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2023-11-07 00:00:00 Avenue Magazine The Best Independent Movie Theaters in NYC

The Best Independent Movie Theaters in NYC

In a city of iconoclasts it’s little wonder that New Yorkers want their cinemas as independent as their bookstores
Metrograph theatre

Quad Cinema
34 West 13th Street

It’s hard to imagine this sleek, red, recently renovated retro gem was actually the East Coast’s first multiplex, founded in 1972, its four screens now showing independent and foreign films as well as compelling retrospectives. Warhol was a regular here and helped establish the Quad’s cool. Which continues: the Quad Bar is a recent addition, as is state-of-the-art sound, the 32-screen video wall in the lobby, and specialty ice-cream sandwiches at the 50-foot concessions stand. 

The red, high-gloss entrance of the QUAD

7 Ludlow Street

The newest independent film house in the city opened in 2016 south of Delancey, and is given to premiering independent American and foreign films, classics, and themed programming. It’s committed to screening 35mm prints as well as digital projections. Leave time for dinner or a drink at the Metrograph Commissary or just browse the Susan Sontag or “We’re Jane
Fonda” bumper stickers in the
mini bookstore. 

Angelika Film Center
18 West Houston Street

Since 1989, cineastes and students from nearby NYU have headed underground to watch independent, foreign, and small-release films often accompanied by special sound FX courtesy of the B, D, F, and M subway trains; no charge for the extra rumbling. Six screens. No frills. Water-cooler-worthy films.

Nitehawk Cinema
136 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn
188 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn

If you miss the excitement of the drive-in (or are too young to be famliar with the concept), head to Brooklyn for classic, revival, and independent films in two specially rigged dine-in theaters. Both venues host short-film festivals and bring live music accompaniment to silent classics so you can see it like your grandparents did.

IFC Center
323 Sixth Avenue

Replacing the legendary Waverly Theater, the Independent Film Channel Center opened in 2005 with five screens showing new independent, foreign, and documentary films, National Theatre Live offerings from London, and midnight showings of cult classics. Your film-geek memento for the night is the Cinemetal T-shirt line on sale with the Milk Duds and lionizing the likes of Ingmar Bergman, Werner Herzog, and Luis Buñuel, tricked out in heavy-metal-band typefaces.

Landmark Theatre
657 West 57th Street

This destination arthouse theater in Bjarke Ingles’s vanguard residential tower has become a haven for foreign, classic, and independent film, as well as documentaries and contemporary movies. Boasting eight screens, oversized leather seating, and craft cocktails, the theater also benefits from a clutch of chic restaurants next door as you exit. 

Anthology Film Archives
32 Second Avenue

The essential cinema house, Anthology was founded in 1970 for “the preservation, study, and exhibition of films and video” and is beloved by hardcore avant-garde and experimental filmgoers. Two screens, small seats, great films, all housed in a landmark courthouse.

Village East Cinema
181-189 Second Avenue

Originally the Louis N. Jaffe Theater, this East Village landmark building went up in 1925 and has still got it, with a gold, vaulted ceiling, Moorish details, and a glimmering cut-glass chandeliers. Seven screening rooms run classic film, new releases, and red-carpet premieres.

The main auditorium of the Village East Cinema.

Roxy Cinema
2 Sixth Avenue

Paying tribute to the 1920s Times Square area movie palace—the Roxy Cinema, which seated more than 5,000 people—the Roxy Hotel’s basement screening room program runs independent and archival classics in a plush setting with craft cocktails.

Alamo Drafthouse
445 Albee Square West, Brooklyn
28 Liberty Street (coming soon)

Austin is exporting the one-for-all, no-cellphones Alamo concept to the downtowns of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Discounts for teens and showings for the pre-K crowd; 30 different microbrews and in-theater eats for grownups. Classics, independents, and Hollywood extravaganzas play overhead.

Film Forum
209 West Houston Street

This 50-year-old landmark plays independent, foreign, and revival programs 365 days a year and boasts the best popcorn and egg creams in the city. It also has some of the best industry people-watching, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself seated next to your favorite directors or in discussion with them by the concession stand.

Cinemas 1,2,3
1001 Third Avenue

Owned by the same family as the Village East Cinema, the Upper East Side local theater opposite Bloomingdale’s recently renovated its interior to include plush reclining seats. A mix of independent, classic, and new releases, the cinema offers audiences with AMC fatigue a local alternative near plenty of dining and shopping.

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