In this modern era of movie viewing, when you can watch almost anything you want anytime you want, it’s kind of amazing that people still go to movie theaters at all! But there is something about the shared experience of seeing a movie, especially in the beautiful, vintage theaters that now house many of our art house cinemas, that keeps people coming back for more.
Tonight is “Dinner and a Movie” night at the Trogani house, so its pizza at the Flatbread Company (see our post here) and Eye in the Sky around the corner at the Avon Cinema. Located on Thayer Street, the Avon is a tiny jewel box of a theater that sits in the middle of the Brown University and RISD campuses on Providence, RI’s East Side. I first started coming to the Avon when I was a college student myself, and have fond memories of seeing some of my first independent, foreign and documentary films here. This area continues to be a student hub and the Avon pulls much of it’s audience from nearby colleges, as well as local residents and art house cinema fans from across the state.
Walking into the Avon is like a little trip back in time. Owned by the Dulgarian family and in continuous use as a theatre since 1938, the Avon blends Art deco architectural elements, mid century candy vending machines, new movie posters and old school marquees. It reminds me of the small town theaters I went to as a kid (in the era before the cineplex), when seeing a movie was still an event. The ones with velvet seats and curtains that opened when the opening film credits began…this nostalgic experience can still be relived at the Avon.
In addition to the wonderfully curated mix of independent, foreign and documentary films they screen, the Avon frequently features special events. We’ve attended simulcasts of London’s National Theatre performances (Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus), local premieres (shout out to Ray Harrington’s Be A Man), classic movie revivals and film festivals. Although there is only a single screen here, there are typically two films playing at different showings on a given evening. The film we saw tonight, Eye in the Sky, is a fictional account of a joint US/UK operation using drone strikes to attack a group of known terrorists. Thought-provoking and gut wrenching, it was made particularly poignant by Alan Rickman’s performance in his final film role as Lieutenant General Frank Benson. No matter what the genre, I’ve never left a film at the Avon without a lot to talk about and a lot to think about.
There are many great food choices if you plan to make a night of it on the East Side. We love the pizza at the Flatbread Company but there are a number of fantastic restaurants within walking distance of the theater and even more to choose from within a 10 – 15 minute drive. Try Andrea’s just down the block for Greek-American, or Tortilla Flats on Hope Street for Mexican or drive down college hill to Den Den Cafe Asiana on Benefit – all are excellent choices for a delicious dinner.
Show times vary week to week. Click here to see the current schedule.
The Avon Cinema: $
Key $: $14 and under $$: $15 to $30 $$$: $31 to $50 $$$$ More than $50
260 Thayer Street
Providence, RI 02906
Parking can be a little bit challenging in this area but can usually be found on the side streets a block or two off Thayer.