The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Don’t let the little cinemas die

Molly Parker

During lockdown, I remember dreaming about one day being able to see movies on the big screen, surrounded by friends, family and members of the community.

I couldn’t wait until it was safe for cinemas to reopen and for new movies to start coming out again.

Now, everything is “back to normal” and movie theaters are back open, but audiences have been slow to return.  

Sure, we’ll go to the blockbusters.

“Barbenheimer” more than proved that with “Barbie” becoming the highest-grossing female-directed film of all time, according to an Aug. 11 Hollywood Reporter article, and its counterpart, “Oppenheimer,” also filling its fair share of seats.

But non-blockbusters aren’t receiving the same treatment, a trend which has led studios to give fewer films a wide release and leaving some to wonder if it’s even financially viable for cinemas to show anything but the latest Marvel movie, according to a Jan. 19 article in CNET.

As a pretentious film-nerd and frequent Letterboxd user who agrees with Scorcese’s now notorious take on Marvel movies, I lament the loss of the “little” movie. 

There has been much debate surrounding the looming death of cinema, with some arguing that this simply represents a new evolution in the industry. 

The drought has motivated many movie theaters—especially big chains like AMC and Cinemark—to upgrade, from better technology to comfier seats, according to a Feb. 25 CNBC article.

But the already-struggling little cinemas and smaller regional chains can’t be expected to keep up. 

When I heard my favorite movie theater from home, Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas in New Haven, Connecticut would be closing after Oct. 12, I was inconsolable. 

Bow Tie’s closing marks the death of the last cinema in New Haven, according to an Aug. 2 article in the New Haven Independent.

I talked to a friend from home, a first-year at Yale University, Rhea McTiernan Huge, about her take on the situation. 

She lamented the closing of Bow Tie. “I don’t have a car and it’s so convenient to be able to walk to the movie theater,” McTiernan Huge said.

“Seeing a film in theaters is an experience that you’re sharing with all these people,” she said. “Watching a movie on your laptop isn’t an experience.” 

“Think of all the first dates that aren’t going to happen,” McTiernan Huge said. “This is why our generation is having less sex.” 

McTiernan Huge highlights a slightly obvious, but crucial aspect of the importance of seeing movies in theaters: it’s something to do with friends. 

Luckily for us UVM students, our local movie theater, Merrill’s Roxy Cinema, is still going strong. Through the Cats at the Movies program, students even have the opportunity to see movies at the Roxy for free, according to UVM Bored.

Cats at the Movies tickets are available Monday morning after 8 a.m. and Wednesday starting at noon from the Department of Student Life, which can be found on the third floor of the Davis Center.  

These vouchers can be redeemed at any movie after 6 p.m. from Thursday to Saturday night.

I feel so grateful that we have this program and think more people need to be taking advantage of the opportunity to see new movies completely free. I used my Cats at the Movies ticket to see “Bottoms” with my roommate just last week.

The best part is you don’t have to use your ticket the same week—they’re valid for the entire semester. 

In order to understand more about the Cats at the Movies program, I spoke with Madeleine Aborn, the assistant director for Campus Programs in the Department of Student Life. 

Aborn emphasized the longevity of the program.

“It’s been going on for years,” she said. “It’s a beloved tradition.”

She described some of the various goals of the program. 

“I’ve heard many different reasons over the years, ranging from giving students something to do on the weekends, getting students off campus and into downtown, supporting local business, reducing the number of on-campus movies we have to show,” she said.

“Sometimes we have a hard time getting students to show up when we’re showing them [movies] here, because by the time we can get the rights to show a movie here, it’s already streaming somewhere,” Aborn said. 

“Whereas going to Cats at the Movies, you have access to movies, at the Roxy, that obviously aren’t out on streaming, which I think makes it a bit more novel,” she continued.

Less than half of the tickets distributed last year were redeemed, according to Aborn. 

“Last year, over the whole year, we distributed 2792 tickets and about 1500 tickets were redeemed,” she said.

She continued, “already this year we’ve handed out over 600 tickets.” 

But the redemption rate isn’t much of a problem for either party involved. 

“We negotiate upfront a set number of tickets, and if fewer people go and redeem the ticket then we get a credit for the next semester,” Aborn said.

She added that if more people go than they expect, the Roxy simply bills UVM for the difference.

Aborn went on to summarize the mutualistic relationship between UVM and the Roxy.

“It’s really flexible for us, we’re only getting charged for what students actually use and it’s great for the Roxy because they might get more people than they thought.”

So, if you’re not sure what to do this weekend, swing by the Department of Student Life on Monday or Wednesday for your Cats at the Movies ticket. See a new movie with friends and support local business, all without spending a buck. 

I know I’m excited to redeem my Cats at the Movies ticket for the Eras Tour movie this weekend. 


More to Discover
About the Contributors
Ayelet Kaminski
Ayelet Kaminski, Opinion Editor
(She/her) Ayelet Kaminski is a sophomore microbiology major and psychology minor from New Haven, CT. She started at the Cynic as a columnist in the fall of 2022 and quickly fell in love with the opinion section. In her free time, Ayelet enjoys glassblowing, reading and linocutting. Email [email protected] to get in contact with Ayelet.
Molly Parker
Molly Parker, Illustrations Editor
(She/her) Molly Parker is a senior studio art and anthropology double major from Hopedale, Mass. She had been a member of the illustrations team since the spring of 2020 before becoming editor of the section in the spring of 2023. Molly also creates prints and zines that she displays in the Burlington area as well as her hometown. Apart from illustrating and creating art, she loves watching horror movies, cooking and crocheting. Email [email protected] to get in contact with Molly.