Let’s examine the types of people associated with each different theater, shall we?
The Downtown Centre Cinema is where to go if you want the latest blockbuster or tear-jerker that is sure to be at every other large-scale movie theater across the state. Located in a trendy downtown shopping center, this theater is commonly frequented by the “popular crowd,” — those with the latest fashions — the large groups of friends and those that have the need to see and be seen.
This theater is also the most commonly frequented by the local high school crowd of teenagers — you know, the kids that are always yelling or fighting during the movie. They can be found in large groups hanging around the steps down to the box office or crowding in front of the Jamba Juice not too far away.
Unfortunately, as this is the biggest theater in town, it is sometimes the only option for seeing a particular film and in that case, you must grit your teeth and bear it. Its only a two-hour experience, after all, and the film might actually be worth putting up with your fellow theatergoers.
The Fremont Theater is located between Santa Rosa and Osos Streets on Monterey Street. In its heyday after it was built in the 1940s, the Fremont was the place to see a new film. Nowadays, the Fremont has become the place to be to see old, re-released movies such as the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Gone With the Wind.” Here you will find those that fancy themselves “movie snobs,” the type that will readily judge you for misquoting a cult classic that they have memorized by heart.
Don’t let me deter the novice moviegoer, though. The Fremont does show first-run films round the clock as well, a sight to see on the large main screen surrounded by the fabulous art-deco ceiling and walls. In recent years, the theater has expanded to include three smaller screens in the building next door, allowing them to show more than one film at a time.
Palm Theater is the place to go to see that new indie-flick you’ve been dying to see but your roommate has never heard of. It is where San Luis Obispo residents first saw such independent movies as “Juno” or “The Wrestler.” The crowd that you are most likely to find here are the opposite of the Downtown Cinema attendees—they do their own thing, march to their own beat, in a word, they are just as independent as the movies they choose to see. Located in the small “Chinatown-esque” part of SLO on Palm and Chorro Streets, the Palm is a unique experience.
Last, but not least, are those that choose to see their movies at the Sunset Drive-in. This single-screen classic drive-in theater shows double features for the lazy movie audience. Attendees include families with children in pajamas, couples on a cheap date or who are feeling frisky, and people parked outside the theater’s perimeter who just listen to the movie on the radio instead of paying to view the film simultaneously.
If you choose Sunset for your viewing (or just listening) pleasure, do the research before driving down to the theater. As they feature a double-feature showing of two recently-released films, you could be stuck sitting through the latest Disney animated feature before getting to see the action-packed adventure one you thought you were paying for.
If you don’t think of yourself as any of these people, that’s fine too. Blending genres is what furthers creativity in cinema and the same goes for people. But if you do think you were categorized by your choice in theater, branch out from your normal place of viewing and give the others a try. It’s okay, they won’t judge you too much.