Galaxy Cinema is an independently owned and operated cinema in southeast Cary's Village Square Shopping Center and is located at 770 Cary Towne Boulevard in Cary, North Carolina. It is known as the state's largest "arthouse theater," with six screens of varying capacities. The Galaxy opened in December 2004, thanks to three Cary families that purchased the business after Madstone Theatres closed shop at the same location a few months earlier.
Galaxy is widely known for showing independent, documentary, and international films -- including regular screenings of Bollywood films in Hindi and movies in other Indian languages, including Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, and others. The South Asian anchor of the cinema allows the theater to pick up fresh-from-the-festival-circuit films that have little distribution in the United States. The Galaxy estimates that it sells between 15,000 and 55,000 tickets each month for its various Indian films, and patrons sometimes travel from all around North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, and even Tennessee for the chance to see an Indian film with friends or family members.
The theater also hosts private screenings, such as the 2012 documentary film "Indie Games" and the premieres of several locally produced films ("Remnants," "My Brother's Keeper," and many others. Other events included screening the singalong versions of "Mary Poppins" and "The Sound of Music" to benefit the Triangle Gay Men's Chorus, and a drag queen contest and singalong version of "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" to benefit the LGBT Center of Raleigh.
The Galaxy is known for screening issues films and inviting groups to host postfilm Q&A's and special events. In 2006, the theater brought filmmaker Chris Paine to Cary to show his film "Who Killed the Electric Car?" and to host an electric car expo. More than 3,000 electric car aficionados and alternative-fuel proponents attended the expo and screening over a two-day period. In 2007, the theater invited the California Nurses Association and National Nurses Organizing Committee to talk about reforming health care in the United States in conjunction with screenings of Michael Moore's film "SiCKO." Throughout the 2008 presidential election cycle, Galaxy hosted a number of political screenings and events, with the Obama for America campaign taking advantage most often of the opportunity to pair films and special screenings with discussions, voter registration, and other activities. The theater played to "sold-out" crowds for its free presentations of the presidential and vice-presidential debates that year.
Quite a number of independent filmmakers have visited the Galaxy over the years: makers of "Raspberry Magic," "David and Layla," "Blood Done Sign My Name," "The Third Monday in October," "Sweet Land," "Moving Midway," and countless others have come to Galaxy Cinema to talk with audiences about their films. Documentary filmmaker Stu Maddux has visited the theater several times to host screenings of some of his movies ("Bob and Jack's 52-Year Adventure," "Gen Silent") and donate proceeds to local organizations.
Galaxy Cinema has been a longtime proponent of local partnerships and purchases many of its concession items from local companies, including Locopops, several local breweries, Sweet Jane's Bakery, BombayBeijing Restaurant, and Escazu Chocolates. It has also uses locally roasted espresso beans for its barista-made coffee drinks. Because of its large audience of Indian movie buffs, the theater features a variety of Indian snacks, including samosas and kurkure (a spicy, crunchy snack often compared to savory Cheetohs made from rice rather than corn).
Since 2004, patrons have been encouraged to become members of the Galaxy to receive discounted ticket prices -- $5 instead of the $8 regular adult evening ticket price or the $6 matinee tickets and discounted evening ticket prices for students, senior citizens (age 60 or older), or military service members. Other member benefits included exclusive, free member screenings (until the film industry asked the theater to end that practice as an austerity measure during the recession that started in 2008), free movie passes, coupons for concession items, and special pricing for festivals and series. The Galaxy's membership program boasted more than 1,300 members at its apex in 2009 and stayed relatively high despite (or, arguably, because of) economic hard times from 2009 onward.
In 2006, the Triangle Jewish Film Festival chose the Galaxy as home for its annual festival of contemporary Jewish films. The Galaxy hosted the Triangle Jewish Film Festival for five years, until the festival suspended its operations in 2010. In 2009-10, the Galaxy hosted the fall and winter film series of the N.C. Museum of Art while the museum underwent reconstruction. The Galaxy has also been home to the TMH Modernist Architecture Movie Series, sponsored by TriangleModernistHouses.com; currently, TMH is in the planning stages of its fourth annual series.
Thanks to its diverse audience and its equally diverse concession offerings (wines and beers are sold alongside samosas, soda, and popcorn) the Galaxy has been a natural venue for televised international sporting events, such as the Soccer World Cup, Cricket World Cup, Wimbledon Finals, etc. Its Wi-Fi network allows patrons to surf the Web or even work online while watching hours-long cricket matches -- an unusual sight in any movie theater. The theater shows these events without charge and frequently finds its Theater 5 filled to capacity for these matches and games.
Beginning in 2007, the theater redecorated its lobby to serve as a small art gallery. The Little Lobby Gallery featured local artists who exhibited their work for a month at a time, and each summer the theater hosted an exhibition of art done by staff members.
The combination of well-attended Bollywood and other Indian films, a mix of independent and other international films, and its reputation for multicultural and issues-oriented events in conjunction with community groups and activities helped the Galaxy weather the worst recession in U.S. history -- all while remaining independently owned and operated by the original three founding families. Staff turnover has been low throughout the Galaxy's history, with quite a few staff members boasting a full eight years with the theater.
On June 26, 2012, both Cary News and its parent newspaper, The News & Observer, reported that the theater was in danger of being demolished and replaced by a 53,000-square-foot Harris Teeter grocery store complex. (N&O article: www.newsobserver.com/2012/06/25/2158770/carys-galaxy-cinema-may-be-demolished.html) Local news and culture website New Raleigh also picked up the story (www.newraleigh.com/article/downtown-raleigh-will-take-galaxy-cinema-if-it-gets-demolished) and suggested that citizens start a petition to move Galaxy Cinema to downtown Raleigh or another location.
Within hours of publication of the story about its possible demise, the theater published the following statement on its website and its Facebook page:
You may have heard reports that the owners of the land that Galaxy Cinema sits on have submitted plans to demolish Galaxy Cinema and move forward with other development for a corner property that has become pretty valuable as Cary has grown over the years.
Please know that although the landowners are speculating about this possibility, at this phase it is only one possibility for the site and not a concrete plan for the future of our little arthouse home.
We're so pleased and humbled by the overwhelming show of support from our patrons. We've said it before, and we'll say it again: "We wouldn't be the same without you."
The owners and staff of Galaxy Cinema will do all we can to continue providing you the best independent, international, and documentary films for as long as we possibly can. Maybe longer! We are also planning plenty of special events (including the July 7-8 men's and women's Wimbledon finals). We'll always have the same passion for customer service, because each and every one of us sincerely loves working at the Galaxy and want the best experience possible for each and every one of our family members -- YOU!
Hang in there with us, please, as the landowners of our site proceed with their decisions about what to do with this valuable bit of Cary real estate and as our Galaxy Cinema owners consider options to keep the vision of the Galaxy shining.
|770 Cary Towne Blvd., Cary NC|
|Website / Social Media|
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