The Sag Harbor Cinema will begin operating April 9 ahead of its official reopening on Memorial Day.
“It is with quiet pleasure that we announce our soft reopening of the rebuilt, renewed, reborn Sag Harbor Cinema,” stated a news release from the venue, which added, “this date should not be misconstrued with our Grand Reopening.”
The Sag Harbor Cinema has been dark since the building succumbed to fire in December 2016. Over the past few years, the Cinema has been undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation — including the purchase of the building — thanks to contributions from the Empire State Development fund, the Town of Southampton and private donors. (One is Billy Joel, who now has a popcorn stand named after him.) During the COVID-19 shutdown, the Cinema held sneak-peek tours of the new facility.
“It’s been a long and challenging road to get to this moment,” the Cinema’s capital campaign chair, April Gornik, said in a statement. “But at long last, we are thrilled to be able to open our doors to Sag Harbor and the East End, to welcome you back to your brand new cinema — masked and distanced, of course.”
When the Sag Harbor Cinema reopens, patrons will recognize its familiar Art Deco neon sign but not much else about the formerly well-worn venue. The Cinema now boasts three pristine auditoriums, the largest with 240 new but classic-looking seats and a Dolby sound system. A second room, with 100 seats, features both digital and 35 mm film projectors. The smallest auditorium, with 40 seats, will be available for private “pod screenings” of current films at $150 with a maximum of 10 people.
The soft opening begins with a mix of Academy Award-nominated films. “Nomadland,” featuring Frances McDormand as a woman who lives out of her van, is a best picture nominee. “Wolfwalkers,” a fantasy inspired by Irish folklore, earned an Oscar nod for best animated feature. “French Exit” earned Michelle Pfeiffer an Oscar nod for her performance as a newly widowed Manhattan socialite. (Director Azazel Jacobs will appear via Zoom for a Q&A after the 7 p.m. screening on Saturday, April 10.)
Also playing will be three programs of Oscar-nominated short films — live action, animated and documentary.
The venue’s third floor, which features a full bar, will not open on April 9 but should be up and running by Memorial Day according to executive director Jamie Hook.
“Our vision was always an extremely hopeful one that cinema had a fundamental role to play in our lives,” Hook said. “We hope people remember that it’s not just about what’s going on before your eyes, it’s about experiencing something with other people.”
Tickets for the opening programs will be available Apr. 2 at the Cinema’s website,. For more information call (631) 725-0010.