By Wes O’Donnell
Maybe I’m a romantic, but there is something magical about the shared cultural experience of seeing a movie in a movie theater.
Our entire civilization revolves around stories: Books, movies, TV shows, and video games – humans are captivated by a good story. We love to be taken on a journey by a gifted storyteller, and it feels even more impactful when that story is shared in the communal environs of a theater.
And yet, the global Coronavirus pandemic has tested the finances of even the most corporatized of movie theater chains. Combined with Warner Bros.’ announcement that they would be releasing their entire 2021 slate simultaneously via streaming on HBO Max, and a similar move by Disney+, it’s understandable that many independent theater owners struggle to break even.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to support our local independent movie theaters.
Dinner and a Movie
My first experience with a movie theater that also served dinner was a massive multi-screen monster of a retro-styled movie theater called The Warren in Moore, Oklahoma. Previously independent, founder Bill Warren sold ownership of all Warren Theatres locations to Regal Entertainment Group in 2017. What a shame.
But the premise struck me as brilliant: Serve high-quality food and drinks, including more lively beverages, to guests as they are watching the film!
After moving to Michigan from Dallas in 2014, I sought a theater experience on par with Bill Warren’s expert execution of the dinner-movie combo. That’s why I was ecstatic to stumble on Sperry’s Moviehouse in Holland.
Sperry’s is a bespoke experience seemingly handcrafted for the aging millennial and her family. Complete with kid-friendly auditoriums, this theater aims to be the antithesis of pizza delivery and home streaming.
Oh, by the way, they have the most comfortable theater seats in the western hemisphere. Seriously…
But it’s not just millennials who are welcome here. Sperry’s understands the power of sharing an emotional connection with complete strangers, via the language of cinema, in an auditorium. It’s almost as if our emotions are heightened when people laugh together, cry together, or get a jump scare at just the right moment together. This makes the Sperry’s “experience” accessible to Michiganders of all ages.
So, how did Sperry’s score?
The average movie ticket price in America for a single adult is $13.69. Two adults at Sperry’s cost me twenty quid. The price is well under Sperry’s competitors and worth it.
Some of the friendliest young people you will encounter in West Michigan. They practically fell over themselves trying to serve us.
Great cheeseburger and fries. Nothing exotic, but then again, who wants a five-course meal when they’re trying to watch a movie?
Smaller auditoriums contribute to an intimate experience. Sound and screen top notch. I like my films loud. As mentioned above, the theater seating is sublime. It’s going to be very hard going back to a “normal” movie theater seat after sitting in a Sperry’s seat. The entire theater was super clean, an essential metric in the era of global pandemics. Speaking of clean, do the employees a favor and pick up your trash, folks!
That’s a Wrap
As a Grand Haven resident, Holland, Michigan is quickly becoming my favorite date night destination. With Sperry’s Moviehouse, downtown Holland just became that much more attractive. Holland’s abundant free parking makes it even less of a chore to spend my hard-earned dollars at Holland businesses.
Like many Michiganders, I want local businesses to succeed. More so, I want independent movie theaters to thrive. Being independent in today’s challenging environment is a badge of honor.
I come from a long line of theater owners and exhibitors. Movies are in my blood. And movie theaters bore witness to some of the most significant events of my life. Sperry’s brought back that feeling of nostalgia that I had been missing while stuck at home throughout 2020.
And for that, I thank Sperry’s Moviehouse for being a comfortable venue to experience the next great story.