Going to the movies in Charlottesville changed big-time in late 2012-2013, as the grandly-named Regal Stonefield Stadium 14 and IMAX Theater opened up in the Shops at Stonefield at the intersection of Route 29 and Hydraulic Road. Boasting 14 stadium-style theaters, two IMAX ones, and covered parking and elevator access to a lavish lobby, this theater has really changed the local movie going landscape. Indeed, it forced the Downtown Regal to start showing only art and independent. And as for the old Regal Seminole Theater, well, that theater was demolished this year and a hotel is being built in its place.
Carmike 6 Theatres
1803 Seminole Trail
973-4294 (recording), 973-5972 (office)
Looking to enjoy a movie night on a budget? There is no better place to go than Carmike Cinemas located behind Albemarle Square. With movie tickets priced at $1.50 and affordable concessions, the theater is ideal for families, college students seniors or anyone looking to see a movie without breaking the bank. The multiplex is a second run theater, meaning it shows blockbuster films after they finish running in traditional theaters, usually four to eight weeks after a movie's premiere.
Though the theater has weathered some rough times and harsh reviews, it turned a corner last fall when Manager Raymond Kilburn took over. The low prices, clean interior, friendly staff and clear, crisp movies (thanks to digital projection) combine to create one of the best movie-watching experiences in town.
A tip: The theater also shows select movies in 3D for only $5— a steal!
Regal Downtown Mall 6
200 West Main Street
979-7669 (recording), 979-7857 (manager)
Its understated brick facade belies the fact that this multiplex injected lots of life into the Downtown Mall and helped make it the happening place it is today. Before the Regal opened in 1996, there was no 2nd Street crossing on the Downtown Mall, and no throngs of people flocking to the mall, which was pretty much a ghost town after 5pm.
Newest of the area theaters, the Regal Downtown also threatened Charlottesville's oldest art house, Vinegar Hill, when it began showing indie movies. Ironically, after the Regal Stonefield opened, Regal announced that the Downtown theater would be showing only art house and indie movies.
Parking can be problematic, but the theater does validate parking from the Water Street and Market Street garages. Another problem is that sound sometimes bleeds from adjacent theaters.
The bathrooms are wonderfully plentiful and clean. If only there were hand-drying options besides the blowers, it would get the Hook's top seal of approval.
Regal Crown Club members get discount movies and food.
A tip: Get there early during in the weeks before the Academy Awards because people will be lined up to catch the nominees.
Regal Stonefield Stadium 14 and IMAX Theater
1954 Swanson Drive
After months of anticipation, this mega theater opened at the Shops at Stonefield (a development that went up after years of anticipation) at the intersection of Route 29 and Hydraulic Road. It has 14 stadium-style theaters, two with IMAX, and a concessions stand that not only features popcorn and candy, but a bunch of fast-food meals as well. It's really made going to the movie in Charlottesville an experience again. Plus, there are some great restaurant nearby, like Travinia Italian Kitchen and Burtons. Dinner and a movie anyone?
Tip: Buy your tickets at the self-serve kiosk and head right into the movie!
220 West Market Street
977-4911 (recording), 977-8458 (manager)
In 2008, Vinegar Hill Theatre nearly bit the dust. Founded in 1975 by the once-married couple, Chief Gordon and Ann Porotti, who also opened the legendary Fellini's in its first incarnation, it has just one screen– and it's a small one– and a small theater. Such factors have made it increasingly harder to compete with the more robust Regal a block away. Despite its utilitarian accoutrements, the theater is the sentimental favorite of local diehard movie fans.
A couple of years ago, Adam Greenbaum, who owns the Visulite in Staunton, swooped in to save Vinegar Hill, and scored Slumdog Millionaire. However, Vinegar Hill's days may be numbered, as Camino, the restaurant in the same building has closed, and Porotti has put the building up for sale.
Restrooms offer two stalls, but they're clean and when the crowds are small, you don't wait.
A tip: Get the popcorn since it has real butter.
Update: Since the Annual Mannual went to press, Vinegar Hill closed, showing its last movie on August 4th.