A Declaration of Independent Theater

A small theater in the heart of the Five Points neighborhood has made a big impact on Jacksonville’s movie tastes.

Sun-Ray Cinema, in Jacksonville's Five Points neigborhood, screens smaller, independent films that are hard to find at the megaplexes. Recent titles include “Boyhood,” Richard Linklater’s 12-year opus; “The Grand Seduction,” a charming story of a small fishing village that tries to convince a big city doctor to stay; and “Brief Encounters,” a documentary of photographer Gregory Crewdson’s creative process screened in partnership with an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville. But the venue also handpicks larger, more commercial movies that appeal to the eclectic Five Points area and neighboring areas, such as “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Lucy.”

Owner Tim Massett specializes in programming unusual events. In January 2013, he scheduled two performances of cult phenomenon “Doug Benson’s Movie Interruption,” in which the comedian cracked jokes over showings of “RoboCop” and “Dirty Dancing.” In October 2013, he brought in filmmaker Richard Kelly to screen and discuss his 2001 cult movie “Donnie Darko.” In August of this year, he ran a 26-hour nonstop marathon of all the “Twin Peaks” episodes as a fundraiser for Hubbard House.

Sun-Ray Cinema opened in late 2011 inside a 1927 movie theater that had seen many lives in its long history, including hosting live theater and several nightclubs. Massett renovated the 200-seat space to include tables in front of each row to allow for easy delivery of food and drinks from the theater’s tasty menu. Several house-made pizzas are available, including the Zaat, a pie topped with kimchi and fried egg and named after a 1971 cult creature movie filmed in Northeast Florida, and the Godbold, named for a former Jacksonville mayor and appropriately covered with pulled pork, sweet pickles and barbecue swirl. No visit is complete without some retro candy and old-fashioned bottled soda or a pitcher of local craft beer.

In January 2014, Sun-Ray expanded into a former gift store next door to create a smaller, 45-seat theater, which makes showing lesser-known films more economically viable. It’s a posh experience with wide, comfy seats arranged in stadium-style tiers.

Don’t miss the inventive, personalized promos and messaging before each screening or the creature feature lobby mural painted by celebrated Jacksonville artist Shaun Thurston.

If You Go:

Sun-Ray Cinema
1028 Park Street
Jacksonville, FL 32204

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