The Oscars are coming up this weekend so I suppose movies are in the air. Many people know the history of our various movie theaters we've seen come go and come over the years so I will not be laying out that timeline here. The Varsity Theater on East Franklin has been under new ownership since Fall 2009 breathing fresh life into the beloved movie house. After extensive remodeling and deep cleaning the new Varsity has renewed its claim as a cultural epicenter of Chapel Hill.
Not only does the Varsity show new and classic films at a very affordable $4, you can catch the big UNC/Duke game if you couldn't score tickets as well as many other major sporting events. Partnering with Ackland, The Varsity puts on interesting and diverse film series (catch Sundance Grand Jury Winner "Hell and Back Again" this Thursday) that both entertain and educate. The Varsity seems to have a hand in all sorts of interesting events these days so check in often and find something that regular theaters just don't offer.
The community around a loved local theater will hopefully never die. I remember attending a packed screening of the cult classic "Pulp Fiction" a couple years ago with a Varsity crowd who seemed to collectively view it as a great comedy. I also remember going on a first date with a girl on crutches to see the late showing of "Inception" sitting in the second row because the rest of the theater was full. She's off crutches now and we're getting married soon (thanks Varsity!).
If you haven't seen a movie at The Varsity since the reopening you should really check it out. It's clean and well kept, offering great concession treats including beer and wine. If you have been I trust I'll run into you there soon.
I wanted to put a note about the new vending machine in town. Right as you walk into Walgreens on East Franklin Street you see a red movie dispensor which for all intents and purposes is all we have left of the idea of a movie rental store. I don't want to comment on the state of movie rentals on this forum, but it's hard not to praise Redbox for price and convenince of its services. For just over a dollar you can rent most new relases and many other films from piles of different locations in the area and return them to any location convenient to you! On top of that, you can reserve movies on your computer or smartphone and claim them simply by swiping your credit card through the machine. That said, I have on many occations assisted the person in front of me while they struggle to make the Redbox do what they wish, but there's a learning curve to every new technology (my grandparents recently revealed that they didn't know the difference between websites and email addresses).
Regardless of your tastes, you'll probably find something you enjoy when it comes to movies in Downtown Chapel Hill. So order some popcorn and speculate for a moment if you think a silent movie with win best picture in 2012!