Nearly a year after closing its physical location, New York City’s IFC Center is preparing to finally reopen on Friday, March 5. The theater has announced a range of new safety measures along with new releases and several screening series. The arthouse venue first shut its doors on March 13, 2020 as early lockdown measures called for the closure of a variety of cultural institutions. In late February, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York City movie theaters had permission to reopen at 25 percent capacity and with a maximum of 50 people allowed per screen. Other areas of the state reopened months ago.
While the state has enacted a number of guidelines for reopening theaters, IFC Center has added additional safety measures, including mandatory mask-wearing at all times, no concession sales, and no eating and drinking allowed in theaters. Its five screens will also feature reserved seating (with six feet between occupied seats), with its largest theater offering 50 seats and its smallest just 9.
IFC Center reps say that the choice to ban food and drink — which is allowed by the state and currently in place at many theaters — and thus enact the mandatory mask decree was in response to feedback from their “most loyal audience.”
In order to encourage audiences to attend at off-peak times, the theater will also offer dynamic pricing on its tickets, with reduced prices for weekday matinees, and even steeper discounts for Morning Matinees (shows starting before noon), seven days a week. The IFC Center is also offering extended breaks between all shows to minimize patrons waiting in lines. Features will now start at their exact showtimes, and patrons who want to catch the trailers and usual pre-show can arrive 15 minutes before then.
Other safety measures include new traffic flow patterns through the complex, hospital-grade MERV 13 air filtration, and contactless hand sanitizer stations and sanitizing wipes available to customers throughout the complex.
When the Greenwich Village complex re-opens on Friday, it will also boast a robust assortment of programming choices for its patrons, including the theatrical premiere of Philippe Falardeau’s dramedy “My Salinger Year,” the theatrical premiere of Jayro Bustamante’s short-listed foreign language contender “La Llorona,” and the theatrical premiere of Keith Thomas’s Brooklyn-set Orthodox horror-thriller “The Vigil.”
The theater will also host the New York theatrical premieres of a number of Netflix titles, including “Da 5 Bloods,” “Mank,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
The programming staff has also lined up a pair of special series, including “What’d We Miss,” billed as “a four-week series showcase for some of the best films released during the shutdown (many from filmmakers who are IFC Center alumni). The series offers New Yorkers their first chance to see these important titles in a cinema.” Current confirmed titles include “Ammonite,” “Another Round,” “Bacurau,” “Bloody Nose Empty Pockets,” “Collective,” “Dick Johnson Is Dead,” “Kajillionaire,” “Little Fish,” “Martin Eden,” “Miss Juneteenth,” “MLK/FBI,” “The Nest,” “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” “Relic,” “Sound of Metal,” “Tesla,” “Time,” “To the Ends of the Earth,” “The Truth,” and “Welcome to Chechnya,” with more to come.
Another series of note: “IFC Films 20th Anniversary,” designed as “a look back at some of the highlights of IFC Films’ two decades in the business.” All ticket sales will benefit a local community organization in the Village, and the series will be presented in four week-long groups of thematic picks. The first week’s program is dedicated to IFC Films’ comedies, and will include “Sword of Trust,” “In the Loop,” “The Death of Stalin,” and “The Trip” series.
For those unable or unwilling to attend in-person showings, IFC Center will be continuing with its virtual cinema offerings through its website, “IFC Center at Home,” which offers select new releases to watch online. Current picks include “Little Fish,” “Blithe Spirit,” and “MLK/FBI.”