Family-owned movie theater Big Picture reopens in Issaquah

King 5 Evening
Author: Kim Holcomb
Published: 6:00 PM PDT March 15, 2022

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Credit: Kim Holcomb — Mark and Katie Stern celebrate the re-opening of their bar/movie theater Big Picture in Issaquah, after losing their longtime lease in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood.

The theater was a longtime fixture in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood before closing at the start of the pandemic.


ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Big Picture, a beloved and longtime movie theater with bar service, is back.

Doors opened in the theater’s new Issaquah location at the beginning of March.

Originally, Big Picture operated in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood and kicked off the idea of enjoying a cocktail with a film. It was Washington State’s first movie theater with a full bar and seat service.

"This theater is like you're going to your friend's home, or you're going to a hotel lobby bar,” said owner Mark Stern, who runs the theater with wife Katie. "There's no way that you could recognize this is a movie theater. (It’s like) you're at a friend's house and they just happen to have also a kick-butt theater, great sound system — that's the concept. We wanted to be different than the traditional chain movie theaters."

Over two decades, the theater welcomed audiences that included celebrities like Jerry Seinfeld, Jeff Bridges, and Dave Matthews. But shortly after the pandemic hit, they lost their lease and were given five weeks to vacate.

The Sterns suddenly faced moving expenses and zero income — but they persevered and found a new space in Issaquah’s historic downtown.

They remodeled a former brewery to create a new twist on their old space. The front of the space is a spacious bar and lounge area, which guests can enjoy even without a movie ticket.

The theater is intimate but comfortable and wide, featuring one screen and 33 seats. Unlike most theaters, the front row is a popular place to sit - it includes ottomans and a love seat.

Guests can also enjoy an array of cocktails with movie-inspired names, a smash burger, or popcorn with truffle butter and parmesan.

Tickets can be purchased in advance online, and the theater is also available to rent for private parties. “The Batman” is currently showing nightly.

"We're having fun, we love what we do,” Stern said. “We love movie theaters."

Big Picture is located at 35 W. Sunset Way in Issaquah.

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