A Guide To NYC's New Movie Theater Mecca: Williamsburg

<p>When the <a href="">hotly anticipated Williamsburg Cinemas</a> opens next month, the neighborhood will suddenly boast five different places to experience a diverse array of films, all within a half mile radius. This embarrassment of cinematic riches is a far cry from just a few years ago, when there wasn't a single proper movie theater in all of north Brooklyn. Now Williamsburg's Southside is bursting at the seams with cinema—and in most of these places you can wash down your Bunuel with a Brooklyn Lager. Click through on the photos for a guide to this strange new world of Southside Cinema. We're a <em>long </em>way from Ocularis screenings at Galapagos, baby. </p>

<strong><a href="">IndieScreen</a>:</strong> This was the first proper movie theater to open in North Brooklyn in decades, the one that<em> changed everything. </em>Owner Marco Ursino co-founded <a href="">The Brooklyn International Film Festival</a> back in the late '90s, and finally got so frustrated with the lack of venues for the festival that he cobbled the money together to open <a href="">IndieScreen</a>. The theater is on the smaller side, but still feels new, and the technology is state-of-the-art, with 12 rows of seats that have little tables for food and drink. (The kitchen is currently on hold while Ursino revamps the menu, but the bar is very much operational.)<br/><br/>Asked why Williamsburg suddenly has such an abundance of movie theaters, Ursino tells us, "Good question! Maybe we were the spark and the fire followed the spark. Williamsburg is also a major neighborhood for people involved in the film industry, and they want to see their movies."<br/><br/><img alt="111312indie2.jpg" height="480" src="" width="640"/><br/><br/>Ursino is also unconcerned about all the new competition. "I remember approaching investors for IndieScreen and saying, 'We don't want just one movie theater in Williamsburg, we want four or five.' Williamsburg is now a destination to watch movies, and if it's not my theater, if it's another one, that's fine. Think about it: Do we need all these restaurants in the neighborhood? But now people come from all over New York to go enjoy the restaurant scene. So I am hoping this is going to be very good for everybody." <br/><br/><em>289 Kent Avenue at South 2 Street, Williamsburg. Most tickets cost $8.</em><br/><br/>

<strong>Williamsburg Cinemas: </strong> This seven screen multiplex is owned and operated by the man behind Cobble Hill cinemas, Harvey Elgart, who promises that the 7.1 Dolby Digital surround sound system in his new theater will "knock you out of your seat." The multiplex was supposed to open this month, but because of <a href="">Hurricane Sandy</a>, the Buildings Department had to postpone the necessary final inspections. <br/><br/>Elgart promises he'll open well before Christmas, and in plenty of time to screen<em> The Hobbit.</em> "All the auditoriums have stadium seating and 3D capability," Elgart tells us, and can show movies with the high-speed frame rate of 48 frames per second, which "very few theaters have in NYC." <em>The Hobbit </em>will be the first major studio release with that high speed (<a href="">which is supposedly hyper-realistic</a>), and Williamsburg will be getting a <em>precioussss </em>first look.<br/><br/> In addition to mainstream blockbusters, Williamsburg Cinemas will screen independent and art house films, but don't expect midnight movies; Elgart isn't a fan. "It can bring in the wrong element and we don't want to deal with it," he explains. He also says that after looking into offering alcohol—something the nearby Nitehawk Cinema trailblazed—Williamsburg Cinemas will stick to standard concessions. "I get different stories from different people on how you do it. From what I was told the liquor cannot be consumed in the auditorium. That's what we were told by the SLA. I have not gotten a clear explanation of the law, and I don't know if the people who are doing it now are doing it legally. We are a movie theater, we're not a restaurant. <strong>Nitehawk is basically a restaurant that shows movies." </strong>OOH, get your popcorn for <em>Theater Wars: Episode I</em><br/><br/><em>Grand Street and Driggs Avenue, Williamsburg</em><br/><br/>

<strong><a href="">Nitehawk Cinema</a>:</strong> Arguably the most enjoyable place to place to take in a picture show in NYC, <a href="">Nitehawk</a> boasts three screens (though we must admit that third screen is a tad dinky) and a full menu of booze, beer, and quality food. The programming skews toward big indies and smaller studio films (currently they're screening the hilarious <em>Seven Psychopaths, The Sessions</em>, and <em>Looper</em>).<br/><br/> The service is astonishingly attentive—you can order drinks during the movie using little scraps of paper at your table—and the menu offers a variety of tasty gourmet comfort food as well as several addictive varieties of popcorn. Among their myriad fun <a href="">special</a> <a href="">events</a>, they host a regular "Live Sound And Cinema" event with live music paired to a silent movie. <a href="">This Saturday</a> at noon it's Charlie Chaplin's <em>The Gold Rush.</em> <br/><br/>Asked about the explosion of cinemas in such a small area, Nitehawk owner Matthew Viragh tells us, "As a Williamsburg resident, I'm excited we have so many unique movie theater options in the neighborhood finally. At Nitehawk, we always start by selecting the very best movies for our audience and then let those films inspire us to develop interesting food and drink offerings to enhance the Nitehawk experience. With our lobbying efforts to overturn the NY state law preventing alcohol consumption in movie theaters <a href="">last year</a>, I think you'll see other theaters inch towards our model because audiences, especially New York audiences expect and deserve a more interesting movie going experience."<br/><br/><em>136 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg. Tickets to most screenings cost $11.</em><br/><br/><form class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image" mt:asset-id="756011" style="display: inline;"> <img alt="111312nite3.jpg" class="image-none" height="426" src="" width="640"/> </form><br/><br/>

<strong><a href="">Spectacle</a>:</strong> All those other movie theaters and screening rooms in Williamsburg might <em>think</em> they're indie, but they're all a bunch of bourgie poseurs compared to the hardcore avant-garde obscure underground cinema that unspools at least five nights a week at <a href="">Spectacle</a>. Created out of what was once a small bodega on South Third Street, <a href="">Spectacle is your DIY destination</a> for semi-obscure, non-mainstream films that are usually unavailable on DVD. The often use actual celluloid (remember that?) at Spectacle, where "lost classics of modern cinema" are the <em>raison d'être</em>. <br/><br/>Tickets are dirt cheap, and while you won't find any artisanal popcorn here, nobody seems to have any problem with you cracking open a beer to go with Dennis Hopper's <em>The Last Movie</em> (screening November 26th). <br/><br/><em>124 S. 3rd Street, Williamsburg. Tickets cost $5, except when they're FREE.</em><br/><br/><img alt="111312spectacle.jpg" height="480" src="" width="640"/>

<strong><a href="">Videology</a>:</strong> The newest arrival to Southside's cine-scene is this DVD rental store on Bedford Avenue that <a href="">recently transformed into a bar and screening room</a>. You can still rent movies (browsing is done using in-house iPads that track the inventory) but the focus here has shifted to first-run independent and art house films, plus regular fun events such as <em>Blue Velvet</em> bingo. <br/><br/> Like Nitehawk Cinema a few blocks away, you can eat and drink in <a href="">Videology</a>'s relaxed rear screening room, but they've decided it will be too distracting to offer table service during the paid screenings (the owners encourage you to buy a big carafe of beer instead). The front bar area is small but welcoming, with subdued dim lighting and a rustic, DIY feel, as if the Little Rascals built a little cafe to enjoy their favorite movies... and got their hands on six kegs of craft beer to wash them down. <br/><br/><em>South 1st Street and Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg. Tickets cost $8, except when they're FREE.</em><br/><br/><form class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image" mt:asset-id="756008" style="display: inline;"> <img alt="111312vo2.jpg" class="image-none" height="427" src="" width="640"/> </form>