Review: The Manor Theatre in Squirrel Hill
I’m new to Pittsburgh. That is something you should know. Everything you see everyday, take for granted, or pass by because it has always been there, I’m seeing with fresh (often frustrated) eyes. The things you assume everyone knows, I don’t. But I’m learning. And the first thing I wanted to experience in Pittsburgh was Batman.
Why Batman? Because the film was partially filmed right here in the Burgh. And because the recent Bat trilogy has been awesome. My wife and I both loved the first two films. Oh yeah. I have a wife. She is a Badass. I did some Googling. The nearest showing of Batman was at Manor Theatre on Murray Avenue, Squirrel Hill at 3:40 pm. And according to the website there was a bar on premises. Sold.
I like matinees for two reasons. First, I’m still job hunting in a new city which means I need to be a bit frugal. Second there are usually less people. The only bad thing about going to the movies is having to deal with other people. Crunching on food, crinkling of wrappers, answering cell phones, and my favorite – relaying the details of the plot in a not so hushed whisper to the person next to them who either has trouble hearing or keeping up.
Getting to the theatre, like getting anywhere in the city, was treacherous. Traffic was backed up at every light and moving was slow. Manor is at a particularly busy shopping intersection in Squirrel Hill (Murray and Forbes) and it seemed like everyone and their brother was out getting ice cream or changing their cell phone plan or something. No one was considerately getting out of the way. Be warned. If you’re the type of person who is always late and misses the previews leave even earlier than normal and you’ll get there just as late.
There is a great retro looking sign out front that I bet is actually old. The lobby entrance was fairly small. Classy feeling and a ticket taker who appeared to know what they were doing. Did I mention the price? $6.75. $6.75! Is it 1994? Incredible. We went to Moonrise Kingdom in Madison a few weeks ago and it was $26.00 for two. I wouldn’t even go to a movie in Chicago or New York because often times the theater was infested with rats and it would cost even more. I’ve done the research, and the movies in Pittsburgh are the cheapest I’ve seen. You should go and support your local theater. At that price you could go see Batman twice.
Once we had our tickets we were accosted/greeted by an old man. I say accosted because I didn’t know he worked there at first. He was snappily dressed in a blazer, slacks and some shiny shoes. I thought he was trying to hold my hand but he was just reaching for the tickets. He tore them in half and escorted us towards the concessions area all the while chatting about the film and about Batman being a piece of Americana. He was very charming, and it was confusing to be interacting with a movie theatre employee who wasn’t A. 12 years old or B. utterly disinterested in my existence unless I requested extra butter. The customers behind us must have already known the drill since they stood just inside the main room and waited for him to return.
The main room had no intricate mazes leading down dark tunnels to get to your screening room. Just concessions up a slight incline and on your right and screening rooms on the left or down one well lit hallway. Prices were up-charged but not so dramatically we felt we were being asked to turn around and bend over when purchasing popcorn and a soda. The bar, the glorious bar, was in the far right corner past concessions. It was small, glossy black and softly lit. A drink menu advertised a list of fancy martini’s and cocktails at fancy martini and cocktail prices ($7-10). A good way to impress a date I’d imagine but not so realistic for a relaxed afternoon film. Then I saw the specials board. “$2.50 PBR” it said. I can’t be sure but somewhere Hipster Jesus was smiling down upon us. Fancy and affordable. That’s a bar I can get behind.
The theater room itself was narrow with an aisle right down the middle and a half dozen uber-comfortable reclining chairs angled slightly on either side. You enter from the back. There is no stadium seating or center row of middle seats which was a downer but not a deal breaker. The screen was plenty big and the sound quality excellent. Even Bane’s muffled speeches were understandable. Like many movie houses it was cold as balls in there. If you don’t want to nip out, bring a light coat or Burgh Verified hoodie. The biggest negative is that a lot of the rows were a complete mess. Spilled sodas and garbage. Which was weird since this was the first listed show of the day. Someone needs to get on that cleaning crew.
Outside, after the movie, the first thing my wife said to me was, “It would have been so easy to sneak our own snacks in there.” Which was true. There was nothing (and no one) to prevent you from bringing in a can of soda and some gummy bears in a purse or cargo shorts pocket. Hell, more than a dozen Batman goers brought backpacks, and I’m pretty sure I saw one lady with a bottle of wine sticking out of a shoulder bag! As a lover of not overspending I’d usually advocate the carry-in. However, this theater exudes its old world charm not just through the architecture but through the sincerity of its employees and (relatively) reasonable prices. From the smiling ticket givers and concessions employees to the sweet gentleman who escorted us the 15 feet from the entrance to the main room there didn’t seem to be anyone who wanted to see us max out our movie budget in one fell swoop, or didn’t care that we were there at all. That, combined with the updated technology and comfy seats make The Manor a great place to see a movie, and not the kind of place that inspires the need to sneak in your own snacks just to feel like you aren’t getting screwed.
Batman is awesome.
- Old World charm but New World technology and amenities.
- Affordable prices for movie and concessions.
- They have a bar. With alcohol.
- Parking is available near by but getting there can be a pain in the..
- Easy to sneak snacks in. But do you really want to?
- Great staff experience.
The minus was only because of how the seating layout in the theater was set up. Being able to sit in the back row center against the wall is one of my great movie going joys. That and the messy floor in the theater.
I’m looking forward to getting to know you Pittsburgh.