Film Forum is getting a makeover. The popular downtown art house and repertory cinema will be adding a fourth screen along with buildingwide improvements, the theater announced Monday.
The new screen will be built using space next to Film Forum and allow for more flexibility in its programming schedule. The updates will also involve a full renovation of the theater’s other three screens, including new seats, more leg room and a more dramatic slope (with stadium seating in the rear rows) to improve sightlines.
These will probably be welcome changes for theater patrons who were surveyed in 2016 and offered feedback (including complaints) about the current setup. But they do come at a price: The improvements are expected to cost the nonprofit cinema about $5 million, though more than half of that budget has already been raised. The Thompson Family Foundation will make a gift to name the fourth screen. And a capital campaign is underway to raise the remaining money and lift the endowment.
The theater has been in its Houston Street space since 1990 with only a couple of updates over the years. The restrooms were upgraded in 2014 and the concession rebuilt in 2015, but the screening rooms have remained untouched. Renovations will be overseen by Stephen Tilly, the architect who designed Film Forum’s previous home on Watts Street in Soho.
Construction is planned for early 2018. Film Forum plans to close in May and reopen in its new iteration July 4. The expansion is in anticipation of the theater’s 50th anniversary, to be celebrated in 2020.