Rutgers Cinema features handpicked films that pique student interests
Located in the retail plaza on Livingston campus, Rutgers Cinema offers students the lowest ticket prices in the state of New Jersey.
Opened in 2012, Rutgers Cinema was originally owned by a third-party management group. The University officially took ownership of the cinema in 2016, aiding in the growth and popularity of the movie theater, said Alexander DelVecchio, the general manager of the Rutgers Cinema.
Last year the theater’s attendance rate equaled approximately 11,000 students. In this past fall semester alone, it saw a huge increase with 27,000 students visiting from Labor Day through Dec. 22, 2017, he said.
“It’s more promotion, and it’s extended showtimes. I think it’s that now we are more part of the Rutgers community than we ever used to be, which was very important to me when I took over,” DelVecchio said about the attendance increase.
Rutgers Cinema is open to the general public for $7 a ticket before 6 p.m. and $9.50 after 9 p.m.
For students, any ticket costs $5 before 6 p.m and $7 after 6 p.m. These lowered prices are available for any student with a school I.D., regardless of where they may attend, he said.
DelVecchio said that since its opening six years ago, the cinema was always designed to operate as a lecture hall during the day and a full operating movie theater at night.
Until 3:30 p.m., the cinema hosts approximately 12 classes divided between its three theaters, and is then taken over by cinema management to provide nighttime entertainment for students and the general public, he said.
The cinema usually shows three different movies screened in each theater, and can host up to 331 people — although popular demand may affect which movies are chosen. DelVecchio said he is in charge of deciding which films will be shown, although he does rely on student input to make his final decisions.
“When students are living here, I pick a very different type of movie than when they are not. Over winter break, I got 'Lady Bird,' because that would attract people from outside, but during the semester, I choose movies such as 'Jumanji' and 'Insidious,' movies skewed toward a younger generation,” DelVecchio said.
Delvecchio said that Rutgers Cinema also offers students the unique ability to rent out the theater Sunday through Thursday, and even host private screenings.
Greek organizations and student groups, such as the Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA), have taken advantage of this opportunity in the past to host their own private screenings, he said.
The theater also has its own special promotional events. The last Sunday of October always features a screening of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," DelVecchio said. Movie schedules and any promotional events can be found online at the Rutgers Cinema website.
Currently 11 students are employed by Rutgers Cinema, including Erika Rears, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, who has been working at the cinema for the past seven months.
“I really love the environment of working here," Rears said. "It’s fun because we are working with other students and get to develop those relationships, and the managers are great. They are really understanding that we are students too. It’s a great environment in that sense, and also there are a lot more transferable skills than I would have originally thought.”
For movies that are expected to amass quite a large audience, such as the past opening weekend of "Black Panther," preparations begin at the cinema at least two weeks ahead of time, DelVecchio said.
This includes making sure that all of the projectors are functioning properly and the concession orders are increasing.
Rutgers Cinema is very unique in that most other Big Ten schools do not offer students their own movie theater directly on campus. The theater offers students a fun and accessible activity for their weekends, said Amber Osterbrink, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.
“I love being able to see a movie with my friends right on campus, and since I don’t have a car, it works perfectly," Osterbrink said. "Like, for this weekend, we were all able to see 'Black Panther' just as it came out, and all we had to do was take a bus to Livingston campus.”