If you are a film lover looking for a bit of big-screen escapism, the Sacramento region offers plenty of alternatives to corporate and sometimes soulless multiplexes.
These theaters include historic movie palaces as well as a small foothills art house that feels like someone's very cool screening room.
These stalwart venues have withstood threats from television, multiplexes and from today's prevailing entertainment mindset that sometimes prefers downloading movies on iPads to patronizing theaters. These movie theaters also have persisted in their commitment to offering quality programming and a special viewing experience.
1013 K St., Sacramento
The gold-leaf-accented jewel of the region's movie theaters, the Crest has been a theater of some kind for a century, starting as a vaudevillian venue.
It has been the Crest movie house since 1949, when it reopened with a big party and the film "That Midnight Kiss," starring Kathryn Grayson and Ethel Barrymore. The theater's 10-story-high marquee and vertical signage, restored a few years ago, are a symbol of a revived K Street.
The Crest often show independent and foreign films in its main auditorium, which also holds concerts and other events. Art-house films play in two smaller theaters downstairs. The smaller auditoriums, sadly, are likely to be repurposed soon because not enough people see movies there.
The Crest is home to most Sacramento film festivals, including the region's premier film event, the Sacramento French Film Festival, which happens every June.
107 Argall Way, Nevada City
Tucked away in a small shopping center in the scenic foothills town of Nevada City, the Magic Theatre is the region's most intimate movie house.
Movie magic envelops you as you enter the 62-seat theater, the red-painted walls of which hold framed movie posters and decorative rugs.
The programming is indie, foreign and documentary at this art-house theater, open for more than 25 years and in its current location for more than 12.
Presentation is top-notch, with digital projection and Dolby surround sound. The coffee and popcorn are organic, and the butter on the popcorn is real.
985 Lincoln Way, Auburn
Auburn's State Theatre, built in 1930 and in the process of a years-long renovation effort, is not exclusively a movie house. But it is a devoted entertainment venue that offers the monthly movie series "Cinema at the State," which screens classics from across the decades. The next film is "Casablanca," showing at 2 and 7 p.m. Thursday.
The theater sits within a business complex and has been in various "states" through the years. In 2008, a nonprofit called Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center restored its art deco marquee and the building's facade.
In 2009, APPAC opened a 130-seat "demonstration" theater meant to show viability and drum up interest in the renovation.
It did. That theater became home to sellout concerts, the popular movie series and performances by local theater troupes.
The plan now is to take down a wall to expand the theater and create more space for movies and live events. Just based on progress so far, APPAC offers a fine example of how community efforts can save endangered movie houses.
2508 Land Park Drive, Sacramento
The theater's distinctive red-and-green neon tower highlights one of Sacramento's most storied corners, at Broadway and 16th Street/Land Park Drive.
Built in 1938 and designed by William P. David (also architect for downtown's Esquire and Davis' Varsity theaters), the building housing the Tower is the birthplace of many fond movie-going memories as well as the Tower Records chain. Tower Records founder Russ Solomon started selling records in his dad's drugstore next to the theater.
That space now houses the Tower Café, whose plant-laden, Moroccan- influenced décor shares a geographical link with "Algiers," the 1938 Hedy Lamarr-Charles Boyer film that opened the Tower.
Celebrating its 75th anniversary later this year, the Tower is the movie house that Sacramento film fans hate to love, and always, always return to.
The seats can be wonky, and dim projections can change the title any movie to "Permanent Midnight." But the building's art deco period details continue to thrill, and the Tower gets some of the best independent and foreign films. Also, the Parmesan cheese and garlic salt available at the concession stand make delicious popcorn toppings.
616 Second St., Davis
This Streamline Moderne beauty opened in 1950 for movies and later served as a performing-arts space. In 2006, the theater was renovated and reopened as a movie house showing mostly art-house fare.
A collaboration between the city of Davis, which owns the building, and theater operator Sinisa Novakovic, the Varsity added a second 100-seat auditorium in 2010. The smaller auditorium and the 267-seat main house both feature crisp projection, and the Varsity's location within blocks of shops and restaurants in downtown Davis distinguishes it as the region's most conveniently located independent theater.
Speaking of convenience, Novakovic also is the man behind Mishka's Café next door, a haven for lovers of desserts and organic coffee.