Coordinates: The Quad Cinema is New York City's first small four-screen multiplex theater. Located at 34 West 13th Street in Greenwich Village, it was opened by entrepreneur Maurice Kanbar, along with his younger brother Elliott S. Kanbar in October 1972. It has been described as "one of the oldest independent cinemas in the city" and "a vibrant center for art house films."
In the late 1960s, Maurice Kanbar, an inventor and real estate investor, purchased a six-story loft in Manhattan with plans to create an off-Broadway theater. After those plans fell through, he found himself with a large block of unused ground floor space. Kanbar believed a movie theater with multiple small auditoriums rather than a few larger ones could be profitable even with smaller audiences at most screenings. In October 1972, he and his younger brother, Elliott S. Kanbar, opened the Quad, New York City's first four-screen movie theater, and what Kanbar has called "the East Coast's first multiplex".
From 1972 to 1988 the theater was operated by Bernard Goldberg, executive vice-president of Golden Theatre Management, operator of the Quad and six other New York City houses. The theater exhibited Hollywood films, independent films, and revivals of older films, but had difficulty obtaining the most attractive releases due to the exclusive licensing practices then followed by film distributors. Legal action led to substantial monetary settlements.
In 1988, Maurice's brother Elliott took over the theater's operations. Facing competition from new theaters opening in Lower Manhattan, the Quad adopted a strategy of exhibiting foreign and independent films. This strategy proved financially successful, although it also led to competition with other downtown art film exhibitors, notably the nonprofit Film Forum and the IFC Center. In a 2010 interview, Elliott Kanbar noted that in its earlier history the theater had benefited from a switch of its distributor relationship to City Cinemas, which had a positive relationship with Walt Disney Pictures and its Touchstone Pictures affiliate, and that it was regularly frequented by Andy Warhol, whose "fans would come in droves" and whose influence was a factor in the theater's "big homosexual audience for certain films." In March 2010, the Quad announced it would assist national and foreign filmmakers wishing to self-distribute low-budget films via "four wall distribution", the Quadflix program. In May 2012, it initiated the program Quadflix Select.
On Thursday, August 21, 2014, The New York Times reported sale of the Quad to the Cohen Media Group. According to its website, the Quad closed for a multi-million dollar alteration as of May 1, 2015, and announced an April 2017 reopening with a Lina Wertmüller retrospective.
Other art cinemas in Manhattan
- "Quad Cinema". CinemaTreasures.org. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
- Hanley, Ken (March 8, 2010). "Interview with Elliott Kanbar". New York City Art Houses blog.
- "Elliott S. Kanbar". ZoomInfo.com. Retrieved 2014-04-20.
- Lewine, Edward (December 7, 1997). "The War of the Film World". The New York Times.
- Kanbar, Maurice (2001). Secrets from an Inventor's Notebook. Council Oak Books. p. 12ff. ISBN 978-1-57178-099-7.
- Chernow, Ron (August 22, 1977). "The Perils of the Picture Show: Fade-out on an Era". New York. p. 31.
- Hill, Logan (June 12, 2005). "Art-House Showdown". New York.
- Brooks, Brian (March 16, 2010). "NYC Art House Unveils DIY Initiative". Indiewire.com.
- Quadflix Select (official site)
- Cohen Media Group
- "New Owner to Renovate and Upgrade Quad Cinema" by Allan Kozinn, The New York Times, August 21, 2014
- Quad cinema official site
- New York’s Historic Quad Cinema to Reopen in April, news at Variety, March 6 2017
- "Offbeat Movie Theaters in NYC". NY.com. Retrieved April 5, 2013.