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Screen Gems

The better the movie, the more painful it is to see it in a shoebox. Here are five of the largest, plushest houses in town -- for brighter explosions, bigger heroes, and an enveloping experience. Visit one this weekend, or save our list for summer-blockbuster season.

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1. Loews Imax
You know it for pop-science spectaculars, but the 108-foot screen also hosts outsize prints of new releases. Recent visitors include Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings; right now, it's the special edition of Beauty and the Beast. (1998 Broadway, at 68th Street, 212-50-LOEWS#638.)

2. Clearview's Ziegfeld
Over a thousand seats and a 52-foot screen make it the spot for red-carpet premieres. If you want to see an event film here, though, plan ahead -- this is where the Star Wars nuts camp out. (141 West 54th Street; 212-777-FILM#602. Now showing: Return to Neverland.)

3. Sunshine Cinema
The Lower East Side's gorgeous new cinema, in an old vaudeville house, has five screens, the largest of which evokes the old days. But it's all twenty-first-century tech, with stadium seating and Dolby EX. (143 East Houston Street; 212-358-7709. Now showing in the big theater: 'Monsoon Wedding.')

4. BAM Rose Cinemas
Best for festivals and its Q&A's with Brooklyn filmmakers like Darren Aronofsky and Steve Buscemi, the Beaux-Arts landmark has a good restaurant and bar upstairs, too. (30 Lafayette Avenue; 718-636-4100.)

5. Paris Theatre
One of the last New York theaters with a proper balcony, the Paris focuses on imports. After many months of Amélie, this week it's Monsoon Wedding (see review). (4 West 58th Street; 212-688-3800.)


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