Cinema Center is unveiling its Spectator Lounge theater space during this weekend's Hobnobben Film Festival.
The second screening area boasts light-blocking shades on the windows and a 150-inch screen.
Executive director Margaret Reeder says the Spectator Lounge was envisioned as a flexible downtown space for film screenings and events. In the past, the lounge has been used for art exhibits, panel discussions and meetings. It can still serve those functions as well as be rented out for events.
In the first phase of the lounge's transformation, walls and duct work were given a fresh coat of paint in darker colors that will help dim the space for screenings. Purple panels in the back of the room can display art and exposed beams in the ceiling add to the room's eclectic vibe.
New lighting and a sound system are part of the changes and a permanent projector and Proludio system through which films are played will be installed soon. A temporary projection system is being used during the festival.
The Spectator Lounge was named for Spectator Theater, an art and specialty movie house on The Landing. Cinema Center was founded in 1976 after the Spectator closed.
Cinema Center, which as been at 437 E. Berry St. since 1991, used an AmplifyArt fundraising campaign last fall to raise money for the first round of improvements, which have made the lounge functional as a screening space.
For now, there are mismatched couches and chairs in the lounge, which seats 40. Plans for the space include new furniture and carpeting as well as a ticketing area and bar counter to create a comfortable environment that is more intimate than the 126-seat main theater.
Reeder hopes those updates will be complete by the end of the year. There might be another round of fundraising to help make that a reality.
During the film festival, the Spectator Lounge will be used for screenings and a panel discussion.
“I think Hobnobben is a great opportunity for us to learn a little about the room and how it's going to work for film with cinephiles and filmmakers ... in the room to help us iron anything out,” Reeder says.
The second screening space will allow Cinema Center to add more regular-run films to its schedule. Distributors sometimes limit the number of movies that can be shown on a single screen, so Cinema Center has been allowed to show only one movie per week in some cases. Now it will be able to show at least two.
Tickets for regular-run films are expected to cost the same for the Spectator Lounge as in the main theater.
The lounge theater will also be used for events such as a free Sunday-night series of TV binge-watching beginning in July with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
“Sort of like you'd have your friends over in your living room,” Reeder says. She also wants to use the lounge's large screen and professional sound system to binge series like “Doctor Who” and “Lost.”
The lounge will “take a trip back into the past” for a monthly Throwback Thursday series of older films likely to begin in the fall.
Also on tap for Cinema Center is a new family-film series that will take place in the main theater at 6 p.m. Wednesdays beginning June 20 with “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” The series runs through August, and tickets are $5 for each member of the family.
“We really want to give families something to do that's affordable and fun,” Reeder says.