Let’s face it, the movie-going experience in the average city has become stale. The movies are the same, the popcorn tastes the same and the seats feel the same. Arriving early, you feel lucky if you are presented with the nearly obsolete movie trivia offerings, which have even now been predominantly replaced by local commercials and advertisements. But what are you options? If you are fortunate enough to live in a major city, you probably have the choice between either a Multiplex or an Art-house Cinema. A truly unique movie going experience, beyond the scope of the film itself, is a growingly rare occurrence. However, I experienced one shortly after moving to New York City. Entering into the dark theatre and finding my seat, I was surprised with the sight of neither benign trivia nor advertisements but an entertaining montage of video and film elements. The montage was loosely related to the night’s screening (Black Christmas) offering a barrage of vintage Christmas ads and interviews with Director Bob Clark. Encountering the thirty-minute loop, edited specifically for the event; I knew immediately that Nitehawk Cinema would be the theatre I was going to call home.
Established in 2011, Nitehawk Cinema is a cinephile’s dream; operating as both an independent theatre as well as a gourmet eatery. It is neither an exceptionally niche indie theatre, nor a multiplex offering only the top Hollywood pictures. It seems to exist almost enigmatically between the two poles, specially catered dishes for all cinematic tastes. Nitehawk Cinema, which houses three screens, describes themselves as, “an unparalleled cinematic experience…combining exemplary first-run and repertory film programming”, a description I find rather hard to refute. At the time I am writing this piece, the theatre is simultaneously offering viewings of most of the Oscar nominated titles (Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave, Nebraska and more) alongside a 16mm print of Fugazi: Instrument, a documentary on the punk band Fugazi. You would be hard pressed to find a theatre anywhere that offers the range of films over the course of a year, that Nitehawk offers over the course of a night.
Another unordinary aspect of the theatre comes in the form of the food and beverage selection. Rather than the typical concession stand offerings, Nitehawk Cinema opts for in-theatre table service, complete with a full food and drink menu. Catering specific food items with films, you can currently snack on the “Alphabet Cobb Salad” while laughing at Jason Bateman’s Bad Words; or snack on “Jerome’s Pastry” between insertion scenes in Nymphomaniac: Vol. One. The theatre even offers a selection of alcoholic beverages; a right they had to fight the New York legislation to obtain, becoming the first movie theatre in New York City to allow alcohol consumption within the screening rooms. Prior to first attending the theatre, I had reservations about the table service. It seemed like the introduction of servers in a theatre would interfere with the spectacle of cinema. I can now safely say that I was wrong, and the servers generally seem to do a proper job of remaining nearly invisible. In addition, an ordering system was developed where little to no communication is needed, which keeps the volume within the theatre to a minimum.
If the prospect of gourmet food, craft beer, and cocktails isn’t enough to catch your interest, with near certainty I can assure that Nitehawk Cinema’s Midnight Series will. Commencing almost immediately with the opening of the theatre, Cinema Programming Director, John Woods, cites the evolution of the series from VHS screenings in the lobby. “We didn’t do them at midnight, but it was the first kind of step in the direction of doing genre stuff for a really specific audience.” Originally a video store proprietor, Woods knew that there was an audience of VHS fans out there, and catered the initial series for this small but dedicated base. The events’ popularity quickly grew, pushing Nitehawk Cinema towards implementing the Midnight Series that exists now: “We first started doing them in August , and it was not very well attended at first, but by October or November of that year we did Maniac (1980) on 35mm, we did Trick Or Treat (1986), and we started to really find audiences…Now people know what we are, but at the time it wasn’t transparent what the place was.” Woods proudly proclaims that, while in the past people may have been apprehensive, Nitehawk Cinema has earned its place among the best theatres in New York City.
For more information about the cinema please visit there website: https://www.nitehawkcinema.com/
Midnight Screening Schedule for the month of April:April 4th and 5th: 12:00am Scarface (1983) April 4th and 5th: 12:00 am Evil Come, Evil Go (1972) X-Rated film presented as part of Nitehawk Cinema’s Nitehawk Naughties series. April 11th and 12th: 12:10am Trainspotting (1996) April 18th and 19th: 12:10am Drugstore Cowboy (1989) April 25th and 26th: 12:00am Fantastic Planet (1973) Featuring a live score by Morricone Youth.