The Bridge: Cinema de Lux opened its doors on Nov. 8, 2002, and after a year of operation, the theater has come a long way from the chaos that surrounded its opening weekend. Moviegoers were confused by the assigned stadium seating, and due to poor theater planning, some were shut out from films altogether on the first weekend.
A year later, however, seating is smooth at the Bridge. In fact, the seating arrangements were modified to a more traditional general admission set-up during matinee hours.
National Amusements, the company that owns the Bridge, has attempted to reach out to the Penn and West Philadelphia communities over the past year. National Amusements spokeswoman Jennifer Hanson said, "A number of the elements about the theatre itself were incorporated to make the cinema a place where patrons would feel comfortable coming to hang out." Such elements include wireless internet throughout the Bridge, as well as a library of books in the lounge area.
In addition to these amenities, the Bridge also has run many programs to attract the West Philadelphia and Penn communities. Over the summer, children and their parents could attend Bookworm Wednesday, an eight-week summer program that exchanged movie tickets for book reports. This past Saturday, children who attended the theater in their Halloween costume were given free admission to a children's movie, as well as candy and the chance to win prizes.
Once a month, The Bridge also runs its Silver Screen Classics program. For one dollar, every moviegoer gets a free soda, free popcorn, and a ticket to the classic film being screened that day.
Despite these programs, some Penn students are upset over the recent decision to eliminate the student discount on Friday and Saturday evenings. Hanson explains, "We eliminated the student discount in order to help us reach our business goals for the theater."
Regular and weekend admission to The Bridge is 10 dollars. This is three dollars more than a student paid to see a weekend movie last year, and over four dollars more than the national average ticket price estimated for 2003 by the National Association of Theater Owners.
The Bridge did add a Thursday midnight screening that accepts the student discount. Hanson said that it was added as the result of a focus group with Penn students.
Some students, however, still find the prices too high for a theater supposedly built to cater to the student community. Penn Medical student Anna Flores said, "I think it's expensive in general, especially for students and this area."
While this sentiment is echoed by many, business at the Bridge doesn't seem to be slowing down. Since the change, "business has been very steady," Hanson explained.
With the addition of The Marvelous -- a music and comics store -- over the summer, plus a Marathon Grill restaurant opening next semester, the Bridge is expecting an even better year despite its 10 dollar tickets.
"It's a really good thing for us," Hanson said. "It adds more options and excitement and energy to the area"