Great NYC Movie Theaters

Brian Sloan

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New York City is a global center of cinema. From the birth of the movies in the Bowery’s nickelodeons to Times Square’s grand movie palaces of the 1940s and ’50s to classic art houses like Bleecker Street Cinema in the ’70s, the City has always had places to catch the latest and greatest films. As Hulu and Netflix make it easier than ever to watch movies at home, NYC’s theaters are countering with upscale food and cocktails, balcony and lounge seating, and creative programming in charming, distinctive spaces.

For a roundup of the City’s best theaters and some coming attractions, read on.   

New Cinemas on the Block

IPic Fulton Market 
This new eight-screen theater at South Street Seaport features recliner-style seating with small tables, your perch for an upscale meal and fancy cocktails.
On Screen: This multiplex shows the latest Hollywood releases, and also has plans for kid-friendly gaming events
Bonus Features: Attached to the national chain is the Tuck Room, where moviegoers can socialize over cocktails or a meal before and after the show.  

Metrograph
This Lower East Side two-screener comes with a throwback name and a balcony.
On Screen: Repertory programming of major auteurs like Brian de Palma and Sydney Lumet, Hollywood classics and the occasional current indie.
Bonus Features: In addition to movies, Metrograph has an in-house restaurant, cocktail lounge and even a bookstore. And check out their selection of flavored popcorn.

Metrograph. Photo: Mirella Cheeseman

Nitehawk
This Williamsburg favorite started the local dinner-at-the-movies trend. 
On Screen: The three-screen complex shows mainly indies, along with some special series and regular midnight madness. Each theater holds fewer than 100 people, and shows often sell out—so plan in advance, especially on weekends.
Bonus Features: Nitehawk serves cocktails and dishes named in honor of the films currently playing. On the ground floor, the Lo-Res Lounge features drink specials with your movie ticket.

Nitehawk. Photo: Gabi Porter

Syndicated
Bushwick’s sole movie theater schedules screening series around holidays (scary movies for Halloween and so on) and themed weekend showcases.
On Screen: Syndicated has a special fondness for ’80s and ’90s flicks; they also show more recent second-run fare. Tickets are set at a bargain price of $3.
Bonus Features: The movie house serves beer and cocktails in an intimate 50-seat theater that feels like a relaxed, multitiered rec room with really good snacks (try the Royale with Cheese, a deluxe burger with fries for $16). There’s also a full-service bar and restaurant in the lobby.

Syndicated. Photo: Michael Tulipan

Video Revival
This Crown Heights cinema has 25 seats and an alternative slant.
On Screen: Video Revival favors cult and crowd favorites from recent decades. They particularly heart the ’90s.
Bonus Features: The quaint, cozy theater is also popular for its price: $8 per movie, with deals for double features and matinees.

Video Revival. Photo: Hollis Johnson

Institutions

BAM Rose Cinemas
The Brooklyn Academy of Music has four beautiful theaters on the upper level of its main Downtown Brooklyn building.
On Screen: The program, known as BAMcinématek, offers the latest indie releases, plus foreign films and retro series geared toward serious cinephiles (like a two-part tribute to MGM musicals).
Bonus Features: Carved out of an old theater used for live drama, these cinemas sport some serious design flourishes and restored decorative arches.

Brooklyn Academy of Music. Photo: Kate Glicksberg

Film Forum 
This ever-popular three-screen theater is a downtown stalwart.
On Screen: Expect a mix of repertory selections, revivals and new releases. Film Forum is also known for imaginative double-feature pairings.
Bonus Features: Snacks here include baked goods and deliciously fresh, no-frills popcorn. 

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Film Society of Lincoln Center 
The mothership of NYC cinema culture has a newish home base at the three-screen Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center, which opened in 2011. The Society puts on the annual New York Film Festival, going strong after more than half a century.
On Screen: The Film Society frequently hosts filmmakers for post-screening Q&As. Just across 65th street, its main screen at the Walter Reade Theater shows repertory films and premieres.
Bonus Features: Indie—an on-site restaurant—has a light pre- and post-movie menu, along with a great wine list.  

Museum of the Moving Image 
Located on the site of Kaufman Astoria Studios, the City’s oldest and longest continually active soundstage, this is one of best movie theaters in the City for screening classic film prints. It’s also known for its stunning sound system.
On Screen: The museum schedules all kinds of series—say, wide-screen blockbusters from the ’60s and ’70s or New York on Film—along with occasional screenings of kid-friendly flicks.
Bonus Features: A space-age café that looks like a set from 2001 and an adjacent garden are great spots for post-movie discussion.

Museum of Moving Image. Photo: Peter Aaron-Esto

Downtown Indies

Angelika Film Center 
When it opened in 1989, this theater pioneered the idea of the “indieplex.”
On Screen: You can still see the latest indie and international releases on its five screens.
Bonus Features: Grab a cappuccino and a snack while you’re waiting in the spacious lobby lounge. 

Anthology Film Archive 
This venue has been screening independent and experimental films in a former New York City courthouse for more than 30 years.
On Screen: The Anthology prides itself on an extremely eclectic calendar, which mixes newer films and avant-garde cinema.
Bonus Features: After a recent upgrade, Anthology has improved the sound and seating in its two cinemas (but they remain snackless, so BYO M&M’s).

IFC Center 
This Greenwich Village multiplex has five screens with plans to more than double that.
On Screen: Everything in the indie-verse. With screen sharing, they offer up to 13 films on a given day.
Bonus Features: This used to be a single-screen house known as the Waverly, where The Rocky Horror Picture Show became a midnight favorite. In honor of this history, the IFC Center screens cult movies at midnight on weekends.

Courtesy, IFC

Landmark Sunshine Cinema 
Set inside an 1898 building that was once a Yiddish vaudeville house, this five-screen, four-floor complex is a now a destination for the modern cinephile.
On Screen: A mix of indies and international titles, along with a weekly selection of midnight movies every weekend that includes cult classics and cinematic curiosities.
Bonus Features: The lobby snack bar has an array of fancy popcorn with flavored salts, plus artisanal sodas.

Coming Soon

There are big plans for even more boutique and indie movie theaters in NYC. Read on for details.

Alamo Drafthouse 
This national chain is opening its first NYC outlet, a seven-screen complex in Downtown Brooklyn. Programming will include everything from blockbusters to VHS cult classics. The chain also prides itself on its extensive food menu and wide selection of craft brews. TBA

Landmark Via 57 
In 2017, the Landmark chain will open a deluxe eight-screen theater in the tetrahedron-shaped Via 57 building on the West Side Highway. This multilevel complex will have a high-end cocktail bar and leather seats in the theaters. Spring 2017

Nitehawk Prospect Park
The Nitehawk will branch out with a second site in Prospect Park, located in the historic building that used to house the Pavilion (a once grand movie palace that fell on hard times). Fall 2017

The Quad
This West Village standby, which originally opened in 1972, is known for screening the best in LGBT and indie cinema. It’s getting set to reopen after a full renovation. Spring 2017

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