In theory, airports and cinemas seem made for each other.
If polls are anything to go by, the demand for more airport entertainment is sky high, and certainly cinemas can’t ask for an audience more captive than one waiting out a long layover.
Yet few airports seem to have been willing to take the plunge, until now.
Portland International Airport will soon be the latest in a slew of travel hubs to adopt a movie theater. And, being Portland, it’s likely to be a hipster’s dream.
Partnering with Portland’s prohibition-era Hollywood Theatre, PDX is creating a vintage-style cinema for passengers on the go.
Viewers aren’t likely to catch the latest blockbuster, however. But on the bright side, there’s little fear of missing a flight; the cinema, which is slated to open in the summer, will mainly screen short films produced by local filmmakers.
The idea is to showcase the artsy culture that makes Portland stand out.
“The films screened at PDX will introduce travelers to the diverse array of experiences Oregon and the surrounding region has to offer,” says PDX spokeswoman Kama Simonds.
The last few years have seen a rise in airports adding movie theaters to the list of perks available to travelers.
In 2014, Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport became the first hub in the U.S. to have a cinema.
The See 18 Film Screening Room runs 24/7 (so it doesn’t matter how late — or early — take-off is). Like the PDX venture, the cinema screens art house flicks crafted by the region’s top filmmakers, all curated with the help of The Film Society of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
“Our objective is to give travelers a Minnesota experience,” says Robyne Robinson, the arts and culture director of the MSP Airport Foundation. The screening mainly features short films and award-winning documentaries.
In a similar vein, last year, Miami International introduced a pop-up cinema, showcasing silent film classics like Buster Keaton’s “One Week.”
Asia leading the way
Though the trend may be gaining slow traction in the U.S., airports in Asia have been embracing movie theaters for years.
Singapore’s Changi Airport has two 24-hour theaters that screen the latest blockbusters free of charge.
Hong Kong International also boasts the world’s first airport IMAX (showing movies in 2D and 3D), and in 2013 Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International launched a 6D cinema, complete with moving seats and 21 special effects that range from bubbles to simulated snow.
Of course, not every airport has the infrastructure for a cinema, no matter how cozy. This fact has spearheaded the expansion of Digiboo, a company that has fitted several U.S. airports with movie download kiosks.
Travelers can download a selection of classics and new releases onto their personal devices, which they can then watch in-flight or while waiting out a layover at the airport.
“Digiboo doesn’t require planning ahead or remembering to download before you leave your home,” says Richard Cohen, CEO at Digiboo.
“Our customers can quickly and conveniently pick up a movie or two for their trip without any hassle or disappointment,” he adds.
What better solution for airport boredom?