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Arts & Culture

The Theatres at Canal Place: A Fresh Take on Cinema

Growing up in New Orleans, Canal Place Cinema has always been associated with one thing: independent film. I remember my sister and her NOCCA friends going there practically every Friday to watch or re-watch whatever film had finally made its way down to New Orleans, everything from Dancer in the Dark to Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The surroundings were not always the most hospitable — broken seats, choppy sound, and cramped theaters were the norm, but its charm was undeniable, and the dinginess contributed to the feeling that you were seeing something different. Canal Place closed over a year ago for renovations and reopened in May, and that dingy appeal of old has been replaced with something completely new– luxury, technology, and a fully-stocked bar.

The Theatres at Canal Place offer completely new surroundings for the city’s cinematic staple. The seats are cushy leather, the projection system is top-of-the-line, and with the newly-opened Gusto, you can throw down on some cuisine from one of New Orleans’ hottest chefs, Adolfo Garcia. Chef Garcia has made his name by starting three different restaurants in the city, Rio Mar, La Boca, and A Mano, that regularly top “Best Of …” lists. His newest menu has a variety of small plates that features ricotta crostini, prosciutto, grilled portabella mushrooms and plenty more. There’s also a full bar and an extensive wine list for those who want to impress a date or imbibe on their own. But don’t worry, there’s still popcorn and Milk Duds for those who aren’t quite ready to associate movie theaters with paninis and a killer wine list.

Goodies at Gusto

The largest fear regarding the theatre’s renovation was whether or not Canal Place would continue to show the less mainstream films that established the theater as the go-to venue for New Orleans cinephiles. Those worries have been allayed, as the recent slate of films has included those from boutique production companies in America and abroad, and all signs point to this trend continuing with a number of foreign and indie films listed as upcoming.

The Theatres at Canal Place definitely take a little getting used to for those who remember it as it was, but the experience is unlike any other I’ve had at the movies. Don’t worry, though. No matter how updated it looks, the legacy of independent film continues in this theater by the river.

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