Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Free Family Movies at the Cinema Center in Selinsgrove

Every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 am from June 15 until August 18th, 2010  the Cinema Center in Selinsgrove is showing free movies. Today, Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs was showing. I woke my kids up at 8:30 am and rushed them through breakfast so we could get out of the house by 9 am to get to the movie theater by 9:30 am. It was raining this morning and when we showed up, the line of people waiting to get in wrapped around the building.

A friend of mine, N, had showed up at 9:15 am and snagged some tickets for me. I jumped in line with another friend, L, I happened to see. The guy behind her grumbled about it, but I figured since N already had my tickets, my place in line wasn't going to make a difference. I met N in the lobby and she gave me my tickets which looked like raffle tickets. She and K, another friend, had saved us some seats inside. L tried to save seats for some friends that were coming later, but the theater workers wouldn't let her save them since her friends didn't have already have tickets. They actually showed up at the theater and tried to meet L in the seats, but were turned away by the staff after already walking into the theater. So L ended up leaving since her friends couldn't stay. The seating is limited, I believe each theater has 288 seats, and so the staff maintains a first come first served policy. The lady sitting next to me went out to get popcorn and when she came back in she said that there were some children in the lobby crying because they came too late and were being turned away.

The theater was very crowded with lots of daycare groups, small children, and crying babies. Two staff members went around making everyone squish together and enforcing the no ticket-no seat rule. The lights went out at 9:58 am and some previews for movies that are already out on video were shown: The Squeakwell, Percy Jackson, Night at the Museum 2, and Aliens in the Attic. The sound quality of the movie was okay, but I did notice a loud buzzing noise during some of the quieter parts of the film. There were also some fine green and red lines running up and down the screen vertically. I think they used a blue-ray disc because the same sequence kept showing over, then the screen turned black and we could see the word play with a green arrow in the bottom left hand corner of the screen when the actual movie started.

The theater was so cold that one of my kids had his legs tucked up in his shirt. I wore flip flops and kept rubbing my feet and legs because I was freezing. I think it is pretty standard for movie theaters to have the AC cranked up full blast during the summer. They had booster seats for the kids. Snacks were sold at the usual inflated price. I opted not to buy candy and popcorn at the theater, I usually don't anyway and I didn't feel like my kids needed that kind of junk at 10 am.

So was this a good deal/experience or not?


  • We hadn't seen the movie before and we were able to see it in the movie theater for free
  • The movie itself was family friendly, but also contained some subtle humor for adults
  • We saw a lot of our friends there
  • Seeing a movie in the theater is always more fun than watching it at home on DVD


  • All of the movies are out on DVD, it might not be worth the gas money to drive 1/2 an hour to see a movie you could get from the library or rent from the redbox for $1
  • It was very crowded
  • For those of us who like to sleep in, we had to get up pretty early to make it as the doors opened

I would give my overall experience a 7 out of 10. I just don't know if it is worth it to get up early, drive half an hour and then wait in line for another 1/2 an hour to see a movie I could check out at the library. My kids enjoyed it, but I don't think we will repeat the experience unless it is a movie we haven't seen before and I have other errands to run around Selinsgrove to make it worth the gas (I did have errands today, so gas-wise it worked out). I think it would definitely be worth it if we lived in Selinsgrove like N does, plus her kids are early risers.

Here's the schedule for the remaining movies:

July 20 &21       Shrek 2
July 27 & 28      Madagascar 1
August 3 and 4  Hotel for Dogs
August 10 & 11 Scooby Doo
August 17 & 18 Stuart Little 2

I wish our local theater, the Campus, in Lewisburg would show free family movies. They do show older classic family movies, but it comes down to the same thing, why pay even a slightly reduced price to see a movie that is already out on DVD?

If I were to make any changes to the way they run things at the Cinema Center, I would suggest that they offer discounted snacks just for the free family movie goers.