Cinema Center is aiming for a relaxed “cinema pub” atmosphere as it works to transform its Spectator Lounge into a second screening space early next year.
“We're actually not talking about anything that is too drastic to the room,” said Jonah Crismore, executive director of the downtown art house theater.
The updated space will include comfortable, eclectic furniture such as couches, similar to how the lounge was set up for screenings during the Hobnobben Film Festival in June. Crismore said the setup received a lot of praise during the festival.
The vibe in the lounge theater will be much more relaxed than in a formal movie screening space, Crismore says. It's not going to be a big deal if someone gets up to use the restroom, for example. Staff will be on duty to serve drinks to viewers at their seats.
The Spectator Lounge Theater will use a Proludio content delivery platform, which Crismore says is less expensive than the $50,000 digital projection system installed in the main theater a few years ago.
“We're still definitely giving (the lounge) a nice upgrade, but we're not talking tens of thousands of dollars on the projection system alone,” he says.
Cinema Center is still in gathering funding for the project and will raise some of the money during a crowdfunding effort in October. He said it is too early to say when the transformation will be complete, but in a perfect world, the lounge theater will be open in January.
There will be no traditional screen in the updated space. Instead, a special projector paint will be applied to at least one of the walls.
Unlike plain white paint, the special paint allows for reflection and absorption of colors the way a screen would for a good quality digital projection.
When not in use for movie screenings, the lounge will still be available for other purposes. Currently, the Spectator Lounge is the site of art exhibits and meetings.
“We envision that we're actually just going to be able to use the room more,” Crismore said. That has been a goal of his since he started with Cinema Center five years ago. The overhauled space might also be used for educational programming.
The second screening area will also allow Cinema Center to show additional movies each week.
“We actually in recent years have had to cut down on the number of films that we show because a lot of distributors have asked that we don't do what's called 'splitting the screen,'” Crismore said. Splitting the screen means showing more than one film on the same screen during a movie's run at the theater.
After the lounge theater opens, Cinema Center should be able to run two films each week, with an increase in showtimes, he said.
Ticket prices will be the same for the lounge and traditional screening spaces.