A few weeks ago the Spotlight Movie Theater opened as the first tenant in the new Front Street development in Hartford. After all the buzz surrounding its opening I decided to visit it with a friend. We went to see The Hobbit on Thursday night, and I was impressed.
The first thing that works well for the theater is its location. It is right near the Arch Street tavern and easily accessible from the highway. It is a quicker drive than the cinema in Berlin that I went to as a child. Many people from suburbia worry about parking in Hartford, but it is not a problem when you are visiting Spotlight. There is free street parking at night on Arch Street, some free parking spaces on Front Street in front of the theater entrance, and a big parking garage adjacent to the development that only costs $2 if you validate your parking ticket at the theater. Suffice to say you won’t have difficulty finding a space.
The theater itself looks modern and posh. When you walk into the theater the ticket and concession stand (they are combined) are directly in front while the bar and restaurant sections are on the left. There are two theaters to your right and then two theaters located behind the restaurant. The integrated nature of the complex was a bit disorienting at first. The rope lines that typically segregate the theaters from the rest of the establishment were not present here. Once you buy your ticket at the register you are free to roam and enjoy yourself.
The bar is the typical rectangle setup with several local beers on tap along with wines and other liquors. There were only a couple other patrons there when I visited Thursday night, which was probably disappointing for a bar and restaurant. However it seemed about right for a movie theater on a Thursday night. The prices at the bar were comparable to similar establishments in Hartford or West Hartford Center. I did not sample the food so I will have to save that for next time.
After entering the theater I sat in a chair that felt like nesting in a cloud. There was ample body and leg space along with cup holders on the armrests to hold an adult (or non-adult) beverage. The projection of the movie was uniform (no overly dark or bright spots) and was in perfect focus. I did not notice popping or any sound artifacts from the surround sound speakers. I do not know what heaven is like, but if I ever go there I sure hope it feels like that.
Overall I give Spotlight 4 out of 5 stars. Its only drawback is having only four theaters limits the selection of movies it shows at any one time. I will be back to sample the food in the future.