recipes wouldn’t start appearing in present-day Italy until 1692 (although even those recipes were more like a salsa or relish than a sauce). Over the next 150 years, tomato products slowly spread throughout the peninsula, thanks in no small part to the agreeable Mediterranean climate. By 1773, some cooks had taken to stuffing tomatoes with rice or veal. In Naples, the fruits were sometimes chopped up and placed onto flatbread—the beginnings of modern pizza. But what turned the humble tomato into a national icon was the canning industry. Within Italy’s borders, this business took off in a big way during the mid-to-late 19th century. Because tomatoes do well stored inside metal containers, canning companies dramatically drove up the demand. The popularity of canned tomatoes was later solidified by immigrants who came to the United States from Italy during the early 20th century: Longing for Mediterranean ingredients, transplanted families created a huge market for Italian-grown tomatoes in the US.


Bowl of chicken curry with a spoon in it

An international favorite, curry is beloved in both India and the British Isles, not to mention the United States. And it turns out humans may have been enjoying the stuff for a very, very long time. The word “curry” was coined by European colonists and is something of an umbrella term. In Tamil, a language primarily found in India and Sri Lanka, “kari” means “sauce.” When Europeans started traveling to India, the term was eventually modified into “curry,” which came to designate any number of spicy foods with South or Southeast Asian origins. Nonetheless, a great number of curry dishes share two popular components: turmeric and ginger. In 2012, traces of both were discovered inside residue caked onto pots and human teeth at a 4500-year-old archaeological site in northern India. And where there’s curry, there’s usually garlic: A carbonized clove of this plant was also spotted nearby. “We don’t know they were putting all of them together in a dish, but we know that they were eating them at least individually,” Steve Weber, one of the archaeologists who helped make this astonishing find, told The Columbian. He and his colleagues have tentatively described their discovery as "proto-curry."


Several baguettes

A quintessential Gallic food, baguettes are adored throughout France, where residents gobble up an estimated 10 billion every year. The name of the iconic bread ultimately comes from the Latin word for stick, baculum, and references its long, slender form. How the baguette got that signature shape is a mystery. One popular yarn credits Napoleon Bonaparte: Supposedly, the military leader asked French bakers to devise a new type of skinny bread loaf that could be comfortably tucked into his soldiers’ pockets. Another origin story involves the Paris metro, built in the 19th century by a team of around 3500 workers who were apparently sometimes prone to violence during meal times. It’s been theorized that the metro foremen tried to de-escalate the situation by introducing bread that could be broken into pieces by hand—thereby eliminating the need for laborers to carry knives. Alas, neither story is supported by much in the way of historical evidence. Still, it’s clear that lengthy bread is nothing new in France: Six-foot loaves were a common sight in the mid-1800s. The baguette as we know it today, however, didn’t spring into existence until the early 20th century. The modern loaf is noted for its crispy golden crust and white, puffy center—both traits made possible by the advent of steam-based ovens, which first arrived on France’s culinary scene in the 1920s.


Bowl of red, white, and black potatoes on wooden table

Historical records show that potatoes reached Ireland by the year 1600. Nobody knows who first introduced them; the list of potential candidates includes everyone from Sir Walter Raleigh to the Spanish Armada. Regardless, Ireland turned out to be a perfect habitat for the tubers, which hail from the misty slopes of the Andes Mountains in South America. Half a world away, Ireland’s rich soils and rainy climate provided similar conditions—and potatoes thrived there. They also became indispensable. For millennia, the Irish diet had mainly consisted of dairy products, pig meats, and grains, none of which were easy for poor farmers to raise. Potatoes, on the other hand, were inexpensive, easy to grow, required fairly little space, and yielded an abundance of filling carbs. Soon enough, the average Irish peasant was subsisting almost entirely on potatoes, and the magical plant is credited with almost single-handedly triggering an Irish population boom. In 1590, only around 1 million people lived on the island; by 1840, that number had skyrocketed to 8.2 million. Unfortunately, this near-total reliance on potatoes would have dire consequences for the Irish people. In 1845, a disease caused by fungus-like organisms killed off somewhere between one-third and one-half of the country’s potatoes. Roughly a million people died as a result, and almost twice as many left Ireland in a desperate mass exodus. Yet potatoes remained a cornerstone of the Irish diet after the famine ended; in 1899, one magazine reported that citizens were eating an average of four pounds’ worth of them every day. Expatriates also brought their love of potatoes with them to other countries, including the U.S. But by then, the Yanks had already developed a taste for the crop: The oldest record of a permanent potato patch on American soil dates back to 1719. That year, a group of farmers—most likely Scots-Irish immigrants—planted one in the vicinity of modern-day Derry, New Hampshire. From these humble origins, the potato steadily rose in popularity, and by 1796, American cookbooks were praising its “universal use, profit, and easy acquirement.”


Corn growing in a field

In the 1930s, geneticist George W. Beadle exposed a vital clue about how corn—also known as maize—came into existence. A future Nobel Prize winner, Beadle demonstrated that the chromosomes found in everyday corn bear a striking resemblance to those of a Mexican grass called teosinte. At first glance, teosinte may not look very corn-like. Although it does have kernels, these are few in number and encased in tough shells that can easily chip a human tooth. Nonetheless, years of work allowed Beadle to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that corn was descended from teosinte. Today, genetic and archaeological data suggests that humans began the slow process of converting this grass into corn around 8700 years ago in southwestern Mexico. If you're wondering why early farmers showed any interest in cultivating teosinte to begin with, while the plant is fairly unappetizing in its natural state, it does have a few key attributes. One of these is the ability to produce popcorn: If held over an open fire, the kernels will “pop” just as our favorite movie theater treat does today. It might have been this very quality that inspired ancient horticulturalists to tinker around with teosinte—and eventually turn it into corn


Person sitting cross-legged holding a cup of green tea

The United Kingdom’s ongoing love affair with this hot drink began somewhat recently. Tea—which is probably of Chinese origin—didn’t appear in Britain until the 1600s. Initially, the beverage was seen as an exotic curiosity with possible health benefits. Shipping costs and tariffs put a hefty price tag on tea, rendering it quite inaccessible to the lower classes. Even within England’s most affluent circles, tea didn’t really catch on until King Charles II married Princess Catherine of Braganza. By the time they tied the knot in 1662, tea-drinking was an established pastime among the elite in her native Portugal. Once Catherine was crowned Queen, tea became all the rage in her husband’s royal court. From there, its popularity slowly grew over several centuries and eventually transcended socioeconomic class. At present, the average Brit drinks an estimated three and a half cups of tea every day.

All photos courtesy of iStock.

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10 Filling Facts About A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
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Though it may not be as widely known as It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving has been a beloved holiday tradition for many families for more than 40 years now. Even if you've seen it 100 times, there’s still probably a lot you don’t know about this Turkey Day special.


We all know the trombone “wah wah wah” sound that Charlie Brown’s teacher makes when speaking in a Peanuts special. But A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which was released in 1973, made history as the first Peanuts special to feature a real, live, human adult voice. But it’s not a speaking voice—it’s heard in the song “Little Birdie.”


Being the first adult to lend his or her voice to a Peanuts special was kind of a big deal, so it makes sense that the honor wasn’t bestowed on just any old singer or voice actor. The song was performed by composer Vince Guardaldi, whose memorable compositions have become synonymous with Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang.

“Guaraldi was one of the main reasons our shows got off to such a great start,” Lee Mendelson, the Emmy-winning producer who worked on many of the Peanuts specials—including A Charlie Brown Thanksgivingwrote for The Huffington Post in 2013. “His ‘Linus and Lucy,’ introduced in A Charlie Brown Christmas, set the bar for the first 16 shows for which he created all the music. For our Thanksgiving show, he told me he wanted to sing a new song he had written for Woodstock. I agreed with much trepidation as I had never heard him sing a note. His singing of ‘Little Birdie’ became a hit."


While Peanuts specials are largely populated by children, there’s usually at least an adult or two seen or heard somewhere. That’s not the case with A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving may be the only Thanksgiving special (live or animated) that does not include adults,” Mendelson wrote for HuffPo. “Our first 25 specials honored the convention of the comic strip where no adults ever appeared. (Ironically, our Mayflower special does include adults for the first time.)”


Though early on in the special, viewers get that staple scene of Lucy pulling a football away from Charlie Brown at the last minute, that’s all we see of Chuck’s nemesis in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. (Lucy's brother, Linus, however, is still a main character.)


Though they only had a single scene together, Todd Barbee, who voiced Charlie Brown, told Noblemania that he and Robin Kohn, who voiced Lucy in the Thanksgiving special, still keep in touch. “We actually went to high school together,” Barbee said. “We still live in Marin County, are Facebook friends, and occasionally see each other.”


One unique aspect of the Peanuts specials is that the bulk of the characters are voiced by real kids. In the case of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, 10-year-old newcomer Todd Barbee was tasked with giving a voice to Charlie Brown—and it wasn’t always easy.

“One time they wanted me to voice that ‘AAAAAAARRRRRGGGGG’ when Charlie Brown goes to kick the football and Lucy yanks it away,” Barbee recalled to Noblemania in 2014. “Try as I might, I just couldn’t generate [it as] long [as] they were looking for … so after something like 25 takes, we moved on. I was sweating the whole time. I think they eventually got an adult or a kid with an older voice to do that one take."


While Barbee got a crash course in the downside of celebrity at a very early age—“seeing my name printed in TV Guide made everyone around me go bananas … everybody … just thought I was some big movie star or something,” he told Noblemania—Stephen Shea, who voiced Linus, still gets a pretty big reaction.

"I don't walk around saying 'I'm the voice of Linus,'" Shea told the Los Angeles Times in 2013. "But when people find out one way or another, they scream 'I love Linus. That is my favorite character!'"


As is often the case in a Peanuts special, Linus gets to play the role of philosopher in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and remind his friends (and the viewers) about the history and true meaning of whatever holiday they’re celebrating. His speech about the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving eventually led to This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers, a kind of spinoff adapted from that Thanksgiving Day prayer, which sees the Peanuts gang becoming a part of history.


In writing for HuffPo for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’s 40th anniversary, Mendelson admitted that one particular scene in the special led to “a rare, minor dispute during the creation of the show. Mr. Schulz insisted that Woodstock join Snoopy in carving and eating a turkey. For some reason I was bothered that Woodstock would eat a turkey. I voiced my concern, which was immediately overruled.”


Though Mendelson lost his original argument against seeing Woodstock eating another bird, he was eventually able to right that wrong. “Years later, when CBS cut the show from its original 25 minutes to 22 minutes, I sneakily edited out the scene of Woodstock eating,” he wrote. “But when we moved to ABC in 2001, the network (happily) elected to restore all the holiday shows to the original 25 minutes, so I finally have given up.”


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