BY MICHAEL STOLER
The metropolitan region is finally seeing the return of movie theaters.
With a population of over 8.5 million – as well as nearly 60 million visitors – one retail venue, which is in need of improvement, is the state of the movie theater presence in the metropolitan region.
In February, Ziegfeld Theater at 141 West 54th St., closed its doors to reopen next year as an event space that caters to galas and corporate functions. The cinema opened in 1969 and served as popular venue for Hollywood film premiers and a favorite of local film buffs.
The number of seats in New York City was reduced due to the installation of large reclining seats. The increase in size of the average seat from 44 inches to 60 inches resulted in a reduction of approximately 40 percent of the seats in the theater, while the theater operator was able to increase the ticket price between a $1 and $2 more than a traditional theater.
Finally a number of new theaters are opening in the city and nearby New Jersey. In March, the Metrograph cinema opened at Number 7 Ludlow St. on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The two screen theater features both new films and repertoire fare. The Metrograph offers movie goers a book store, a candy store and a restaurant.
January marked the opening of Syndicated, a movie theater, bar and restaurant opened at 40 Bogart St. in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. As reported in the New York Times, the facility, is located around the corner from Roberta’s pizzeria. It is not your typical cinema or indie art house. Tucked in the back, past the bar and cavernous restaurant, is a 50-seat theater and a 280-inch screen that shows film classics, along with food and drinks served by waiters. Serving seasonal American Cooking and elevated bar snacks created by Chef Bret Marcis, the theater menu rotates based on the movies’ theme and the season.
Last month, Mark Cuban’s Landmark Theaters, a company with 56 theatres, 288 screens in 27 markets around the nation, announced it will open a 30,000 sq. ft. cinema, at the Durst Organization, residential rental building “Via57 West”, located at 625 West 57th St., between West 57 & West 58th streets and 11th and 12th avenues. The theater which is expected to open in the spring of 2017, will have eight screens.
Landmark currently owns and operates the Sunshine Cinema, at 143 East Houston St., between 1st and 2nd avenues.
Later this summer, Austin based Movie Theater plus restaurant chain, Alamo Drafthouse will celebrate its grand opening in Downtown Brooklyn at City Point mixed use complex at Flatbush Avenue and Fulton Street. The theater will feature seven screens and a full food and drink menu, including cocktails and local beers. The company website states “cold beer, hot movies, and delicious snacks and meals: The Alamo Drafthouse is dinner, drinks, movies and events, all under one roof. The chain has 23 other locations around the nation. It will be the chains first location in New York City, though the chain once intended to open on the upper west side at the former, Metro Theater at 2626 Broadway.
On the other side of the Hudson, nearby to the George Washington Bridge, is the Hudson Lights, a mixed use development located at 2023 Hudson St. in Fort Lee. One of the large retail tenants in the complex is the eight-screen, 533-seat iPic Theater, one of the fastest growing luxury cinema chains in the country featuring a full service restaurant.
The cinema will offer reclining chairs encapsulated in movie watching “seating pods” which come with courtesy pillows and blankets. At the push of a button, guests will be able to summon personal servers to deliver gourmet dishes and hand-crafted cocktails.