The last time someone asked to see my ID for a movie, I was 16 and was trying to get into “Seven.” Getting into the newly opened 21-and-over Orion Cinema and Mickey’s Pub was much easier. I showed the hostess my license and walked into the nicest theater I’ve ever been in.
If you turn to the right, you’ll be on the pub side. There’s a great-looking bar and a good amount of seating. The fireplace adds a comforting touch on a cold night. A quick look at the menu told me that if I wanted chicken wings, I’d have to eat them in the pub. The wings are apparently too messy to be taken into the theaters.
It’s a solid decision, because if you had the kind of leather in your living room that the Orion has in its auditoriums, you wouldn’t let anyone eat chicken wings in there, either. Arranged in pairs, the seats have movable armrest between them, making the Orion the perfect place for teenagers to make out. Except that no teenagers are allowed. No kids will be able to climb over the foot-wide armrests or break the swivel tables. No gaggles of adolescents to disrupt one’s film-going experience. And unless the guy behind you is well over six feet tall, there are no worries about having someone’s feet on the back of your chair.
Friday night was the theater’s soft-opening, so some of the service bugs are being worked out before it’s official grand opening. To their credit, the servers working the 5:30 p.m. showing of “Skyfall” did a great job. Meals and drinks were promptly brought in and I could barely hear the conversations between a server and the couple sitting in front of me. Discretion is the key here and they have done a good job, so far.
Meals range between $9 and $14, so I stuck with popcorn and soda, but I still got to order from my back row seat because there isn’t a traditional concession stand. They brought me a glass of soda and small popcorn for $5.50. (What’s the etiquitte on tipping in a movie theater?)
At first it was odd to see other people drinking beer and wine in the movie theater and then I thought, “I’m seeing a James Bond movie and I could have a martini if I wanted one.” Shaken, of course, not stirred.
The movie screen appears larger than it is due to the intimate atmosphere of the auditorium, and the sound — a key for any action movie — was crisp and at a perfect volume. I wasn’t in the auditorium with the new Dolby Atmos sound, but unlike some theaters with high-tech sound systems, I couldn’t hear one show while in another.
Eventually, the servers finished their jobs and left the dozen of us in the theater to enjoy the film. Plates were cleared and people seemed happy.
It’s definitely a different kind of theater experience. At $12 a ticket (compared to the $6.50 matinees or $9 general evening prices at the Majestic and Yakima Cinema), you’re paying for the comforts of the place more than for the movie. It’s like a mini-vacation where someone will bring you a glass of wine and let you escape from the real world of jobs, your children and other people’s children. But if you just want to see a movie, or really need that jumbo-sized soda and popcorn swimming in butter, the other theaters are still there for you.
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (in Dolby Atmos sound), “Skyfall” and “Twilight: Breaking Dawn part 2” are now playing at the Orion Cinemas, 202 E. Chestnut Ave. Mickey’s Pub and the box office open at 4:30 and all seats are $12. For more information, visit http://www.orioncinemayakima.com or call 509.248.0245.
• Backstage Pass is a new blog on www.yakima-herald.com covering pop culture from Hollywood to your backyard. T.J. Tranchell, a freelance journalist and Herald-Republic customer service clerk, can be reached at email@example.com. You can visit his horror-themed blog at www.warning-signs.net.