New York City was home to one of the first ‘moving picture shows’ in a midtown music hall that had previously housed vaudeville performances. Since then, New York has been one of the movie industry’s favorite spots, hosting movie premieres and annual film festivals, with unique theaters in every borough. Even if you can’t make the famed Tribeca Film Festival, you can still find plenty of interesting theaters and venues in New York to dive right into film culture.
This spot has one of the best views for a free movie, and you can watch the sun set behind the Statue of Liberty before settling in for the movie on your picnic blanket or cozy lawn chair.
Nitehawk, located in Brooklyn, combines the traditional dinner and movie date with creative modernity. Food is themed to match up with the movies, and the cinema also features a full bar and table service. Most importantly, the theater offers brunch, making it both a unique movie theater and a fun new spot for boozy brunch. The schedule of events and corresponding menus can be found here.
Village East Cinema
Entrenched in history, the Village East Cinema is a long-standing participant in the New York arts scene. Built in the 1920s, the Cinema hosted vaudeville performers and original productions of huge hits (Grease!) and helped welcome in the era of ‘moving pictures’. It’s a beautifully designed theater and watching an indie movie here will make you feel like you’ve gone back in time.
181-189 2nd Ave @ 12th St, New York, NY 10003, USA, +1 212 529 6998
The Paris Theater
If you grow sick of American blockbusters and sleepy indies, The Paris Theater in Manhattan is the go-to spot for foreign films, focusing primarily on French movies. Reasonably priced for an independent theater in Manhattan at only $14 for adults and $8 for matinees, the Paris is a single screen theater and seats over 500. Make sure to check the schedule since the movies only play one at a time.
4 W. 58th Street, New York, NY 10019, USA, +1 212 593 4872
Rooftop Cinema Club
YOTEL in Manhattan shows movies weekly in the rooftop bar, and hosts another location at Office Ops in Bushwick as a part of The Rooftop Cinema Club. Both locations have movies scheduled through September. Currently, the ‘club’ doesn’t have a membership program, but tickets and the schedule are available online. Tickets sell out fast due to the bar and beautiful rooftop setting.
YOTEL, 570 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036, USA, +1 347 348 0953
Kew Gardens Cinema
Another theater and another era of film history. Kew Gardens Cinema was built in the 1930s and changed hands (and names) multiple times, showing a variety of films, including XXX for a short but hugely profitable time. Now, the theater has maintained the 1950s art deco look and also has a coffee shop and multiple screens in a community-oriented theater.
81-05 Lefferts Blvd, Kew Gardens, NY 11415, USA, +1 718 441 9835
Crosby Street Hotel’s Cinema
Tucked away on a cobblestone street in Soho, Crosby Street’s intimate setting and location makes it feel like your personal screening room. With tons of options for lunch or dinner before or after your movie, including the Crosby’s bar and lounge, the ‘film club’ shows movies on the weekends, and despite the name, is open to the public.
AMC Loews 84th Street
Hands down the best theater for a date, the 84th Street AMC Loews is notable for the ‘makeout couches’ – red leather love seats that allow patrons to get comfy and feel like the big screen is right in their living room. The 84th Street is an AMC Loews, which means it plays the biggest films. Like most large theaters, the movies have a quick turnaround with the exception of major blockbusters. Multiple screens make it a great place to catch a movie last minute and the popcorn is always perfect.