In the UK, Your Dog Can Be Your Movie Date · The Wildest

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At This UK Theater Chain, Your Dog Can Be Your Movie Date

Now, we can only hope this becomes more of a thing in the U.S., too.

by Esther Zuckerman
September 1, 2023
a dog watches a movie in a theater
Photo courtesy of Curzon Cinemas

This summer, I was heading into my local AMC movie theater when I noticed something in front of me in the line to get our tickets scanned. It was a pup, probably some sort of Doodle, just strolling into the 84th Street multiplex maybe to see Barbie or Oppenheimer or Haunted Mansion. I was tickled. Could I possibly bring my dog, sleeping in our apartment a block away, to the movies with me? 

The answer is: Probably not. AMC typically only allows service animals, and my baby is not one, and frankly I don’t think she’s well behaved enough to pass. (She gets really excited whenever new people are around.) But what if she could? For me, it would be game changing. 

I have a few great loves in my life. Two of them are my dog and the movies. I write about film for a living and see multiple movies a week in theaters. I wouldn’t bring my Corgi mix to every screening. I strongly believe in the sanctity of the theatrical experience; put your phone away near me — but occasionally, it would be very helpful and downright fun.  

Meanwhile, Across the Pond

In the United Kingdom, having your dog as a movie date is a possibility. The New York Times on Curzon Cinema’s new program “Dog Day Afternoons,” in which dogs can attend certain screenings with their owners. The series began with a screening of Strays, the very funny dog comedy about an abandoned Terrier voiced by Will Ferrell who meets a pack of rowdy canines who show him the ways of parent-free life.

It’s a perfect choice. After I saw it, and noted its knack for dog-specific humor, all I wanted to do was take my dog to a theater and watch how she reacted to the talking animals on screen. Jake Garriock, head of publicity explains to The Wildest that regular dog screenings across locations will start the week of September 8, and not all selections will be as on theme as Strays was. They will be selected from the regular programming. 

The Curzon has some rules they list on their website. Among them: Dogs have to stay on the floor or on a lap, BYOT (bring your own toys), and clean up after the mess, should there be an accident. Also, “only well-behaved dogs are allowed to attend,” which seems relative. 

“The first one went really well,” Garriock says. “The dogs all seemed to enjoy themselves and were well-behaved; I think the humans had a good time, too.”

Although the Curzon dog screenings are currently in the news, it's not the first theater to experiment with bringing movies to dogs. The Picturehouse chain in the U.K. has “dog-friendly screenings” of films new (the wonderful indie Scrapper) and old (One Hundred and One Dalmatians — naturally). Around the time of release of Wes Anderson’s 2018 animated film, Isle of Dogs, various houses in the U.S. and U.K. encouraged people to bring their furry pals to specific showings. And in Plano, Texas there used to be K9 Cinemas, which, alas, has now closed. Of course, if you want to do a drive-in with your doggie — there are far more options. 

Hope For American Canine Film Buffs

Recently, Animal Lighthouse, a rescue org that saves stray dogs, or “satos,” from Puerto Rico, hosted a dogs-allowed screening of Strays at the AMC Lincoln Square on New York City’s Upper West Side. The special event encouraged people to get involved with or donate to Animal Lighthouse, and there was a $10 popcorn-and-drink-combo deal in place. Truly ideal, and I was devastated to have missed it. 

“Both ALR and AMC were thrilled with all pet parents’ and dogs’ enthusiasm for this unique opportunity, whether they were able to attend or not,” Harry Leff, event organizer and ALR board co-chair, tells The Wildest. "Other moviegoers in the theater were pleasantly surprised by all the dogs around, and expressed a lot of interest in all of the adoptable dog profiles and information about ALR’s mission and support needs.” While Leff says it was “viewed as a one-off/special/trial event,” he adds that “so many people have asked if we will do it again, and we hope to, given how well this experience went.”

My dream, of course, is that dog screenings become a regularity on this side of the pond, and if programmers need suggestions for what to screen, I have them. My pup’s favorite movie — at least based on the amount she paid attention to it when it was on my TV — is The Great Muppet Caper. Something about those Muppets really fascinated her.

Esther Zuckerman poses with her dog

Esther Zuckerman

Esther Zuckerman is an entertainment journalist whose work has been published by The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Hollywood Reporter, and Thrillist among others. She is the author of two books: Beyond the Best Dressed (2022) and A Field Guide to Internet Boyfriends (2020). She lives in New York with her Corgi mix, Daisy, who is extremely long and will beg for treats. 

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