Years In The Making, IFC Center Awaits Its Opening Night
by Eugene Hernandez
On the site that formerly housed the Waverly Theater in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, IFC has nearly completed its brand new IFC Center, an intimate state-of-the-art movie theater complex offering three screens, a bar & restaurant, and even a pair of edit suites. Set to open next Friday (June 17th) with Miranda July's "Me and You and Everyone We Know," IFC will welcome 400 insiders to a kick-off cocktail party later this week. Until then, staffers continue to make final preparations for the debut; indieWIRE toured the facility on Friday.
Co-founder of the former Cowboy Pictures, John Vanco is running the new venue, named VP and General Manager of IFC Center last year. A veteran of Miramax, New Yorker Films and Fine Line, Vanco is set to unveil programming plans for the three screens in the coming days. Miranda July's "Me and You," fresh from its Festival de Cannes honors, will move into the 220-seat theater on the street level of the complex. In the two other theaters, a 110-seat venue and a smaller 70-seat site built above the new bar/restaurant in an adjoining building, Vanco will present a mix of new and classic programming.
First-run films from leading specialty companies are on tap, as well as movies curated by Vanco and guest programmers. The main theater will house specialized releases, while the second screen will host the calendar programming booked in two-week runs, with the third theater for holdovers and special programming. Prior to screenings, short films will be offered instead of commercials, and a late-night midnight program is planned, not to mention morning screenings on weekends. In the Center's edit suites, Vanco plans to create pre-show entertainment to promote IFC Center programming. Clips and video can also be streamed to the many monitors on the walls of the high-tech new lobby.
"Coming here for a movie should not feel like going anywhere else for a movie," offered John Vanco, during Friday's walking tour through the space. "We want this to feel different from going to a movie any place else."
Originally the site of a church back in 1831, the location later housed a stained glass factory and even a vaudeville theater before the Waverly Theater opened. The cinema was eventually split into two theaters in the 1980s, before it was shut down a few years ago. With a massive renovation reportedly costing $8 million, architects and designers have opened up the rafters of the first theater, creating a venue that boasts plenty of legroom and comfy seats imported from France. A small permanent stage below the screen will welcome a performance by Miranda July the night before the Center opens to the public next week. The upstairs theaters are equally roomy. All three venues can screen 35mm film and HD digital video.
More than a dozen classic movie posters will be showcased as part of a rotating exhibit of one-sheets displayed throughout the Center.
The adjacent restaurant, equipped with a large screen and separate sidewalk access, will feature a full menu of food and drinks, even though alcoholic beverages are, by state law, forbidden inside the actual screening rooms.
The IFC network is relocating its "At the Angelika" film preview program to the venue, re-branding it as "At The IFC." Other such TV programming based at the Center is still to be announced.
IFC also recently unveiled a list of advisors on board at the Center, including Noah Cowan (Toronto International Film Festival), Alfonso Cuarón ("Y Tu Mamá También"), Richard Linklater ("Before Sunset"), Rebecca Miller ("Personal Velocity"), Errol Morris ("The Fog of War"), John Sayles ("Lone Star"), Kevin Smith ("Clerks"), Steven Soderbergh ("Traffic"), Cynthia Swartz (publicity & marketing executive), Dan Talbot (New Yorker Films), and Gary Winick (InDigEnt).