Houston Local Life

The Best Neighborhoods in Houston for Movie Lovers

Houston is home to multiplexes, a quirky Austin theater chain, outdoor screenings, artsy microcinemas, and a 1930s art deco movie house. From family fun to date nights, here are the best neighborhoods in Houston to see movies on the big screen.

Greater Heights, Houston
Greater Heights, Houston / Photo by Stephanie A Sellers / shutterstock.com

Galleria

Many movie theaters moved away from the Galleria area to suburban locales, leaving the neighborhood without a big-screen option. However, the Galleria is now a destination for moviegoers who prefer screenings with a skyline view from the rooftop of BLVD Place, the area’s happening retail and restaurant complex.

Rooftop Cinema Club’s season starts in early spring and runs through December. Movie selections include Texas-themed movies like “Dazed and Confused,” directed by Houston native, Richard Linklater, and “Terms of Endearment,” set in mansion-lined River Oaks. Come early for views of the sunset and eat snacks before settling in a comfy deckchair with personal headphones.

River Oaks District, an upscale shopping and dining plaza, is on the cusp of the Galleria neighborhood so residents can easily reserve a reclining leather chair for their viewing pleasure at Ipic. This luxury cinema chain also provides waiter service, pillows, and blankets, plus unlimited popcorn with an in-house restaurant for dining before or after the show.

Museum District

Many of Houston’s museums are ideal locations for viewing films which often include panel discussions with the director. Cultural film festivals, including the annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival, are also held in museum venues.

The Museum of Fine Arts offers a year-round calendar with Movies Houstonians Love, a popular series where notable residents from restaurateurs to politicians select their favorite film for a screening. Foreign films are also featured with annual festivals celebrating Latin American cinema and Funny French Films.

Asia Society is a host to the Houston Asian American Pacific Islander Film Festival with screenings in the Brown Foundation Performing Arts Theater. The sleek space, decked out in cherry wood wall panels, offers plush seats made by the same maker of leather seats for Maserati and Ferrari. Outdoor movies occasionally take place on the museum’s front lawn, featuring fan favorites like “Godzilla.”

The Houston Museum of African American Culture has a film series dedicated to the African-American experience and the African diaspora. Additionally, the museum shows advance screenings of feature films like “Black Panther” with special activities.

Greater Heights

Homeowners take pride in the preservation of the original bungalows and craftsman cottages that contribute to the historic architectural landscape of the area. Even the neighborhood’s microcinema, 14 Pews, a former church, kept the seating intact for film patrons with a name that’s a nod to its roots. Executive Director and filmmaker, Cressandra Thibodeaux, curates a calendar of interesting films and documentaries unlikely to appear at the local multiplex.

Memorial

Multiplexes showing Hollywood blockbusters are packed with the suburban dwellers who live in this modern Mayberry. Memorial City Mall outings usually finish up at Cinemark where multiple screens come with luxury loungers. However, movies aren’t limited to Marvel comics reboots; hit films from Japan to India, are featured too. Neighboring City Centre offers Studio Movie Grill with in-theater dining and drinks. 

Upper Kirby

A favorite of cinephiles and art lovers, Aurora Picture Show’s artistic programming favors unconventional films, live cinema performances, and moving image installations. Members of this nonprofit enjoy perks like free admission to most screenings, members-only special events, and access to their video library of over 1,000 noteworthy titles. Young aspiring filmmakers can sign up for workshops to hone their creative cinematic skills.

For a high-tech, movie-going experience, Regal Edwards Greenway Grand Palace boasts premium format viewing options for the latest releases with Imax and Screen X (270-degree panoramic view) theaters. As a participating theater in the Metropolitan Opera Live series, Houstonians can watch the Met’s entire season of performances without traveling to Manhattan.

River Oaks

The beloved River Oaks Theatre is the last of the old school movie houses in Houston. In operation since 1939, the art deco interior still welcomes movie lovers for screenings of foreign films and Oscar nominees, but now with the addition of a fully stocked bar.

The longstanding Midnight Madness weekend series of cult classics include a monthly live showing of “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Katy

The Austin-based movie chain Alamo Drafthouse Cinema brings its passion for movies, food, and beer to the popular suburb of Katy. Located in the upscale shopping center, LaCenterra, the eight screens feature comfy stadium seating with waiters fetching local craft beers and “Royale with Cheese” hamburgers for patrons.

Arrive early for a pre-show of obscure film and tv clips thematically paired with each movie.

Downtown

Friends and families gather around picnic blankets and relax in lawn chairs for open-air cinema experiences in Downtown’s greenspaces. The Historic Market Square Park’s is the setting for monthly movie nights where popular comedies and dramas are projected on an inflatable screen. Family-friendly animated films and crowd-pleasing classics are in high rotation at Discovery Green’s Screen on the Green, part of the park’s wide variety of free programming.

The Theatre District’s AMC Houston 8 offers Downtown denizens a traditional movie theater experience. Pro tip: bring in your parking stub from the connected Theatre District Parking Garage for $12 in credit toward movie tickets and refreshments.

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