With summer ‘18 just weeks away, Anteaters are preparing for a well-deserved hiatus that’s sure to include sun, sand and good friends — or jobs, internships and summer session classmates. Whatever your plans entail, retreating to an air-conditioned movie theater is sure to be on your summer to-do list at least once. Here, we take a look at some of Orange County’s most popular movie theaters so you can decide where to catch your films until school starts again in the fall.
Edwards University Town Center 6
Upsides: This small theater, adjacent to Target in our very own UTC, plays primarily independent movies, but also shows most blockbusters, so students can see the summer’s big hits at a convenient location while also discovering more artsy films that most other theaters in Irvine don’t show. A few times per year, the Edwards UTC 6 hosts (by way of ASUCI) free advance screenings of movies for UCI students before general audiences get to see them.
Downsides: Ticket prices are on the slightly expensive side, at $13.25 per non-matinee adult ticket. Food selection is about your average movie theater fare. The theater itself is small and pretty bare-bones, with no remarkable arcade, dining area or other amenities.
The LOT at Fashion Island
Upsides: If you’re looking for something more upscale and memorable than your usual movie night, this is the place. The newly opened LOT boasts a full-service bar, cafe and restaurant alongside traditional (but classier than average) movie snacks. The indoor/outdoor “lobby,” complete with fire pits and modern decor, feels more like a fine restaurant than a movie theater. The theaters themselves are spacious and elegant; there’s plenty of room to spread out and the leather recliner seats are staggered so that nobody’s head ever gets in your way of the screen. And if you’d prefer to bypass the lobby restaurant and instead eat while you watch, you can order The LOT’s delicious, gourmet food straight to a table at your seat.
Downsides: The experience can be pretty pricey for students on a budget — adult tickets run just under $20 each, and since the food is upscale-restaurant quality (Filet mignon,gourmet burgers and lobster salad!), you pay upscale-restaurant prices. However, if you’re willing to splurge a little on a truly luxurious theater experience, this is the place to go.
Edwards Big Newport 6
Upsides: This theater lives up to its name. The screens are enormous, the reclining chairs are huge, and the individual theater rooms themselves are about the size of a football field, turning a movie night here into a truly immersive experience. Consider seeing major movies here, or going to a new film’s midnight opening and watching it with an audience of hundreds if you want an amazing communal viewing experience. The food here is good (though not fantastic — but that’s to be expected from most movie theaters) and the arcade games are a fun pre-movie diversion.
Downsides: This theater tends to offer slightly fewer showtimes and fewer movies as a result of how big the theaters are (larger rooms equals less physical space in which to show movies). At $22.20 for a single non-matinee adult ticket, it’s also significantly more expensive than average theaters, even the upscale LOT — especially if you opt for one of the better seats in the house.
Edwards Irvine Spectrum 21
Upsides: It’s located in the Irvine Spectrum, so you can make a whole day out of going to the movies — there’s shopping, restaurants, and all sorts of other entertainment just beyond the theater doors. There are usually tons of showtimes for each movie playing, so you’ll never have to wait too long for a film to start. As far as everything else goes, Edwards Irvine Spectrum is a pretty average theater experience — food, price, and decor are all nice, but run-of-the-mill.
Downsides: Since the Irvine Spectrum is one of the most popular shopping centers in Orange County, this theater can get a bit crowded, especially for high-demand movies. Reserve tickets ahead of time if you want to be sure they’re not sold out before you go, and arrive early to ensure that you get a good seat.
AMC Classic Woodbridge 5
Upsides: Movies here are only $4.99 for matinee showings and $6.99 for non-matinee showings, so AMC Classic Woodbridge 5 is the perfect cinematic destination for cash-strapped students. The theater also sells $1 hot dogs, in addition to traditional movie theater food, so if you’ve got a cheap date, you can buy dinner and a movie for two at less than the cost of a single movie ticket almost anywhere else in town.
Downsides: Although the movies here are all new “mainstream” releases, since it’s a smaller theater selling reduced-price tickets, Woodbridge doesn’t have the full selection of films that most other theaters do, and sometimes doesn’t show major blockbusters. It’s not as flashy (or as well-decorated, or even as clean) as other theaters on this list, but if your goal is to see a no-frills movie without going bankrupt, this is the place to do it.