Palmetto Grande 16
Mt. Pleasant. 1319 Theater Dr. 216-8696
How did the human race ever survive going to the movies without stadium seating and built-in cup holders? Sure, we did without them for decades, but today's kids complain to their parents when they don't have a place right there on the end of their armrests to put their sugary sodas. Perhaps this helps explain why Palmetto Grande, a massive mega-cineplex run by national chain Consolidated Theaters, has won Best Movie Theatre (or Best Blockbuster Movie Theatre) since it opened in 2000.
In 1999 we introduced the Best Art House Movie Theatre category, which The Roxy -- the musty old indie-minded cinema at 245 East Bay St. (where Earthling Day Spa is today) -- dominated until it closed in 2002, even though The Terrace Theater on James Island had been open since 1997. The Roxy may have had uncomfortable seats and no drink holders, but when downtown dwellers wanted to see a movie, they could actually walk to the movies (and grab a drink or a snack afterwards), and there was the added bonus of friendly, knowledgeable staff who were actually interested in what movie you were going to see. (We retired the Best Art House category in 2004, after the Roxy closed, at least until somebody opens a second art house cinema somewhere in town.)
The last vestige of downtown moviegoing, the American Theater, stopped showing flicks on a regular basis two years ago, and with downtown retail space leasing and selling at premiums even Orson Welles would recoil from, it looks like peninsular cinephiles will have to allot an extra 10-15 minutes of movie-night drive time for the foreseeable future. But is comfort worth it?