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A trip to a massive multiplex has its benefits—oversized tubs of buttered popcorn, enormous screens, abundant parking. But when it comes to a proper cinematic experience, smaller is nearly always better, and in recent years cinephiles have opted for private cinemas that offer exclusive movie-going experiences.

Paris—home to no fewer than three unique, intimately sized theaters—leads the charge in terms of sheer creativity. David Lynch designed Silencio, a quirky club in the Montmartre district that is open to members and non-members alike. And Germain Paradisio, a colorful, chilled-out underground lounge, hosts up to 25 guests for showings of new releases and restored classics.

Hotels have gotten in on the act, adding screening rooms to their lists of amenities. The Alpina Gstaad, a chalet-style hotel in Switzerland, created a subterranean theater where guests can screen their own video after a day spent skiing on the slopes. New York’s Tribeca Grand live-airs popular TV shows like Mad Men in the evenings; the theater itself sits on a suspended concrete slab, which insulates the room from the rumbles of the subway that runs directly underneath it.

It’s even possible to rent a theater in the heart of Hollywood at the headquarters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Its 1,000-seat Samuel Goldwyn Theater can be booked privately for large-scale screenings—Oscar statuettes not included.


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