The Best Movie Theaters in Houston, According to a Local Film Critic

Like someone who’s seen movies in Houston For most of my life I have seen many theaters come and go in this city.

I remember when this town was populated with small movie theaters (usually attached to a mall) of all the big chains: AMC, General Cinema, Loews, Cineplex Odeon.

I remember when the 14-screen AMC Meyer Park and the three-story Cineplex Odeon Spectrum (with its THX-equipped auditoriums, ready to rock your eardrums) were considered prime film destinations of the late ’80s.

I even remember when megaplexes began to take over in the late 90swith their more than 20 theaters filled with stadium seats.

If COVID-19 hasn’t scared you to the point that you’ve decided to stay home and watch every streaming service you subscribe to, there are still multiplexes open and ready to screen the latest blockbusters for your most great pleasure.

Here’s a list of six multiplexes (and one museum) that get this movie critic’s stamp of approval for a night at the movies.

Regal Edwards Greenway Grand Palace ScreenX & RPX and Regal Edwards Houston Mark*E ScreenX, 4DX, IMAX & RPX

Over 20 years ago, these two multiplexes popped up and became top destinations for moviegoers in and around the Loop. (Some people can’t even make out the theaters; I’ve told friends to meet me at the Grand Palace in Upper Kirby and they instinctively head to Marq*E near Spring Branch — and vice versa.)

While both have upgraded auditoriums like the giant-screen RPX, seat-hopping 4DX, and versatile ScreenX theaters, the Marq*E has the only legitimate IMAX auditorium in town. (Sorry, AMC Gulf Pointe 30.) The Grand Palace may not have IMAX, but they do have a bar on the first floor. So that’s something.

Serves drinks: only the Grand Palace has a bar.

AMC Gulf Pointe 30

For those of you still upset with AMC Studio 30 closed its doors about a year agoyou can always head to its equivalent Almeda-Genoa.

Opened shortly after Studio opened in 1997, Gulf Pointe still has its cheesy but cute solar system decor, plus those four huge auditoriums out front (including a stunning Dolby Cinema auditorium).

But, the lobby now has a busy concession stand, stocked with vending machines selling soft drinks and hella snacks that you can grab yourself and pay for at the counter.

Serves drinks: Yes, there is a bar.

IPIC Houston Theaters

Of all the fancy theaters in this city, the one in River Oaks is indeed the fanciest.

Tickets are expensive, but you can watch a movie (even Netflix and Amazon Prime ones that come out a few weeks before they air) in one of these recliners while they serve you food. They even give you a blanket!

They have a luxury restaurant and a bar where you can dine before the film. Even the bathrooms are glorious as hell!

Serves Drinks: Yes, they don’t call it “wine and dine” for nothing.

AMC Houston 8

Maybe it’s because I still remember the good old days when this downtown multiplex was an arthouse staple.

It first opened as the Angelika Film Center & Cafe in 1997. Then it became Sundance Cinemas in 2011. Now it’s another fancy place where you can order food and drinks while watching the latest Marvel movie.

If you live in or near downtown and don’t want to venture far to see a movie, this Bayou Place cinema is your best bet.

Serves drinks: Yes, there is a bar.

Alamo Drafthouse LaCenterra Cinema

If you want to venture all the way out to see a movie, put a bunch of gas in your car and head to this hipster movie heaven in Katy. Part of the Austin-based chain of foodie multiplexes, this movie theater has a bar stocked with a slew of beers on tap. As for movies, apart from showing new releases, they also have special screenings of beloved movies where you can sing along, have brunch with a special menu during it, or just have a great movie night.

Serves drinks: You already know that.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

I just have to commend the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and its Brown Auditorium for keeping repertoire programming alive and kicking in this city. While the aforementioned spots hit us with the latest studio releases, the MFAH screens classic films, foreign films, and other offbeat selections, either digitally or on good old 35mm film.

And since the museum recently opened the Lynn Wyatt Theatre, there are now of them auditoriums ready to roll out cinematic gold.

Serves drinks: no.

Gladys T. Hensley