New Yorkers know summer weather is great… until it isn’t. The stench of _______ in the city becomes unbearable (there are so many varieties, I’ll let you fill in the blank with your favorite). We lose half our ice cream cone down our arms before we have a chance to eat it. My personal breaking point? When my skirt and my thighs become a singular entity. And when that moment hits, it’s time to find some indoor relief. Movie theaters, it turns out, are the perfect escape.
Justin and I have long been cinephiles but truth be told, our movie tastes don’t always align. I refuse to watch anything with Tom Cruise in it. I also secretly love dance movies. We stream the movies the other half isn’t interested in, and never discuss the “Recently Watched” queue as part of our unspoken marriage contract. But when there’s a movie that we’re both excited to see, we love putting down the remote and heading to an actual theater. We’re not talking about the ones with stale popcorn and sticky floors. Here are some theaters that turn moviegoing into an experience.
Alexander Olch is a filmmaker and fashion designer, and Metrograph is exactly the space you would expect from him. Metrograph not only projects archive quality 35mm and state-of-the-art digital video, it also houses a bookstore and lounge with top-notch aesthetics. Even the snack bar looks like it jumped off the page of a design magazine. The movies are selected by a team who has experience curating for BAM and the Museum of Moving Image, so if pedigree is what you’re looking for you will find it here. They run interesting retrospectives, fun themed events and exclusive premieres. We personally love grabbing a seat in the front row of the balcony, although there doesn’t really seem to be a bad seat in the intimate space. The in-house restaurant and bar, Commissary, offers a nice place to enjoy brunch before a matinee or a nightcap after an evening show.
7 Ludlow St
Alamo Drafthouse is a Texas import that has grown from its humble beginnings as a second-run theater into a powerhouse chain with company-owned and franchised locations across the country. Quentin Tarantino once hosted marathon screenings from his personal collection at its original location, which speaks to its history supporting independent film and filmmakers. They don’t screen ads (“you’ve already paid to see the movie”) and enforce a strict movie etiquette. All the locations strive to stay true to the original unique programming with their Signature Series. They also offer a comprehensive menu of food and drinks which can be purchased and consumed during the movie. While we like the idea of a full-service dine-in theater, the reality isn’t quite as appealing if you’re trying to focus on the movie. We recommend sticking to the creative shakes or the highly rated chocolate chip cookie.
Pro Tip: The downtown Brooklyn location is at City Point, which is also home to the new DeKalb Market Hall. The choices there are extremely varied, so your dining options before or after the movie are unbeatable.
445 Albee Square West
Nitehawk Cinema was one of the first New York City theaters to offer the dine-in experience and actually had to overturn a prohibition-era New York State liquor law to do so. There are many aspects that are similar to those you would find at Alamo Drafthouse, including the paired seats and the ordering system. Nitehawk also offers its own film series, which include the popular brunch and midnight movie offerings. Lo-Res is the in-house bar located on the ground floor of the theater, which offers the full Nitehawk menu. The food offerings didn’t blow us away, and they are very strict about making no substitutions or amendments. Again, we recommend sticking to snack foods like the gourmet popcorn or the tater tots. Save space for a meal at one of the many choice eateries in Williamsburg.
136 Metropolitan Ave
All of the theaters mentioned in this post offer online booking with the ability to select your seats, which is a nice option if you’re worried about a show selling out, or if you’re particular about where you like to sit. The creative programming relies on a healthy mix of new releases and older favorites.
On a lovely day, I will argue that there’s no better place to be than New York City. But on the not-so-lovely days, turn these theaters into your sanctuary from the nasty weather raging outside.