How to support Boston’s independent movie theaters

November 11, 2020 | Devon Whitney


Illustration by leia chao

I miss going to the movies. I miss ordering a huge, shareable soda and turning off my phone. I miss the previews, the anticipation, the art! I miss the reemergence into the shocking daylight, or the chilly winter night air, and running to the car to discuss. The movies are a place where we can come together and focus on just the story unfolding before us— moments that are harder to find lately


While some chain movie theaters (AMC and Landmark) are open for live screenings in limited capacity and with COVID precautions in place, independent movie theaters in the Boston area have faced their own challenges with reopening.These theaters are located in the sweetest areas to walk around, grab a bite, and make a day or an evening of going to the movies, and hopefully we get the chance to do those things again soon. Until then, the staff of these theaters have created some fun and innovative ways to support them. 

Coolidge Corner Theatre 


Coolidge Corner Theatre, situated in (you guessed it) Coolidge Corner of Brookline, is a nonprofit, independent cinema that’s been going strong since 1933. I can’t stress enough how excited I am to visit them again when they reopen, but until then: 


  1. Check out their virtual screening room, where you can rent films curated by Coolidge staff that can be watched at any time of day. (If you have a projector, or perhaps a friend in your distancing bubble does… you know what to do). 

  2. Attend an outdoor screening! Go see this (frankly, terrifying) showing of Friday the 13th and its sequel, on Friday the 13th, in the woods. This double feature event will be held in the Rocky Woods nature preserve in Medfield, about 30 minutes outside of Boston, and tickets are going for $60 a seat. Or, check out this 6pm drive-in showing of Knives Out, on Friday, Nov. 20 and Saturday, Nov. 21 near Medfield State Hospital where parts of the movie were filmed. There will be, and I repeat, an ice cream truck. Tickets are sold at $60 per vehicle. Click the links for more info and secure your tickets!

  3. Buy a limited edition T-Shirt! 

  4. The holidays are coming, and a perfect gift to give may be a Coolidge Curated movie list! Coolidge staff will curate a list of three movies just for you on your streaming service of choice!

  5. Make a one-time donation, become a monthly donor, or even create your own fundraiser for Coolidge Corner Theatre. 

  6. Lastly, you could even rent the movie theater for up to 24 of your friends to enjoy a private screening, with masks, of course. If you choose to do this, make sure to follow their guidelines and be conscious of COVID safety!


Illustration by leia chao

The Brattle Theatre 


The Brattle Theatre is located in a quaint brick building in Cambridge near Harvard Square, dedicated to the “[celebration of] film as a popular and fine art form” and the showing of essential, independent films that can’t be found at huge chain movie theaters. While they are preparing to reopen in a very limited capacity, there are other ways to support them in the meantime. Like Coolidge, the Brattle has a virtual screening room with an exciting selection of films that we won’t find on Netflix. 


Purchase gift cards and merchandise here, or make a donation here, or even rent the Brattle here. With a group of up to 20 people, though if you bring more than 10, you will be required to sit apart from one another in the theater, you can host a private screening for $350, and even preorder concessions to be waiting for you when you arrive. If you’re staying in Boston over Thanksgiving break, maybe you can splurge on a small, safe, Friendsgiving movie date at the Brattle Theatre. 


Oh! And for the film lovers out there, the Brattle has a podcast!


The Somerville Theatre 


The Somerville Theatre, in Davis Square, hosts on its 2 stages, not only great films, but live performances too.  On their website, you can find their virtual cinema of independent films, or buy a gift card for your movie loving relative. 


Art can be a necessary escape from, or way to process the state of the world, which may seem very weighty and scary right now. I have loved holing up with my family and friends watching movies at home with some stove-popped popcorn, but I can’t wait to go back to the movies. When it’s safe and possible for them to reopen, these local, independent theaters should still be standing. So the next time you go to browse Netflix or Amazon Prime for a movie, perhaps explore one of these three virtual screening rooms instead!