- Associated Press - Friday, August 29, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) - For a long time, movie theaters got by with just showing movies.

But there’s a lot of competition these days and lots of new ways to watch movies, from Netflix to Redbox to Blu-ray.

The big multiplex chains responded with bigger and bigger screens, sharper resolution, better and louder sound and 3-D.

Smaller, independent neighborhood theaters have to compete with all of this - and without much money.

The answer for these theaters seems to be in catering to people who love movies.

Really love movies.

These are the people who love movies enough to show up early and in costume, to play movie-theme games, compete for movie-theme prizes, listen to movie-theme music, drink beer and generally celebrate the heck out of that particular movie with other like-minded fans.

A few Pittsburgh-area theaters have experimented with this sort of thing.

The Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville, which does regular beer samplings and post-movie discussions, and the Parkway Theater in McKees Rocks seem to be set up perfectly for it. But nobody does it quite like the nonprofit Hollywood Theater in Dormont.

In addition to a full, ever-changing lineup of new, offbeat film programming across almost every genre, the theater’s owners seem more than willing to party.

In addition to the audience-participation-required 1975 cult film “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” shown bi-weekly at the Hollywood, they recently hosted a “Purple Rain” Movie Party, celebrating Prince’s 1984 rock musical with music, dancing, era-appropriate outfits, Prince-theme art and a surprise second feature.

Next up at the Hollywood will be “The Ed Wood Pajama Party” on Aug. 30. It plans to be a tribute to one of the worst filmmakers of all time. Apparently, people who love movies even love really bad movies. His no-budget, science-fiction epic “Plan 9 From Outer Space” (1956) and cross-dressing docu-drama “Glen or Glenda” (1953) have become cult classics.

In addition to the films, host Michael Devine - best known as DJ and weird-music expert Zombo - will perform with his “outer-space surf band” Vertigo Go. In addition, he will show outer-space-theme music videos from his collection of 1960s Scopitones. Discounts are available to anyone who shows up in pajamas.

“This idea goes back 25 years or so, to when I lived in Ohio,” Devine says. “There was a struggling theater called the Highland, in Akron. I got together with a bunch of friends, and the theater had copies of ‘Plan 9’ and ‘Glen or Glenda?’ I just thought, ‘What can you do to make people realize it’s more than just a movie?’ Live music, a movie and you can dress up. It was a huge success.”

It doesn’t take much effort to turn a movie screening into a party.

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