(MOBILE, AL)-- In the age of internet streaming services, the time-honored ritual of movie-watching has been totally transformed. Of course, having access to nearly every film ever made from the palm of our hands is wonderfully convenient: so convenient that traditional brick-and-mortar movie theaters struggle to compete. They are forced to build bigger screens, play only the highest-grossing films, and usher patrons in and out as fast as possible. Somewhere along the way, a once-universal personal touch to movie-going is lost.
But there is still hope.
Max Morey is the proprietor of the Crescent Theater is Mobile, Alabama. His theater has a familiar warmth to it. With its bright red carpet, the ambient chatter of patron’s anticipation, and exquisitely typical smell of fresh popcorn, it has all the perks of the modern theatrical experience. They even serve beer and wine.
Inside the auditorium itself, Morey has gone above and beyond the classic theater seating arrangement by adding a front row of cushy recliners for those patrons savvy enough to get there early. There’s even a large basket of freshly-laundered blankets provided so no movie-goer gets too cold. It’s a far cry from running the air conditioner a little cooler to make people hurry out, a classic multiplex tactic. In their quest to provide an alternative to larger theaters, the Crescent and its proprietor are hospitable to their cores.
“I think I had 12 people for my first movie and I was thrilled. I ran from the candy counter out in front of the screen and I just said ‘Hey! Thanks for coming, everybody! Thanks!’ and I went back to project the film. In ten years, we have never shown a film without an introduction. It’s a Crescent Theater tradition...every little hook we could think of to get people in here,” Morey said.
Despite the bells and whistles, sitting down to enjoy a film in the Crescent’s single auditorium feels just like sitting in your living room to watch a movie with your family. It feels like parents sitting on the couch while the kids sit in the chairs or sprawl themselves out on the floor. It feels like playful bickering and convincing your loved ones to watch something you know they’ll love but have never seen before.
It’s easy to watch a screen for the sake of watching a screen. Such a thing is most easily done alone, and that is a small tragedy. The Crescent Theater and businesses like it are on a personal crusade against lonesome movie-watching.
As Morey said, “there’s already enough loneliness out there. Let’s get together to watch good movies.”