simply put, you cannot beat $2 movies. especially when they’re shown in a theatre as stunning as this one, which was built in 1928. it’s worth waiting for a movie’s second showing to see it here, if not to rid you of eight quarters if to enlighten you with glittering chandeliers, rosy lamps, a wurlitzer organ (on saturday nights), and a hearty carytown crowd that laughs, cries, sighs, and screams right along with you.
perhaps contrary to its luxurious appearance, the byrd was built as a movie theatre and nothing else ~ not as a vaudeville house or concert hall. and that fact alone just adds to the magical sheen that encompasses you once you pass through the doors.
a chandelier in the main lobby casts a soft gleam over you as you purchase freshly popped popcorn, drinks, and any typical movie snack (all for cheaper than at a chain movie theatre, of course). and once you step inside the theatre, whether on the floor or up on the balcony (if the show permits), you cannot help but gaze around you in wonder at the kaleidoscopic architectural genius that surrounds you.
the current manager of the byrd, todd schall-vess, describes the byrd as the symbol of the balance between change and history that the city of richmond has so perfected. “there’s one foot in the past, one in the future,” he says. the byrd was, in fact, the first theatre in virginia to show movies with sound on day 1 of its operation. since then, the theatre has always embraced change while maintaining the splendor and main purpose of its creation.
the byrd hosts around 6-7 fim festivals every year, the most popular being the french film festival, which occurs in 3 weeks. the creators of the french film festival are particularly spectacular in establishing contacts and bringing a high level of involvement to the festival through q&a sessions with the actors, writers, and directors.
the byrd works with surrounding businesses in carytown and beyond. it brings much profit to the new york deli next door and bev’s ice cream across the street, in particular. but businesses also advertise on the big screen.
the byrd also brings together the people of richmond. most of the 7:15 movies are family-friendly movies, while the 9:30 showings are for a later crowd. there is no stereotype to a byrd frequenter. the byrd is also able to be flexible ~ if one film is particularly popular, it may show for longer than the usual one week. and schall-vess reserves particular movies, such as this week’s life of pi, which received many accolades at the oscars, that he thinks might be especially well-received.
carytown is simply one conglomeration of stores and businesses that are oh so different in their products but oh so identical in their intentions: to make cary street an open-minded, friendly place to work in, to walk around, and to care about.