Movie reporter Mark S. Allen sees no less than three movies a week — over 150 per year. Here are his five favorite local theaters.


Blue Oaks Cinemas 16

6692 Lonetree Blvd.
Rocklin, CA 95677

I’ll be honest; I first read about this place in a business journal and was geeked out that they were going to try to put 16 screens in an old Mervyn’s. My initial reaction was: “ha! Funny! I bet they’re tiny, like little doll house theaters.” WRONG!  They are amazing.  Let me begin with the main rooms, of which there are three. Each houses 250 seats and a new type of digital projection and delivery system that cuts out projection booths. The projector is essentially a hard drive in a central data system with a projector in the wall.  The screens are specially designed for 3D, and the sound amazing. They now also have smaller rooms with only 70 comfy seats in some — and a great way to see the classics.


Crest Theater

1013 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

It sits on the same site and same foundation as original Crest Theater that was built in 1912.  Granted, at that time it was a vaudeville theater (think bad Ventriloquists and plate spinners). However it converted to a movie theater, and has been one ever since.  The tiny basement theaters where indie films are shown would not make this list, but the main, original auditorium is one of the most beautiful rooms in which to see a movie – it feels like an event.

Classic films like King Kong (1932) are cool to see there. The sound and screen are still the best in town.  The dialogue to surround sound ratio are tuned perfectly to fit the room, and the seats, though perhaps a little too original, are comfortable enough.

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ShowPlace 16

848 Lifestyle Street
Manteca, CA 95337

(209) 239-1147

Manteca? Yes. It’s worth the drive to see a 3D animated movie here. Keep in mind, I see Pixar movies for the first time, every time at Pixar, and this is the first facility I’ve seen that shows the Pixar films in a similar crispness.  It might be that this is the first theater in Northern California to be constructed after the digital revolution, meaning the projection is entirely high-end digital; no film in the place. Blue Oaks Cinema in Rocklin rivals these Guys.

Century Folsom 14 Theatre

261 Iron Point Road
Folsom, CA 95630
(916) 353-5247

This is hands-down the best multiplex in the area. As far as multiplexes go, it has the best seats, best screens and projection, and best sound. The viewing experience here probably most-closely resembles what the film makers had in mind. If you go, I recommend seeing a big, exciting movie because the seats, which I guarantee are cozier than what most people have at home, might put you to sleep during a thoughtful drama.

(credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

My House

123 Mystery Lane

Okay, I’m gonna brag a little. I was given the challenge to convert my kids’ playroom into to a screening room for under $5,000, and not only did I do it, but it also rivals any home theater I’ve seen, and that includes Pixar and Skywalker Ranch’s main room.  Sure, you’re saying, “not fair!” Why put this in your public guide of places to see movies?  Because you can do this too!  My friend who makes $100 million movies for a living saw a film in my room and was blown away.  Granted it’s kind of small (only 12 seats) but it gives the same experience.  Wondering how to cut corners? For starters, make your own screen, then paint the room yourself and IKEA this and that. I picked up three leather sofas for under $1,000 at an American Furniture store, you know, those places that are constantly going out of business? Turn to EBay and Craigslist, and have a little patience. For more information on how to do it, here are the details on how to build your own home theater.

– Mark S. Allen is film reporter living in Sacramento. He is a long-time TV and radio personality who reports for Good Day Sacramento and hosts his own movie review show, Mark At The Movies that airs weekends Reelz TV.