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When the Lincoln Plaza Theater closed in January of 2018, it was like a body blow to the Upper West Side, an area that historically housed a huge community of arts lovers who were educated, sophisticated and open to a wide variety of cinema experiences.

It wasn’t as if there weren’t alternatives. Film at Lincoln Center is one of the best curated art houses in the country. AMC has two large multiplexes that, in addition to playing the latest Hollywood movies, also squeeze in the occasional Focus, Searchlight, A24 or Neon film. But, with the passing of the Lincoln Plaza Theater, a stalwart community institution was gone.

The Upper West Side is desperately under-screened for the rabid art film audience that exists. Since the demise of both the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and the Landmark 57, there are now only 3 full-time art screens plus 1 part-time screen north of 14th Street. This is in comparison to over 20 dedicated art screens that exist in downtown Manhattan, and a similar number in Brooklyn.

The neighborhood is also in need of an anchor destination and event space for the community.

The Plan

The Upper West Side Cinema Center (UWSCC) has been formed as a not-for-profit corporation, with the goal of creating a new facility dedicated to screening art film releases that currently have no home in the neighborhood, as well as classic films and special events. The facility will include an Education and Community Center and a Lobby Lounge/Cafe open to the street and available for events.

We are now in the process of trying to secure ownership of the former Metro Theater, on 99th Street and Broadway. The plan is to restore the facade and marquee to its original splendor and build a five-screen cinema within its walls. The venue will be renamed The Metro Cinema Center.

The organization plans to partner with other cultural institutions such as Film at Lincoln Center, the JCC of the Upper West Side, New Plaza Cinema, Woodstock Film Festival, BAM, MOMA and Columbia University School of the Arts among others to offer additional capacity for their existing programming. The Educational Center will be modeled on existing cinema organizations such as the Jacob Burns Center in Pleasantville, NY and the Coolidge Corner in Brookline, MA.

The Team

President/Treasurer: Ira Deutchman
Vice President: Adeline Monzier
Secretary/Community Liaison/Marketing: Beth Krieger
Architects: Voith & Mactavish Architects LLC
Audiovisual Design: Boston Light and Sound
Legal Consultant: Stephen Cohen, Esq.
Interim Fiscal Sponsor: Woodstock Film Festival

Impact

In July of 2024, the Art House Convergence, an organization representing art house theaters across the country, released the results of a survey of patrons with some startling results. Here is a summary:

74% of patrons report that their art house theater is “extremely” or “very” valuable to their overall quality of life, up from 66% in 2019. 43% of respondents have paid to be members of their local art house organization. 92% of respondents said that their art house cinema presents films that are profound, 83% agree that their art house exposes them to new ways of thinking, 82% believe that attending their art house cinema makes them a more well-rounded person, 75% say that it raises their consciousness of important issues and 67% say that attending their art house connects them with people with shared interests and beliefs.

Art houses serve as the backbone for the artistic, civic, and economic vitality of communities. 93% say their art house sparks art and culture, 90% agree that their art house is one of the best things about the community, 89% say that their cinema helps tell important stories that would otherwise not be told, 87% say their cinema is an anchor in their community and 77% say that their cinema enhances their community’s economic vitality.

The plan for the Metro Cinema Center is aimed at fulfilling exactly this function for the Upper West Side and for all of Manhattan above 14th Street. Arts institutions, in general, have proven to be an economic boom, bringing patrons to restaurants and retail establishments, creating pedestrian traffic and increasing real estate values. The Metro is perfectly situated to provide a huge multiplier to the neighborhood.

Founders

Ira Deutchman

Ira Deutchman has been making, marketing and distributing films since 1975, having worked on over 150 films including some of the most successful independent films of all time. He was one of the founders of Cinecom and later created Fine Line Features—two companies that were created from scratch and, in their respective times, helped define the independent film business. He was also a co-founder of Emerging Pictures, the first digital projection network in the United States and a pioneer in delivering live cultural events into movie theaters.

Currently Deutchman is an independent producer and a consultant in marketing and distribution of independent films. He is also Emeritus Professor in the School of the Arts at Columbia University, where he was the Chair of the Film Program from 2011-2015.

His current projects include serving as producer of “Nickel & Dimed,” based on the book by Barbara Ehrenreich and directed by Debra Granik (in pre-production); director/producer of the feature documentary “Searching for Mr. Rugoff” (currently available on the Criterion Channel and on various pay-per-view platforms); producer of the stage adaptation of Joan Micklin Silver’s “Hester Street” (recently opened on Washington DC); and executive producer of the mini-series based on the novel Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford (in development).

In 2017, Deutchman was awarded the Spotlight Lifetime Achievement Award by the Sundance Art House Convergence for his service to independent film marketing and distribution.

Adeline Monzier

A Harlem resident, Adeline Monzier is currently the US representative of Unifrance, the organization promoting French cinema abroad and the founder of the Harlem film series Uptown Flicks. She also programs films at the Metrograph downtown.

After graduating from Sciences Po in Paris (with a Master’s degree in Culture and Media Management) and from the Ecole Normale Supérieure d’Ulm in Paris (with a Master’s degree in Contemporary German Studies,) in 2005 Adeline Monzier joined DIRE, a French syndicate comprised of nine independent theatrical distributors. Within DIRE, she created Europa Distribution, a network of 130 leading independent distributors from 26 European countries, which she managed from 2007 to 2013.

From her base in NYC, Adeline Monzier also started and ran, from 2011 until 2016, the filmmakers program US-in-Progress in partnership with the American Film Festival in Poland and the Champs-Elysées Film Festival in France. US-in-Progress presents American independent films at rough-cut stage to European buyers and post-production funds, providing the producers with access to completion funding and distribution.

Through her own company, Black Rabbit Film, Adeline Monzier produced her first short film, “L’Héritage” by Michaël Terraz, a French-Swiss co-production which was selected by 40 international film festivals and won 10 awards. She also was a script reader for numerous French companies & funding bodies, including Mars Distribution & the CNC.

In 2013, Adeline Monzier was appointed the US representative of Unifrance and has since then organized Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in partnership with Film at Lincoln Center. In October 2017, she also launched Uptown Flicks, an international film series at various locations in Harlem.

In 2018-19, Adeline Monzier collaborated with Serge Toubiana on his book about Helen Scott, L’Amie américaine.

Advisors

Bob Balaban, Actor, Author, Comedian, Director and Producer

Meira Blaustein, Co-Founder/Executive Director, Woodstock Film Festival

Russ Collins, CEO & Executive Director, Michigan Theater Foundation

Chapin Cutler, Principal & Co-Founder, Boston Light & Sound

Griffin Dunne, Actor, Producer

Geoffrey Fletcher, Screenwriter

Richard Guay, Producer

Mary Harron, Director

Ethan Hawke, Actor, Director

Tim League, CEO, Alamo Drafthouse Theaters

Richard Pena, Director Emeritus, New York Film Festival

Paul Richardson, Former CEO, Landmark Theaters/Sundance Cinemas

Amy Robinson, Producer

Josh Sapan, Media Executive

Nancy Savoca, Director

Martin Scorsese, Director

Jonathan Sehring, Former President, IFC Entertainment

John Toner, Founding Director, Renew Theaters, Philadelphia

John Turturro, Actor, Director

Barbara Twist, Executive Director, Film Festival Alliance

Donate

Metro Cinema Center will be operated by Upper West Side Cinema Center, Inc.
(not-for-profit status applied for)

In the interim, the Woodstock Film Festival has agreed to be the fiscal sponsor to accept donations, which are 100% tax deductible.

The resources necessary to implement the plan are substantial, and we are counting on contributions from interested parties, as well as government support in order to implement it.

Donations of any size can be made at the link below.

DONATE

For those who are willing to pledge larger amounts, there are naming opportunities as follows:

  • The entire Cinema Center can be named for a contribution of $15 million
  • Theater 1 (approx. 190 seats): $2 million
  • Theater 2 (approx. 165 seats): $1.5 million
  • Theaters 3 & 4 (49 seats each): $500,000 each
  • Theater 5 (Educational Center): $1 million
  • Lobby/Lounge/Cafe: $1 million
  • Marquee: $500,000

Major Supporters Wall: $25,000+
Gifts of $25,000+ will be acknowledged prominently on the Major Supporters Wall in the lobby of the theatre

If you are interested in any of these opportunities, please contact us here

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