Glad to see movies return in Alpena

I can still remember the first movie I ever saw in Alpena.

It was August 2010. I’d lived in town maybe a week and I was excited as I sat in the State Theater to catch a showing of “The Other Guys,” a buddy cop movie starring Will Farrell and Mark Wahlberg that remains one of my favorite comedies to this day.

I felt a similar feeling of excitement last weekend the minute I stepped inside Alpena’s new Sanctuary Cinema and was greeted by the smell of fresh popcorn.

It wasn’t so much for the movie itself — “The Little Mermaid” was the movie de jour for my wife, my mother-in-law, and me. The movie wasn’t bad, but I’d have preferred to see the newest “Guardians of the Galaxy,” instead.

No, the excitement I felt was for the realization that Alpena finally has a movie theater again.

In December 2019, I dashed across the street from The News office after a night of work to the former State Theater to catch a late-night showing of “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker” just a few days before Christmas.

I didn’t know at the time that that would be the last movie I’d see there or at the former Royal Knight Theater for a long time.

Heck, besides a trip to Gaylord in the fall of 2020 to see a movie I really, really wanted to see, it was the only movie I saw in theaters for the better part of three years.

A movie theater has been sorely missed in Alpena, and I’m glad one exists again, because the former State Theater and Royal Knight Theater were the sites of some great memories.

A few coworkers and I once visited Royal Knight after work to catch a midnight showing of a Batman movie. More than a few times, I enjoyed being the only person in the theater for an afternoon showing of the latest Marvel movie.

The new theater has understandably been a hot conversion topic, and I’ve told people around town that a movie theater of any kind would be welcome. But what Jeff Konczak and his team created at the Sanctuary Cinema is truly amazing.

Downtown Alpena’s newest attraction has all the bells and whistles of a big-city theater to offer an enjoyable and memorable experience — one that I hope to enjoy with some regularity.

Streaming services have made movie-watching incredibly convenient in recent years, and, between all of the streaming platforms, you can find just about any movie or TV show you’re looking for.

But there’s just something about watching in a theater that’s tough to beat.

Maybe it’s the excitement of waiting for a long-awaited movie release on the big screen and sharing that feeling with other theater-goers. Or maybe it’s because it’s the only time you might find yourself eating a pretzel with cheese, a box of Junior Mints, and a bag of popcorn in one sitting.

But, mostly, I think it’s the memories: Remembering where you were and how excited you felt when you saw a particular movie, who you saw a movie with, perhaps a movie that you went to see more than once.

So bring on the superhero movies and the action films, the dramas and the animated films, and the comedies.

I’ll be kicked back at the Sanctuary Cinema in a plush chair, with popcorn in hand.

James Andersen can be reached at 989-358-5686 or jandersen@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.


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