New Orleans has always had a big screen love affair with the movies. Hollywood South isn’t just a great place to make a movie, it’s also a great place to watch a movie. Though we do have the multiplex cinemas with the biggest blockbusters around, New Orleans offers more than just the holiday tent-pole movies, so take a look at our favorite places to catch not only a superhero franchise, but the latest independent and art house offerings in our guide to the best New Orleans cinemas.
1. The Prytania
This Uptown gem is the last remaining fully operational single screen cinema in the state of Louisiana and the oldest cinema in New Orleans, opening its doors in 1914. Proprietors Rene Brunet and his son Robert have lovingly maintained the theater, which has seen numerous fires. A 1960s facade and lobby upgrade still today has its mid-century modern look. New seating, state of the art digital projection, and sound equipment make The Prytania one of the nicest facilities in town.
Look for a diverse lineup of films: big Hollywood first-run movies fill the schedule, but regular special showings are this theater’s specialty. Series like the Classic Movie of the Week and the Late Nite series gives this theater its old-school charm. The Prytania frequently hosts mini film festivals, local premieres of films, and special events, so check their calendar regularly. Find it just a couple of blocks off the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar line (from the Jefferson Avenue stop). It’s also easily walk-able from wonderful casual dining options on Prytania Street and Magazine Street.
In the heart of Central City, Zeitgeist has been bringing art house cinema to New Orleans for over 25 years. Located on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, Zeitgeist is the place to see the latest in international cinema, winners from Cannes, documentaries, and all things independent cinema, with directors and authors appearing for talk backs often. Check out their schedule or give them a call (some films run in repertory while others only show for one night). Zeitgeist also hosts avant-garde jazz nights with some of the biggest names locally and nationally playing in their hall, and have hosted multiple film festivals.
Date night usually means dinner and a movie for many folks. At Canal Place, one can enjoy both pleasures in the same venue at the foot of Canal Street in downtown New Orleans. The theatres at Canal Place feature luxurious stadium seating in fine, oversized leather chairs, and a full menu of small plates, wines by the glass or bottle, and craft cocktails at their bar. You can grab a meal, snack or drinks before the show, or enjoy them delivered to your seat during the feature. In addition to all the gourmet specialties, they sell the familiar regular cinema concessions, too.
New Orleans’ indie arthouse cinema is located on Broad Street, near the Lafitte Greenway, and only a few blocks from Dooky Chase’s and Willie Mae’s Scotch House. It’s a spiffy, newly-renovated turn of the last century Spanish revival building, a community gathering place, with four modern auditoriums, and a spacious lobby with rotating local art and bar with simple cocktails, a great draft beer selection plus a full array of traditional movie concessions — all in a renovated.
What each of these local cinemas above have in common is they expand their offerings to guests beyond the blockbuster. Regular film series help bring more of the world of the movies to New Orleans, and enrich our city’s cultural landscape. Multiple venues in New Orleans, some not traditional movie theaters, offer film series in the summertime or on special occasions.
During the summer, the Orpheum Theater holds its summer afternoon and evening film series, offering classic movie screenings such as “Jaws” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
Outdoor film screenings happen regularly throughout the year across New Orleans. The New Orleans Film Society has its Moonlight Movies series at rotating sites like the Besthoff Sculpture Garden in City Park and the Old U.S. Mint in the French Quarter. Additionally, the New Orleans Film Society presents the New Orleans Film Festival every October and the French Film Festival every February.
At the New Orleans Museum of Art, they offer seasonally throughout the year Movies in the Garden in the Besthoff Sculpture Garden as part of their Friday Nights at NOMA series, which sometimes includes movies in the auditorium inside the museum.