The movie theater experience seems to be in flux. While there is an appeal to visiting the theater with the more recent Savannah weather patterns — smoldering heat one day and rains leading to flooding downtown the next — one would assume there is still an audience to head out to the megaplex to catch the latest blockbuster offering.

In the film industry today, the term “experience” has made its mark on the movie theater with reclining seats, food served while the film plays and even one California theater offering a playground for kids while parents watch a movie. When it comes to the actual film, “experience” is defined by long, bombastic blockbusters from Marvel, Disney, Warner Bros. and more — trying to sway your mind about going with larger explosions and big stars rather than sustaining a competent product.

Enter Montage Cinemas — Savannah’s latest movie haven and a possible work around to the long-time problems of establishing a movie fans paradise in downtown Savannah.

 

Conceived by recent Savannah resident Mason Bourdeau, the idea sprung to him when he moved to Savannah and realized it lacked a more niche market that is easily provided in bigger cities such as Atlanta or Jacksonville, Mason’s home prior to the Hostess City. It isn’t like desire is in short supply — visit any showing for the Psychotronic Film Society, SCAD Cinema Circle or CinemaSavannah and you see a devoted audience clamoring for under seen or foreign offerings.

“Even if you go to a good theater (in Savannah), you still can’t see (a niche) movie,” Bourdeau said. “It’s something I noticed because for myself, everything else in Savannah is so cool and I started speaking with people and I quickly learned I wasn’t the only person who felt that.”

Montage brings the best sense of the word experience and even includes an interaction with the community. A recent screening of 1969’s “Easy Rider” took place at The Atlantic, which offered a specially curated menu for the screening, and included motorcycles on the outside of the set-up. Before that, they screened 1975’s “Jaws” at Bull Street Taco and allowed viewers to sit in kiddie pools to feel the water while watching the movie.

This integration of movies people want to watch, a little bit of panache to add to the experience and a local restaurant offering a specialized menu creates a unique atmosphere that Savannah hasn’t really seen. “Movie theaters are one of the only industries that haven’t been disrupted,” Bourdeau said. “Uber is taking over taxis, AirBnB with hotels...theaters are still the same as they were, but with less people going now.”

It’s true. A report by Bloomberg this year found that movie theater attendance in the United States and Canada fell to its lowest point since 1992 in 2017 with Box Office Mojo estimating that theaters brought in $1.24 billion tickets — a drop off of 5.8 percent from 2016.

 

 

 

 

Which is why Montage Cinemas make so much sense. It offers audiences a better definition of an “experience” than a theater can provide, and allows you to visit some local spots you may have not gotten around to otherwise. “If it’s a throwback, you can’t go watch that in the movie theater. I mean, you could watch “Jaws” in theaters but even still...like the Pooler theater was showing “Jaws” on the Fourth of July. It’s kind of weird to spend the Fourth of July inside the theater while we are outdoors with the kiddie pools, it makes it fun,” Bourdeau said.

Bourdeau says an actual brick-and-mortar theater located in the Starland District is the ultimate goal he and his team have in mind, but right now, Montage is working and is something they want to continue to grow. "I hope people come out, continue to share it because that's the goal," Bourdeau said.

To keep up with Montage, follow them on Facebook and Instagram where they post locations, dates and times for each showing.