Sometimes going to the movies is just going to the movies. Sometimes, though, in addition to eating popcorn, and maybe drinking wine, you’re sitting in a bar on a castoff lawn chair.
Suns Cinema specializes in the latter movie experience. “At a normal theater, you might be next to someone you don’t know, but you’re not going to be potentially [sitting] on a church pew,” Suns co-owner David Cabrera says.
Suns’ seating is a mismatch of found and donated items, including benches, antique armchairs and stools, all lined up in front of a bar. Outside the theater (3107 Mount Pleasant St. NW), circular lights surround a bold sign reading “SUNS.” Nearby is the Frugalista thrift shop and the Filipino restaurant Purple Patch.
During films, sconces are dimly lit in a room lined with velvet curtains. There’s also an intermission.
Cabrera and co-owner Ryan Hunter Mitchell, who also runs a hair salon across the street, used to host movie nights at their shared house. At Suns Cinema, which opened in May 2016, they now curate a diverse slate of films, including cult movies, classics and foreign films.
“Part of the fun of this is getting people that otherwise wouldn’t watch certain things to come out and watch them,” Cabrera says. Each month they choose a theme, such as “Noirs in Cars,” “Space Is the Place” and “Martial Arts,” which allows for interesting movie pairings. In February, a calendar jokingly listed “Groundhog Day” every day.
Walls of the bar have the same red zebra-print wallpaper featured in Wes Anderson’s “The Royal Tenenbaums.” On the floor is carpet as seen in “The Shining.” On many nights and after movies, the bar is, well, a bar.
Beth Porter and Michael Curcio like to arrive early so they can grab their favorite tall seats in the back. Tickets ($5) are available on the Suns website and often sell out since there are only 30 seats.
Smriti Kumble, a frequent visitor, was at Suns with her friend Jill Lomanno recently. “There is something about sitting in lawn chairs,” says Kumble, “and watching old movies in someone’s old living room.”