Jun 13, 2022 - Culture

New indie movie theater to open in NoDa this month

Photo: Emma Way/Axios

A new nonprofit arthouse theater called The Independent Picture House will open in NoDa on June 24, filling a gap in Charlotte’s indie film scene.

Flashback: At the start of the pandemic — over two years ago — Charlotte lost its last remaining arthouse cinema, the Manor. Now, that community is back from near extinction. It’s even using the Manor’s old popcorn machine.

What to expect: The Independent Picture House will have three screens (one small auditorium with 17 reclining seats, one with 77 rocker-style seats and a third with 105 seats).

  • When you walk in, you’ll be greeted by a carpeted lounge with sofas lined with movie posters. It’ll be a place where people can come hang out after movies.
  • Additionally, the concession stand will have all the trappings of a movie theater — popcorn (in the old Manor popper), candy and soda — along with local craft brewery, wines and local baked goods.

“If it’s a community cinema, we should be carrying products from the community in some way, shape or form,” says Jay Morong, creative director of the Charlotte Film Society and a senior lecturer of theater and film at UNC-Charlotte.

Photo: Emma Way/Axios

Why it matters: When the Manor closed in 2020, Charlotte mourned the loss of the last place that specialized in foreign and independent films. A year prior, the Regal Ballantyne Village closed; before that, AMC bought Park Terrace at Park Road Shopping Center and began showing mainstream movies there.

In the months that followed the Manor’s closure, the Charlotte Film Society raised funds from the community for an ambitious project: To build a nonprofit theater specializing in the kinds of showings the Manor did.

  • “A lot of things in Charlotte are going away because people like the idea of the thing but they don’t actually support the thing,” Morong says.

Zoom out: The Independent Picture House is in an area of NoDa that’s rapidly changing. It’s in the Trailhead District, a development by Charlotte-based Flywheel Group. The area will be artsy and have a small-town feel, with multi-family housing, retail and offices.

It’s in the same building as the Charlotte Art League. The two will share event space and coordinate programming opportunities, such as parties and receptions for events like the Charlotte Film Festival.

  • “We know we won’t be successful if we just show movies,” Morong says.

Space: The theater will take up about 5,900 square feet of the 36,000-square-foot building. Aside from Charlotte Art League, there’s also space for a few retail tenants, such as a brewery or market.

One of the larger theaters within the cinema. Photo: Emma Way/Axios

Of note: The film society is in the middle of its capital campaign, which has a $2 million goal to cover construction costs, part of the lease, programming and operational costs. As of March, they’d raised $590,000, per Brad Ritter, president of the film society.

  • They’re also accepting donations through a “Take a Seat” campaign, which gets each donor name recognition in the lobby and on screen, as well as the ability to reserve a seat ahead of movie screenings.

Location: 4237 Raleigh Street.

Hours: The cinema will be open daily with screening times starting at 1:30pm to about 10pm.

Showings: Independent Picture House’s grand opening week will include showings of five films, including:

  • “Memoria” — Set in the jungles of Colombia, this drama features Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton and is directed by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
  • “The Phantom of the Open” — A British film about the true story of Maurice Flitcroft, a humble crane operator that qualified for the British Open Golf Championship despite never playing a round in his life.
  • “Cocoon” — A coming of age film about a 14-year-old girl named Nora living in Germany.
  • It will also have a few films available for its “pre-open” screenings on June 20 and 21. Beyond that, expect new films every Friday.
  • For more details, check out the Independent’s website.

Here’s a look around.

Photo: Emma Way/Axios
The smallest theater. Photo: Emma Way/Axios
The popcorn machine is the same one that used to be inside the Manor (RIP). Photo: Emma Way/Axios
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