On Wednesday night, a friend and I decided to go to the movies. Seems like your pretty classic night for a couple of SWUGS like us (who are actually sophomores; we washed up pretty early). Except, instead of paying $8 for a ticket, we headed to Reading Terminal Market for its first ever free movie night, “Movies at the Market.”
When we walked in, the ticket booth had no machine to swipe your credit card. Instead, they just asked you to write your name down on a list and head right into their makeshift theater. “We’re doing this for no reason,” said the woman who handed me a brochure explaining that there will be one free movie a month for the rest of the school year. I gazed hungrily at the back of the brochure, which listed off food stalls still open for the event. Ah yes, Flying Monkey Bakery’s famous butter cake and Old City Coffee to help me through that late night homework. These people were making my week, and they didn’t even know why.
They chose the movie Chef for night one—a story about a guy who quits his upscale restaurant job to open a food truck. What makes more sense than watching a movie about one of Penn’s favorite kind of food venues while eating at another? I sat on chairs that were gathered from across the market and lined up in rows in front of two screens opposite each other, and watched the film, courtesy of Netflix and a projector. It was no professional theater, but it was pretty great. I felt like part of the neighborhood, as if I were at an old-fashioned drive-in. I munched on cake and pastrami (because at Reading Terminal, you can do both) and thought of the overpriced Raisinettes I usually get at a typical concession stand. Surrounded by food paradise—complete with a bar—I knew I would definitely be coming back for night two.
Assistant General Manager of the Market, Chris Gowen, has big plans for its future. “We want to prove to the vendors that people will come, and tonight had a great turnout.” Soon, Reading Terminal after dark might not be so unique anymore. “If this works out, we want to start being open as many nights as we can.” Not only does Reading Terminal offer movie nights, but they will also be throwing their 6th annual “Party for the Market” on Saturday, February 20th, which includes a dance floor, a band, and all the food you can eat. “We even throw in young people prices for guests under 30” (hint: he’s talking about us). The party seems to be a neighborhood favorite. "At our party last year during a huge ice storm, we thought about canceling, and then over 700 people showed up,” remembered Gowen.
How lucky are we to have a place that gives us free entertainment on a cold winter’s night along with hundreds of gourmet food options this close to our campus? Reading Terminal Market is so much more than a place to walk to when you’re high—it’s a Philadelphia landmark.
Upcoming Movies at the Market:
February 11th: An Affair to Remember
March 17th: Little Shop of Horrors
April 14th: National Treasure
May 12th: Burnt