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Flicks, Food, and Fun Are the Stars at Sun Ray Cinema

By Pamela Sosnowski

Sun Ray Cinema has only been in operation for four years, but in that short time it has become a big hit with Jacksonville area movie fans that consistently rave on Yelp about the theater's film variety, food, interior, and service. The cinema isn't a typical movie theater. Although it only houses a few screens, it shows an amazing breadth of films, from the latest releases to independent productions, documentaries, classics, children's movies and even work by local filmmakers.

Located in the artsy Five Points downtown area, the theater is in a building that was once a dance club, and some of the atmosphere has stuck around in the new venue. The walls are painted with funky, colorful artwork while sphere-shaped lighting hangs from the ceiling. Even the ladies room delights with leather seats, velvet curtains, and floor to ceiling mirrors. For Jacksonville locals, it's a fresh departure from larger movie chain houses that are branded to look the same and show the same films.

Another unique feature of Sun Ray is that craft beer, wine, and freshly made food are sold alongside the usual concession items such as popcorn and soda. "We have a wide variety of menu items with pizzas made fresh in-house, sandwiches and a selection of vegan options as well," says the theater's owner, Tim Massett. "In addition to normal theater seating we provide a bar that runs the length of each row that allows for us to deliver the food orders to the patron."

There are tables in front of the comfortable seats to place the food on. Patrons can also receive a free bowl of popcorn for checking in on Yelp and a variety of seasonings is available to give your popcorn a kick of personalized flavor.

Another perk is that the theater strives to provide an enjoyable watching experience. Says Massett, "We go out of our way to ensure our patrons experience a film without any interruptions, cellphones, (or) talking."

On the weekend of November 14 and 15, the cinema will host its first ever Harry Potter film festival, called the Hufflepuff Hootenanny. All of the movies in the Harry Potter series will be shown, and a food menu inspired by the films will be available. The theater is also gearing up for the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens next month with a party behind the theater on December 17, the day before the movie's release. The event will also celebrate the theater's fourth anniversary.

Judging from its growing popularity during the past few years, it's safe to say the theater will be showing films and pleasing its fans for many more to come.

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