Landmark Theatres confirmed to IndieWire that, as of Monday, it is now booking the four-screen Quad Theater in lower Manhattan. Owned by real estate magnate Charles S. Cohen, The Quad was previously booked by in-house programmer Chris Wells. As of last week, Wells is now head of sales at specialized distributor Kino Lorber.
Cohen said the fourplex theater will be officially known as the Quad Cinema a Landmark Theatre. Landmark, which Cohen purchased last December, is the nation’s largest theater chain dedicated to exhibiting independent film.
“I’m thrilled that Landmark’s professional and experienced staff will guide the Quad in providing the very best in entertainment for this unique and historic Greenwich Village location,” he said. “Their expertise and commitment to the movie-going experience is in line with the founding ethos of the Quad, and I’m looking forward to the next phase in this theater’s long lifespan.”
It’s a logical move, given the common ownership. Landmark’s direct booking will be vital for the identity and the future of the West Village theater, which became Manhattan’s first multiplex when it opened in 1972. It’s played specialized films for most of its existence, but never with the clout and expertise of Landmark. Still, it’s unlikely to vault ahead of its Lower Manhattan competition.
The Angelika, IFC Center, and Film Forum, all nearby, are well-established specialized locations. Regal’s Union Square location sometimes serves as the sole downtown initial run for films from companies like Fox Searchlight and Focus. However, Union Square will temporarily lose six screens this summer to renovation, potentially to the benefit all other theaters in the zone.
Also, while the Quad underwent a glamorous makeover in 2017, seating is still limited; the largest of the four theaters has only 100 seats. This is especially challenging when calculating the all-important per-theater averages, which are critical when positioning for initial box-office analysis.
Previously, Landmark operated the now-shuttered Sunshine Cinema on the Lower East Side. It had more screens and more seats, but never earned preferred status. Landmark also owns the plush 57th Street theater, which became a go-to location after the revered Lincoln Plaza closed down. Distributors have their habits, but with Landmark in charge, expect the Quad to become more competitive.
Under Landmark, it remains to be seen whether the Quad will continue to provide a haven for viable titles that don’t conform to 90-day theatrical windows and don’t want to four-wall screens to play them. In New York City, reportedly the IFC Center is the only other theater willing to provide this opportunity to select distributors.
“Ash Is Purest White”
Consistent with Cohen Releasing’s acquisition of primarily foreign-language titles, the Quad has played many first-run subtitled films. One question to be confirmed is the continuation of repertory programming, which has previously been a priority for Cohen. In an interview with IndieWire in December, Cohen said he has already suggested devoting some Landmark screens, particularly on weekdays, to repertory presentations. According to Cohen, the Landmark Quad Cinema will continue to showcase restored and classic films.