The Parkway Speakeasy Theater

8 Sep

This weekend, I freaked out a bit when I realized I still hadn’t seen The Dark Knight, especially since everyone I know has seen it twice. So last night I coaxed my girlfriend into seeing it with me a second time at the Parkway Speakeasy Theater.

There are lots of options for movies in Oakland, but none are anything like the Parkway. Movies there are cheap ($5), but seeing a movie is only half the reason to go. Visiting the Parkway is kind of like going to a friend’s house, assuming you have a friend that has dozens of couches, a huge screen, and provides you with pizza, beer and popcorn.

We arrived early and my girlfriend snagged a couch while I bought us some pints and nachos. They have several great beers on tap and the food is what you’d expect – greasy, salty, and perfect for munching on during a movie.

The Dark Knight was as good as I’d been told, though Batman Begins is still my favorite in the series. The crowds at the Parkway are often a bit rowdy (especially when they’re showing cult films or really bad horror movies), but most of the crowd was quiet last night. There was one man in the back though who laughed insanely during some of the Joker scenes, which jarred me more than a little, especially thinking about Heath Ledger’s death.

The Dark Knight’s playing for the rest of the week so if you’re one of the last few people on earth who has yet to see it, I encourage you to head down there. When you go, here are some suggestions:

  1. Arrive a half hour before the movie starts to save a couch and get food. If it’s Wednesday, which is two-for-one night, you might want to arrive even earlier or purchase tickets ahead of time – those shows almost always sell out.
  2. Order some kind of food or beverage – that’s half the fun, and unlike most movie theater food, the food at the Parkway’s good and not very overpriced.
  3. Don’t order the nachos if you’re watching a movie you want to pay attention too. The nachos were yummy, but really hard to eat while trying to focus on all the action sequences. Pizza’s a much better choice.

If you’ve been meaning to go to the Parkway, but haven’t quite made it there yet, there are some great opportunities coming up. They’ll be showing all three presidential debates and the vice presidential debate at the theater for FREE! Show up early though, as I’m sure these will be popular events. I can’t wait to shout at McCain and Palin with my fellow Oaklanders, while drinking a pint and muching on some popcorn.
1834 Park Blvd., Oakland, CA 94606
Nightime shows Tuesday-Sunday and matinees on the weekends
(Nightime shows are 21+; matinees are all ages)
Accessible by AC Transit lines 18 & 14; also a bit of a long walk from the Lake Merritt BART station

Debate viewing info:
September 26, October 7, and October 15
as well as the VP DEBATE:
Thursday October 2
on our all of big screens, at both theaters, 18 and over, doors open 5:30.
Admission: Free, first come, first served!

(I consider seeing a movie at the Parkway Speakeasy Theater to be an essential Oakland experience. Read about other essential Oakland experiences here.)

3 Responses to “The Parkway Speakeasy Theater”

  1. Mary September 8, 2008 at 10:23 am #

    Other advice:
    When it’s really hot out, go for movies in Theater 1.
    Don’t order pre-made pizza, get something even slightly custom, for freshness.

    I used to live near the Parkway before I knew how good it was. Now that I live farther away, I go more often . . . live and learn.

    I like it best for really glorious movies, like the Princess Bride, or Moulin Rouge. I’d love to see Galaxy Quest there.

    Also, I will probably go there for debates, woot.

    Buy food and drinks at the debates so the Parkway gets some money for it!

  2. V Smoothe September 8, 2008 at 11:30 am #

    I have still not seen the Dark Knight, and I don’t think I’ve been to the Parkway in at least a year. I will try to remedy both of those problems this week.

  3. Elizabeth January 21, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    Unfortunately, the Parkway closed. It was very sad.

    But another “Essential Oakland” experience should be to go to the Paramount! It’s a gorgeous art deco building, and it hosts fun “classic movie nights” that are a cheap night out in one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever been in.

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