With the world of entertainment shifting towards the convenience of at home streaming, movie theater owners find themselves at a crossroads. Determined to keep customers buying tickets, the industry has shifted towards emphasizing premium experiences. From IMAX 3D screenings to recliner movie seats, these theaters are seeking to entice ticket-buyers out of staying home by pampering them (and in turn charging them a higher price). One of the most popular ways this trend has manifested itself is theaters offering a full menu of restaurant quality food and beverages instead of the standard concession stand staples. It's this philosophy of marrying good food to good movies that has made Williamsburg's Nitehawk Cinema one of New York's trendiest and most enjoyable movie destinations across the five boroughs.
In just the six years since opening its doors, the Nitehawk has already made a lasting impression on New York's cultural landscape, serving as the first movie theater in the state to be legally permitted to serve alcohol after prompting a prohibition era law to be overturned. But its not just booze that get audiences to head to Williamsburg. The theater offers a host of experiences specifically curated for the sake of enhancing moviegoers experiences. From movie-centric specialty dishes and drinks corresponding to the newest releases playing at the theater to a projected pre-show inspired by the feature film. Regular events like brunches and midnight film screenings also make use of the theater's extensive menu to bring people out to the theater when they might otherwise just be sitting on their couch.
The experience begins the moment you're welcomed into one of Nitehawk's intimate theaters. Shortly after you grab an open seat with an attached table, a member of the staff comes to rip your ticket and welcome you to theater and bring you some glasses of water. From the moment you sit down until the conclusion of the film, you're free to select anything from the menu by simply writing it down on a given piece of paper where the roaming staff will come and take it down. This menu runs the gamut from artisanal popcorn and nachos to Bahn Mi's and charcuterie plates as well as extensive selection of mixed drinks and spirits.
While Nitehawk may sound a bit intimidating to people accustomed to more traditional movie viewing experiences, the convenience of its system quickly put me at ease. Picking up my pre-ordered tickets (something strongly suggested to me due to the theater's tendency to sell-out showings) I expected a madhouse of customers rushing for the best seats in the house, but found a remarkably pleasant and friendly energy instead. In actuality there really isn't a bad seat in the cozy theater and everyone else seemed far too focused on enjoying the proceedings to even stress about logistics. From the delicious food to the friendly local theater vibe, Nitehawk is far from just a gimmick to stay afloat in a post-Netflix world. Instead it's a pleasant escape to the days when to the movie theater trips seemed to carry an unexpected magic. Anyone looking for that type of treat need only take a visit to Williamsburg to find out what they're missing.