Moviegoers in Central Arkansas have a pretty good selection when it comes to theaters. Would we all love to have an Alamo Drafthouse-style temple to cinema, offering a steady flow of the most anticipated indie films, augmented with a top-notch menu, adult drinks and tons of special events? Hell, yes. But for a market of Little Rock's size, film buffs can do all right. Within a short drive, you could take in a matinee of a beautiful, no-budget art-house flick at Market Street and still make that 7:45 showing of the latest Michael Bay explode-a-thon to get your face melted off in IMAX 3D with bazillion-watt Dolby Digital sound at Chenal 9. So let us not bemoan our cinema station (too much, anyway). Let us be thankful for the options we do have.
Cinemark Tandy 10: Yeah, it smells kinda like 100-year-old popcorn. The seats are cramped for the long-legged and/or wide-bottomed, and the movies are long past "Coming Soon." But in a world where movie tickets routinely run upward of $10 bucks, can you really complain about seeing a flick in a movie theater for less than the price of gallon of gasoline? $1.50 for weekday evenings and matinees, $1 all day Tuesday, $1 Monday for seniors, $2 Friday and Saturday, $2 extra for 3D. 4188 McCain Blvd., 945-0169, www.cinemark.com.
Dickinson Chenal 9 IMAX: While it might be too far out west to appeal to some folks, this theater offers a clean, pleasant experience. It also helps that Chenal 9 is the city's last remaining place to go if you want the humungo-screen IMAX experience. One deal that might draw those who don't live in the area is the Power Hour. Every day from 4 p.m.-5 p.m., tickets are $5 for standard screenings and $8 for 3D and IMAX. Otherwise, tickets are $10.25, $8.25 for matinees and $7.75 for seniors and children. Offers stadium-style seating, DLP screens and the area's only IMAX 3D screen. 17825 Chenal Parkway, 821-2616, www.dtmovies.com.
Lakewood 8: Another good choice for a quick and convenient night out is the Lakewood 8 theater in North Little Rock. Situated just a few hundred yards from popular restaurants like Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Corky's Barbecue, Chili's, The Olive Garden, Red Lobster and TGIFridays, it's easy to catch a quick meal before dropping into the theater for a show, especially if time is of the essence because the babysitter's meter is running back at the homestead. Shows first-run Hollywood releases. General admission ranges from $7.25 to $9.25 for standard films, $10.25-$12.25 for 3D flicks. 2939 Lakewood Village, NLR, 758-5354, www.fandango.com.
Market Street Cinema: The movie-going experience at Market Street Cinema might cause one to recall the phrase, "You have to suffer for your art." The theaters there are small and/or narrow, and usually warmer than most folks would like in the summertime and colder than is comfy in winter. The sound is often fairly terrible and the films out of focus. The box office and snack bar only take cash. But you won't see the films being screened at Market Street anywhere else in Little Rock, so what's a little discomfort? With beer and wine. General admission $8, matinee $6. No debit or credit cards accepted. Five screens. 1504 Merrill Drive, 312-8900, www.marketstreetcinema.net.
Rave Colonel Glenn 18: Big, flashy, shiny, clean, always comfortable and still relatively new, it's apparently the theater of choice for every human being on the planet, judging from how packed the parking lot gets. Most Friday and Saturday nights find the crowds for new films lined out the door, with some of the big summer blockbuster showings sold out ahead of time. But sometimes, choosing a theater is all about the spectacle, and Rave delivers on that for sure, from the neon to the polished entryway. General admission ranges from $7.25 to $9.25. 3D movies range from $10.25-$12.25. 18 Colonel Glenn Road (at I-430), 687-0499, www.ravemotionpictures.com.
Riverdale 10: Situated on Cantrell Road between the Heights and downtown, with reasonable deals at the concession stand, relatively low ticket prices, and screenings often sparsely attended except for blockbusters on opening weekend, Riverdale is kind of the perfect date night theater for all but those looking to impress their squeeze by throwing around money. To boot, it's one of the last independent theaters in town, so you know your hard-earned dough is staying in Little Rock. In addition to first-run Hollywood releases, the theater also hosts special events. General admission ranges from $6 to $7.50. $6 daily matinees. 2600 Cantrell Road, Riverdale Shopping Center, 296-9955, www.riverdale10.com.
UA Breckenridge Village 12: On the surface, Breckenridge 12 looks a whole lot like other theaters in the area: an older theater with some updates, ticket prices on par with competitors, and highway robbery at the snack bar. But there are deals to be had, e.g., the Tuesday night special, which features tickets to all the films it's currently showing — from just-released blockbusters, to stuff that some might want to catch again — for only $5 bucks each. To boot, it offers the same $5 deal every day for all films starting between 4 and 6 p.m. The theater also shows filmed performances of The Metropolitan Opera. General admission ranges from $7.25 to $9.25, 1200 Breckenridge Drive, I-430 and Rodney Parham, 224-0992, www.fandango.com.