(SPOT.ph) The magic of movie-watching can be ruined by a number of things. Stiff, squeaky seats in a cramped theater (not to mention that girl behind you constantly kicking the back of your seat); dark, stained or scratched films; an audio system that sounds like it's playing a crackly cassette tape; sticky, soda-stained floors and the dizzying aroma of sweat and stale popcorn...the list goes on.
Conversely, a number of new perks and privileges for serious cinéastes can create maximum viewing pleasure: plush, La-Z-Boy seats, mind-blowing IMAX features, butler service, and the ability to score tickets to your movie and seat of choice straight from your mobile phone.
Here, SPOT.ph narrowed down the best cinemas in the metro for your next movie night out.
Artwork by Warren Espejo. Photos by Sasha Lim Uy (Podium, Greenbelt My Cinema, Powerplant) and Jason Mariposa (SM North EDSA); courtesy of Newport, Shangri-La Plaza, SM Cinemas; and the Gateway Cinemas website.
Top 10 Movie Theaters in Manila
10. Podium Cinemas
Blockbusting feature: Quaint privacy
Podium's movie theater may seem like a miniature version of any other cinema but loyal patrons come here for its homey ambiance. Quaint, quiet, and cozy-any of Podium's two almost-identical movie houses is perfect for those who aren't a fan of crowds. Nearby restaurants also offer free delivery straight to your seat.
Price: P160 (regular picture); P300 (digital cinema). Credit card payments allowed.
9. Powerplant Cinemas
Blockbusting feature: Heightened 3D pleasure, cozy love seats, and mouthwatering sour cream popcorn
Powerplant's digital theater, one of only two theaters in Metro Manila that employs Active Technology (that's really, really awesome 3D for you and me). Unlike other movie houses that keep the 3D magic on the screen or in the projector, Powerplant uses active 3D glasses for a deeper, more defined picture. Plus, love seats! These coveted two-seaters have become a come-on for cuddly couples. Not all theaters have them so be sure to ask the ticket-seller if it's available.
On the downside: only one restroom for all Powerplant's six cinemas but hey, that means more opportunities to load up on popcorn when you're out there! We recommend their sour-cream popcorn-there's a good chance you'll be craving for it even when you're not planning on catching a movie.
Price: P185 (regular picture); P300 (3D)
8. Greenbelt 3 Cinemas
Blockbusting feature: Wider leg room, a rent-a-cinema, plus sureseats.com
Any of the theaters here are a solid choice for the posh cinéaste (way better than those located in Greenbelt 1). The space is huge, with ample legroom in each aisle that won't let you shift uncomfortably in your seat whenever a fellow movie-goer passes you by. There's a generous amount of space between the first row-often the most undesirable spot in the house lest you're in the mood for a stiff neck-and the screen, so don't worry if front-row seats are the only ones left.
And in case you're really picky, there's always Sureseats.com (which works in any Ayala mall) to save you from the hassle of lining up or leaving your movie plans up to chance-perfect for extra-crowded Friday and Saturday nights.
Should you ever need one, Greenbelt 3's MyCinema is a good pick for rent-a-cinema parties, get-togethers, and seminars. The 50-seater space comes with use of a small bar, lounge area, and private restrooms.
Price: P180 to P200 for regular movies. To rent MyCinema, be prepared to shell out P26,500 for four hours; inclusive of free popcorn and 30 parking slips. You can opt to show any of Greenbelt's current movie offerings or bring a DVD of your choice. Credit card payments allowed.
7. Shang Cineplex Cinemas 1 and 2
Blockbusting feature: Superior acoustics and 3D projection
Shang's digital cinemas (1 and 2) were the first to adopt XpanD Active 3D Glasses for a more accurate and vivid picture (read: amazing 3D depth that makes you feel like you're inches from the scene). Apart from using topnotch equipment, Shang Cineplex also had their walls designed specially to buffer extraneous sound, keeping the audio crystal-clear. No worries, just sheer movie magic.
Loyal Shang patrons can also avail of the E-See membership card which provides discounts, early movie reservations, and other freebies.
Price: P300 (3D)
6. SM Megamall Winema
Blockbusting feature: A novelty-audience participation
Playfully dubbed Winema (We Interact with the Cinema), SM Megamall's Cinema 1 airs a two-minute interactive game before every movie. A motion-sensitive camera measures people waving their hands left or right, playing either Boink Out (an Arkanoid game) or Power Catcher (catching falling objects). Think Wii only much, much bigger. Simulator seats area also installed in Winema Cinemas-giving an added rush to gaming and watching.
The audience that beats the high score will collectively win a prize; the key is teamwork and a fierce competitive spirit.
5. SM Mall of Asia IMAX
Blockbusting feature: It's IMAX!
IMAX theaters should come with a warning: It's not for the faint-hearted-nor is it for people who easily get motion sickness. Better video quality, better audio, better depth-IMAX has redefined the cinema experience by letting moviegoers immerse themselves visually in the film. If you've ever tried lining up for tickets at SM MOA's IMAX theater when Avatar, X-Men, Spiderman, or any of the special effects-heavy sort were playing, you'll find that the long lines are testament to the type of movie experience it promises. Hint: the awesome kind, what with its 8-storey-high and 120-feet-wide screen and larger-than-life images.
4. SM North EDSA IMAX
Blockbusting feature: It's IMAX too, and it has its own lounge, plus mobile ticketing (for all SM outlets)
Want to feel like you're in Hogwarts or Middle Earth? Haul yourself to an IMAX theater and literally become part of the film. Add roomier seats, wider legroom, and hip interiors with cool lighting fixtures to the equation and you'll understand why SM North ranks as our top IMAX choice. SM North's IMAX cinema also boasts a lounge area complete with couches and a snack bar.
Another bonus for SM Cinemas applicable to all their theaters? Super-convenient mobile ticketing. Globe subscribers can pay and reserve tickets through their cellphones and pay via GCash. Tickets can be personally printed at bCode machines in the cinema complex.
3. Gateway Platinum (Cineplex 10)
Blockbusting feature: Cinema a la burgis: LA-Z boy seats, refreshments, a first class lounge, plus valet service
We thought something as ordinary as movie-going would transcend the lines of social class but we were wrong! Platinum is located at a wing separate from Gateway's other theaters and its appeal doesn't end with its plush LA-Z-Boy recliners, inclusive refreshments, and first-class lounge. Patrons of this cushy cinema are also entitled to the mall's valet service.
Price: P350 (walk-in); P10 fee is charged for reserved tickets
2. Eastwood Ultra 7
Blockbusting feature: LA-Z boy seats and unlimited drinks
With soft LA-Z boy seats that recline all the way, comfort comes easily in Ultra 7. Its stadium-layout, with rows set far from each other, eliminates unnecessary neck-craning and seat-kicking. Just before the film, movie attendants make rounds seat by seat taking orders for popcorn or drinks-refreshments are unlimited, by the way. After that you're all set-just lean back (or lay down), prop your feet up, relax, and enjoy the show.
1. Newport Ultra Cinemas (Cinemas 1 and 2)
Blockbusting feature: The whole enchilada, plus 24-hour screenings on weekends and butler service
Combine almost every amazing feature we've mentioned so far and we have Newport's two crazy-awesome Ultra Cinemas. The seats? Lush, reclining, laid out in pairs, and structured like pods for extra privacy. The legroom? Wide enough for Yao Ming. This setup can assure unobstructed movie-watching all throughout. Added perks? Butler service. Just press the little button in your pod and voila, your personal Alfred can order food for you from nearby establishments. Newport also runs 24-hour screenings on Fridays and Saturdays.
This one doesn't go easy on the pocket, mind you, but if that's the price to pay for the ultimate in cinema satisfaction, we'll take it.