Greenport movie theater to open for series of films this winter

12/13/2018 6:10 AM |

Greenport’s Village Cinema will reopen this month for a series of holiday films selected by Manhattan Film Institute, marking the first time in more than two decades the theater has been open in the winter.

The six films, which will be screened Dec. 28-30, are just the start of winter cinema at the Front Street theater. A Saturday Film Series, also curated by MFI, will run from Jan. 19 through May 18 showcasing award-winning movies and classic cinema for kids and adults alike, said MFI co-founder Tony Spiridakis.

In total, 42 films will be shown on 21 dates, with family-friendly screenings at 3 p.m. and more mature selections at 7 p.m. All of the screenings will be presented free of charge this winter, though, as with some museums, there will be a suggested donation.

“The idea of having the Greenport movie theater during the winter has been a fun pipe dream for years,” said Mr. Spiridakis, a Greenport resident who recalled attending films at the theater since childhood and used his Institute’s relationship with the theater as a way to turn the dream into reality. “Since this is a grand experiment, there is no charge for these films this year. We want to rally community participation and create a buzz.”

The major obstacle to screening movies at the theater in the winter has been a broken boiler system, which Manhattan Film Institute has since paid to have repaired.

Mr. Spiridakis said he first approached theater owner Josh Sapan — who he knows through screenings of MFI films hosted at the theater each summer — in September about the possibility of fixing the boiler, which is now fully up and running.

This isn’t the first time an entity has attempted to open the theater in winter. In 2017, the Village of Greenport explored the possibility, but realized it wasn’t economically viable for a government body to undertake such an endeavor.

Licensing rights make it costly to screen first-run films, so Mr. Spiridakis has been creative, choosing a slate of older films he hopes will appeal to audiences and be less expensive to show.

Among the films he’s aiming to offer in the holiday slate are “Home Alone” and “Elf.” The Saturday series will kick off in January with a slate of “Best Picture Oscar Winners,” followed by a “Women in Film” theme and ending with a lineup of movies from “Great Directors.”

One week you’ll be able to catch “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” followed weeks later by “Lost in Translation” and eventually “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” Mr. Spiridakis said. “Frozen” is among the family-friendly films expected to screen. Some foreign language and international films will also be included in the overall lineup.

Currently the eight-screen Mattituck Cinemas is the only year-round theater operating on the North Fork. Plans to bring a multiplex to the former Walmart property on Route 58 in Riverhead have hit a snag, according to Riverhead Town officials.

Mr. Spiridakis hopes this year’s series is the start of something special and he’s hoping to partner with local restaurants to offer Saturday night specials for movie-goers.

“The success of this dream depends on our ability to get the word out to the North Fork community,” he said.

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