Movie Screenings For Singles Only

Milana Grace, 29, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, who lives in Manhattan and Jason Thomson, a 28-year-old actor who lives in the Queens borough of New York, who have just met prepare to watch a movie at an event called "Click at a Flick," Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2004, in New York.
AP
There's one "must" for this movie date: You must not come with a date.

Starting Wednesday, singles have a chance to meet someone special - just maybe - by mingling under the silver screen. The drinks are free, and entertainment to loosen things up includes tarot card readings and an adult version of "spin-the-bottle" before lights are out.

Then you're on your own - the old-fashioned way, in the dark.

For the $8.99 price of a movie ticket, spectators showed up for an hour-long mixer at the Loews Cineplex Entertainment theater on West 34th Street, a walk from the site of the Republican National Convention that starts Aug. 30.

The 8 p.m. show was apropos: "The Manchurian Candidate." Starring Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep, it's the story of a presidential campaign hurtling toward Election Day, while a soldier races to uncover a conspiracy that could destroy democracy.

"I dig it! You get a movie and you get a drink. And it's intimate," said Jason Thomson, a 28-year-old actor who lives in Queens.

Well, as intimate as it gets when you're surrounded by 300 other folks at an event called "Click at a Flick."

Still, under the movie screen, Thomson was chatting with sweater designer Milana Grace, 29, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, who lives in Manhattan and came with two girlfriends.

If this first round didn't produce an enduring date, there's another chance to connect every other Wednesday, starting Aug. 25, when "Click at a Flick" adds Boston to its roster, then Los Angeles on Sept. 8 and Chicago on Sept. 22.

Dating at a movie theater is being offered by Loews in partnership with Lavalife, a Toronto-based online dating service with 8 million monthly Web visitors.

But moviegoers owed Lavalife nothing for the evening. They still enjoyed the screened-off lounge at the side of the theater where an open bottle of vodka came with dice rolled to pop up words like "kiss" and "body."

What both companies gain is "brand loyalty," said John McCauley, Loews' senior vice president for marketing.

That's business talk for both Loews' and Lavalife's core market: hip urban twenty-and thirty-somethings looking for fun.

"When Internet dating started, people would say, 'I'll do this because I have a hard time meeting people,"' Bruce Croxon, Lavalife's CEO, said in a telephone interview. "Today, it's a very efficient, cool, hip way to get to know somebody. It's mainstream."

And what does a movie with a just-met date do for intimacy?

"Instead of sitting two and a half hours in a restaurant, a movie kind of takes the edge off," said Croxon. "It makes a good date great - or a bad date good."

By Verena Dobnik