The independent movie theater scene in the Valley offers an alternative to big-box chains with must-see showings at affordable prices.
Story Screen Theater
Story Screen’s goal is to garner a culture of film lovers in and around the city of Beacon through showings that range in genre, time period, country, and target age. Stick around for the post-show discussions to pick apart favorite (or least favorite) scenes from the cinema. The prices beat all of the name-brand chains at $10 for general admission and $8 for seniors, kids, and military personnel.
The historic building in Rosendale once housed a firehouse and a performance theater named the Rosendale Casino. In 1949, it was refurbished and had its first movie showing. In 2010, the Rosendale Theatre was bought by the Rosendale Theatre Collective, upholding the promise of bringing film and performing arts to the area. This theater is a staple in the Hudson Valley film community, and the annual Woodstock Film Festival often holds showings at the Rosendale Theatre. Be sure to check out the monthly silent film Sunday showing and the occasional live show.
This Hudson Valley theater shows first-run and independent films across three screens at its renovated Millerton location. Forget concession snacks; this theater has a café of its own. This theater boasts its own bar and private lounge for intimate gatherings and screenings upstairs. Sip craft beers, local wines, and fresh small bites for an enhanced moviegoing experience.
Downing Film Center
The Downing Film Center strives to present quality films and cinematic programming from around the world to benefit the Hudson Valley’s diverse communities. It prides itself on being a free-speech theater with no censorship or endorsements. Make sure to get there early, as this theater only has 55 seats. Stop at the concession stand along the way to grab fresh popcorn, traditional movie candy varieties, and Zora Dora frozen treats when in season.
Historic Paramount Theater
While this theater often gives its stage to up-and-coming acts, classical performances, dance recitals, fundraisers, and receptions, it still makes room for movie showings. The wait for the movie to start isn’t filled with the typical “please silence your phone” PSAs and other advertisements; instead enjoy the live pre-show organ ensemble. Aside from the alternative film program, this theater still offers other matinee movie showings.
With a promise to celebrate, explore, and promote the art of the motion picture, Rivertown Film and Rivertown Film Society cares about increasing community appreciation for the arts. Film buffs and historians can indulge in documentaries, foreign, and independent screenings at the Nyack Center.
Lafayette Theater, named after the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette, was originally equipped with a Muller organ for silent films and live performances during a time when tickets cost a mere twenty-five cents. Now, the theater is host to a number of events throughout the year, but places an emphasis on classic films, first-run films, and film festivals. Anyone who subscribes to Lafayette’s weekly email newsletter receives free popcorn. How can you beat that?
In May of 1972, Upstate Films opened its doors at the Woodstock location for showings of classic Hollywood and foreign films reflecting a variety of themes. In 1999, they expanded to a second theater in Rhinebeck to help push independent theater forward while mainstream movie complexes continued to grow. Their mission is to showcase documentaries and social realities to help educate those in the area. There are a number of special events, series, and guest speakers that are worth seeing. The Woodstock location has closed, but the newer Saugerties location is open for showings.
The Madison Theater
Dine-in theaters aren’t only in lower New York anymore. The Madison Theatre brings to upstate New York a unique experience of in-seat ordering. The menu includes popcorn boxes, custom candy boxes, salads, burgers, pizza, wings, and desserts as yummy as waffles and ice cream. Another option is to stick to the drink menu for a draft beer or specialty cocktail. For those who want to go outside of the box, order the maple bacon bourbon boozy shake. Back to the entertainment: $5 movie Tuesday is the way to go to see the next big flick for cheap.
Lyceum, Roosevelt, and New Paltz Cinemas
Red Hook, Hyde Park, New Paltz
These three local cinemas offer first-run films at incomparable prices to big-name theaters. Every week, the theaters give away two free tickets to one of the locations to anyone who applies. Plus, signing up for the newsletter means a free tub of popcorn. Bring your ticket stub within one week of viewing and get a free fountain beverage at CJ’s Pizza and Pasta in Rhinebeck or 10 percent off your meal at Coppola’s Bistro in Hyde Park or Poughkeepsie. Talking about all these deals, discount books are also for sale and can be used at all of the locations. It would be hard not to love these three film centers.