As you may have heard, Greenwich Village's Quad Cinema, the independent movie house and the city's first multiplex, reopened last week after a much needed, nearly two-year renovation. We know from a sneak preview that the design of the place, punctuated throughout by Paula Scher's branding and signage, is both elegant and playful. But is the new Quad also a comfortable venue to see a movie? Last night, which was the official Grand Opening, I bought a ticket and saw the Maurizio Cattelan documentary Be Right Back to find out. A few notes:
• The new seats look great—love those armrests—and, most important, they're a totally pleasant place on which to put your butt for two-plus hours. These are not the mall-ish, faux-VIP recliners that the big chains and overpriced boutique theaters seem to think New Yorkers want and need; rather, the Quad gives you comfortable utility, with plenty of leg room, cushion, and support for sitting up straight and watching the movie like the goddamn grown-ass adult that you are.
• That said, the footprint of the four theaters (which are now called Theaters Q, U, A, and D) has not changed, so the screens are still disappointingly small, and the incline is not nearly steep enough to qualify as "stadium seating." If someone super tall sits in front of you, you are going to want to move.
• The concessions have been a given a major upgrade in the sweets department, featuring Li-Lac chocolates, Milk and Cookies blondies, and cups of Ample Hills Ooey Gooey Butter Cake ice cream. There's also boxes of M&M's and buckets of popcorn for those of you who like to eat noisy food during the movies. And according to the manager, The Quad Bar, located in a new room adjacent to the lobby (it used to be lamp store, maybe?), will be open in May.
• Again, the basic layout is the same as before, so the lobby remains long and awkwardly narrow. Last night we weren't seated until ten minutes before the show, which forces more milling-around time than is ideal, but the benches along the wall provide some relief and structure to the space.
• The bathrooms are new and bright and clean and totally fine.
• There are no reserved seats, which is good and democratizing. The staffers are numerous, helpful, and friendly.
Overall, it's great to have the Quad back in action, and the renovation, while considerable, is refreshingly low-key, without a lot of dumb "luxury" features. The Quad is located at 34 West 13th Street, between Fifth Avenue and University Place.