Sacramento may not be an independent film hub like nearby San Francisco, but there are still plenty of choices for moviegoers looking to ditch the high-ticket prices and crowds usually found at one of the many multiplexes in the area. Featuring art house cinema, foreign films, second-run movies and documentaries, these theaters are great for people looking for something beyond the run-of-the-mill movie theater. These venues offer something for everyone, so grab your date or the kids, a bucket of popcorn and settle in for a truly unique and charming experience

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Tower Theater
2508 Land Park Drive
Sacramento, CA 95818
(916) 442-0985

Built in 1938, Tower Theater is a Sacramento treasure and historical landmark. Tower brings the best in independent and foreign films to moviegoers. The theater was remodeled in the 1980s and now shows movies on three screens at various showtimes. Although a bit run down, the theater is clean and tidy, offers a large screen and has a classic cinema charm that you just don’t find at a modern multiplex.


Guild Theater
2828 35th St
Sacramento, CA 95817
(916) 612-3320

The historic Guild Theater was built in 1915 and originally hosted vaudeville shows. Located in Oak Park and managed by St. HOPE Academy, Guild plays host to independent films, film festivals and live performances. Unlike Tower or Crest Theater, Guild is more of a “boutique” venue and does not have daily showtimes. But this smaller venue is clean, has been completely restored to its original glory and offers free parking. The theater is also available for corporate and private events.

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Esquire IMAX
1211 K St
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 443-4629

The Esquire IMAX theater is located in the heart of downtown on historic K Street plaza. In addition to the latest blockbuster, Esquire offers documentaries and independent films in both regular and 3D. The theater is large and has plenty of seating; reserved/assigned seating is offered for feature films. Ticket prices are on the steep side and paid parking is available at the nearby garage. But for a special occasion or something different, Esquire is a great option for family entertainment.

Related: Best Movie Theaters In The Sacramento Area

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UA Sunrise 4
5926 Sunrise Mall
Citrus Heights, CA 95610
(916) 535-0517

If you are looking for the Hollywood movie experience for a fraction of the price of a standard ticket, check out UA Sunrise 4 at Sunrise Mall. It offers second-run movies that have been out for a few months at discounted prices. The theater is a bit outdated and run down, but the facilities are clean, the staff is courteous and the prices can’t be beat. This is a great option for cheap kid’s entertainment.


Varsity Theatre

616 2nd St
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 758-5284

Just a quick drive west on Interstate 80, the Varsity Theatre in downtown Davis is an art-house cinema featuring first-run independent and foreign films. The theatre was remodeled in 2006 and a second screen was added in 2010. The Varsity Theatre has a full-service concession stand as well as a coffee/gelato shop for refreshments. It is equipped for 3D films and offers discount ticket prices on Tuesdays, after the first two weeks of a film’s showing. 

Related: Best Film Festivals In The Sacramento Area

Karen Boruff is a freelance writer living in Sacramento. Her work can be found at