Independent Viewpoint 

Local alternatives to the budget-buster mega-plex

Taking in a flick doesn't have to mean heading to the mega-plex to catch the latest blockbuster. The Treasure Valley is home to a few bastions of cinema where the atmosphere is kept casual, the films eclectic and the ownership independent.

At Boise art film mecca, the Flicks, movie goers can enjoy dinner and drinks while watching an indie picture.

"Our main goal ... is to show films that you might not otherwise get to see. Independent films. Films for grown-ups," said owner Carole Skinner.

For some families, a movie can be a budget-buster. But those who don't mind waiting until the buzz has faded can take the clan to Overland Park Cinema, where a $4 adult ticket includes popcorn and a soda. Even better, all Tuesday screenings cost $1. Many of the discount cinema's second-run films are family friendly so parents can entertain the brood without worrying about wayward f-bombs.

One movie theater in Nampa has combined the Flicks' drink-and-dine-while-you-watch concept with Overland Park's second-run plan. At Northern Lights Cinema Grill, inside the Karcher Mall, all shows cost $3. Don't worry about trying to balance a steak burrito on your lap. This place offers movie-theater seating with freestanding countertops. Alcohol is served after 6:15 p.m., when the venue switches from all ages to adults only.

Family is also the theme at 52-year-old Terrace Drive-In Theatre in Caldwell where owner Alice Estrada screens G, PG and PG-13 films.

"We couldn't play Nightmare on Elm Street here. I don't want that," said Estrada. "When you show R-rated movies on a regular basis, you're going to lose customers because this is a family thing and they won't bring the kids."

The drive-in is nostalgic for baby boomers who remember being excited to go to the movies in pajamas and falling asleep in the back of dad's car.

Many locals remember seeing their first movie at the ornate Egyptian Theatre in downtown Boise, which was built in 1927. Just admiring the elaborate Art Deco hieroglyphic can be entertaining. Although the Egyptian now serves mainly as a concert venue, occasional movies still fill the screen.

Whether you want a dine-in indie film, a discounted flick or drive-in nostalgia, ditch the mega-plex and go local.

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