On the 25th Anniversary of the Walter Reade Theater, the Film Society of Lincoln Center invites you to herald the cinema of the future.
About this project
Wait, what is the Film Society of Lincoln Center?
The Film Society of Lincoln Center has been devoted to celebrating the art and craft of filmmaking for decades. The home of the world-renowned New York Film Festival—an annual, curated selection of the year’s most significant new film work, now in its 54th year—the Film Society also presents multiple movie retrospectives, series, and festivals, including the annualNew Directors/New Films Festival, presented in association with the Museum of Modern Art. Film Society also publishes the prestigious, award-winning Film Comment magazine; organizes the annual Chaplin Award gala, which each year recognizes an artist’s unique achievement (the 2016 recipient was Morgan Freeman); and also reaches out to the film and education communities with its special school programs, which teach children the basics of filmmaking. So yeah, the Film Society of Lincoln Center stays pretty busy.
So what’s the Walter Reade Theater’s story?
You could say the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater has always been a little timeless. Nostalgic of an older, more romantic era of American moviegoing, the theater, built in 1991, “recalls movie palaces of days gone by,” according to a 1993 Interior Design article. Today, however, the Walter Reade is ahead of its time, at the forefront of film exhibition technology in New York City and beyond. With this campaign for a new screen, we hope to preserve the Walter Reade Theater’s past and ensure its future.
Well, what has the Walter Reade Theater been up to these 25 years?
The index for any serious history book about the past 25 years of American cinema culture would be overflowing with Walter Reade Theater mentions. More than 20,000 movies have shown on its screen since 1991, and its stage has been visited by countless film icons and emerging talents, from Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan to Jackie Chan and Steve McQueen. Moreover, the theater has also been a hub for in-depth conversations with some of our greatest film-world talents, including Laura Poitras, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, John Waters, Isabelle Huppert, Jane Fonda, David Fincher, Mike Nichols, Pam Grier, Philip Seymour Hoffman and many more. Performances by Darlene Love of 20 FEET FROM STARDOM and Alan Menken and Ellen Greene following a screening of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS brought the house down.
It sure seems like a fun place to visit…
You can say that again. The Film Society hosts over 250,000 guests annually, and many of them are local New Yorkers who consider the Walter Reade Theater a home-away-from-couch. Plus, in the past couple years, the theater has hosted Film Society Kids, a special program in conjunction with our education department, in which kids from local public schools participate in a festival of films they made themselves! Just look at these cuties:
Wow! You mean even the little ones have good sight lines?
That’s right—the architects of the theater were committed to giving all viewers a little extra TLC. Just take a look at this sketch from 1987:
And journalists today are still singing the praises of our theater’s design.
“One of the finest movie-watching rooms in the city, thanks to a high ceiling, steeply banked seats, a large screen and superb projection.”
—Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
So what’s the big deal with a new screen anyway?
There are so many reasons why it’s a big deal! First of all, we are getting new masking. Masking goes around the border of the screen, and it actually moves to frame presentation styles. Since we are revamping the projection booth to incorporate 4K, 35mm, and 16mm formats, we need new masking to support all of those formats. Plus, after more than a decade, a screen accumulates dust. The dust causes the images to blur, and a new clean screen will make for a clearer picture. Also, because the screen material is thin and stretched, time causes it to wrinkle. A new screen ensures that the images will not be distorted. Something else to consider is that technology has advanced to make whiter screens. The Ultramatte 150 is the whitest in the business, which means our new screen will be brighter than ever—and will offer one of the best viewing experiences in the business.
Okay, I get it! So what can I do to help?
The year 2016 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Walter Reade Theater. After a quarter of a century, a facelift has become crucial. Future generations of Film Society Kids, New Yorkers, journalists, tourists, and the thousands of other moviegoers who come to the Walter Reade Theater deserve a well-maintained, state-of-the-art showcase facility with one of the largest screens in New York City. With your help, we can ensure that future by replacing and significantly updating a pretty important element: the screen itself. By getting involved, you are not just helping an essential cultural institution—you are joining a family, one for which every night is movie night.
What are the costs?
Approximately $60,000 will cover the following for the screen and front-of-house:
-Ultramatte 150: material for a projection screen
-New Drape: curtain
-Motorized Masking: outlines screen to enhance image clarity and frame formats
-Wiring & Motor Controls: relays the projector to the screen
But isn’t Lincoln Center federally funded?
State, local and federal funding for the arts is quite limited in this country, so like many cultural organizations we rely on the vital ongoing support of individual donors and corporations. As a membership organization, the Film Society is funded through contributions from our board members, patrons, members, and now, through this campaign, individuals just like you.
Okay then, tell me more about the Film Society of Lincoln Center…
As we like to say: Film lives here. If you’ve ever been a part of movie culture in New York, then you know that visiting the Film Society of Lincoln Center is like coming home. It was founded in 1969 to celebrate American and international cinema, and devotes itself to enhancing the awareness, accessibility, and understanding of the art of the moving image. Click here to learn about the Film Society family.
So what are some of these cool prizes?
Signed magazines and posters, memberships, photos by Godlis, and tickets to the New York Film Festival are only the beginning! Dig into these prizes and discover all the Film Society has to offer, like photos by celebrity photographer Myrna Suarez, books by Director of ProgrammingDennis Lim, documentaries by NYFF director Kent Jones, and so much more.
Risks and challenges
A renowned organization operating for more than 47 years, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which manages three state-of-the-art cinemas, is confident that these renovations can be seen through to completion. We plan to maintain the highest standards of excellence as we embark on this project.