When the Galaxy Green Valley Luxury+ movie theater opened last March, one of the few disappointments was that the plush new theater was only showing the same Hollywood blockbusters featured at every other multiplex in town. Galaxy is still committed to playing Hollywood movies, but the company has added three new film series to the Green Valley Luxury+ to showcase independent and classic films as well.
First up is the debut of the Cinema Society of Las Vegas, an offshoot of an organization with chapters in California and Arizona. For an annual fee, members have access to one screening a month of a film selected by founder Andrew Friedenberg, followed by a discussion with Friedenberg and special guests connected to the film. The series kicks off January 27 with the culinary documentary Spinning Plates, featuring a Q&A with director Joseph Levy, followed by the Italian romantic comedy Marcello, Marcello on February 10, a selection of short films on March 10 and the 2012 Taiwanese Oscar submission Touch of the Light on April 7. Passes for the entire season are $55 and available at cinemasociety.com.
According to Lee Josselyn, Galaxy’s vice president and film buyer, getting the Cinema Society to Vegas was as simple as making a phone call. A couple of former members of the Cinema Society’s original chapter in San Diego had moved to Vegas, and they contacted Friedenberg about starting a chapter in their new home. “He told me what he did and how he did it, and I said let’s give it a try,” Josselyn says. The initial series is billed as a half-season, and Josselyn says that if it goes well, the next full season would start in September and run through next April.
Next up is a classic film series that launches February 9 with the 1986 coming-of-age drama Stand By Me. Similar to the classics series at local Cinemark theaters, this series will run throughout the Galaxy chain (including at the company’s other Vegas-area location, inside the Cannery), showcasing familiar classics from decades past. It’s planned for six movies a year, with The Princess Bride as one of the upcoming selections. Tickets are $7 each or two for $15, which also includes a free bag of popcorn.
And then on February 14 it’s the return of the Midnight Treasures series, headed up by UNLV film professor David Schmoeller. The showcase for local filmmakers includes a locally made feature and short film in each program, and as the name implies, it starts at midnight, with programs every other Friday. “Before we opened up, I had a meeting with the university,” Josselyn says. “We like getting involved in a community. Schools to us are very important.” The first batch of Midnight Treasures screenings started last fall. “It started a little slow, but it started going better and better,” Josselyn says. The latest series kicks off with Schmoeller’s own Little Monsters, and future screenings include UNLV film professor Francisco Menendez’s Stealing Las Vegas, Jeremy Cloe’s Liars, Fires and Bears, the Thompson brothers’ Thor at the Bus Stop and the documentary Ride Report, among others. Tickets are $7.50.
With this extra focus on independent and classic films, might Galaxy take a run at challenging Regal’s Village Square as the main local theater for arthouse fare? “If I had 10 screens or 12 screens, I would definitely commit one or two screens to the art films,” Josselyn says, but the small screen count (eight) at Green Valley makes it tough to devote space to lower-profile offerings. “You can’t tell a major studio you’re not going to play their blockbuster,” Josselyn says. Still, he leaves the door open to the possibility of booking more indie films during the slower months. “If it’s a good film,” he says, “we’ll play it.”