The smell of stale popcorn. The taste of Milk Duds and Raisinettes. The ability to get lost in a story for a couple of hours, while you relax in the dark. Do you miss going to the movies? So do we! But even if you and your family are film buffs, you might have been reluctant to step back into the movie theater lately.
But there is a way to snack on popcorn and movie-theater candy, laugh with friends and family, and enjoy a flick in the privacy and comfort of your own auditorium: By renting your own private movie theater screening. What would appear to be an extravagant indulgence is actually doable, and is becoming increasingly popular with families during the pandemic — and is also surprisingly affordable.
How to Rent a Movie Theater Screening
In the Indianapolis area, there are two movie theater chains that are offering private movie theater rentals: AMC and Cinemark.
How to rent an AMC movie theater
- Guests can reserve an entire auditorium for their own personal screening. Each private movie auditorium can accommodate 1-20 total guests (including the host). This is so the theater can remain at 40% capacity or less, and so there is plenty of space for social distancing.
- Masks are required throughout the theater unless you’re actively eating or drinking.
- The cost to rent a private theater is $99 plus tax if you want to watch an older movie. To watch a new movie release, the cost starts at $149 plus tax.
- AMC does not offer same-day private theater rentals, so plan ahead!
- All guests must be present before your group ticket can be scanned. You may enter the auditorium 15 minutes ahead of showtime.
AMC is offering private theater screenings at AMC Castleton Square 14, AMC Traders Point 12, AMC Washington Square 12, AMC Indianapolis 17 and AMC Perry Crossing 18. Visit amctheatres.com to book a private theater auditorium online.
How to rent a Cinemark movie theater
- Book a private watch party in your own auditorium for up to 25 guests. Up to 20 guests are included, and up to 5 more may be added at the theater for an additional fee.
- Private movie screenings start at $99 for classic fan-favorite movies.
- Cinemark does not offer same-day private theater rentals, so plan ahead!
Cinemark is offering private theater screenings at Cinemark Greenwood Corner. Visit cinemark.com/private-watch-party to learn more and book online.
What Parents Have to Say About Renting a Movie Theater for Their Friends and Family
Before the pandemic, going to the movies was Kayla Owens’ husband’s favorite thing to do. So for her husband’s birthday, she rented a movie theater so he could enjoy something that he loved while also being safe.
“Our experience was great,” says Owens, who lives with her family in Indianapolis. “We were able to pick the movie and got to watch a really fun throwback.”
As a parent of a toddler, Owens was really thankful to have the option of renting the theater just for her family and friends. “When you rent out a theater, you don’t have to stress about a little one talking or yelling during the movie, or getting out of their seat,” she says. “It felt really safe and way less stressful than a normal movie-going experience with a kiddo.”
Christine Anderson, who lives with her husband and 12-year-old daughter in Carmel, invited some of their neighbors to their private movie screening.
“Our experience was great — seamless, really,” Anderson says. “We found a date and time that worked for us using the AMC website, reserved our theater and then just waited for movie day.”
Anderson says she loved that she could take up to 20 people to the movies, and she had the peace of mind knowing everyone in the theater auditorium. “They’re all our close friends,” Anderson says. “Plus, I’m pretty sure every mom wiped down the armrests and cup holders before we sat down, just to make double sure we did our part, too!”
Sarah Hundagen Walter of Indianapolis rented a movie theater for her family and her sister’s family. “We thought it was a fun way to do something safe outside of the house — something we couldn’t do at home, but still were able to limit it to our small circle,” Walter says. “Our kids had never been to a movie theater before, so we thought this would be a really great first-time experience!”
Walter had never considered renting a private movie theatre auditorium before the pandemic, but she appreciated having the option now, especially during the cold months when it is harder to get outside. “Everyone has definitely had to get more creative with entertainment these days, and for the $99 we spent — well, plus concessions! — we thought it was a great option,” Walter says. “My kids still talk about it a few months later. Definitely one of the best things we’ve done in a pandemic winter.”
Anderson adds that renting a movie theater was a great decision for her family and friends. “Spend the $100 and take your kids to the movies,” Anderson says. “Invite your neighbors. They’re going stir crazy, just like you are! Allow the kids to get concessions. The theaters are hurting, and every purchase helps keep their doors open.”