Seating campaign for the Charlotte Film Society to help open an art house

The Charlotte Film Society plans to open a three-screen arthouse cinema at 4237 Raleigh St. in NoDa.

The Charlotte Film Society plans to open a three-screen arthouse cinema at 4237 Raleigh St. in NoDa.

The latest campaign to help run Charlotte’s only arthouse cinema, which opens this fall, calls on donors to ‘Take a Seat’.

The Charlotte Film Society plans to open its three-screen cinema, called the Independent Picture House, in late November around Thanksgiving Day, the association’s board chairman Brad Ritter said on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the film company launched its latest fundraising campaign, titled “Take a Seat,” to help cover the cost and installation of 199 rocker-style seats in the smaller theater’s two auditoriums and recliners. A $ 350 contribution pays for a seat and installation, and donors will get their name on the screen and be able to reserve seats for any movie, according to the film company.

The Charlotte Film Society has been fundraising for over a year to open its own arthouse theater in NoDa after the closing of the Regal Manor Twin, which housed the group’s independent film screenings.

The goal is to raise $ 1 million to cover capital and operating costs, Ritter said. On Tuesday, the group was almost halfway to its goal, having raised around $ 450,000, he said.

The group originally planned to use seats rescued from the Mansion, but have since decided to add new reclining seats and new curtains, as well as risers for better sight lines.

“We wanted to make a really strong first impression when people come to the movies,” Ritter said.

Chronology of the new independent theater

Charlotte lost her last art house last year when Knoxville-based movie chain Regal said it would not be reopening the Manor Twin in Myers Park. The theater was then closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Charlotte once had 13 screens dedicated to art films. In February 2020, Ballantyne Village closed. Park Terrace, also known for showing independent and foreign films, closed four years ago. Both belonged to Regal.

In July 2020, the Charlotte Film Society signed a lease to renovate nearly 5,500 square feet of a 32,000 square foot industrial building at 4237 Raleigh St. in NoDa.

The group began raising funds through a Go Fund Me campaign to raise $ 150,000 for projection equipment, including speakers and computer servers. As of Tuesday, nearly $ 128,000 had been raised. When that campaign ends Thursday, donations can be made through the Charlotte Film Society’s website, Ritter said.

The company has launched other campaigns, including t-shirt sales and the Executive Producers Guild, with donation levels starting at $ 5,000. Contributors get free lifetime arthouse movies, Ritter said.

The film company recently doubled its goal of $ 500,000 to cover renovations and more than a year of rent and operating costs as the film industry is not recovering quickly from the COVID-19 pandemic, a said Ritter. Theaters were able to reopen with restrictions last October after being closed for more than six months.

The group has funding to cover construction costs, floodlights, sound, seats and curtains, “but we have to cover operations if things are slow,” Ritter said.

Learn more about Charlotte Film Society

The new cinema hall will present independent, classic and foreign films. Formed in 1982, the film company has rented cinemas in the Charlotte area to host events such as its annual film festival.

The film company had hoped to open in time for its annual Charlotte Film Festival. The festival, usually held at the end of September, runs from October 13 to 17 and will feature more than 100 films, according to the group’s Facebook page. The program is still ongoing, Ritter said.

But like the festival, the Independent Picture House will feature non-traditional films and traditional arthouse titles like “Parasites” and “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”, as well as films like “Titanium” and ” The French Dispatch “, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and hits theaters next month.

“We will be open like a traditional cinema every day,” Ritter said. Entrance and membership prices have not yet been communicated.

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Catherine Muccigrosso is the retail journalist for The Charlotte Observer. An award-winning journalist, she worked for several newspapers and McClatchy for over a decade.

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