Brooklyn's rising status as the epicenter of New York Cool is nothing new, but it has taken time to meet the needs of the borough's devout moviegoers, whose discerning tastes remain largely satisfied by Manhattan's long-established list of venues including Film Forum, Anthology and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
However, that has finally started to change with a series of newer options -- several of which have recently opened in Williamsburg, the nexus of Brooklyn's funky cultural elite -- providing the borough with a diverse selection of alternative cinema tailor-made for the predominantly young, hip moviegoers in the area.
Programming choices at these venues means that more low-budget productions made on the fringes of American cinema can finding audiences in Brooklyn, while residents no longer must contend with finicky subway lines to meet their movie needs. More significantly, these new theaters are incredibly distinct in terms of their programming strategies and business models, reflecting a larger urgency in an age when the basic theatrical model has grown increasingly outmoded.
The two venues that recently celebrated their arrivals speak to these needs. Williamsburg's Videology has served its neighborhood as a rental store for nine years, but will now show week-long features and other programs in its newly designed screening area, which is complemented by a bar out front. The entire rental catalogue has been moved to the basement, but remains available to patrons.
Meanwhile, Dumbo's reRun Gastropub Theater, which officially launched in 2010, just celebrated its new partnership with IFP, the non-profit independent film organization that shares a building with the venue.
Both Videology and reRun aim to provide significant exposure for sleeper hits from the film-festival circuit while also tapping into their other missions: In the case of Videology, screenings at the 35-seat venue can be used to instigate interest in the rental catalogue, while IFP's programming taps into the organization's other initiatives in the independent film world. Regardless of their motives, the venues further the perception that Brooklyn's theatrical scene is approaching the variety available in Manhattan.
"I think of it like the West Village," said Andrew Miller, who has already begun programming Videology's lineup along with filmmaker Zach Clark. Miller singles out the lower Manhattan neighrborhood's trifecta of the Angelika Cinema, Anthology Film Archives and Film Forum, which is mirrored in the Williamsburg's own trio of theaters: On Bedford Avenue, microcinema Spectacle shows the most outré selections, filling the Anthology slot, while three-screen arthouse Nitehawk Cinema shows more conventional specialty fare in tune with the Angelika. Videology's choices fall more in line with the discerning taste at Film Forum, where there's a combination of first-run features and retrospectives.
Next page: How to sustain an old model with a new one.