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Towson University

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The Reel Deal

There’s more to going to a movie than just watching the film. Location and atmosphere have a lot to do with the experience as well.

The Charles, located at 1711 North Charles Street, is in a historical building, offering a little atmosphere alongside its unique blend of cinema.

More of an art house than a conventional movie theater, the Charles specializes in foreign, independent and out of print films and offers a little extra on Saturdays and Sundays.

“The selection of independent films there is excellent,” said Daniel Nixon, a fan of the theater. “They had lesser known titles that I could not find at one of the corporate theatres.”

On Saturday the movie house runs what they refer to as revivals, which are showings of classic, out of print films.

And on Sunday mornings they show select films, ranging from documentaries to artistic works, followed by discussion, with breakfast thrown in to boot.

Maybe you can’t see the new Adam Sandler, or Jennifer Lopez, movie at the Charles, but what you will get is a taste of what else is out there.

It was one of the first theaters to showcase the film, The Blair Witch Project in 1999.

“I like that I can see something different at the Charles,” said Colleen Dunn, a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art. “I can go and watch these classic films, in the theater, the way they were originally viewed. It’s a great place to see movies that really explore the more artistic side of film-making”

The Charles offers movie-goers five screens in the 23,000 square foot building, which was once used to store trolley cars over a hundred years ago.

Once a single screen theater, the Charles expanded in 1999 with four smaller screens, the original theater still seats 485.

The theater even offers the same types of amenities you’d see at larger movie houses; besides standard lobby fare you’ll find stadium seating and high quality audio as well.

“This is my first time at the Charles, I heard a lot about this place from people I know, so I decided to check it out,” said Chris Barrett. “I like the way the place is designed, it gives you the feeling you’re in New York or some place like that. I was also surprised to see stadium seats, I just didn’t expect it.”

But what really separates the Charles from any movie house in the city, is the location. The minute you drive down North Charles Street, you get the feeling that you’ve been transported to another place, another city even.

You’re still in Baltimore of course, but you get the feeling that this is the way that Baltimore either was, or the way that it could be.

The area itself is quite beautiful, and although red brick buildings are commonplace in the city, something about the way that they’re laid out gives the impression of so much more.

You can find other theaters in the city that offer the same features as the Charles, but you’d be hard pressed to find one that offers the same type of atmosphere, and the same types of people.
The interior design of the building showcases an art deco sort of flair, and draws the local hipsters and pseudo intellectual types into its lobby.

“The crowd is comprised by lots of younger and thirty something hipsters, as well as artsy-type middle aged peoples,” said Nixon. “The theatre has character, and makes an effort to preserve its original façade.”

Its lobby is filled with chairs and tables, and overhead steel beams meeting the red brick walls give off a definite city feel.

“I like the Historical feel of the place, it’s really beautiful inside” said Melissa Jebber, 28. “It’s a fun atmosphere and is unlike any other movie house I’ve ever been to.”

It’s not the type of theater that is littered with hordes of prepubescent popcorn throwing children, but by the coffee house elite, and the ever-burgeoning artist.

And whether or not you deem yourself to be held in such company, the Charles still has the makings for the ideal night out on the town.

You can plan your day around that short stretch of land, there’s plenty to keep your senses tantalized.

An afternoon or night can consist of a live play or performance at the Everyman Theater, to a little snack at Tapas Teatro, to dinner at the Zodiac.

With a landscape taken straight out of the pages of another time, you’ll find yourself evaporating into its mist, and becoming much more involved in such a small stretch of sidewalk than you could ever imagine.

And that’s the allure of the Charles Theater, that it’s so much more than just a movie house, it’s an integral piece of this stitch of land.

You don’t even have to worry about where you’re going to park the car; a garage across the street has ample space for cheap prices.

The Charles is a place that offers an alternative to what you expect out of going to the movies. It’s a movie house unlike any other.

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