Just before a film leaves the theatre, the movie lovers at Empire's Columbia Park Cinemas throw it a fitting farewell party. Each week, on what they appropriately dub Last Chance Thursday, the cinema hosts a special for a film coming to the end of its run. Of course, there's plenty of cinema magic on display every day of the week. The cinema showcases first-run movies in all of its stadium-style theaters, and ongoing renovations mean movie goers follow the plot in comfort. For example, Empire's Columbia Park Cinemas plans on adding reclining seats in the near future.
The first event held in Symphony Space was a signal of the venue's ambitions and its creative approach to programming. In 1978, Allan Miller and Selected Shorts public-radio host Isaiah Sheffer reopened the formerly decaying market-turned-skating-rink-turned-theater to the public with 12 straight hours of Bach, including a night's-end chorus of hundreds of amateur and professional voices singing the composer's Mass in B Minor. Today, Symphony Space continues to welcome a diverse community from the neighborhood and beyond for performances from established and emerging artists.
Equipped with comfy red carpet recliners and an online reservation system, Kerasotes ShowPlace in Secaucus puts an end to the days of fidgeting in uncomfortable seats and camping out for the best view. The 14 renovated theaters feature Dolby Surround 7.1 digital sound and high-frame-rate projectors, ensuring that every trip to the movies feels as real as watching a dog plan and execute a mission to Mars possibly can. All patrons who attend a movie on Tuesdays receive free popcorn.
Based in the West Village, Film Forum is an autonomous non-profit cinema house that has the wonderful distinction of being open for more than four decades. The theater’s three screens run a variety of American independent features and foreign art films every day of the year, and curates in-house film festivals, documentary showings and retrospectives as well. These special events often bring writers, directors, filmmakers and authors to the stage for lectures and Q & A sessions, which can render the fewer than 200-seat spaces a bit cramped at times. But for the cinematically passionate, Film Forum remains a mecca of quality film screenings and rare archival showings, all run by a core group of buffs and hobbyists who truly enjoy the work they do.
Located in a former fire station, this cinema in Greenwich Village is the neighborhood’s longest running. Since 1963, Cinema Village has survived on a steady diet of art-house and indie programming, which has included documentaries, animation, cult classics, foreign films and festival screenings. Now decked out for the digital era, the three screens continue to play to audiences of up to 156 inside the tight, spartan theaters. But the lack of creature comforts matters little to the dedicated patrons who come for the shows they can’t get anywhere else in the city. And should you arrive too early to grab a seat, waiting space is always available in the small, dim downstairs lounge.
Originally called the Austin, this vintage 1930s theater has seen several ups and downs in its history, from years as a second-run double-feature house to a red-tinted stint that got it shut down by the city. In its current incarnation, the Kew Gardens Cinemas flaunts restored art-deco flair alongside modern projectors and molar-rocking surround sound. Stadium seating and a fully stocked concession stand further complement current flicks by granting every set of eyes a great view and every set of dental braces something to hold during scary scenes. Swing by the theater with a friend to snack on your own small popcorns (a $5 value each) and sip sodas (a $3.50 value each) while enjoying a vintage movie-viewing experience that beats watching Betamax tapes on your Great Uncle Vinnie's 1978 Zenith.